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George Ward Barn Quilt Stories

Written by Rosemary Cranney, Becky Clark and Ken Willis celebrating history through fabric, film, paint and pen

Your Wardsville
Community Association [Wardsville Ontairo Canada] []


Double Irish Chain

The Double Irish Chain was a popular quilt pattern used in the early 1800s. The history of the quilt pattern connects this quilt and the life of George Ward to his humble beginnings in his native country of Ireland. The Irish people who settled here in the early 1800s influence this area. The Irish Double Chain quilt pattern was one of the many skills that were brought to Canada by Irish settlers such as Margaret Ward. Eventually the Irish double chain would become part of not just Irish heritage but Canadian heritage as well. This quilt block pattern reminds us that Canada‟s people came from different backgrounds and countries.


The Cross

George and Margaret Ward were devout Anglicans. They believed that God was an omnipresent God who rewarded those who followed him. Prayer and worship were daily parts of the Wards' life. They trusted God to ensure their safe arrival in Canada to establish a homestead. They believed that God created the earth and the soil. He was in control of their livelihood and survival. They had faith that God would provide a bountiful harvest every year. Rest on Sunday was strictly adhered to. Sunday devoted to God. Families typically spent the whole day in prayer, study and worship. This day allowed them to reflect on God‟s work in their lives and recuperate from the hard work of the week prior. As the settlement in Wardsville expanded and churches were constructed, many people would travel to church on Sundays and worship with fellow believers.


Old Country Church

The Christian faith was a strong aspect of settlers' lives in the 19th century. When churches were eventually built in the mid 1800s, they served numerous functions. First, the church was typically the town meeting place. It was a place to discuss matters that affected all members of the community. The church was a site of town politics and debate. Second, the church functioned as a place of learning. During this time period, churches usually doubled as schoolhouses where children were taught „the three Rs‟ (reading, writing, and arithmetic). Both girls and boys were given access to education. While school was important, children were required to place their homes and family before their education. Often boys would leave school to help on the farm while girls helped their mothers with domestic duties Last, the church was a place of worship. Most of the community gathered on Sundays to worship and share fellowship with one another.


Church Window

In the early 1800s, there were no churches. Settlement was sparse. This was a time for personal direction in faith and „saddlebag‟ preachers. These men of God traveled from place to place on horseback, ministering to the people. Whatever building was available was transformed into a sacred space for baptizing, preaching, and performing marriage services and funeral services. While there was no church during Ward's time, it is evident that George and Margaret Ward were devout Anglicans. They strove to exemplify Christian values and taught their children well. Their faith was strongly connected to their experiences of new life, growth and establishing their new home. In the 1840s and 1850s, George Ward‟s immediate descendants allocated pieces of land from his British crown land grant to committees to establish churches in the town of Wardsville



War was a common part of George Ward‟s life in the late 18th and early part of the 19th century. It seemed the British were constantly at war with the Americans and French. George Ward joined the army at a young age and was a British Red Coat for most of his life. During the War of 1812, it was required by government that every able-bodied man aged 16 to 60 serve in the local militia. The men had to provide their own weapons. The militia was responsible for homeland defense and protected their local areas. The local militia were not well trained but quickly invented tactics better suited to their terrain. Local men used their knowledge of the land to fight the enemy in the Longwood‟s forest. Their fighting style was modeled after the guerrilla warfare style used by native warriors. Many times these tactics resulted in fewer deaths to the militia unit. George Ward was connected to the militia through his two eldest sons. At the age of 16, both sons enlisted in the local militia to defend the region from American encroachment.


Ship at Sea

The ship at sea was a significant part of George Ward‟s life. Ward would have been very familiar with travelling by sea and operating sailing ships. He made many trips across the ocean when he was enlisted in the British Army. The sailing ship was the only way in which the continents of the world were connected during the 19th century. The ship served many purposes for people of Europe and North America. Ships transported people who chose to leave willingly. Refugees who were forced out of their countries left by boat. Many left their homes via ship out of necessity. It was a special breed of men and women who boarded ships headed for the wilds of North America.


