Sunday, April 3, 2016

History of cordwood roads in Ontario

Great story on view at CBC today about the discovery of a corduroy road underneath King Street in Waterloo. Corduroy roads came about when the pioneers built up swampy areas along a roadway by piling cordwood on them.

Cedar was the preferred corduroy road material because a) it was less valuable as firewood b) it didn't decay as quick in the swamp, and c) it was usually plentiful in the marshy areas.

I recall when my folks first moved to the RR 7 address fifty years ago, their property backed onto what had once been a toll road between Guelph and Elmira in the pioneer days. Back then you could still roughly follow it from Paylor's scrap yard on Silvercreek out past that Texaco station on Woodlawn run by the one-armed bandit, out through that block of farmland. It crossed the Marden Road just east of where the Marden Road - Elmira Road intersection is today.

Along the way that toll road traversed some low spots, and all the low spots had got the corduroy road makeover a hundred years before. That toll road was ten or twelve miles east of where they discovered the Waterloo corduroy road today.

Interesting stuff.

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