Historic Walking Tour

John Millar, the founder of New Dundee, was one of three Millar brothers who emigrated to Canada from Dundee, Scotland. John came to this area around 1824. John and his brother Frederick G. saw the possibilities of damming the small river passing through the little valley where New Dundee now stands. Together they dammed Alder Creek in 1832 and created the mill pond. They named their new home New Dundee, which means in the hollow by the river. New Dundee’s most famous resident was William John Wintemberg, who is known as the Father of Canadian Archeology. He was born in New Dundee in 1876.

  1. Kavelman’s Store (now the New Dundee Emporium) at 169 Front St. This structure was built in 1887 By Gotlieb Bettschen, son of early pioneer and first Reeve of Wilmot Township. It was named the Jubilee Block in honour of the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign. The building is best remembered as the Herman Kavelman store. Kavelman worked as an apprentice clerk here and eventually bought the building in 1910 and operated it for six decades as a general store which also included a music hall. The store has since change hands several times. Despite these changes, the original shelves, floor, counters, product bins and some of the first gas lights are still featured in the historic store today. Visitors will note the Victorian mercantile architecture, intricate brickwork and the detailed cornice. The building was designated in 1985 by the Township of Wilmot under the Ontario Heritage Act.
  2. Site of Weber Carriage Works at the corner of Front and South streets. John Weer came to Canada from Germany in 1854. After his wood-working business was destroyed by fire in 1880, he founded Weber Carriage Works. He manufactured prize-winning buggies, carriages, wagons, sleighs and cutters. His sons took over the business in 1908, and the business was renamed The Weber Brothers Carriage Works and remained in operation until 1940.
  3. The Harness Shop at 181 Front St. William Spaetzel bought the Harness Shop on Front street in 1906. Spaetzel was known in Canada for his Pneumatic Horse Collar invention, made from leather and rubber. The advertisements claimed that the collars were the cure for sore shoulders. An employee named Albert Fiederlein married Spaetzel’s daughter, and gradually took over the business. Along with the harnesses, Feiderlein manufactured leatherette car tops and side curtains for cars. In 1946 he discontinued the harness and leather work in order to concentrate on cold storage. He and his son operated the Red and White Grocery store until 1991.
  4. Hardware Store at 172 Main St. John Millar built this hardware store in 1848, and it is one of the oldest structures in New Dundee. In 1856, the post office was also located here. The business was operated by William Kriesel for 35 years, followed by Earl Coleman in 1912, who ran the store for another 58 years. Coleman installed the first gasoline pump in the village at this site in 1910. At that time, the gasoline was delivered and stored in barrels, and poured through a chamois before being poured into the automobile tanks.
  5. The United Brethren Church at 28 Main St. Prior to the 1869 construction of this church, the congregation would meet on Sunday afternoons at the Union Church west of Roseville. The Sunday School was established in 1871, and it was the first English speaking Sunday School in the village. The basement was added in 1931, and the present stained glass windows were installed in 1938. A two-storey brick addition and a foyer were built in 1958.
  6. The Blacksmith Shop at 12 Main St. Several blacksmith shops once operated in the village. Part of the original building that was built and owned by Frederick G. Millar in 1847 remains underneath this modern exterior. Joseph Greulich owned this shop for almost 50 years and used it for shoeing horses until his retirement in 1950. With technology advancing, many businesses that were important to the village faded into history. These businesses included the carriage works, the harness shop and the various blacksmiths.
  7. St. James Lutheran Church at 1177 Queen St. St. James Lutheran congregation was organized in 1859 with the first church built in 1863. Services were held in the church for 90 years, until 1953, when the original white framed building was dismantled. The red church was built on the same site and was dedicated in July 1953. 
  8. The Baptist Church at 1173 Queen St. This is the oldest church in the village and was built in 1862. Andrew Poth, Phillip Lautenschlager, S.B. Eshelman and Samuel Sararas each paid 50 dollars towards the 200 dollar purchase, so that the church was entirely owned by the Baptist congregation. Renovations in 1934 included turning the original white framed building 90 degrees, so that it faced Queen St., adding a new foundation, brick veneer, a new basement and a lobby. Services were conducted in German until 1910.
