Bongards Corners sits at the intersection of County Road 7 and Bongards Crossroad, North Marysburgh, in Prince Edward County. Here a cluster of houses hints at a once-thriving community. Only a few locals recall when Bongards was a hub of commerce and industry, 19th century style.
Ask Viola McCornock, born here in 1891. When Ola travelled to Picton for her music, she took the steamer from Bongards Landing, walking the mile from her father David’s home, down over the edge of the escarpment to the shore of Adolphus Reach. From this wharf, in 1879, her future mother-in-law Mrs. Levi Pierce recalled taking her Methodist Sunday School class for an excursion on the steam cruiser SS Reindeer.
The hamlet of Bongards Corners was established by Conrad Bongard, a Hessian who had fought for the British during the American Revolution. Son John cleared the lot at the corner and built a home, store, and post office. The house still stands, but is uninhabited.
By 1863, Bongard senior established a steamboat landing at the foot of the government road, with storage sheds for grain, Waupoos cheese, and local apples awaiting shipment to Montreal and faraway England. Bongard’s wharf was a regular stop for passenger boats.
At the top of the hill, in 1872, son Deacon built his fine house of 10,000 bricks said to have been brought from Picton by horse and wagon. The large frame home opposite served as post and telegraph office in the early 1900s. Beside that house stands a tilting two-storey board and batten shed which once housed a barrel factory. Barrels for shipping apples from David McCornock’s pioneer orchards were manufactured here; a shed next door housed the delicate work of apple-packing.
The plain red brick Wesleyan Methodist Church, centre of community life, was built in 1873 on land owned by Deacon Bongard. It served as the United Church from 1925 until 1961 when it was decommissioned, and later demolished. A story persists: on the reverse of the date stone above the door workers found an 1869 tombstone inscription. The unused stone, a bargain, had appealed to the thrifty Methodists. The church property still stands empty.
Further east stands the stylish David McCornock house, where Ola and her siblings grew up. The photogenic red-painted board driveshed, target of many drive-by shootings, once housed brother Clair’s boatbuilding shed.
Bongards Corners children walked the two miles west to S.S.#3, a one-room stucco clad schoolhouse. From its unpainted belfry a ghostly bells rings to signal the end of play in the fields beyond. One of those children, great-grand-daughter of David McCornock, still runs the family farm at Bongards Corners.
Article and Photography by Lindi Pierce
Credit: The McCornocks from Ireland, by Clara E. Thompson