Metcalfe today is a charming quiet bedroom community. Many, if not most Metcalfe residents earn their living outside the village, and find their services and entertainment in Ottawa or surrounding small towns. It is hard to imagine that only one hundred years ago Metcalfe was an almost self sufficient village providing employment and services to not only its own population but drawing people from many miles distant.
In the 1820s and 30s Native Canadians regularly wintered in this area but never the less the land was surveyed in 1822 and given or sold in its entirety to Europeans. The first European settlers came to Osgoode Township in the winter of 1827 (Chapter 14). Within 15 years there were 240 European families in the Township. In the 1840s a store was built at the corner of Regional Road 6 and the 8th Concession Line (Chapter 3), and the first tavern was opened. Around them developed the village of Metcalfe.An integrated village economy
By the turn of the century Metcalfe had a fully integrated economy. While farmers in Osgoode Township (Chapters 11 & 15) have always sold some of their produce in Ottawa, there was a time when much of it was also sold and manufactured in Metcalfe. Farmers sold their milk to the village cheese factory, and their wheat to the grist mill, which sold the flour to bakeries which sold bread to the whole village. They brought their cattle to the village butcher, and the hides went on to the tannery, which in turn sold leather to two village harness makers (Chapter 6) and two shoe makers.
As they cleared their land, farmers brought logs to village sawmills, which sold planks to local cabinet makers, coopers, a pump factory and two carriage shops (Chapter 8). The saw mills supplied planks and shingles back to the farmers to build their houses, and sold the off-cut slabs to fuel village cooking stoves. The cooper sold new barrels to the cheese factory and a soap factory, and recycled barrels found their way under rain spouts at every house. Locally made felt supplied the village milliners.
Other businesses in Metcalfe included: tin smiths; photographers; tailors; two blacksmiths; four doctors; a veterinarian (Chapter 9); four general stores (Chapter 3,5 & 10); and, four hotels (Chapter 4). And the village was proud to offer primary and secondary education at the Continuation School (Chapter 13).Transport and Communications
Metcalfe was a major stop over for the stage coach from Ottawa to Cornwall for many years, which explains the presence of so many hotels, and gave business to local carriage and harness makers and black smiths. Local residents were prepared to invest in improved communication for the initially isolated township and cut their own roads through the bush. One of the first activities of the Osgoode Township Council, formed under the Municipal Act of 1850 (Chapter 1), was to 'macadamize' the northern six miles of what is now Bank Street, so that by 1879 Metcalfe was only 1 1/4 miles away from a paved road that led all the way to Ottawa.
Metcalfe had weekly mail from 1845, a telegraph connection in 1870 and telephones from 1884 (Chapter 6). By 1901 there were 31 miles of telephone wire and 69 miles of telegraph wire in the Township. And there was a daily return stage coach service to Ottawa, (Chapter 3).
However, to the disappointment of village leaders, the final routes of both the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Railway, (now the CP line)—which came through Osgoode in 1864—and the New York and Central Railway—built through Russell in 1889—missed Metcalfe by almost eight miles east and west. The eventual decline of local manufacturing must be partially attributed to the lack of a rail connection.Social life
Despite the quiet nature of the village today, it may surprise you to know that Metcalfe once had four hotels—with bars, and in the late 1800s several of the general stores also had liquor licenses. The village must have been quite a rowdy place on a Saturday night! At the same time the village supported five churches: Roman Catholic (Chapter 14); Anglican (Chapter 7); Presbyterian and Methodist (Chapter 12); and Baptist. So it was a busy place on Sunday morning too.
During the 1930s movies were screened in the Town Hall. At 5¢ for a movie ticket, and 5¢ for an ice cream on the way home, a pleasant nights entertainment could be had for only a dime! There was also a tennis club, a brass band, and plenty of sports and social clubs.
Osgoode Township Hall8243 Victoria Street
The Township of Osgoode was incorporated under the Ontario Municipal Act in 1850, but had no official office for forty years. Council met in local hotel bars and sometimes at Iveson's Harness Shop.
In 1891 the Town Hall was built for a cost of $2,480. The lot was bought from W.R. Doctor for $100.
Apart from Council business, the building was well used by the community for such activities as: church and club banquets; school concerts; movies; and meetings for organizations like the Women's Institute and Metcalfe Agricultural Society. In the early 1970s the back of the Hall housed the public library.
