Abandoned Homestead

A description with photographs of an abandonned homestead (Branstead Farm) in the Petawawa Research Forest

2003 September 17

When the Petawawa Military Camp and The Petawawa Forest Experiment Station (now the Petawawa Research Forest) were established in the early years of the last century, the original settlers were forced from their farms. Little trace remains other than in the road names and overgrown foundations.

A well preserved stone foundation in the Petawawa Research Forest

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A well preserved stone foundation at the corner of Woermke Road and Branstead Road in the Petawawa Research Forest. (2003-Sept-17).

It is not clear what the nature of this building was, perhaps a root cellar. I suspect however, that it is associated with a dwelling because of the day lilies, Golden Glow and other domestic plants that have gone wild in the vicinity.

day lilies growing wild

One of many day lilies growing wild in the vicinity of the above foundation, but otherwise in the middle of the forest. (2002 July 06).

Nearby, an old stone fence snakes almost unseen through the forest that has replaced the fields that had been cleared with such effort. But the reality is that glacial till makes better forests than farms.

Old stone fence in the Petawawa Research Forest

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Old stone fence along R6 (a road designation) in the Petawawa Research Forest. (2002 October 10).

In a legendary eviction fight on another part of the Petawawa preserve, Jacob Stewart stood his ground. In Staying the Run, A History of the United Townships of Rolph, Buchanan, Wylie and McKay Jennifer Mercer quotes some correspondence between Jacob Stewart and the Department of Militia and Defense (from 1907):

...So yous has kept me off my Property this last three years, I want to know that you are going to allow me for damages I want satisfaction in some way, So I will State you my Price that is 3 three thousand five hundred Dollars and the buildings, So if this offer is not Satisfactory to yous Please let me know it and as I want to go a Head with my work and improve my Farm and don't trubble me any more. I am yours, Jacob Stewart.

to no avail. He further wrote:

In answer to your letter..as regards the price of my Farm I can't accept your offer.. So if you give me three thousand five hundred I will sine if off to yous or I will give yous an offer if yous wants my place bad buy me four hundred acres of land 15 miles from Pembroke and on the government road and move me and my family on to it I will let yous have it and as well bult up I can keep 24 span of horses over night I don't see what yous want to expropit me for onless you want to take my home from me and give me nothing, why dont yous come up like gentlemen as the Onerable Mr. Dey did and buy a man at his home and another thing this is no time to go look for land now with the snow on I would like to ---? yous all I could but I cant better myself there is no use of riting any more about it if yous cant give the price.

Stewart was eventually evicted from his land by force.

For a history of the Petawawa Research Forest, see 75 Years of Research in the Woods, A History of Petawawa Forest Experiment Station and Petawawa National Forestry Institute by I.C.M. Place.

Sources

Jennifer Mercer(1998), Staying the Run, A History of the United Townships of Rolph, Buchanan, Wylie and McKay, The Rolph, Buchanan, Wylie and McKay Historical Society.

I.C.M. Place (2002), 75 Years of Research in the Woods, A History of Petawawa Forest Experiment Station and Petawawa National Forestry Institute, General Store Publishing House.