Hawkestone is a "locality" in the former Oro Township, Simcoe County and since 1994 located in the municipality or Township of Oro-Medonte in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada. It was formerly known as Hodges' Landing.
First Nations had long established encampments and trails on the bank of Hawkestone Creek, Ridge Road and throughout the Township of Oro-Medonte. In the 1830s Richard Hodges established a landing for settlers, mainly from the British Isles, who after arriving by lake steamer, on Lake Simcoe, followed these trails to their settlement in search of independence and land ownership.
Hodges' wharf, where the steamer docked, and his large house called St. Helen's (1844) were the focus of activity. There remains evidence of two underground tunnels from the lake to Hodges' cellar and a hidden stair case from the cellar to the top floor. Some children who died on route to their parents' settlement were buried on the property. In 1940, the property was sold by Hodges' granddaughter for $2500 to the Canadian Council for Girl Guides.
A thriving community of a tavern, hotel, store and the first post office was located near the lake east of the creek. The first postmaster was Charles Bell. Two dams and 3 mills sawed logs and ground grains. It is thought that the first mill was established by John Williamson who subsequently built the large brick house on the North-East corner of the Ridge Road and Line #11 South. In 1856 a new wharf was constructed and the name was changed from Hodges' Landing to Hawkestone.
During 1871 the railroad reached Hawkestone. An extensive "station" evolved with a freight shed, stockyards and a massive water tower to supply the requirements of the steam locomotives. Many types of products were shipped out and supplies shipped in. The last Canadian National train passed through in September 1996. In 1998 the railway land through the township was acquired by the council for a shared-use recreational trail stretching from The City of Barrie to the City of Orillia, sections are used in the winter season by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs.
After the railway went through Hawkestone, the village developed north of the station. It was made up of numerous taverns, hotels, stores (including Priddle's Store and T.A. Stone's Store which survives today as the Hawkestone General Store), gas stations, ice houses, weigh scales, 2 banks, a fire hall also known as Metcalfe's Hall, and a complement of trades - tailor, harness maker and blacksmith. During this period the hub of activities in Hawkestone shifted from the lake front to the rail front as a result of change in modes of transportation.
In 1959 the Ukrainian National Federation (UNF) purchased the "Pugsly Farm" property located on the East half of LOT 23 and Lot 24 in Hawketsone. The 200+ Acres were developed into a large Recreation Area and Children's Camp where Members of the the UNF and their families have spent their summers on the shores of Lake Simcoe. A portion of the property was subdivided into 100 half acre lots, and sold to members of the UNF who built summer homes and cottages adjacent to the UNF. The entire property was named "Sokil", which is the Ukrainian word for "Hawk" in reference to the village of Hawkestone where the community was established. Today the private subdivision is maintained by the "Sokil Property Owners Association" which manages the non-municipal water system, roads and other related issues. The UNF still maintains the Recreation Area and Children's Camp, where three children's summer camps run throughout the summer, as well as weekend overnight camping area, seasonal cabin rentals and a seasonal trailer park. St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic chapel also conducts services each Sunday throughout the summer season.
The primary source for basic documents (vital statistics, land records, wills) for people who lived in the Province of Ontario is the Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M7A 2C5.
Civil registration did not begin in the province until 1869. Before then there may be church records of baptisms and burials. For the most part these are still held by the denomination who recorded them. Copies of marriage records made pre-1869 had to be sent by individual clergymen to the registrar of the county in which the marriage took place. These marriage records are available through Ontario Archives, on micorfilm through LDS libraries, and on paid and unpaid websites, but because they were copied at the registrars' offices, they cannot be considered a primary source.
Vital Records after 1869
Birth, marriage and death registrations are not open to the public until a specific number of years after the event occurred. Births to 1914 are now available [October 2012]; dates for marriages and deaths are later. Birth and death registration was not universally carried out in the early years after its adoption. Deaths were more apt to be reported than births for several years. The more rural the area, the less likely it would be that these happenings were reported to the authorities.
Land Records and Wills
Information on how to access land records and wills is best sought on the Archives of Ontario website. An ancestor's land holding might be found on Canadian County Atlas Digital Project if he was in occupancy circa 1878.
Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents (APOLROD). A list of Land Registry Offices for all Counties of Ontario.
The original censuses are in the hands of Library and Archives Canada. All of the original census (1851-1911) images are online with the exception of that for 1861. Not all of them are indexed. Later censuses are not yet available. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited.
E-books and Books
Websites with more local information on Simcoe County