In 1961 the hall was divided into offices, at a cost of $9,000, relocating the larger community events. In 1978 a major renovation modernized the office space and replacing the tower in its original state. The most recent work in 1991 added a wing behind the hall at a cost of $1.25 million, and restored the original size and features of the Council chamber.
This public building is probably the best maintained on the tour. The Council chamber has replica tongue and groove wainscoting and windows, and the original ceiling. Outside, note the fine replica tower and traditional cedar shingles. First and Second World War Memorials stand in the court yard.
Since Osgoode Township was amalgamated into the City of Ottawa, the Township Hall has become the Metcalfe Client Service Centre.
The first event held in the Town Hall was a lying-in-state for the Reeve, Ira Morgan, killed by a street car in Ottawa, as the new building was about to be opened.
O.C. Simpson, Dry Goods, Groceries, Provisions, Flour Feed & General Household Supplies8227 Victoria Street
This address is the site of the first store in Metcalfe, Stretham & Coombs, which was opened before 1850. The original building was a trough roofed log cabin. It was replaced by an imposing brick building which housed a store, post office and residence. This is the building pictured above with its distinctive ginger-bread lattice ornamentation and peaked roofs and gables, and dormer windows. In a community hall over the store Court and Municipal Sessions were held along with concerts and service club meetings.
At the turn of the century the store was bought by James Simpson, who rebuilt the present building on the original stone foundations, after a major fire in 1908 destroyed the building in the photo. Note the front porch trim, tin roof and store windows which may be the orginal ones from 1908.
Mr. Simpson's complex was a combination grocery, dry goods, wearing apparel and feed store. A specialty was yard goods - from cheesecloth to wool and silks - and millinery creations from imported milliners in the hall upstairs.
Simpson was a Liberal supporter and while Laurier was in office he had the post office. However, after Borden and the Conservatives came to office in 1911 the post office moved to Rolston's store. However, as Simpson's daughter married Rolston's son, the post mistress remained the same.
Simpson had a Delco gas generator and his store was the first building to have electric light several years before electric service came to the village in the 1920s.
Simpson ran the first public transport from Metcalfe to Ottawa—a stage coach pictured below with Orton Simpson at the reigns. It was " a framework structure encased in adjustable roller-type curtains, very protective during wind and other inclement weather for passengers perched on narrow seats skirting both lengths of the stage behind the driver. Fare 25 c. to 75 c. Schedule Lv. Metcalfe 7 a.m., arrive Ottawa 11 a.m. Leave Ottawa 2 p.m. arrive Metcalfe 6 p.m. It included a courier service of a kind. Parcel and mail pick-up en-route was the norm...Then toll gate stops at Greely, Leitrim and Billings Bridge were also time consuming..." Simpson delivered the mail to Ottawa and also handled bank deposits, as there was no bank in Metcalfe.
The Commercial HotelCorner of Victoria Street and 8th Line Road
The Victoria Park was the site of one of the finest homes and hotels in Metcalfe. In the 1840s Adam Baker built a large home on this corner, and the village was known for a while as "Baker's Corners". The daily Ottawa-Cornwall stage coach and several prominent doctors provided enough business for four hotels in Metcalfe by the turn of the century. None have survived. The Commercial Hotel was established in Baker's house by Andrew York. In 1901 the business was in the hands of Paddy O'Connor "Beloved and known to all as "Paddy" throughout the countryside...His red round face betrayed a sense of humour characteristic of his Emerald Isle ancestry. His wife (Ellen) and family...were actively engaged in the busy day to day routine. The (three) boys were in charge of the stables which housed several livery horses." "Sheds ambled along the Albert Street line to turn abruptly towards the Castor Creek...There was ample space for family carriages—buggies and phaetons—as well as for customer's vehicles. (There was) at least one full-time groomsman who also kept tab on the allotted shed space for customers patronizing the store. Judging from the tie-ups business flourished. In Paddy's day traveling salesmen representing wholesale companies circulated towns and villages in the Ottawa valley. Hotel space was rented to display their wares. This was an on the spot buyers opportunity for area merchants. A room on a higher level (behind) the bar accommodated the agents order-taking. This boosted Paddy's business in both meal and bar facilities...During lulls of prospective clients, Paddy and the travelers often sat outside on the verandah engaged in card games, flipping coins and other petty pastimes...." The hotel was torn down in the 1970s and the lot was vacant until the Township opened the new park in 1990.
