Figure A.1: Christopher R. Graham, author of "Postcards From the Bay" (c. 2004)
Although I was born in 1975 in London, Ontario and spent most of my young life living in that area, my ties to Colpoy's Bay and Wiarton go back as far as I can remember. In fact, my lineage goes back to the founding of the village in 1857, nine years before Wiarton was settled.* My fondest childhood vacation memories are of family trips "up north" to Colpoy's Bay to spend weeks at the old family farmhouse...the Kalbfleisch house. I was always fascinated with my great-aunt Marjorie's big old white brick house on the north shore of Colpoy's Bay (which I later found out was built in 1884 by my ancestor and village pioneer, John Wood).* The entire environment was exotic to me, from the limestone cliffs to the shimmering waters of the bay. I spent much time exploring what was left of the old farm lot, wandering along the bayshore, meandering up nearby Colpoy's Creek and imagining long-dead townsfolk walking in and out of the former Whicher's general store. On top of that, the sunken barges in front of the house and the old rusty flywheel on the former site of Whicher's sawmill piqued my interest in the history of the area at an early age.
Figure A.2: Me, at about age 7, cruising Colpoy's Bay in my grandfather's boat. (about 1983)
I was about 10 or 11 years old when I first read Sheila Gatis' little red book "'Days of the 'Mud Hen' and Other Memories of Colpoy's Bay Village". I was so fascinated with the old pictures and the stories about the same buildings, the same beach, the same family home I'd enjoyed so much all my life. I still have my own well-worn copy of that first printing of the "Mud Hen" on my bookshelf. Over the coming years, my great-aunt was involved in the research for and writing of "Albemarle: A history of the township." When that excellent book was published, my interest in the village and my family's historic place in it was deepened even further.
Over the next few years, unfortunately, my visits "up north" became a bit less frequent as I moved away to attend university in Waterloo, Ontario eventually ending up in Ottawa, where I have lived since 1998. It was perhaps a bit of homesickness and thoughts of fond childhood memories that led me to start collecting old Colpoy's Bay and Wiarton postcards in 1999. At the time, I was intrigued by the idea of having my own website and thought it might be a great way for me to be able to "return" to Colpoy's Bay any time I wanted. So, in April of 2000, "Postcards From the Bay" was born.
I built the website thinking it would be something I would share with some family and friends who might also be interested in the area. As such, in the early days the site focused more on Colpoy's Bay, with Wiarton as a bit of an afterthought. Only later, did I tackle the time consuming project of developing the Wiarton portion of the site. Today, the site has grown far beyond what I had imagined back in 2000. As I delved deeper into the available history books on the area, I realized there was a need for a single easy-to-access resource on the history of Wiarton and Colpoy's Bay. For Wiarton, in particular, their was much room to expand on what had already been written in various books. As the site has grown, so has the attention it has garnered. The hit count has increased tremendously and I regularly receive emails from all kinds of visitors looking for information or just reflecting on dear memories of their own childhoods in the area. In September of 2005, I was honoured to receive a Spirit 125 award from the Town of South Bruce Peninsula for the role "Postcards From the Bay" played in the celebration of the town of Wiarton's 125th anniversary.
So, after all that has come since I first wandered the shores of Colpoy's Bay, I am proud to say that I still get excited each time I drive around the bend at the top of Spragge's hill and take in the vista of the bay and the village I have always loved. I hope that, regardless of whether or not you have ever visited the bay, you can feel some of that excitement through the words and pictures I have put together on this website. As always, I will continue to add to its content as long as I can find new and interesting information and pictures to share. For those of you who live in Wiarton or Colpoy's Bay, I hope this website helps you gain an appreciation for all that has gone on before now to build up the place you call home. I hope too, that it motivates you to work together with fellow citizens to ensure a bright and exciting future for both Colpoy's Bay and Wiarton. Just as we now reflect on the history of the area, so will others reflect on what you do in the days to come.
* John Wood, the pioneer settler of Colpoy's Bay village (1857) is my great-great-great-grandfather. His daughter Sarah married German immigrant Henry Kalbfleisch in the year of Canadian Confederation, 1867. The two of them had, among other children, a son named Edwin Kalbfleisch in 1881 who later married Delena Arnold. The year 1923 saw them give birth to Frederick Kalbfleisch, my grandfather. My mother was born in 1946 after Fred married his wife Laura Hopton.
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