1857 – Captain Ralph Norman

In the spring of 1857 Captain Ralph Norman arrived in “the Jordan” and settled there.  He fought in the Crimean War and when he was discharged he headed for the abundant riches in Canada.

Captain Norman built a mill by the Jordan River from “the mill by the bridge” the name Millbridge was established.

Norman established the first general store and called it Norman’s Trading Post.  Goods were traded and sold to farmers and loggers throughout the district.

Maria his wife was a trained nurse and had also served in the Crimean war.  It is said that she attended wounded soldiers foregoing her own safety under the direction of Florence Nightingale.

In the late 1800’s, Captain Norman was ordered by Prime Minister MacKenzie Bowell to recruit, train and prepare young men in the town of Belleville for the Canadian Forces.  Maria remained in “The Jordan” to operate their store.

When Captain Norman returned the settlement had been renamed Millbridge.  There were two more general stores, a buggy repair shop and a mailing house.  St. Oswald’s church and the school had also been erected during his absence.

Several sawmills operated within a radius of two miles. (A quote from an older resident – “As a child I could hear at least seven whistles blowing twice a day calling the men to work and releasing them to go home.  The whistles were a way of like for us, they controlled the time for every household.  The time to rise, to eat, to work and to retire for the night.”)

Maria died in 1894.  Norman erected a bell tower on St. Oswalds in her memory.

Both the church and bell tower still stand today.  The structure is now a private residence.

(Information above is compiled from Echoes from the Past written by Ruth Tierney and published in 1986 and from Historic Hastings by Gerald E. Boyce originally published in 1967)