Welcome to Rockwood Heaven
118 Main Street South [#2]
Date of construction of this lovely stone building is thought to be 1884, but lawyer Doug Black, whose office is located in this building, wonders about the accuracy of this date. Stonemasons capable of this type of work were in Rockwood at an earlier date - during the 1860's. However , what is certain is that it was well crafted with walls over two feet thick and attractive wood flooring which has been restored and is a feature of the main floor of the building today. Squire Henry Strange sold this parcel of land to Agnes McLeod in 1865 and she is listed as its owner until 1893. It was unusual for a woman to own property in those days and, interestingly, the assessment rolls show her husband as the owner despite the fact that the title is in her name. The building has been used for several purposes including a tailor ,cooper, grocery and hardware. During the early 1900's, the store was "Grieve's Bakery and Confectionery" - possibly an outlet for baked goods manufactured at the bakery just a couple of doors up the street. Today, the main floor of the building contains the offices of Douglas Black, lawyer and Mark Griffith's Photography and Custom Framing. Upstairs are two large apartments in the space which was for many years the Gladstone Hall - a meeting place for the Ancient Order of Foresters.
Saunders Bakery [#3]
104 Main Street South
Saunders Bakery is an institution in Rockwood. The building has always been tenanted by bakers, with records showing John William Wright, baker, as its owner in 1864. In the early 1900's, it was purchased by Simon Grieve who died prematurely in 1905. Pete and Nellie Saunders began operating the bakery in 1913. It remained in the Saunders family until 1994- over 70 years - until Herb Saunders and his sister Bernice Bacon, the children of Pete and Nellie, retired in 1994 and sold the bakery to two long-term employees. Bernice Saunders Bacon recalls the family living above the bakery with the family kitchen behind the bakery and the rest of the living quarters upstairs. The whole family was actively engaged in the business with the teenage Bernice sometimes driving the delivery wagon throughout the township if the regular driver was ill. "I used to know everybody in the whole township," says Bernice. Saunders bread, donuts and "French Ginger" cookies have become a legend throughout Ontario. Many famous people have stopped to enjoy these quality products, including John Diefenbaker, prime minister of Canada in the 1960's. Bernice Bacon remembers a well known Kitchener industrialist who arrived in a chauffeur driven car - but always came in to say hello to the owners and pick out his own bread. Today, under the new ownership of Brenda Pettitt and Paul Holman, the tradition of baking excellence continues in Rockwood.
Apartments - Originally it was The Candy Factory [#12]
197 Main Street South
This building has played a role in Rockwood history since the late 1800's. It started out as an enclosed skating rink - complete with part of the stone walls you see today, but no roof. In the early 1900's the second storey was added and was the Terrace Gardens Dance Hall for a number of years. During the1920's the Guaranteed Car Battery Factory occupied the building for a short time. In 1945 it became the home of Schneider's Reliable Sweets and thus gained the name "The Candy Factory". Schneider's has left Rockwood and the building is being refurbished to house smaller stores - but the memory of the Candy Factory lingers on.
Heaven on Seven [#24]
262 Main Street South
Built around 1895, this building has housed a chicken hatchery, an electrical appliance shop, a religious meeting hall and a tea room. In 1977 it became La Vieille Auberge, deemed one of the finest French restaurants in the Toronto area by food critics. It is owned and operated by Hubert and Suzanne Bielmann. It is now Heaven on Seven restaurant.
The Colonel Strange House [#25]
238 Main Street South
Note: This is now a private residence.
One of Rockwood's most elegant and historical homes is Strange House - residence of Squire Henry Strange, one of the earliest settlers to the area. The Strange family had already settled in Guelph and were obviously in favour with those in power.
A family story claims that Henry was offered property in Guelph by his father or the opportunity to take up 1500 acres of virgin land in Eramosa township. A surveyor by occupation, Henry opted for the tract of land and thus became one of the earliest settlers of Rockwood and its most prominent landowner.