Rolston Bros., General Merchants, Undertakers and Mill Owners8197 and 8199 Victoria Street
For many years around the turn of the century 8197 Victoria Street was the home of a prominent Metcalfe businessman, J.L. Rolston. While the central porch of 8197 has been added in recent years, much of the original woodwork, siding and windows—with their slightly distorted glass—are well preserved, and the metal roof is very old. Inside the cafe you can see original 12" baseboards. Partners James L. Rolston of March and Robert Pink of Hull opened their first general store in Metcalfe in 1874. The store was eventually re-located to 8199 beside the house. Pink and Rolston also owned a saw mill on Kent Street, and a shingle mill, carding mill and grist mill. Pink and Rolston were linked by more than just business concerns - Pink married Rolston's sister Caroline, while Rolston married Pink's niece Elizabeth. When Elizabeth died after only one year of marriage, Rolston married her cousin Ellen. Ellen lived to be 91, and had seven children, one of whom, Ernest ran the store and undertaking business after his father retired. Rolston was president of the Metcalfe Rural Telephone Company, treasurer of the Metcalfe Agricultural Society, and a postmaster. He headed the local school board for several years, and belonged to the Russell Masonic Lodge. He was a staunch supporter of the Anglican Church and president of the Russell County Conservative Association. He ran unsuccessfully in the provincial election of 1905. His store sold dry goods, fabric, shoes, clothing, and patent medicines. In addition he ran the only undertaking business in the village, provided goods on credit and sometimes lent money. And he accepted goods on barter in exchange for items bought from the store.
Iveson Saddler, Harness Maker and Cart Cover Manufacturer8177/8173 Victoria Street
The buildings at 8177 and 8173 were built in the 1860s by Timothy Iveson, of Rochdale, England. His sons Frank and Henry carried on the family business until 1938. Henry managed the harness business at 8173. Timothy's famous Scotch Collars for draft horses were $2.50 in 1900. "The made to measure leather collar was stuffed with goat hair and rye straw and lined with thick felt-like chequered facing. The careful padded outline allowed for an even distribution of a heavy load. And the straw's fibrous texture reputedly withstood load pressure and penetration by horse sweat - both of which contributed to chafed shoulders." Henry's death in 1938 ended 84 years in the harness business. Timothy Iveson's original harness making tools can be seen at Upper Canada Village. The Ivesons opened an office for the Montreal Telegraph Company in 1870 at 8177 Victoria. All the Iveson children could operate the telegraph key. Between 1884 to 1920 they also ran the local office of Bell Telephone and the Metcalfe Rural Telephone Company. As a side business, they offered electric shock treatments directly off the telegraph wires! When Frank became the Township Clerk in 1883, the building became a hub for Township business. For many years the fire alarm bell hung on the roof. This building still has the original wooden siding, shop windows and gingerbread trim. At the back you can see one of the last stables, which once could be found on almost every lot in the village. Pictures of the Ivesons are in the front display cabinet.Directions: Walk west to 8140 Victoria Street. Present business: Hawley's Corners Country Gifts & Accessories
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Holy Trinity Anglican Church8140 Victoria Street
In the 1850s the Anglicans, Presbyterians and Catholics all built new churches within three years. The original Holy Trinity Anglican Church was built in 1856 on land purchased from Adam Baker for $30. By the 1890s all three churches became inadequate. Two were replaced, while the third got a major addition. Holy Trinity's 1890s Rev. Clarke was an enthusiastic organizer. He was involved in many community activities including chairing the village school board and organizing a tennis club on the rectory grounds. He inspired his congregation to raise funds, and in 1897 the Anglicans tore down their old wooden church and replaced it with the only stone building in Metcalfe. Local parishioners donated limestone, sand and labour and paid for the building by 1901. They paid for stained glass windows, an organ, and the Ladies Guild imported the bell which weighs over 1000 pounds. Initially the bell was hung in a wooden belfry at the east end of the Church. In 1924 the stone tower and belfry were added. A gasoline light system was installed in 1912 and electric lights were put in 1931. A new oak altar was added in 1928. The brick rectory across the street from the Church was built in 1903 at a cost of $2500. It was sold in 1964. In the 1960s the drive shed behind the church was taken down to make room for the new hall. Sunday services are held at 10:00 a.m.
