History of Coe Hill


The Hamlet of Coe Hill in the Township of Wollaston in northern Hastings County on County Road 620 has a history of mining. Incorporated in 1880, it was named after William Coe of Madoc. He formed the Coe Hill Mines Company, after Harry Johnson had discovered iron deposits in a hill. In its early days Coe Hill was settled by miners and loggers, who harvested the nearby forests. The surrounding arable land provided a good livelihood for farmers.

The community was originally called Salem. It was later renamed Welch Corners after Moses Welch opened a store there in 1882. That same year, Harry Johnson discovered iron deposits in a nearby hill, leading William Coe of Madoc to form the Coe Hill Mines company. For a period of time, the community was then known as Coe Hill Mines.

In 1884, a spur line from the Central Ontario Railway was built to Ormsby, also known as Coe Hill Junction, to support the newly opened iron ore mines in the area.  In addition to being a mining center, Coe Hill also became a major shipping point for the Rathburn Lumber Company, with as many as 100 teams of horses arriving daily to deliver loads ready to be shipped south on the Central Ontario Railway.

Today Coe Hill, with a population of 708 (2011 census) is the business hub of the Township of Wollaston. Yet, reminiscent of the mining activity of old, rock-hounding is still a popular and worthwhile hobby to be pursued in the area around Coe Hill, which offers a great variety of activities to outdoor enthusiasts in all seasons.

Old Photo of the Coe Hill Mines

Comments (26)

  • Philip Foster Reply

    greetings: my name is Phil Foster. I am trying to find info on the late William Coe. My mother (Sheila Foster) (deceased) maiden name was Coe. I’ve heard stories all my life about being related to William Coe, but i’m not sure. My mothers Father’s name, was Howard Coe. is there any way you can help? or direct me in the right direction and I thank you
    Phil Foster (son of Sheila Foster (Coe)

    September 30, 2016 at 2:22 pm
    • Rebecca Reply

      My mother grew up there, I will ask her.

      October 26, 2017 at 1:22 am
    • Jamie Sutton Reply

      Bill Coe was my great uncle. He was married to Mildred (nee Stanley). He was a registered Nurse. When Coe moved on a new site as is the nature of prospectors He wife always had a job in a isolated communities. I have his signet ring. I believe he discovered the first uranium (pitchblende) but is was of no value at the time. contact me at Jamiesutton@cogeco.ca

      December 26, 2017 at 9:43 am
    • Geraldine Kakeeway Reply

      This is a long shot, and not sure if it will get read. My paternal grandmother was Nina Noreen Guppy – McKenzie – Coe. Sheila Foster was my father’s 1/2 sister. I never met either woman (Noreen / Sheila), but it is interesting I have stumbled upon a bread crumb that has lead to Phil Foster, who if by all imagination is a cousin. My father’s birth name was Gordon Stewart McKenzie, but changed it to some weird circumstances to Walter Guppy, taking on his mother’s maiden name. Anyway, I have been dabbling a bit family research and it is interesting to find this tidbit here.

      January 15, 2019 at 4:59 pm
  • Marilyn Stroh Reply

    Hello, I am looking for any information on Marion Waite, I believe from Coe Hill…born possibly in the mid 1920’s. I have been lead to believe this is my biological family..anything you can find would be greatly appreciated…..Thank You.

    October 17, 2016 at 5:16 pm
  • Mark Leggett Reply

    Wow! the first Coe Hillbilly really was a Billy

    January 7, 2017 at 4:07 pm
  • Harry Hunter Reply

    I am looking for information about the Military display that used to take place in Coe Hill. There is an effort underway to reproduce the event with the Army Reserve at LOCH-SLOY Picton airbase.

    October 31, 2017 at 2:57 pm
  • Tracy Simon Reply

    I’m searching for the Coe Family from Hastings. My father was born out of wedlock in 1926. In his adoption records, his father is listed as Clive Coe Atkins, born in Hastings in 1902. I believe his parents names were William Atkins and Catherine Coe. There are many matches in my DNA results that I cannot find a connection with. I’m thinking they’re from this line. Any lead will help. Thanks!

    December 7, 2018 at 6:43 am
    • Bob Allen Reply

      Tracy, Bob Allen here, Dayton, Ohio. One of my ancestors is William Coe’s second wife; Mary Jane Allen. William, married Mary Jane sometime after 1868. They had 4 children: Emily, Arthur, Kate and William. Kate (Catherine) married William Adkins who I believe was a druggist in Madoc.

      December 29, 2020 at 4:51 pm
  • Basil Martin Reply

    hello im looking for some information on my great grand mother Louisa (Coe) Martin , she married George Martin from Kitchener in the late 1800s , she had one son Arthur Edwin (SPIKE) Martin married to Anna Oneil in 1926 , she also had a daughter who passed away in her late teens , any info would be nice as i have heard of the Coe Hills and the family over the years but never had history about them thank you

    January 18, 2021 at 5:01 pm
  • Tom Watt Reply

    My Great, great grandfather (Alexander Watt) is buried in Salem Pioneer Cemetery, my first cousin and myself hope to go and visit his grave site in September, 2021 and wondered if any of the Watt family still live in the area. I knew my Great grandfather Thomas Watt (his son) and share his name. A few years ago my Sister contacted someone in the village and they were able to tell us how to find the homestead. Probably my last visit and would like to talk to some relatives if I have them. I am the keeper of the family Bible.

    August 9, 2021 at 3:26 pm
    • Denise mclean Reply

      Hello Tom,
      I am not family, but my husband and I live just past that cemetery….you will be pleased to know that the cemetery is well maintained; grass cut and trimmed, and properly respected by all locals.
      Best of luck with your family search.