Union Jack

The Union Jack was created in 1801 to represent the Union of Scotland, the Kingdom of Ireland and the Kingdom of Great Britain. It was under this flag that early settlers and the following generations of Canada grew and prospered. This community and country were established under British rule. Many early settlers identified as citizens under the British Crown. Canada would not be developed until about sixty years after the construction of George Ward‟s Inn. Many people would remain loyal to Britain because most settlers were in fact British or apart of the 1801 Union. However, as generations were born and raised in the newly settled area, loyalties shifted. Many of the children born in North America did not identify as British citizens because they had no connection to their homelands. It is through the Union Jack that both the connection and distinction of our European heritage is remembered and distinct Canadian identity is born.


Battle of Trois Rivières Québec 1837

In the early 1770s, as the British parliament was drafting the Quebec Act, which would supersede the Royal Proclamation as the constitution of Quebec, revolution was breaking out in the American colonies. Early in May of 1775, a small force of men from Vermont captured the British forts in Ticonderoga and Crown Point. With these successes, the Americans decided to invade Canada. Two army columns, one under Richard Montgomery, made for Montreal, the other under Benedict Arnold headed for Quebec City. Montgomery's troops overcame light British resistance at Chambly and St. Johns on their advance on Montreal and entered the city on November 13th. Montgomery then joined Benedict Arnold and together their forces marched on Quebec City. The British repelled them when they attacked on December 31st. Montgomery was killed and Arnold was wounded. The Americans then laid siege to the city and maintained a hold until the following May (1776), when a British fleet brought fresh troops from England. The Americans retreated up to Three Rivers ahead of these troops, one of which was George Ward. The heavy fighting that took place at Three Rivers was Ward's first on North American soil, but not his last. The Americans were driven up the Richelieu River, up Lake Champlain and into Crown Point. It being October, the British commander, Guy Carleton, decided that the season for fighting was drawing to a close and retired to Quebec for the winter. These engagements effectively ended what was called, "the struggle for the fourteenth colony."



Navigation through this area was challenging. The trees of Longwood‟s were large and old. The forest was dense with thick-branched trees. Trees rose a hundred feet to block out the sun during daylight hours so travellers had to have a good sense of direction. George Ward and fellow settlers could „blaze a trail‟; making hatchet marks on the trees along the path they travelled. To find their way back, they simply followed the marked trees. Some settlers had a compass for direction- a marvelous and more advanced technology for determining direction through the Longwood‟s.


Crossed Canoes-Travel on the Thames

Before the development of Longwood‟s road, the Thames River was the most efficient means of transportation. Referred to as “La Tranche” by the French and „Many Antlers‟ or "Askunessippi" by the First Nations, the Thames was the key transportation route for all travelers in the region. Both the native communities and European fur traders relied on canoes to conduct business and trade pelts up and down the river region. Besides business, the river was a main passageway for missionaries. The Thames was the main route for transporting and shipping military supplies and personnel. During the winters of wartime, the frozen river became an ice road for continuous shipment of troops and supplies. George Ward would have relied on the Thames River in his military life and live by the river as a tavern owner.


Wagon Tracks

After the War of 1812, the Longwood‟s path expanded. By the 1840s, the road had been widened enough to allow wagons to travel back and forth. The widened path inadvertently led to the development of the area and increased communication along Longwood‟s Road. Many people moved to settle the region in and around George Ward‟s original settlement. The expansion of settlement and the road allowed the evolution of transportation. By the 1850s, the rail system through the Village of Newbury was developed. In addition, another Indian trail (present day Hagerty Road) also expanded allowing wagons and the first stagecoaches to traverse the region through Wardsville. The expansion of both trails formed the basis for communication and travel in Wardsville and area. Community members were now able to access new towns and settlements along the Thames River region.