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Blair's Carriage Factory8188 Victoria Street
The Blair family came to Osgoode Township in 1842 and opened one of the earliest blacksmiths in Metcalfe. At the turn of the century 8188 Victoria Street was the site of George Blair's carriage factory. George manufactured some carriages himself, and was also an agent for factory models. The building in those days had two stories with locally made buggies on the ground floor and factory models on display upstairs on an outside balcony. The balcony is visible on the left of the street scene above. Iveson's Harness Shop across the street upholstered the seats of Blair buggies. In 1902 a large flat roofed building replaced the two story building and carriage making gave way to furniture retailing. George's daughter Nettie was the village music teacher, and persuaded him to include pianos, organs, phonographs and Victrolas. After Blair died in 1922, Sid Latimer, who had a blacksmith's shop next door, bought the building. He opened Metcalfe's garage and Ford Motor Car Agency in 1928. It was later owned by Bill York and Leslie Dowser. Various changes have been made to the building, but the front remains the same.
Dr. Murphy, the Veterinarian8202 Victoria Street
In 1891 the house on the south-east corner of Victoria and John Street belonged to middle aged twins, Adelaide and Adeline Bowen. They were Ontario born Methodists and supported themselves as milliners and dressmakers. They would have worked with felt made in Metcalfe to make the large and elaborate hats which were the fashion at the time. The house had two stories and four rooms then and forms the basis of the present building. The twins died in 1894 and 1895 and by 1901 the house had been bought by Dr. Edward Murphy, the village veterinarian and his wife Lilian, both 29 and Ontario born Catholics. They had two children. Dr. Murphy kept a horse in a stables behind the house to make his rounds. In 1910 he was assessed $100 business tax! He was active in the community and served as secretary to the school board in 1912. Later the shop was owned by Jac Hone the barber after which it was taken over by a mother and daughter business of Mrs. Duquette and her daughter Anna Morris who ran a combined grocery and ice cream store for over 40 years. The Aboud family have been selling tasty pizza here since 1978.
Metcalfe General Store8228 Victoria Street
Mr. Hawley opened the second store in Metcalfe on the south west side of the intersection, before 1850 and the village was sometimes called Hawley's Corners. Hawley sold to the Wallace brothers in 1860s who ran the store for almost 50 years. The Wallace's store was famous as home to the Village Stove League. "Raucous laughter and conversation of local cronies who gathered nightly around the pot-bellied stove to share news tips. Their topics dwelt on such incidents as somebodies daughter having eloped...or a chivaree in the making for a widower just re-married, plans for which included the accustomed wedding night visitation to the newly weds' abode... " Alice Mullins, the Wallaces' housekeeper, inherited the store in lieu of unpaid wages from the brothers some time after 1901 and sold to Jack Hanes. Hanes ran "the typical country store - small, low ceiling, dingy with its pot-bellied stove at floor centre...the store's cleanliness and neatness brought household comment throughout; in particular the unpainted white floor treated to a regular weekly lye wash by Mrs. Hanes." The character of the store remained the same as it passed through many hands including Cyrus Latimer, Bill Hall, Lloyd Jackson, Jim Miller, Don McLaurin and the Gebera brothers. The west part of the building is the oldest with its false square front, and plank imprints on the foundations.
