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Sheridan

Sheridan (Hammondsville)
By Nicole Mair

Have you ever passed by the intersection of South Sheridan Way and Sherwood Heights Drive, and seen a silo near the side of the road that seemed strangely out of place? Or perhaps you’ve noticed the somewhat hidden marker off to one end of a parking lot near the southwest corner of modern Winston Churchill and the QEW. These two reminders are almost all that remains today of the hamlet of Sheridan.

Originally the village of Sheridan was named Hammondsville after William Ranson Hammond (also documented as David Hammond). William Hammond emigrated from Pennsylvania in the United States to the area in the 1820s. He opened up a store and soon the name of Hammondsville became synonymous with the present-day intersection of Winston Churchill Boulevard and the Q.E.W. The name Hammondsville, however, was very similar to the name of another nearby village, and when a local post office was to be built for the hamlet a new name had to be chosen. At the suggestion of Stephen Oughtred, the local blacksmith, the name was changed to Sheridan, believed to be in honour of British playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. The village became officially known as Sheridan in 1857.

The post office was opened on March 1, 1857. The first postmaster was Napoleon Henriod, the first French-Canadian to emigrate to Peel County and Halton County. He was an imposing man of 6’6”, with blue eyes which were often seen glaring at noisy children. Sheridan’s post office saw a number of postmasters in its time, following Napoleon Henriod was Joshua Pollard, E.D. Hill, William R. Kelly, W.H. Grove, Robert Waterhouse, James Jenkins, W.H. Falconer, Mrs. Mary E. Falconer, W.J. Bovenizer, Charles James, Fred J. Forrest, J.E. Sinclair, and Walter Percy L. Paul. The mail at Sheridan was delivered bi-weekly. The post office functioned until its close on June 14, 1956, almost a century later, when it was removed to make way for South Service Road.

Sheridan was a strongly Methodist village and in the beginning the religious needs were met by travelling missionaries. The area was served by Reverend William Case in 1833, followed by Reverend Peter Jones in 1837 and finally Reverend Benjamin Slight. The first church at Sheridan was a small frame church on Ferris Lawrence’s property built in 1837; it was used as a union church, where all denominations worshipped together. The building was also used as a school and a community hall. Members of the early church congregation included Peter Greeniaus, Richard Oughtred, William Hammond, Solomon Savage, Thomas Wainwright, and Thomas Jull. In 1847, the Sheridan church was included in the Cooksville circuit, and the first minister to preach there was Reverend David Wright. 

In 1867, under the direction of Rev. Thomas Howard, it was determined that a new church was needed in Sheridan. Half an acre of land was donated to the community by Ferris Lawrence for the site of the Sheridan United Church and Miles Vokes from Erindale was hired as the contractor. The dedication service for the new church was held on November 7, 1869. A choir, led by Stephen Oughtred, performed at the dedication, and the choir members were Miss Mary Brownridge, Mrs. Rhoda Falconer, Miss Amelia Falconer and William Falconer, Mary and Hannah Gable, Miss Emmaline Long, William and Allen Oughtred, Edward and William Savage, and John Wilson. The organ used for the service was loaded to the church by Ryerson Kelley and played by Amelia Falconer. Strawberry teas were held at the church, with strawberries picked from both Clarkson and Oakville. The trustee board for the church consisted of Ferris Lawrence, William Clark, Richard and John Wilson, Peter Greeniaus, George Long, Richard Oughtred, and Edward Cavell. In 1929 Sheridan United Church celebrated its diamond anniversary, 60 years in service.

The school, which also served as the village church, remained in use until 1869 when the school act was passed, and the original building was closed. After that, in the early 1870s, a new larger school was built on 9th Line.

The old school and church from 1837 was converted into a Temperance Hall and was used as such until the 1890s. After the Sons of Temperance discontinued its use the small building was used as an ice hut. In the summer of 1914 it was used a temporary residence for Nelson Lawrence’s family. In the fall of 1914 it was emptied once again to be used as a workshop as well as for storage. Finally in 1976, the building was moved to the Ontario Agricultural Museum.

In 1890, the Sons of Temperance purchased the Zion Church from the hamlet of Frogmore and moved the building by horse and carriage to Sheridan. It was used as a community hall as well as the Women’s Institute Hall. Sheridan was also home to Thomas Wainwright’s tannery, Erastus Hill’s chair factory, Stephen Oughtred’s blacksmith shop, which would have been located on the northwest corner of Winston Churchill and Upper Middle Road and George Long’s shoemaker’s shop at the northeast corner of the same intersection. 

One long standing property at Sheridan was the Clark-McCleary House, located on the Trafalgar Township side of Sheridan. The house in 1830 was built by Joseph Clark and his family, who immigrated to Ontario from Hull, England also in 1830. Originally it was a 1 ½ storey structure made out of pine logs. The house had two fireplaces, located at either side of the house: one for heating and one for cooking – later replaced by stoves – and probably two staircases. In 1851 there were seven family members living in the small house, and ten family members in residence by 1861. During this time several additions were made to the house to increase its size. In 1877, when William Clark died, the house and lot was sold to the Oliphant family. The Oliphants kept the house until 1900, when the house was bought by Joseph McCleary. By this time the house’s log exterior had been covered. Joseph McCleary was born in 1864 at Glenorchy, in Trafalgar Township, his family originally from Londonderry, Ireland. He was married to Anne Slacer and the family farmed at Milton before buying the house from the Oliphants. In 1956 the house and land was sold to the “Oakville Syndicate” and then shortly after to Xerox Canada Limited. The house has since been demolished.

It is apparent that the village had a very strong sense of community, since no crimes were ever reported there. The community was also proud that none of the children were subjected to the vice of having a tavern in the neighbourhood. One notable event however, was reported in 1837. Orange Lawrence Senior, the founder of Orangeville and a United Empire Loyalist, was said to have seen William Lyon Mackenzie flee through Sheridan during the rebellion in Upper Canada. 

Frederick A. Verner, one of Ontario’s earliest artists famous for his landscapes, was born in Sheridan in 1856. It is also the birthplace of Sheridan Nurseries, which was founded by landscape artist Howard Dunington-Grubb, who designed the gardens at the historical Parkwood Estate in Oshawa, as well as the gardens on University Avenue. It is now one of the largest plant retailers in Canada.

In 1877, Sheridan reached its highpoint with a population of 100. After 1880 the village began to diminish in size and by 1907 the population had dropped to 50. Today all that remains is the Sheridan cairn, a marker that was constructed in May of 1986. On it there is a map of the village and a list of all the family names that once called it home, such as Adamson, Clark, Devlin, Greeniaus, Hammond, Henriod, Lawrence, Long, McCleary, Oliphant, Oughtred, Pollard, Robertson, Shain and Tindell, amongst many others. 

The name Sheridan endures in the forms of Sheridan College, Sheridan Homelands, Sheridan Mall Shopping Plaza and Sheridan Park Research Centre, but many people do not know from where the name originated. Please share your memories and pictures of Sheridan and help to keep the story of this lost village alive for future generations.

© Mississauga Heritage 2009