Blanchard’s Hill is reached by two roads, off of No.15 and off of No.29 highways. A large sign on No.15 Hwy three miles southwest of Lombardy proclaims “Blanchard’s Hill Road”. The road takes off from No.15 on an abandoned section of pavement, and then climbs the hill towards the old Blanchard Homestead. From No.29, Shane’s Road running west off that highway runs right into Blanchard’s Hill.
Quaker families fleeing hostility they encountered in the Athens area, were probably the first settlers on this historic hill south of Lombardy.
Among these Quakers were the Palmers and Wiltsies, from Athens. They built up a Quaker settlement here, and it is likely their success led to the migration of the first Blanchard to the hill which bears the family name.
Students of Indian lore believe that the hill was known to the Indians who roamed the Rideau long before the coming of the white man. It is believed the high elevation of Blanchard’s Hill provided a lookout for Indians on their hunting and fishing expeditions into the Rideau.
Albert Blanchard owned 400 acres of prime farmland along the town line between Kitley and South Elmsley, was a Quaker who settled on the hill about 1850.
Members of the Loyalist Blanchard family which settled the Greenbush area, Albert was born at Hard Island north of Athens in 1815. His branch of the Banchard Family embraced the Quaker faith.
He wed Sarah A. Hayes an Athens girl and in 1850 brought his family to Blanchard’s Hill. He died on the hill in 1874. His wife born in 1821 died in 1892 at the age of 71. Albert’s homestead stool across the road from the farm, later owned by Manford Blanchard.
Franklin Blanchard was born in 1860. Franklin’s first wife Martha Seymour died in 1887 at the age of 27 and Franklin married again taking Elizabeth Gardiner as his second bride.
Elizabeth was a daughter of the pioneer Gardiner Family which homesteaded about 1830 on the town line between the townships, about a mile east of Blanchard’s Hill.
Blanchard’s Hill Road is still a gravelled thoroughfare. Entering via the old preserved section of No15 Highway, the traveller will wind up back on No.15 if he continues on past Blanchard’s Hill and follows the winding road westward.
The long abandoned railway line through the area crosses the road twice, but only the weather beaten X-shaped caution signs mark the crossings. The rails are buried deep beneath the gravel.
Irish immigrants were among the first to homestead around the hill, following the Blanchards. About 1845, John Seymour migrated from County Armagh, Ireland and five years later in 1850 brought 100 acres of land on the first concession of South Elmsley, on the rise of land forming the base of the hill.
Travel in the early days was usually undertaken by horseback. Later, stage coaches began runs between settlements, and farm wagons and carts became numerous. Then buggies and gigs became popular.
In the 1830’s the inhabitants of Blanchard’s Hill had little access to other settlements. Consequently they petitioned the old District of Johnstown for a road which would link them with such centres as Perth and Kingston. The Old Perth Trail already linked this area with Lombardy and as a result had a new 50 foot wide road surveyed southward from the Perth Road to Portland where it would connect with the old Kingston Trail.
This new road was put through as far as Banchard’s Hill. From Blanchard’s Hill the road followed a road allowance between Kitley and South Elmsley. This section of road, between Portland and Lombardy, past the foot of Blanchard’s Hill eventually became part of old No.15 highway.
The pioneer Blanchards rest in Union Cemetery in Lombardy. Last of the clan buried there was Charles, who died in November 1984 at the age of 90. (Recorder and Times c1985, Darling Collection Bk 5, pg.3)