Linden Bank – A Forgotten Hamlet in Elizabethtown

Linden Bank

Area of settlement on map of 1861-62

Linden Bank was founded by United Empire Loyalists in 1798, 14 years after the initial UEL drive into Leeds and Grenville in 1784. The community did not receive its name until 135 years ago.

Col. John Butler Checkley, an Irish militiaman, came to Canada in the 1890’s to settle on the front half of Lot Number 6 in the Seventh Concession of Elizabethtown. His estate faces the Brockville-North Augusta Road about 10 miles out of Brockville and four miles southwest of North Augusta.

The Checkleys called their farm “Linden Bank” from the Linden trees growing along the bank of the creek flowing past their dwelling. (Linden trees are also known as basswood trees).

In time the entire community around the Checkley Farm became known as “Linden Bank”, and there was a post office by that name located on Gosford Road.

The area was settled by Loyalists. There were no roads, only wagon trails connecting the various farms of the region. The loyalists made their landings at Buell’s Bay on the Brockville waterfront, and then trekked by foot or wagon through 18 miles of bush to reach their future home sites.

Following an old Indian Trail, the newcomers took two to three days to make the arduous trip. The area had been newly surveyed, but the only way to reach the future Linden Bank was to follow an Indian Trail from Brockville to Lamb’s Pond (New Dublin) then east through Bellamy’s to reach Linden Bank. The direct route from Brockville to North Augusta was established after the community developed.

The settlers cut a wagon road through the hardwood forest from Lamb’s Pond to their homesteads. En route they had to traverse the high rise of land known as “the mountain” on Lot No 5, using a pass known to the Indians. The original road crossed a swamp on the other side of the rise. In subsequent years a road composed of logs was laid across the swamp. Traces of this road could still be seen in the early 1900’s.

Clearing their land, the pioneers grew wheat, Indian corn and vegetables, ran cattle and sheep and lived off the plentiful game on the mountain and in the woods. In the spring they tapped maple trees for sap and boiled it down to syrup and sugar for their tables.

Most had huts of log cabins built on their cleared land or in clearings near their homesteads. Some of these huts were located as dots on an 1861 map of Leeds County.

As the community developed, a business centre grew up. There was a tannery, mills, black-smithy and store. When the Brockville and Ottawa Railway was built, Bellamy’s Station became a forwarding point for goods. There was also a post office that was burned around 1920. The post office was never re-opened after the fire

By 1890 a carriage and buggy shop was operating at Linden Bank. By this time Col. Checkley had arrived and put the name “Linden Bank” on the map.

The first children of the area went to school in a crude log building, but in 1869 the farmers of the area constructed what became to be known as Marshall School. (Gosford School)

The school was built out of stone on a low knoll on Gosford Road probably 100 yards off the North Augusta Road.  After serving generations pf Linden Bank children the school was phased out by the school consolidation of the 1960’s.

The school itself was built on land donated by the Marshall Family. Several families of Marshalls lived in the area, running their farms and contributing to community life. The school had rough wooden benches and desks. It had only one room, in which all the grades were taught. It was designated as Elizabethtown SS No. 17. A plague over the doorway gave the date of construction as 1869. (Recorder and Times, Darling collection Book No3)

Checkley Estate c1985
Emma McBratney Home 1862-1924 photo c1985
Current Township map of 2016 shows location of Linden Bank