  9. Site of the first and second Public School Houses, located behind the Baptist Church on South St., facing Square St. New Dundee’s first recorded school was built in 1850 on land donated by Frederick Millar. The yellow one-room structure had four rows of triple seats and a large box stove in the middle of the room. The second school was on the lot west of the original school. It was equipped with double desks and chair seats. Both schools were used as churches and meeting halls for the community.
  10. The Poth Furniture Store at 1148 Queen St. In 1858, Andrew Poth opened his furniture business in a factory at the corner of Queen and Bridge streets. The original building included a five room apartment for the family. In 1902, the family moved across the street. The furniturestore was located on the first floor of the factory, until 1916 when a new store was erected next door. In 1977 that building was replaced by another new store. The factory output included window and couch frames, wooden sinks, and caskets for their undertaking business. This continued for three generations. The Poth Furniture Store was the oldest, continuously operating business in the village, serving the community for 128 years.
  11. a)Site of the third School House at 1531 Bridge St. This is the site of New Dundee’s third public schoolhouse, built in 1896. The school featured two classrooms, double desks and a wood-burning furnace. Unfortunately, the school burned down in 1928 as a result of an over-heated stove. Today, this is the location of the Bethel Missionary Church. b)The Bethel Missionary Church was originally called The Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church and was built in 1878 on the corner of Bethel and Hallman Rds. The new church was built in 1967, and is the fourth church built for the Bethel Missionary congregation.A
  12. Site of the New Dundee Creamery on the corner of Queen and Bridge streets.  A public meeting c. 1908 inspired the community to start the New Dundee Farmer’s Cooperative Creamery Company Ltd. Prior to this, butter was manufactured at the abandoned creamery in the basement of Ezra Thamer’s store on Main St. Immediate success meant a new building was built on the corner of Benjamin and Front streets in c. 1909. It is reported that between 1933 and 1940 New Dundee was producing the largest annual volume of butter in Ontario. In 1933, the business was renamed The New Dundee Cooperative Creamery. In 1955 cheese making began, and by 1964 the creamery was processing 140 million pounds of milk. Butter operation was the largest under one roof in all of Canada. After providing decades of employment and industry to the community, the creamery closed in 1998 and was dismantled in 2005, ending a 90 year long history.
  13. New Dundee Public School at 1430 Bridge St. This public school, the fourth for New Dundee, was built in 1928 by Anson Hallman. The main level featured two classrooms for the primary grades and the upper level housed the ContinuationSchool until 1955, when Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School opened in Baden and the older students were enrolled in the new high school. All four classrooms then became primary classrooms. In 1966, an addition of four classrooms,an auditorium and new offices coincided with the formation of the amalgamated school board.
  14. Former Bethel Missionary Church and Community Centre at 1439 Bridge St. This building was originally constructed for the Bethel Church in 1921, for a cost of 13,000 dollars. It was used by the congregation until 1967. In 1968 the community raised funds to purchase the building and transform it into a community centre. In 1988, a new centre on Queen St was built and the structure became a private residence. This is the site of the third church for the Bethel Missionary congregation.
  15. The New Dundee Park and Bandshell In 1934, a New Dundee Community Park Association was formed. Almost four acres of land was purchased by Aaron Duench for 410 dollars. Garden parties were held here to raise funds for the purchase. In 1944, the citizens of the community constructed the New Dundee Bandshell from rock finish cinder blocks. In 1949, the Memorial Gates were built in honour of the local men who lost their lives in World War II. The bandshell was designated in 2008 by the Township of Wilmot under the Ontario Heritage Act. Music was first organized by Gottlieb Bettschen with the First Brass Band of New Dundee in 1848. Music tradition continued in later years with the New Dundee Musical Society Band that provided music for the town during Sunday evening concerts. Another well-known band that performed here was the Little Geman Band later known as the Shmaltz and Lena Pickelheimer Band. This band was organized in 1948 by Ronald Toman and Earl Einwechter. The historical plaque that commemorates William J. Wintemberg, an outstanding Canadian archaeologist who was born in New Dundee in 1876. Wintemberg gained international recognition as an authority on Iroquoian prehistory. His research has contributed significantly to the advancement of Canadian archaeology.
