The village dates back to 1802, when United Empire Loyalists settled on grants of land given them by the Crown.
Rachel and Isaiah Wiley were granted Lot 13 on the 4th Concession and opposite it Lot 13 on the 5th Concession was granted to Catherine Moore in 1805. Two dirt roads crossed at the borders of the two lots and a hamlet was born as more settlers moved in.
Newbliss didn’t start out with that name. Originally it was Dodd’s Corners named after a shoemaker who lived on the corner and his father George Dodd with a family of five lived on another. This was in 1802 and in 1820 it became Dack’s Corners from the family of William Dack. In 1855 the name was finally changed to Newbliss.
The name comes from the Town of Newbliss in Ireland, brought here by an Irish schoolmaster, John Mackay who came to teach in Newbliss in that year. He thought the collection of houses and business deserved a new name and he made the decision stick. Mackay taught in Newbliss for over 20 years before retiring.
Further to the south William Dack bought parts of lots 19 and 20 in the 4th Concession and other acquisitions and became the largest landowner in the area.
He was operating a tavern in the 1830’s but the site is unknown. It was probably located along the road from Brockville which became the Victoria Macadamized Road during the 1840’s and eventually became Hwy 29.
Dack’s Tavern also gave birth to the Orange Order in Kitley. Newbliss Lodge was formed in the tavern in 1835 and around 1850 the order built a hall in Newbliss, which burned in 1944. Newbliss LOL, No.87 observed its centenary in 1935 . The lodge moved its headquarters in 1949, taking over the former Coad’s school, a stone building erected in 1875, replacing the earlier log cabin school. The school had originally been named for the Dack Family, but adopted the name of Coad in the 1850’s.
Newbliss was once a thriving community of over 600 people, with inns, a cheese factory, several schools, a hotel, stage coach house and other business. There was also an active Orange Lodge and a Temperance Hall.
Lovell’s Gazette of 1873 ascribes 250 persons to the village population. There were two blacksmiths, a dressmaker, and engineer, harness maker, milliner, postmaster, two teachers, shoemaker, tailor, wagon maker, two weavers and 35-40 farmers.
The Gazette listed 600 in the village population, but seven years later another census cut the population to 300. In 1902 the population of the hamlet itself was only 25 persons. Earlier figures were believed to be based on post office addresses.
“The original Newbliss Cheese Factory consisted of three frame buildings, the main factory, a curing house and a boiler room. When the main factory was moved from the old Ross farm to the centre of Newbliss, a frame cheese house was constructed for the cheese maker. It still stands beside the general store.” (Kitley 1795-1975 by Glenn Lockwood)
John Edgar, father of James Edgar, was a staunch Presbyterian, but he ran the first hotel and bar room in Newbilss. In 1862, he gave up the hotel business, leasing the premises to George Stewart.
Edgar then formed a Sons of Temperance lodge and was for many years one of its most prominent leaders.
Newbliss cheese factory, later a general store, was one of the busiest in Leeds County in the middle and later part of the 19th Century. Farmers for miles around brought their milk here for processing. The factory produced cheeses weighting 90 to 100 pounds. Patrons used to haul the cheeses encased in round cheese boxes by wagon to the Jasper railway station, from where they were shipped to the cheese board offices in Brockville for grading and later sale. The factory operated until around 1944 when it was converted into a store.
In 1904 the cheese maker, Robert Beckett, was one of the most prominent men in the village and owner of the first car in Newbliss. For years it was known as “Mr.Beckett’s Buick”
The former Coad’s school, a stone building, was erected in 1875, replacing the earlier log cabin school. The school had originally been named for the Dack Family, but adopted the name of Coad in the 1850’s.
Dack’s school was built on Lot 17 of Concession four about 1830, a simple log structure with unpainted interior walls and austere benches and desks.
About the same time, Newbliss village had a log school which was replaced in 1874 by a stone structure. Newbliss School was phased out of existence in 1961 with the pupils being transferred to Jasper.
Newbliss had two schoolhouses to serve the community, each its own section. The first school was built around 1830 and was titled S.S. #5 Newbliss School. It is believed the first schoolhouse for S.S. #5 was made of log, however no records of the school exist. In 1858, the stone schoolhouse which replaced the log structure was erected. This schoolhouse is still standing, located at the intersection of Highway 29 and Line Road 4. The other school section in Newbliss was #6, with its school being called S.S. #6 Coad’s School. Originally, Coad’s School was known as Dack’s. This schoolhouse was also constructed of log before being replaced by a stone building in 1870. Upon its closure in the 1940s, Coad’s School was sold to the Orange Lodge. (Kitley 1795-1975 by Glenn Lockwood)
As in many areas of Leeds and Grenville, circuit riders first brought religion to Newbliss in the early days.
Ezra Healey, probably the most famous of the early circuit riders, included Newbliss in his itinerary in 1822. He was a Methodist assigned to the Rideau Circuit. In 1818 he had begun conducting services in Toledo in a log school house. Methodist history records the fact he ministered to only four families here, probably meeting at Dack’s log school house.
Methodists worshipped anywhere they could find shelter, a barn being used on more than one occasion but in 1834, the congregation built a log chapel on the eastern edge of Kitley Township in the community known as Crystal and the church subsequently bore the name “Providence Chapel”.
The church was used until church union in 1935 when it was sold to a local resident who in turn donated it in 1960 to Upper Canada Village.
Early Anglicans also held their services at Dack’s School with a minister coming from Smith’s Falls to preach. It was years before the first Anglican Church was built. St. Paul’s Church was erected here in1904.
The village was also the first centre for Presbyterians in Kitley Township. The home of James Edgar, a pioneer inn-keeper, was turned into a mission centre about 1835 and Kitley Presbyterians met there until 1847 when St. Andrew’s Church was constructed in Toledo.
Newbliss Church – photo taken November 2016 (photo #5)
is a paperback book written by Edna B. Chant and was published in 1998. Edna Chant was a reported with the “Athens Reporter” for 23 years and she is the author of four books.
Her book, which is made up of news clippings from various sources, from which we have taken excerpts, gives us a glimpse into life in our area for over a hundred year period ending with stories from 1975.
While her book covers many areas of Leeds and Grenville we have only focused on the area within Elizabethtown-Kitley Township.
While working on the new house of Robert Mackie near Newbliss in August, 1908, a young man Sidney Christie aged 22 of Smiths Falls fell to the ground from a scaffold and was instantly killed.
On February 3, 1928 George Price aged 19 of Newbliss, was found in the stable of his father’s barn with one side of his head smashed in. It was quite apparent that one of the horses had kicked him. He remained unconscious for 36 hours and then he died.
On February 26, 1959 Isaac Lockwood, 73, of Newbliss died of injuries in a car accident.
An 88 year old man, John Andrew Lyons, of Newbliss, was killed on September 11, 1967 on Hwy 29 at Newbliss when a car driven by his wife Bella Lyons, 71, in which he was a passenger, was struck broadside by a car driven by Mrs. A.L. Wells, 21 of Jasper. Mrs. Lyons and Mrs. Wells were both injured.
St. Paul’s Anglican Church Hall at Newbliss was burned by fire on April 21, 1968. Due to the efforts of the firemen, the church was saved.