The History of Angus, Ontario
By Hugh Hardy
In early years it was customary for the young people to take out third class teacher's certificates. This work was taught at Angus, and in one year sixteen pupils from the village received these certificates.
Early in the life of the community there was a demand for church services. These were first held in the schoolhouse and it is said that the late J.T.B. Lee who was a small lad at that time used to light the lamps for the services. The Minister in those days, in the case of the Methodist Church, came from Stayner, and the Presbyterian from Alliston. With the growth of the village, it was not long before suitable buildings were erected. The present United Church was opened in 1868 as a Wesleyan Methodist Church by the Rev. Morley Punshon, who was an outstanding English Wesleyan Minister of that time. The Zion Presbyterian Church was erected in the same year and was opened by the Rev. Alex. Heslip of Alliston.
During the village's history there have been two Orange Lodges, a Masonic Lodge, and branches of the Independent Order of Foresters, The Ancient Order of United Workmen, Sons of Temperance and The Select Knights. The 12th of July was often a big day at Angus years ago, when the celebration with several invited lodges was held here. The 1st of July was usually a sports day with foot races, games of various kinds and horse racing. For these, the village had its own race track which commenced at the river in what is now the community park and extended towards the village, ending at a grand stand which stood near the present railway station. Dancing was also a popular pastime in those days, and there were four dance halls connected with the hotels. Nor was the community spirit lacking, for it is told that when the town grew and folks got tired of walking through sand, a bee was held for laying wooden sidewalks. J.B. Smith & Sons supplied logs, the men got permission to run the mill overtime a few evenings, then all joined in laying sidewalks. At onetime there was more than a mile of board walks in the village.
But the point of vantage which the village had enjoyed from its founding on into the 70's was to receive a setback by the building of railways to the south. Previous to 1878, as already mentioned, the only outlet for produce from the south was by way of Angus. In this year a branch line of the Hamilton and Northwestern Railway was opened from Beeton to Collingwood. This of course cut off much shipping which hitherto had gone to Angus. This year then really marks the commencement of decline, not that it was at all rapid, because the village was a busy, thriving place all through the 80's and on into the 90's, but in this year the peak of prosperity was reached. As lumber gradually disappeared, the mills, unable to procure additional raw materials, one closed down. This of course had its influence on all lines of business in the town. As lumbering was the chief industry, anything which affected it affected everything else. Gradually the hotels were closed, or in some cases were destroyed by fire and never rebuilt. Stores met a similar fate. The number of blacksmith and other shops of various kinds grew less and less until the place became even smaller and quieter than it is today. The year of lowest decline was in 1901, when for a time there was no general store in the village.
The only place where food could be purchased was in the drug store where a small stock of provisions was kept for the convenience of the people. But before passing on to the closing paragraphs, the writer must be forgiven if he interjects a few forestry thoughts at this stage of the narrative.It may seem a long look back to virgin stands of timber which once surround this settlement. It is a long look into the future when this timber will be put back again in all its value and beauty by modern reforestation methods, but the important thing is this: these stands of timber need never have been cut in their entirety. By wise management and the exercise of scientific forestry knowledge, many mills might still be operating in Angus, and the village still be a prosperous settlement. And when you read about forestry, or talk about forestry, remember that forestry has as its basic idea the continual cropping of the forest and not the wasteful exploitation which has been so well demonstrated at Angus and in many other places of Ontario.