Historic Background Information
Once known as Medina, Keswick is the largest urban community within the Town of Georgina. Originally a village within the former Township of North Gwillimbury before being amalgamated with the Township of Georgina and Village of Sutton to form the Town of Georgina. Keswick remains unique to this day as a commuter homestead; with a number of shopping areas and attractions snaking along the lakeshore and nearby agricultural areas.
Public and private beaches and marinas are also scattered throughout the area. The south-western portion of Keswick is known as the Keswick Marsh, part of the World Famous Holland Marsh.
The quaint, but thriving Village of Sutton reflects the rich history of Georgina. Like many settlements in Ontario, industry was the driving force behind the Village's origin. The site was first a dam, impeding the flow of Black River three miles in from Lake Simcoe.
It was named Bouchier Mills after the pioneer who built the dam in 1831. The settlement gradually grew with the addition of a gristmill and a general store. Soon the Village added a Post Office (the first in Georgina) and a schoolhouse, which also served as a house of worship until 1858 and as a Town Hall until the mid-1850's.
In 1864, after more growth including the building of St. James Anglican Church, the Village's name was changed from Bouchier Mills to Sutton.
Today Sutton is a modern, lively community, with proud roots that are still reflected in the charming character of this "Upper Canadian" village. Closer to the beaches of Lake Simcoe, Sutton joins the Community of Jackson's Point, a very popular destination for both local and out-of-town visitors.
The Sibbald Point Provincial Park boasts over 3000 feet of prime lakeshore and offers visitors private and group campsites. Sibbald Point Provincial Park is open from May to October each season.
Captain William Johnson, a retired naval officer from Scotland settled in Pefferlaw in 1819. Johnson chose the name Pefferlaw after a field on the old Homestead - it means "a beautiful greensward". Retirement soon turned to industry, as Captain Johnson built a sawmill, woollen mill and gristmill in the recently settled area.
With the help of his brother Robert, Captain Johnson built the first Pefferlaw store in 1833. Although many of the original buildings have since been replaced, reminders of Pefferlaw's historic past are clearly evident today.
North of Pefferlaw, overlooking the beach communities of Virginia Beach and Duclos Point is Georgina Island, the largest island in Lake Simcoe which covers an area of 1416 hectares with some of the most beautiful untouched shorelines on the lake. Georgina Island, along with Fox Island and Snake Island located in Cooks Bay form the home of the Chippawa First Nation of Georgina. During the summer, a Band-owned 24 passenger ferry provides transportation service to the residents and visitors.
Jackson's Point has naval origins. The original land grant was made to navy Captain William Bouchier in 1819.
John Mills Jackson, for whom the area is named, settled the land, which was used first as a wharf facility for schooners travelling Lake Simcoe. Transportation to the area improved, with the use of steamers and in 1877 the railroads, this allowed seasonal residents to begin settling the area. Today the Jackson's Pont harbour overlooks the waters of Lake Simcoe serving the needs of the recreational boaters.
With the addition of small boutiques, street vendors and live music, summer in Jackson's Point is a focal point for both residents and visitors to the Georgina area.
The Civic Centre was originally built in 1958 by the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. The building was constructed for and operated as a Novitiate from this date until the early 1970's. It was a completely self-sufficient Community located on approximately 587 acres of land, which provided not only the facilities to accommodate the Novices, but from the land they produced the requirements for their daily subsistence. The building originally housed the Novice Priests of the Order and it was later occupied by the Novice Sisters, who as we have been advised, crafted wedding dresses for such stores as Eaton's and Simpson's during their time at the Novitiate.
In 1973, the Township of Georgina approached the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, who indicated that they were considering selling the property and abandoning the Order in Georgina, as they were receiving fewer applicants into the Order and the cost of the facility was becoming too expensive. The Township of Georgina agreed to acquire the Novitiate property, together with 155 acres of land on the east side of the Fifth Concession (Civic Centre Rd.), at the cost of $437,500.00. The original cost of the building, driveways and landscaping was $589,000.00. Another interested party viewed the Civic Centre when listed for sale in consideration of a home for the aged, however it was felt the rooms were too small to accommodate residents.
After the Township's purchase of the Civic Centre, several modifications were necessary to convert the building from a Novitiate to an Administrative Centre; the most interesting of which was the de-consecration of the Chapel, which is now the Town Council Chambers. The transition also entailed the removal of the Confessional Booth, the fully equipped kitchen and dining hall, which is now the home of the Tax Department offices, and the conversion of the single rooms into the offices we now occupy. One item that remains untouched is the Meditation Walk located at the north east corner of the Civic Centre where the Priests could spend many hours in solitary thought.
In 1975, the first historical building was moved to the site of the Georgina Village Museum located on the Civic Centre property. Development of the Village has continued since its establishment.
A ten acre parcel of the property was sold to the York Regional Police in the late 1970's for $2.00 to enable them to construct the Police Headquarters for #39 Division.
In addition to the latter facilities, the Civic Centre property is also home of the Georgina Lawn Bowling Club, building and greens, Keswick Model Air Plane Club, numerous baseball diamonds and a tennis court.
In 1988, in an effort to accommodate the growing space requirements of the Town administration, authorization was given to construct five modest additions to the Civic Centre in conjunction with much needed roof design and updating of windows. Fortunately, the unique architectural look of the Civic Centre was preserved on completion of the construction.
In 1990, on the northwest corner of the property the Town also authorized construction of the new Canine Control facility and the Parks Works Yard.
The last major undertaking to the Civic Centre was the construction of a drainage system surrounding the Building itself in 1993.
In 1997, parking at the rear of the Civic Centre was expanded to double the original size.
The Georgina Civic Centre is by all means one of the largest assets of the Town of Georgina,
not only in financial terms but, in the multi-use facility it has been developed into for its'
citizens, Council and staff while maintaining both a picturesque and natural environment.