Historic Walking Tour of Cherry Valley

Historical Self-Guided Walking Tour of Cherry Valley

The walking tour listed below was put together by Susan and Glen for the Cherry Jubilee held July 28, 2012 in Cherry Valley.

Cherry Jubilee 2012

Picton Gazette August 2, 2012


Duration:  Leisurely 45 minutes to 1 hour.

The Cherry Jubilee was hosted by the Athol Recreation Committee in celebration of the naming and history of Cherry Valley.  The event included live music, food, an historical walk and a scavenger hunt.  Historical personalities dressed in period costume also added to the wonderful event which we are hoping to make an annual affair.

To begin your tour you may either walk to the centre of Cherry Valley on #10 or drive down and park your vehicle either in the lot behind the Town Hall or in the Church parking lot. (If walking  to the centre of town allow a minimum of 1\2  hour more to the duration of walk).





#1  The Town Hall

Town Hall

The Athol Town Hall was built in 1870 as the meeting place for the township council and it also hosted many community functions. In the1980’s the municipal offices were added at the rear of the building. Since amalgamation the building has been used as a community hall.

Today the Athol Town Hall remains the focus of the community in Cherry Valley. There are many groups and organizations that utilize this hall. The Athol Recreation Committee runs a variety of special events including a Strawberry Social, Games Nights, pig roasts, yoga classes, art shows and the annual Cherry Jubilee.

For more information visit www.atholreccentre.com

One of the longest running organizations using the town hall is the Cherry Valley Women’s Institute which was formed in Cherry Valley in 1908.  By 1921 the institute included 100 members.  The organization’s motto is “For Home and Country”.

This active organization has served the community over the years by building sidewalks and installing streetlights, sponsoring school fairs, donating books and funds to the library, visiting shut-ins, assisting fire victims, furnishing rooms in both the old and new hospitals, sponsoring 4h clubs, offering student bursaries, etc. The list is endless.  The ever popular pie sale, craft show and ham suppers are also part of this branch’s mandate both past and present.  The Cherry Valley W.I. is proud to be part of the Associated County of Women of the World which is recognized by the United Nations and is comprised of almost 10 million women in 69 countries.

#2. Alva  Stephens and  the Cherry Valley Cemetary

Alva Stephens

Mr. Alva Stephens is said to have named the village of Cherry Valley due to the abundance of cherry trees in the area at the time.

Alva Stephens came to the village of Cherry Valley between 1812 and1815 from Jefferson County, New York.  Stephens’ was a hatter by trade.  He had three businesses at Stone Mills, now called Glenora.   First a shop where he made hats, then a hotel located there and finally as owner and operator for the ferry between Glenora and Adolphustown.   He and his wife Hannah Walker sold the property and moved to a farm on the shores of East Lake, today the home of the Wallis family and their Bed & Breakfast named “Away”.  Alva and Hannah had 4 sons Orrin, Richard, Henry and Marshall and three daughters, (names unknown).  Son Richard Stephens was prominent in Athol affairs and is said to have been the leading force in getting the township hall built.  He was a scientific farmer specializing in hogs and fruit.

Alva's  Stephen's gravestone full size

Locate Alva Stephens’ gravesite located just behind church.

The Cherry Valley cemetery opened as a churchyard burial ground in the early 19th century.  Today it is a resting place for residents from all parts of Prince Edward County and from all over the country who have ties to the County.  One historically notable resident of the valley who is buried in the cemetery is Alva Stephens, the man who named the hamlet of Cherry Valley.  He died at the age of 99 and was buried with full Masonic honours.  Stephens’ marble monument shown above was erected following his death in 1882 and bears the Masonic square and compass symbols.

Another well-known person buried in the cemetery is Philip Dodds nicknamed by those who knew him as Mr. Prince Edward.  Dodds joined the Picton Gazette at the age of 18 as a reporter in 1924 and retired as the editor of the paper 42 years later.  He is also the editor of the book Athol, Stories of a Township and it’s People During the Past 132 Years.  The book is an invaluable account of local Athol history available for all to read at the library in Picton.





#3  The Church

Cherry Valley Church

The Cherry Valley United Church celebrated its 150 anniversary in 2012.  This was the third church in Cherry Valley and the only one that remains. The tower, not part of the original construction, was added later.  It houses a bell donated by Mr. Byron Hughes.

The first church in Cherry Valley was a Methodist church.  It was founded by the followers of Alexander Kilham who had been expelled from the Wesleyan Church arguing that the congregation and not the Conference should dictate Church beliefs and policies.

The second church, The Church of the Disciples, also refused to hold any formalized creeds of faith relying on the bible alone for doctrine and practice.

In 1925 Presbyterian and Methodists along with a smaller western group of churches united to create the United Church of Canada, of which the Cherry Valley United Church is an example. The building is noteworthy for its Gothic windows and doors and the mansard roof tower.

#4  Cherry Valley Evaporator and the Armstrong Garage


The old Texaco (now renamed Fixaco) station is the original location of the garage that Sam Armstrong built in the mid 1960’s.  The original garage burned down in 1963 in a spectacular fire.  Luckily there was no breeze that day so the fire did not spread to the nearby general store or the tinder-dry brush or marsh behind it.  Sam’s garage, besides addressing the mechanical needs of the valley, was also a meeting place for men while their wives shopped in the nearby general store.  Sam closed his garage in 1976.

Sam was also the caretaker of the church across the road.   For $50 a year he prepared the wood for the wood burning fire that would heat the church.  He would rise early every Sunday morning and light it.

Previous to being a garage this site was also where the Cherry Valley Evaporator was located that employed about 50 people, mostly women, looking to supplement their family’s income. Prior to the first canning factory in the County, evaporators were very prominent. There were 17 in the County alone by 1930.  Apples were placed on hand run coring and peeling machines then into a slicing machine.  Finally they were placed on trays and heated to remove juices.  The resulting dried apples were then packed for shipping.

The evaporator closed on this site in 1943.

#5 General Store 

General Store

There have been many owners of the site of the General Store.  They include  J.G.Howe, Thomas Colliver also the postmaster, Calvin and Helen Spafford,  Mr. and Mrs. Newman, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Browne and their son Philip, Tripp and Wood, Mr. and Mrs. Williams, Mr. and Mrs. Seely and in 1950 Milton and Mary Fennell.

In 1909 the store was run by Mr. and Mrs. Browne pictured above.  Over the years the building has changed with various additions.

The General store was an important part of the village.  It was a gathering place for the locals.  In the winter it was often the case to see the local men sitting around the stove in the store playing checkers. The general store supplied the residents of Cherry Valley and Athol with everything from baby food to gravestones.  It also housed the post office along with a barber shop.

One thing the store never sold was whiskey as the temperance movement was very strong in Athol.  Athol Township was the first township to ‘vote dry’ in the County and it remained that way till 1976.

Today the general store is the home of the Bald Photographer, Graham Davies feel free to drop in his studio anytime the OPEN sign is up.

# 6 The Bank, the Candy Store and the Garage. 1646 County Rd. #10

Model T

This is the site where a branch of the Standard Bank of Picton once stood.  The bank manager was Mr. S.B. Gearing.  Since this was during horse and buggy days the bank opened in Cherry Valley so that the farmers and others did not always have to make the 5 mile trip to town.  The bank was opened in the afternoon, two days a week.

After being a bank the building was used as a candy making factory by Philip Browne.  The candy was sold at his parent’s general store up the road.

In 1951 the building was torn down and a garage was built by the Metcalfe family where Mr. Willard Metcalfe used to store his Model –T.