  16. The James Brown House at 328 Main St. This Georgian 2 1/2 storey house was one of the first houses built in the village in 1832 by John Millar. He origianlly operated a store here.
  17. Alder Lake at Main St. Alder Lake was created in 1830 by John Millar, when he dammed the creek and built a sawmill. A new bridge was built in 1916 and the flood gates were installed in 1934. The lake was popular for water skiing, swimming and fishing in the summer, and skating, hockey and ice fishing in the winter. Also in the winter ice cutting was important for the community, with the blocks stored in ice houses filled with sawdust and used by the creamery and local farmers. Alderside Park drew large crowds for outdoor summer band concerts, garden parties and picnics. The Optomist Club of New Dundee purchased 10 Alderside Drive in 2002 to establish parkland once again on this beautiful lake.
  18. Site of the Wing Store at 190 Main St. The original frame structure was built in 1877 as a tailor shop for James Wing. Wing was the postmaster when the post office moved to his store. Wing was known for made-to-measure suits for men; he also designed and made hand-sewn bonnets for ladies. In 1904, the site was sold to Ezra Thamer, and the first Bell Telephone Exchange was located in the building along with Thamer’s creamery. John Buck and Irvin Lautenschlager assumed ownership in 1911. It was best known and the Buck and Lautenschlager Store. Irvin managed toe Bell exchange, which remained here until the store burned down in 1931.
  19. The Bakery Shop at 179 Main St. This 2 1/2 storey red brick building reflects the Georgian architectural style with return eaves. Around 1930, the Hill brothers opened a bakery here and ran it until the early 1940’s. The business was sold to Gilbert Smith, the Karl Koch who continued the business for the next decade. Koch was well known for his horehound candy. During stormy weather, deliveries were made by horse and sleigh. His deliveries included a wide territory from Blandford Township, Waterloo and Galt.
  20. The Doctor’s House at 27 Mill St. The home was built by Frederick Millar c. 1850. The home is a fine example of Carpenter Gothic architecture. It has a rare board and batten construction, a design introduced in Canada in the early 1880’s. The house passed to Frederick’s son, Dr. Alan Millar. From 1880 until 1942 a succession of eight doctors occupied this home, giving it the name “The Doctor’s House”. The house was designated in 1991 by the Township of Wilmot under the Ontario Heritage Act. A Heritage plaque adjacent to the house commemorates the founding of New Dundee.
  21. Site of the Grist Mill at 42 Mill St. Frederick Millar built a 3 1/2 storey grist mill in 1847, which was known as the New Dundee Flour Mills and was located behind the Doctor’s House. The mill became the first roller process mill in Ontario under E.W.B. Snider in 1880. It was operated by water power supplied by the dam. E.W.B. Snider, Daniel Detweiler and Sir Adam Beck are recognized as the fathers of Ontario Hydro. The Hilborn family purchased the mill in 1901 and 1936 switched from processing flour and started a feedmill.  They managed this business for 62 years. Serious flooding occurred here, and more damage would have occurred if not for Ivan Hilborn’s invention of a high-water warning device. On May 28, 1980 the mill burned down, just before celebrating it’s 150th anniversary.

This Walking Tour was originally a research project completed by the Grade 5 students of the New Dundee Public School in 1986. Under the direction of their teacher, Marilyn Sararas and art teacher Trudy Huggins, the students sketched the historical buildings. In 2006, Marilyn Sararas revived the project for a leaflet under the Heritage Wilmot Advisory committee. In 2013, Heritage Wilmot revised the text and included photos with support for the New Dundee Tweedsmuir History books.