Crystal is an old Irish community located east of Frankville. It lies along Leacock Road. The easiest way to reach Crystal is by taking the Leacock Road out of Frankville and heading due east until reaching Crystal No.8 L.O.L. the centre of the community.
The Irish of Crystal congregated on Lots No 1 to 7 in the 7th Concession of Kitley east of Frankville. Two grist’s mills were erected on the south shore of Irish Lake and since local farmers were noted for their fine grain crops, the mills proved extremely valuable to the community.
First registered owners of lots in the community were the Livingston brothers, Daniel and David. On June 30th, 1801 Daniel took out a 200 acre Crown land grant on Lot No.7 and the same day David was granted 200 acres on Lot No.6 Daniel sold his lot to John Burk, who in turn passed it on to Aaron Montgomery. Montgomery sold it in 1823 to Reuben Graves.
Crystal also had a cheese factory around 1850. The farmers cleared their land and produced wheat, rye, barley, oats, potatoes and vegetables.
Duncan Livingston had a lumber mill operating near Frankville, and there were several grist’s mills running in the area as well.
Oxen were the beasts of burden in the early days, until horses became more prevalent. Farmers also had herds of sheep for booth wool and meat.
Ogle R. Gowan founded Crystal No 8 Orange Lodge in 1832. Gowan who founded No. 1 Orange Lodge in Brockville began touring the countryside setting up new lodges wherever he deemed the population and times were ripe for such a move.
He was particularly interested in the high Irish population of this section of Kitley. Irish immigrants had homesteaded here in the 1820’s and many were from Protestant families.
Among the Protestant Irish, Gowan found ready fuel for his crusade on behalf of Orangeism. In the spring of 1832 Gowan established Crystal L.O.L. No. 8 being the eighth lodge he had founded in Canada since starting No.1 in Brockville.
The lodge building was erected on Leacock Road passing through this community. The two story hall was equipped with drive sheds in which members tethered their horses and tied up their buggies while attending lodge meetings.
In 1883 Crystal No.8 boasted 56 members who met regularly on the first Tuesday of each month. (Recorder and Times c1985, Darling Collection Bk 5 pg.6/7)
In Kitley Gowan also set up lodges at Toledo, Jasper and Newbliss. The Newbliss branch LOL No 183 was opened July 1, 1835.
In the 1820’s, Irish, English and Scottish settlers flooded into Kitley, helped by free passage over the Atlantic guaranteed by the government and an offer of 100 acres of free land per family.
Many Irish settlers took up homesteads in the area lying east of the present No. 29 highway, along a shallow pond which still today is called Irish Lake. At the north end of the lake, a settlement called Irish Creek grew up. Today it is the modern village of Jasper.
David Livingston also sold his land, 100 acres to Solomon Easton in 1818 and the balance to the same man a few years later. In the meantime Easton had sold his first purchase to George Hornick who built the area’s first school. The school was located in Lot 6 of the 7th Concession. The exact date of the construction is unknown but it was listed in the 1861 census.
It was a school which held both Kitley and Wolford pupils, being know on the Leeds side as S.S. No.12, Kittley.
In 1861 it was located between the farm houses of George and Robert Hornick and in 1872 the teacher was Samuel Hornick. In 1875 Sam Hornick sold the half acre on which the school was located to the local school trustees.
The school one of the last log structures to be used by the Leeds and Grenville School system was phased out in 1961 after more than a century of service, and Crystal area children were bussed to a new school in Frankville. The old log structure was sold to a Brown Family, moved to the North Augusta Road and renovated as a home.
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.