The first part of Henry's house was built about 1838 and consisted of what is today the back section. This was a reasonably common practice - build a small but serviceable cottage of "two rooms up and two down" and then add on as time, money and materials allowed. In the case of the Stranges, the main part of the house was built in the 1860's and shows some of the best workmanship of the period. Limestone, taken from Strange's own quarries and worked by the finest of skilled Scots masons, forms the walls. Interior walls and ceilings show the fine craft of Italian plasterers. The skills of Italian masons were in demand when the railway bridges were being built, but in the winter they were laid off. Colonel Strange offered them lodging in return for their work on his house.
An old stone barn behind the house designed by the Colonel's friend Sir Casimir Gzowski, was long a village landmark but it was demolished some years ago. The new development behind Strange House is named Stone Barn Estates in recognition of a unique piece of Rockwood architecture. These days Strange House is occupied by Charleston Homes; a local builder.
Second Hand SHOP [#26]
132 Main Street South
The original structure built on this spot in 1852 still forms a part of the current building. It was of post and beam construction, likely a private home of a storey and a half. The front part, of rubblestone construction with cut stone corners, was built in 1870 and became the New Dominion Hotel. Later, in the 1900's, when the temperance movement was strong, the owner refused to sell liquor and his establishment became known as the Temperance Hotel - a refuge for sober travellers who were loath to enter establishments where there was drinking. In the 1920's this location became a boarding house. It is told that a number of men who lived here walked eight miles to Acton every day for work - a round-trip of 16 miles in addition to a long day of work. Since those days, the building has housed a number of antique shops and the village library. It is currently home to a number of unique businesses.
Rockwood Music Academy [#1]
126 Main Street South
Numerous buildings have stood on this site including a livery stable. During World War I the army recruiting office was on this site. The existing building , which was erected in the late 1950's, has been a store, a restaurant and once was the home of three nonprofit organizations, including the Rockwood Information Centre.
Rockwood Town Hall [#11]
191 Main Street South
The Town Hall was built in 1870. At that time, more than being the seat of local government, it was the locale for community activities. Over the years, the Town Hall has housed everything from community meetings to dances to daycares. It is still very much a community hall, constantly in demand for a multitude of activities. The original building was made of board and batten construction as you see it today. This was a very practical method of building. Wood was cheap, plentiful and easy to work with. Wide boards formed the main cover. The thinner battens were then placed over the joints between the wide boards, sealing up cracks and keeping out cold winter winds. Over the years, the Town Hall exterior suffered through various sheathing trends. By the 1980's it was in a state of disrepair both inside and out, and many residents thought it should be torn down. However, in the mid 1980's, a citizens' group undertook a restoration project. They pitched in to raise funds, study plans and, finally, brought their hammers, saws and nails and went to work. An act of parliament dated 1941 deeded the Town Hall to the police village of Rockwood. This was unusual because police villages are not customarily allowed to own property. However, with the removal of police village status in 1994, the title to the Town Hall has been transferred to the Township of Eramosa.
Purple Pig Pizza [#4]
142 Main Street North
Originally the Lawrence Building, erected in about 1905, housed the Traders Bank on one side of the building and a series of businesses, including a clothing store, pool hall, several hardware stores and a general store on the other side. Half of the building burnt in the1960's and the Rockwood Hotel was built. The side that housed the Traders Bank later became a tin smith, drug store, grocery store, restaurant, apartments and now Jewel's. The original safe for the bank is where the washrooms are currently located.
Out-To-Lunch Deli & Cafe [#13]
203 Main Street South.
Note: This is now a private residence.
Nobody knows for sure, but there seems to be a presence in the building which houses the Out-To-Lunch restaurant. Is it a ghost, or just a draft? Owner Donna Yurek says she has often felt this presence in the old part of the building. Patrons will occasionally ask if someone has been smoking a pipe in the restaurant. People also vow that they have seen a reflection in a mirror or a window of a man in a gray suit. Of course, when they turn around, he is gone! Sometimes there is mysterious music and furniture which was in one spot and may be in explicably found in another location. If you're sensitive to spirits, visit Out-To-Lunch and check it out for yourself.