Woodland Path

In the early 1780s, the stretch of land between Amherstburg and Delaware was little more than dense forest. Southwestern Ontario was not the thriving and inhabited area that we know so well. Very few people lived here and travel through the dense forest was limited. The first people to traverse the dense forest were the native communities along the Thames River. They named the woods „Longwood‟s‟ and carved out a rough path through the forest. The Indian trail was hard to follow and traders often lost their way in the dense woods. Imagine Skunk's Misery 200 years ago! Upon rumours of war in 1810, George Ward was asked by the British army to settle and construct an inn along the Longwood‟s path. Construction of the inn required the clearing of timber and more traffic increasingly defined the path. By the time the war was in motion in 1812, the Longwood‟s path was a key military route and steadily expanded in size and importance.


Salute to Colours - Loyal to his Country

The military career of George Ward was long, eventful and loyal. George Ward enlisted with the 58th regiment in his native country of Ireland. He came to North America in 1776 as a soldier in the 62nd regiment of the British army. Ward fought for the British in the American Revolutionary War and saw action in Ticonderoga. During this war George Ward was captured in the battle of Camden and questioned in order to turn his loyalties from the British Crown. However, George Ward escaped from the Boston prison. Upon arrival in New York, he quickly reenlisted in the British army with his fellow soldiers. Eventually, George Ward was honourably discharged from the army in 1796. However, after starting up his tavern on the Longwood‟s path, George Ward was enlisted again by the British Army in 1812 as a dispatch rider. He was nearly 70 years old! As a dispatch rider, Ward‟s loyalty was called into question by fellow servicemen and superior officers. However, Ward never faltered in his fierce loyalty to the British Army. Ward‟s legacy was passed on to his children. Ward raised several sons who were loyal to the British crown and defended the region that is now Canada. Both of George Ward‟s eldest sons were active members of the area militia during the War of 1812.


Twisted Rope

The twisted rope represents the personal trauma and hardship George Ward suffered during the War of 1812. During the war, George Ward returned home to see his family and ensure that they were safe. Upon arriving, George Ward was captured by the Americans and repeatedly questioned. The American forces wanted George Ward to reveal the position of the British army in the area in order to gain the advantage. Instead, Ward remained loyal and revealed no information to the American army. After holding him, the enemy attempted to hang George Ward three times, „until the life was almost extinct,‟ as stated in government records. George Ward‟s ingenuity allowed him to escape and return to the British army. However, his property, home and tavern were burned to the ground in retaliation.


Victory -War ends in 1814

The end of the War of 1812 came in 1814. While the British kept the Americans from taking British territories, the war left much hardship, damage and loss for the people loyal to Britain .George Ward suffered great losses to his property, business and personal being. Ward himself was captured and repeatedly attacked as a dispatch rider for the British army. The enemy attempted to hang Ward three times and failed. George Ward‟s tavern and home were burned to the ground. His apple orchards were scorched and destroyed. With some compensation from the government, he rebuilt from nothing and replanted his orchard and fields. The traveler‟s stop on Longwood‟s road continued and business expanded as more settlers arrived. The Longwood‟s road gradually widened and travel became easier.


Carpenter’s Square

George Ward‟s many life experiences left him more than skilled in construction and assembly. During his many years in the British army, Ward gained the necessary skills to construct shelters. It was a common requirement for British soldiers to construct their own barracks, forts and shelters. Ward would have used these skills to later construct his home and tavern on the Longwood‟s path. Building was not easy for new settlers like George Ward. The density of the forest made the work of building tiresome. Men such as George Ward lacked modern technology that makes construction in the 21st century so efficient and quick. In the 1800s, Ward had to clear the tree-covered land and build with basic tools such as a plumb line, axe, shovel and hoe. Even a simple hammer and nails were not available and were considered a luxury. Trees were cut. Logs were hewn and assembled. Cracks were chinked and buildings made solid with muscle power and determination alone. Many buildings like Ward‟s tavern and home were constructed out of whatever materials were available locally.


