Ewen Trail covers a variety of countryside and urban scenery in a 3.4km loop. It includes three ponds, a section through Elgin Park, a route through thickly wooded areas, and a walk along streets containing some of Uxbridge’s most historic homes.
1. The “head of trail” sign at the corner of Main Street and Mill Street marks the start of the trail, although it may be entered at any point. The sign shows the route of the trail and describes some of the features. The route skirts around the north end of Elgin Pond – note the “zig-zag” steel bird and bat-house sculpture by local artist Ron Baird – and then south along Water Street, at the end of which it enters Elgin Park.
2. Elgin Park is Uxbridge’s main municipal park, where there are public washrooms and a play area for children close to the trail route. The history of Elgin Park goes back to the 1860s, when folk from the hamlet of Uxbridge went for picnics in what was then known as the “South Woods”. It became a public park in 1873, named after Lord Elgin, James Bruce, Governor General of Canada from 1846-54. More land was purchased in 1877 and 1888 to enlarge the park, and a half-mile racetrack was built in 1881. In 1876, a campaign picnic in connection with a byelection in the area was addressed by Sir John A. Macdonald; it was so successful that he organized similar picnics elsewhere, and won the byelection.
3. The trail winds through a wooded section at the south end of Elgin Park, then along a delightful grassy path and around Bass Pond (yes, there are bass in it), which is a stormwater holding pond for the Wooden Sticks area. The trail crosses Main Street (or Concession 7) – cross with care – and leads into . . .
4. A densely wooded area, and over a bridge that crosses the Uxbridge Brook as it flows north into Mill Pond.
5. A picturesque park has been established around another holding pond at the foot of Ewen Drive, with benches where you can relax. This whole area was farmed by the Ewen family (Rae and Marion) in the mid-1900s. Hence the names of Ewen Drive and Marion Drive. The trail continues along East street (once the eastern edge of town), and takes a short jog along Reach Street (or Reach Road), an early settlement road. Head north again along Capstick Lane, named after Lloyd Capstick, a local barber for many years who was named Citizen of the Year in 1992 for his many volunteer activities.
6. The trail passes beside Bonner Fields, named recently to honour Brent Bonner, an ardent sports lover and coach, who died in a car accident in 2003.
7. Heading along Third Avenue towards Planks Lane, you will see two streets of “wartime housing” at the southeast corner, built in the late 1940s. Note the lack of roof overhangs etc. as a saving on materials. Along Planks Lane are some of Uxbridge’s fine old houses, many from the 1800s. Planks Lane is named after John Plank who acquired 100 acres there around 1825. He built a tavern across from the present Music Hall, and sold lots to many businesses, making the street the main street (hence the name) of the town at that time.
8. Turning onto Main Street, note the third house on the east side. It was originally built as a Methodist Episcopal Church on Bascom St., and was moved to its present location in 1878. It became the Free Methodist Church, and was closed as a church in 1976 when a new Free Methodist Church was built on Reach Road. Notice that the house still retains the look of a church.
Note that the route through the park is closed four times a year for major events (Fall Fair, Highland Games etc.) An alternate route down Main Street may be taken (see map), but care should be taken because of traffic, particularly at the narrow bridge across the ponds.