The Rowan House8250 Kent Street
The large at the top of the hill on Kent Street was originally a farm house for an 80 acre farm. In the 1860s it was owned by Dr. James Allen who built a 40' X 40' bungalow. This house burned down and was replaced in the 1880s with the present house, which is only 20' X 40'. The balance of the original foundation was filled in to form a terrace still visible in the front lawn. The maple trees on the lawn were probably planted by the first house almost 150 years ago. In 1901 the farm was owned by Charles Carson, a 43 year old Irish Canadian Presbyterian farmer and his wife Margaret and their four year old son Loren. They had twelve cattle, three hogs, and four horses in the three barns. Seventy acres were cleared for crops and ten were wood lot. Peter Rowan bought the farm in 1915. The Rowan family homesteaded north of Metcalfe in 1847. Peter was a farmer, and sold farm machinery and butchered meat to sell at the ByWard Market on Saturdays. He also drove Dr. J.C. Byers on his emergency house calls, often getting up to harness the horese in answer to a midnight phone call. The ground floor had a big farm kitchen and pantry, a dining room, a parlor, and a summer kitchen on the east side of the house. Water was raised from the well with a hand pump in summer, and snow was melted in a 45 gallon drum in the pantry in the winter. Upstairs, the six Rowan boys slept two to a bed in the large east bedroom while their two sisters shared the front bedroom. Like in most houses in Metcalfe, there was a wood stove in the kitchen and a Quebec coal stove in the parlor. Firewood came from the farm, but the coal was bought from Pennsylvania. Three or four families would join together to order a railway car of coal for delivery to the Pana Road Station on the New York and Central line. It was fetched the 10 miles to Metcalfe with horse and drays. The house had a phone from the early days of the Metcalfe Rural Telephone Company but electricity was not put in until 1947.
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church2677 Albert street
The first church service in Osgoode Township was led by a Presbyterian minister in 1832. At that time half the seventy-one families in the Township were Scottish. The Presbyterians built their first Church in 1838 at Spring Hill. In 1856 they built a second church in Metcalfe on the site of the present United Church. The existing church was erected in 1895, when the 1856 church became too small. Members of the congregation contributed local timber. A Ladies Aid Society was established in 1893 and has always been a major source of church funds. The Methodists built the first Church in Metcalfe in 1834, before there was actually a village. It was in the middle of the Union Cemetery on Victoria Street. Three churches stood on that lot in succession before the congregation bought a brick church from the Baptists in 1922. By the 1920s both Churches were finding it increasing difficult to maintain their buildings and church expenses. So in 1925, the Presbyterians and the Methodists joined the national movement to form a United Church to be housed in the Presbyterian building. Two years later they were joined by the Blair Methodist congregation which had met on Scriven's drive. In 1931 the church was electrified at a cost of $65. The aluminum siding was added in 1974, and the new entrance with ramp and elevator was built in 1980.
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S.S. No. 11, the Metcalfe Continuation School2701 Albert street
The first public school in Metcalfe was a 15 foot square shanty built in the 1840s on the north side of Victoria Street, just east of the cemetery. No trace exists of this school or the Catholic school built sometime around 1850, south of the Catholic church, on Albert Street. In 1867 Metcalfe was reported to have a Grammar School and a good common school. The Catholic school was closed by the turn of the century. In 1884 with the first brick building in the village, a two room school built where Metcalfe Public stands today. This is the second building on our tour which is no longer standing. It was torn down by 1949 and replaced by the existing schools. In 1900 the Metcalfe School was administered by a local board, elected at an annual meeting by the taxpayers. Chairmen and members—always men in those days—were usually prominent village business men, and in 1901 the secretary treasurer was J.L. Rolston (Chapter 5) who served nineteen years for its 100 students: Mr. McGurril taught the continuation class for $425 a year, and Miss Ferguson and Miss Urquhart, taught the senior and junior classes for $300 and $225. The only other major expenses were the caretaker's $50 salary and firewood to fuel the basement furnace. The budget was balanced at under $1000 for the year, with $600 of that coming directly from the local tax payers. School fees from non-resident students (from outside the section, a mile or two away) at $1 per month contributed $60. The rest came from the Provincial and County grants. In 1901 Metcalfe was particularly proud to have recently started a 'continuation' class to provide the equivalent of high school education. At a 1902 special meeting of 50 taxpayers the board decided to borrow $1500 over 20 years to build an addition for this class. In 1905 the board bought chemistry apparatus, and in 1906 a new slate black board was ordered all the way from Toronto. Coal burning stoves were installed in 1909 and the school yard was expanded in 1911. The additional acre of land cost $140! In 1914, after the department threatened to withdraw their funding for the continuation class, a second story was added to the school for $1500, (raised through 10 year debentures). In 1917 agriculture was added as a subject. By 1925 the school budget had grown to $6000 a year with the salaries for four teachers consuming $5000 of that. The Metcalfe Continuation School served most of Osgoode Township and sent students forward to higher education at the Teachers College in Ottawa, and colleges and universities in Ontario until it was replaced by Osgoode Township High School in 1954. Metcalfe public was built in 1950 with three rooms and St. Catherine's was built in 1960. The Community Christian School was opened in Metcalfe in 1985.
