step back in time



and the Ghosts of The Old Hastings Road

The wee village of Ormsby is one of six 'ghost towns' that exist along The Old Hastings settlement road between Madoc and Bancroft. While Umphraville, Thanet, Murphy Corners, and Glanmire have all but disappeared, Ormsby still survives, situated as it is on Hwy 620, five minutes east of Coe Hill.

Originally called Rathbun, after the logging company, the town thrived in the late 1800s as the last stop on the Central Ontario Railway. Ormsby General Store 1912On a Friday night it wasn't unusual to see 30 teams and wagons pulling in at the station to load supplies dropped from the train. Settlers, farmers, hunters and trappers came from all around, many stopping at the hotel bar until the wee hours, perhaps contributing to Ormsby's reputation as a wild town.

Maybe it was the need for a 'sobering' influence that led to the establishment of 3 churches along with 2 hotels, 3 stores, a school, a blacksmith shop, an Orange hall and a Sons of England hall.

    Kate & Billy Park circa 1915

Kate & Billy Park circa 1915
As the railroad was extended to Bancroft in 1900, and the lumber industry disappeared, most of Ormsby disappeared as well. The Park family ran the general store from 1915 to 1975 and soon after all that was left were a handful of homes.

Jean Park at station

Jean Park at the Ormsby train station circa 1930        

Old Schoolhouse Tea Room

Since 2003 however, interest
and activity in the village have returned. Of the five century buildings that remain, the
general store is now The
Old Hastings Mercantile & Gallery, the one-room school has been restored and given new life as The Old Ormsby Schoolhouse “Educated Dining” & Tea Room,
while the Catholic church continues weekly mass.

Old Ormsby Heritage Church


The Presbyterian Church has also
been restored with oil lamps,
wood stove, and tin walls and ceiling.

Renamed The Old Ormsby
Heritage Church, it is now open
daily to the public in the summer, and is used for anniversary and Christmas services, as well as weddings and special concert events.

While described in 1925 as "one long trail of abandoned farms, adversity, blasted hopes, broken hearts and exhausted ambition", the Old Hastings Road continues to attract interest as a winding, rugged monument to the early pioneers who tried to settle this difficult but beautiful country.

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