George Ward’s Inn-1810

Ward was discharged from the army in 1796. However, in his retirement, the British Army requested that Ward obtain land along the Longwood‟s path and establish a tavern to aid travelers and soldiers. George Ward‟s Inn was established in 1810. George Ward cleared the land and built his tavern from the materials available. From nothing, Ward constructed two good-sized buildings connected by a hallway. The main building was the Ward family home while the secondary building acted as the Ward tavern and inn. The inn was a place for fellowship, merriment, and drink. As the settlement expanded, the inn became a central place for news, gossip and meetings. The most important function of the inn was to house weary travelers and during the war, tired dispatch riders


Tree of Life

The tree of life is the Irish symbol of Family. George Ward and his wife left their ancestral family in Ireland to come to the New World. They were determined to build their own family and heritage in these lands. Many Irish people travelled to resettle in the Canadian wilderness in hopes of a better life. The English and Scots settled this part of Ontario as well. Many Europeans saw Canada as a land of opportunity and potential for prosperity. They left their native lands in order to have a chance at a better life. Through these settlers the tree of life was established in Canada. Many couples came to the area with children and had many more children once settled. Many families were noted for their shear numbers. Often as many as ten children were born to a single family. A family of five or six offspring was considered small. Over the years, generations of people were established in the Longwood‟s region stemming from a few settlers such as George and Margaret Ward.


Farmer’s Wife - Margaret Ward

This morning I set bread to rise in the warmth from the fireplace, while the two youngest children took turns churning the butter. The churn and two new oak buckets have made life considerably easier, although I still have to thresh, grind and winnow wheat before I can make bread .Along with daily chores, I plant and weed the vegetable garden, hill potatoes and each spring I help with sugaring-off when the maple sap starts running. There is a quilt that will have to be tied because there will be no time to quilt it properly before the cold weather arrives. I have most of the blocks cut from old trousers and two coats are waiting to be cut into more blocks. ere are vegetables to harvest and dry before they are stored in the root cellar. Apples are still hanging on many of the eighty trees in the orchard and I must dig potatoes. I also wash and mend clothes and prepare meals for travelers who stop over at the Inn. The well-known saying, „A man works from sun to sun, but a woman‟s work is never done,‟ has proven itself true in this wilderness. Excerpts from Rosemary Cranney‟s “Through the Eyes of Margaret Ward.”


Indian Paint Brush - Delaware Nation

The Delaware Nation of the Thames were tremendous help in the settlement of the Wardsville region. Newcomer settlers were often aided by native communities in adapting to the region they were living. The Delaware nation taught techniques for fishing, hunting and living on the lands to the settlers. In addition, they were responsible for showing the people proper vegetation and herbs for medicines. The native communities of the area are honoured for sharing their vast knowledge of survival to the new settlers such as George Ward. In addition, many tribes of the First Nations were allies during the War of 1812. The Iroquois Confederacy, Delaware nations and Shawnee were key defenders of the Thames River region and instrumental in stemming off American encroachment.


Corn, Beans and Wheat

Those early settlers who broke ground and planted the first crops recognized the richness of the soil and the good growing seasons. Corn, beans and wheat were well adapted to the soils and climate and were a staple part of people‟s daily diet. Corn, beans and wheat were essential to survival. The work involved in planting a field was much more difficult in the 1800s because farming lacked the mechanization and technology of today. Ward and his family cleared fields, tilled the soil, and planted with little more than a hoe and shovel.


Water Wheel

The water wheel was one of the most advanced pieces of technology available in the early 1800s. For the everyday life of the settler, the water wheel was a valuable community asset. The most common form of water wheel was connected to gristmills which was located near water and connected to a water wheel. In turn, the water wheel harnessed the power of water to turn the large grinding stones attached to mechanisms. Local settlers such as George Ward used the gristmill to grind wheat into flour. During the early 1800s, the closest gristmill was located in Delaware. This was quite far from Ward‟s home and required a lot of work and planning to transport wheat and flour to and from the mill. However, without the water wheel, flour had to be ground by hand. Eventually, George Ward's family constructed a gristmill on the creek near his home


Grist Mill

The gristmill was an essential part of George Ward's life in Wardsville. The gristmill ground farmers‟ wheat into finely ground flour. Before the invention of the gristmill, farmers had to grind wheat into flour with a simple mortar and pestle. When the gristmills were first built in the Thames River region, the closest mill was in Delaware. Farmers had to transport their wheat that long distance or grind it themselves. During the last part of his life, George Ward saw the construction of a gristmill along the north banks of the Thames River in Wardsville. The advancement in technology was strongly welcomed. Settlers were relieved of much labour during the wheat harvest. The gristmill drew settlers and businesses to the village. Many farmers brought their wheat to be ground and bartered the flour for products and tools they needed on the farm. The gristmill was instrumental in the development of Wardsville.


