Tincap – A Hamlet in Elizabethtown


The address ‘Tincap, Canada’ was familiar all over the British Empire, almost, wrote the postmaster in 1905, and elizabethtown-master-1861-62-map-6very often letters came here addressed Tincap from Ireland, England and the United States.

There are several stories how the village got its unusual name, though all agree the ‘old schoolhouse which sat on the brow of the hill near the highway boasted a cupola with a tin cap, and as this was the only building of note, Tincap seemed a very suggestive name. Another more fanciful version is that Colonel James Breakenridge who donated the land, furnished the local militia with ‘tin helmets (tin caps), during the War of 1812 and placed one on the school cupola which sparkled in the sun and could be seen for miles.

Located on a small hill (an ancient sand beach), Tincap became a strategic point during the War of 1812, when Squire Breakenridge, the County Lieutenant of the First Leeds Militia, built a stone fort to guard against sneak attack. It was a small building on the 4th Concession Road just west of the village, facing south towards Brockville, whence the expected invasion would come. He supplied the men with tin caps and drilled them with rifles, but Forsyth’s Raid never came this far north. It became an ammunition depot, a minor cog in the government machinery, getting supplies of ammunition throughout the district. It sat in ruins for many years, until it was torn down and the stone used for paving the road.

Tincap may be the oldest community in Elizabethtown as old as Lyn or Brockville. Tincap was planned on the Quebec map before the land was settled. It is located exactly halfway across the township, at the intersection of the 4th Concession Road and the Perth Road, the back of pioneer settlement. It occupies two lots (18 &19) and the Commons in between the narrow strip of clergy reserves that run up the centre of the township.

The industry of Tincap was a blacksmith shop owned by Peet Seleye (Seeley or variations) another legendary character.  He was a Connecticut Yankee, a U.E. Loyalist who arrived from Kingston a few years after the revolution with partners Enoch Knowlton and Stephen Smith.

Tincap was an appropriate locale for a temperance meeting, Tincap’s other industry seemed to have been taverns. There were two in the village itself, with a population of perhaps 50. Ezra Halladay of Brockville operated a frame inn at the intersection, which he sold to Orren DeWolfe. Around the corner in the valley was John Warren’s tavern.

By 1830 Tincap was a commercial site, the jumping off point for the back two-thirds of Elizabethtown.

The log school house was replaced by stone in 1850, which burned in 1894.

(Recorder and Times News Stories)

There’s not much to see in Tincap of its ancient history. There are a few old houses only. In 1908 the post office was moved here from Spring Valley and twenty years later D.A. Johnson installed the first gas station in the area. By then planes were barnstorming, including one which crashed in the fields east of the village, the beginnings of the Brockville airport.   (Elizabethtown: The Last of the Royal Townships by Alvyn Austin pub 2009)

George Youngs Store at Tincap



Tincap School c1905
Tincap School Fair c1930







Tincap School c1970

“Edna’s Scrapbook”

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.


Cynthia Louise Lamb aged three years was burned to death at her home on September 23, 1851.

Burton Johnston of Tincap burned at Belleville, December 8, 1936

A 14 year old boy, Aubrey Boyd of Tincap was killed while ridding his bicycle near his home on July 17, 1965, when struck by a car. The driver of the car was Chuck Lawson of Athens who told police he didn’t see the boy in time to stop. What made the accident doubly sad was the fact that the boy’s brother, aged 16 years, was killed by a car less than 3 months before when knocked off his motorcycle. The accident indirectly triggered a second crash a few hours later, which sent five persons to hospital. They were relatives of the driver who struct the boy.