      August 10, 2021 at 7:41 pm
  • Leonard Caldwell Reply

    My G-G-Grandfather kept a daily journal and lived nearby in Chandos Township. He was a farmer and postmaster for the Clydesdale settlement plus he worked as tax assessor for Chandos, Burleigh and Anstruther Townships. He had a closer tie to Apsley but went often to Coe Hill and fished a couple times at Eagle Lake (now called Wollaston Lake). Prior to April 20th 1885 he called Coe Hill by the name Wollaston and went there fairly often to shop and visit various people. His journals are chocked full of names and can be searched using Word tools.
    A transcribed copy of his journal can be found on the facebook site “Hugh Caldwell & Ann MacDonald of Clydesdale Settlement, Chandos files” under the files tab.
    The original journals are scanned and can be found in the album section of facebook site “Hugh Chandos Caldwell” and also on the Trent University Library Archives under the title Caldwell Family Fonds.

    September 24, 2021 at 9:21 am
  • Martin Smith Reply

    Thanks for all the feedback guys!

    September 30, 2021 at 10:21 am
  • Ruby Morgan Reply

    My mother’s family lived in a rental home in Coe Hill somewhere between where the municipal office and Red Eagle are now. It burned down in the spring of 1936 while my Grandfather was working in a logging camp. She was a Hewton at the time. I’ve recently read the book Your Loving Anna and it mentions one of their daughters marrying into the Hewton family. My grandfather was Robert Wallace Hewton March 29, 1901-June 4, 1964. He married Iva Clarice Burkitt Oct 25, 1904-Feb 22, 1984

    October 14, 2021 at 8:59 am
  • Michael McKeown Reply

    My great-grandfather was killed on 11 April 1910 while loading lumber onto (or unloading lumber from) a railway car. He was an employee of the Rathburn lumber company. Although his death certificate refers to his death occurring near Maynooth, an article in the Napanee Express refers to the accident having happened near Coe Hill. However, the Bancroft Times refers to the accident occurring Lake Saint Peter.

    November 7, 2022 at 10:40 am
  • Russell James Baird Reply

    a cadet drowned at camp ipperwash summer 1961, I beleive from Coe Hill. is there a cadet corps there, or did it close because of that tragedy?

    January 15, 2023 at 2:11 pm
  • Russell James Baird Reply

    (I’ll try again. I do not have a website) In 1961 at the Ipperwash Army Cadet Camp, I worked on the file of a cadet from I believe it was Coe Hill, who drowned in a landing craft training activity. Did you have a cadet corps then, or did one close down because of the tragedy?

    January 15, 2023 at 2:14 pm
  • Marg Reply

    I’m researching the Cane family that lived in the Coe Hill/The Ridge area in the 1880 +/- time frame. The supposed father/husband of the family, William, is a ghost. He is named as the father on two of his supposed children’s marriages in 1899. Other than that there is no record of him.

    I’m trying to determine why so many vital records for this family seem not to exist. I’m wondering if anyone is aware of a reason this might be.

    A bit of background: A woman by the name of Mary Elizabeth Nicholson (daughter of Chester Nicholson) was supposedly married to a William Cane. The marriage would have taken place between 1870-1875. No marriage registration can be found. There were at least two children (Sarah born about 1875 and William born about 1879). There are no birth registrations for either of them. In 1881 Mary Elizabeth is enumerated as a widow. There is no death registration for William Cane senior, nor does he appear in any censuses (1851 and onwards).

    If anyone can offer any insight into the situation, I’d appreciate it.

    February 16, 2023 at 9:20 am
  • Jim Stevens Reply

    I have been a visitor to Coe Hill since mid 1950. My Uncle bought 200 acres north of Coe Hill on Ragged Lake from Percy McDavitt a prospector who then lived off the Lower Faraday Rd. Percy died in a Belleville hospital years ago. Doctor Scott was his physician. An acquaintance from Kitchener owns property near my uncle, His mother’s father owned property east of Coe Hill . Finnegan Rd is named after him.
    I noticed that Rose Island rd in now named Salem Rd. Years ago we snowmobiled Clydesdale rd from Apsley area and came down Rose Island rd to highway 620 than on the old railroad bed to Coe Hill and east to Ormsby and highway 62 .
    The owner operator of the Ormsby store can probably provide some local information also and where to ask for more information of local residents of Ormsby. They have many pictures also of Ormsby and the old railroad station.

    May 24, 2023 at 10:27 am
  • Charlene Hannah Reply

    Hello, hoping to find info on the Hannah’s, Hanners and Cole families. I am a direct descendant of Gordon Hannah ( hanners).

    September 11, 2023 at 6:15 pm
  • Jay Thomas Reply

    I hope this message finds you all well. Im looking at relocating my family to Coe Hill on Finnegan Lake. Can anyone provide me with any information on the Lake or the surrounding area.

    November 3, 2023 at 12:16 am
  • Sher Reply

    Does anyone have information with regard to the I AM cultists who used to live between Bancroft and Coe Hill between the 79s and 80s?

    December 14, 2023 at 3:09 am
  • Spencer Blackburn Reply

    Love the discourse in these comments. Does anyone have any affiliations or memories of the Blackburns?

    My great grandparents settled there in the 1860’s. Edwin Blackburn brought son Joseph there at age 4, Joseph had Arthur, then Ivan. That’s the direst lineage through grandfathers but of course there was wives and sisters/brothers born there too.

    Edwin and Joseph (wives and many siblings buried in Salem Pioneer Cemetary).

    Thanks guys!

    December 15, 2023 at 12:26 am
  • Bruce Reply

    Does anyone know of 8 Pines just outside of Coe Hill, went there with my grandfather in the 70’s. They called it their lodge. Thx for any help.

    January 11, 2024 at 9:43 pm

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