Patrick O'Hara, (1769-1850) in 1789, came to the Americas from Londonderry, Ireland. In 1794 he married Cynthia Prindle (1779-1860) and they had 9 children.
One son, James, later called “Squire”, was 21 when he married Mary Healey. Mary, James and four-year-old Elizabeth arrived in Madoc Township in the summer of 1823. Once the family settled, they planted strong roots and never moved again. In a ledger entry dated July 30, 1877 he noted, “It is 54 years to the day since I arrived in Madoc.” Squire and Mary's 1st son, James O'Hara Jr (1826-1914) was the first white male child born in Madoc Township, on May 4, 1826. He married Mary Jane Lear (1827-1899) on February 3, 1848. They also had 9 children. Their 3rd son, Frank (1858-1932) was the last direct O'Hara to live and work on the farm.
One of the founding families of the Madoc community, their buildings and properties were passed through the years from children to grandchildren over a span of four generations.
In May of 1850, James O’Hara Sr. and his son James O’Hara Jr. entered into a partnership. The father agreed to erect and build a sawmill, while the son agreed to supply the site with timber as well as water privileges. This was the beginning of the O’Hara Mill. Although, the partnership was to lapse after twenty years, the mill continued to cut and - sell lumber up until 1908, some fifty-eight years later.
In 1954, the Moira River Conservation Authority (Quinte Conservation) purchased the mill and the adjoining land. A park was developed and enlarged in 1965, when the homestead was purchased from Minnie O’Hara Maines.
To this day, five of the original buildings; the farmhouse, sawmill, carriage-house, shed and woodworking shop remain in a restored condition, thanks to numerous volunteer hours and generous donations from individuals and businesses in and around the community.
Since 1965 the Homestead has expanded with the addition of relocated buildings from the surrounding area. A log cabin originally located at the Sheffield Conservation Area, now houses a blacksmith’s shop. An original schoolhouse dating back to 1861 was relocated on the site from Elzevir Township. The latest additions to the area are a rebuilt log house (erected on the site of the original homestead in 2008), circa 1850, and a new Welcome Centre built in 2009.
O’Hara Mill Homestead and Conservation Area is a local treasure. It is an opportunity to relive the day to day hardships and rewards of early pioneer life in Ontario.
For an O'Hara Family Scrapebook follow this link. There are 35 pages of illustrations and history. http://images.ourontario.ca/madoc/1709448/page/3?n=
The O’Hara Sawmill history
2nd sawmill restoration 2001-2012 by Peter Sporring.
Ever since our first saw mill restoration in 2001, we have heard and read conflicting stories of when, and by whom, this sawmill was first built. I have recently come into possession of a large box of archival files containing two documents which should put this question to rest. The first is a letter written by Barry Jones, curator of O’Hara Mill during the 1950’s. He in fact had the same desire to solve this discrepancy we have to this day, and had come across these very same documents. Click here to read his letter and here to read the full hand written agreement between James O’Hara senior and Junior. It is dated May 6, 1850.
Before the Arrival of the O'Hara's.
To read a story about the Rideau Purchase click here.