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St. Catherine Catholic School
Community Christian School
Osgoode Township High School
St. Catherine Church and Cemetery
Near the crest of the hill on the far south side of the Catholic cemetery, are three white marble stones for the McDonnell family, some of the first settlers to come to Osgoode. Colonel Archibald McDonnell and his wife Catherine arrived in the winter of 1827-28 with eight children, to take up a grant of 1000 acres—800 for Colonel McDonnell's services to the Crown in the War of 1812, and 200 for Catherine as the daughter of a United Empire Loyalist. By 1831 the family had cleared 609 acres one concession south of where Metcalfe is now. He lost it all to pay damages in a court case that year but his sons eventually bought it back. Archibald founded the first Catholic parish in Metcalfe and went on to be a prominent Magistrate, District Councilor, Militia Colonel, and businessman operating a store and sawmill. West across the school yards, you can see the Catholic Church on 8th Line Road, dedicated in 1898 to St. Catherine of Sienna in memory of Catherine McDonnell. The first Catholic Chapel was built west of Metcalfe in 1838 on land donated by Catherine McDonnell. The modern Boyd block exterior of the Catholic Church might lead you to think that this building is quite new, however it actually was built in 1859 to replace the first Chapel, and so is the oldest Church in Metcalfe. The Church was originally 60' X 32', but in 1902 a sacristy was completed which added 24' X 20' behind the building. The first steeple and bell were put up in 1861, and the existing bell tower was erected in 1922 when the exterior was faced with Boyd block. The belfry was replaced in 1986.
Visit us on:Saint Catherine of Sienna Roman Catholic Parish
Ottawa catholic Schools
The house and farm at 2750 Charters Street has been owned by the Stanley family for more than 100 years. In 1901 it was owned Leonard Stanley, his wife Elizabeth and their two adult children. They had 100 acres and kept pigs, sheep, chickens and up to 20 milk cows. The milk was sold to a dairy and to the cheese factory in Metcalfe. They kept two teams of four work horses plus a driving horse. The wind pump tower is at least 100 years old and was used until 1954. It was originally located off Albert Street over a well, now under the parking lot of the Stanley apartments. Like many Osgoode farms, before electricity, water was pumped by wind energy. The pump raised water from the 150' well, and up a buried steel pipe to the barn behind the house. When the family needed water, they fetched it from the barn or from the well by pail. In the winter the pipe would freeze and the cattle and the family had to walk down to the well for water. The wind pump tower was moved to its present location and restored in 1982. It no longer pumps water, but stands as a reminder of an earlier, energy efficient day. The 1930s Fordson tractor by the front gate worked along side the work horses until 1961.
Metcalfe Agricultural Society Grounds
By far the biggest annual event in Metcalfe is the Agricultural Fair which has been held on the last weekend in September since 1856. The oldest buildings on the Grounds are the Agricultural Hall and the Grand Stand. In early days the mid-way was held in the main street, including Aunt Sally's Hurdy Gurdies, candy stands, refreshment counters, Punch and Judy's, and wheels of fortune. Exhibits were held on the village outskirts. "On the afternoon of the second day of the annual exhibition the president and secretary were wont to take their places on the upper balcony of the hotel, which was the signal for the multitude to assemble in the street below to hear the prize list read by the secretary. The president's speech came first, in the course of which people were invariably exhorted to 'put their shoulder to the wheel'." The first Agricultural Hall, pictured above, was built in 1875, featuring four gabled ends and a bandstand on top. It burned and was replaced by the present building in 1891. Note the white washed wooden interior, plank floor and massive wooden roof arches. Since 1992 the Metcalfe Farmer's Market has operated in the Hall Saturday mornings, between May and Thanksgiving, selling local produce and goods. In 1891 Pink and Rolston built the grandstand. During the second half of the 19th century Metcalfe had a good baseball team and the stands still overlook a busy diamond. In the 1920s horse races were popular on the track which still can be detected in front of the stands.
Visit us onMetcalfe Fair
Metcalfe Farmers's Market