Turkey Tracks

„Turkey Tracks‟ represents the abundance of wildlife and vegetation in the area. There were wild turkeys, rabbits, squirrels, ducks and geese. One of the most widely hunted animals in the area was the deer. Deer were not only used for meat but its hide and sinews were used as well. The Longwood‟s forest was abundant in vegetation and fruits. There were numerous types of berries to be gathered: strawberries, pin and choke cherries, sugar plums, blueberries, wild grapes and richly flavoured wintergreens. The native people familiarized settlers with proper herbs and vegetation for consumption and medicinal purposes. Settlers such as George and Margaret Ward were able to treat small-scale ailments with the knowledge conveyed to them by the generous First Nations.


Bounty from the Thames - Fish

Fresh fish. The native communities along the Thames had always used the Thames River as a source for food and European settlers were able to learn proper fishing techniques from the local native people. In the early 1800s, the bounty of the Thames was a key source of protein for the earliest settlers to the Thames River region.


Apple Tree

According to records, George Ward owned an apple orchard of 80 healthy and productive trees. His garden and orchard was said to be the best between Amherstburg and Delaware. Apple orchards were a common and essential part of settler life in the 1800s. Everyone grew his or her own fruit and vegetables. Apples could be eaten fresh from the tree, used in pies or collected and dried for a winter food. Women such as Margaret Ward were responsible for apple preserves. They also made cider, vinegar and special wine out of apples. Ward‟s orchards were reportedly destroyed in the war. He was reimbursed and reestablished his orchard to its former greatness.


Rising Sun

The sun is a symbol of growth, new life and prosperity. Settlers of the 19 th century such as George Ward relied on the sun for their livelihood and subsistence. The sun ensured the growth of crops. The sun powered the cycle of life. It turned the seasons and governed the weather. The rising sun reminds us of the promise of a new day after a time of turmoil and trouble. This was the case after the war of 1812 for the settlers of Wardsville area. Much of the Ward‟s property and livelihood was destroyed and needed to be rebuilt. Instead of giving up, George and Margaret Ward rebuilt their home and business in hopes of establishing a thriving homestead once again.


Tombstone “George Ward 1743-1837”

In 1837, George Ward died and was laid to rest near his homestead. His place of burial is now known as the Wardsville Municipal Cemetery and it is the resting place of some of the oldest families in Wardsville. George Ward‟s resting place in the cemetery is 100 feet from the original site of his home and tavern here in Wardsville. The Ward family erected the current tombstone in the 1900s. George Ward‟s burial place is a testament to the complete and eventful life he dedicated to the formation of Wardsville. The original settlement and his place of burial is part of the legacy George Ward leaves us today.


Paths to Peace

Settlers were no strangers to war. This quilt block represents the paths in George Ward‟s life that eventually led to peace. Despite his active duty in the military, Ward‟s service led to peace and prosperity for this area. Ward‟s life and actions were instrumental in the development of our settlement on the Longwoods path. The path's expansion allowed it to be heavily used during wartime. Dispatch riders carrying documents with orders, peace declarations and negotiations traversed the Longwoods path. This quilt block is a reminder of peace and war. It symbolizes our plea that all paths to and from Wardsville be paths of peace


The Centennial Maple Leaf

The Centennial Maple Leaf is an integral part of our Canadian history. It was designed for the celebrations in conjunction with Canada‟s one-hundredth anniversary. The people of Wardsville chose this symbol for a quilt block to celebrate the Village‟s bicentennial and to express our awareness of the greater connection our community has with Canada as a whole. The maple tree is well regarded for its sap and wood. Its leaves are soaked to create a special wood stain to protect wood products. The maple leaf is a local and national symbol. Our maple trees are a source of pride for country and our beginnings in the North American wilderness.