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Visiting Green River, Pickering, Ontario: Settled by Europeans in the 1840s, Its Former General Store Now a Bookstore

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Books making Green River a 'go to' place!

The hamlet known as Green River, a rural locality within the boundaries of the City of Pickering in Ontario's Durham Region, was originally known as Smithville (1).

It was settled by Europeans in the 1840s; although the wider area was known to Iroquoian-speaking First Nations over many centuries.

The hamlet featured in 'The Historic Hamlets of Pickering', in a City of Pickering magazine in 2019 (2), in a very interesting article.

George Burton and family are recorded as having opened a General Store in Green River in 1878 and operated it until 1888 (3).

The wooden structure which still exists at what was the old General Store has for many years been operated as a bookstore. An old photo of the building dating from the late 19th century (3) shows a balcony, but this feature has long disappeared.

Green River and other hamlets of the City of Pickering function somewhat as a dormitory for the Toronto area (the York region's boundary is also very close to Green River). The hamlet is situated on Highway 7, close to the Durham-York line; and the fact that the former General Store at the time of writing is still being operated as a used bookstore means that in this respect at least the hamlet is still a place that some people will go to, rather than through!

Plans are underway for a huge development at nearby Seaton, which eventually would likely change the now rural character of Green River. While at a certain level, this might be regarded by some people with regret, yet these plans, in tandem with the Federal Government's plans for an airport in north Pickering, would doubtless bring huge potential for jobs in Durham Region, which is already among the fastest growing of Ontario.

Those of us who live in the Durham Region can collectively hold our breath over the next while, and see the scale of developments which may greatly alter the map and the potentials for employment growth, which must surely be welcomed.

The Seaton Hiking Trail is also situated nearby; the existence of this designated Trail will without doubt complement the expected, large development at Seaton.

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June 26, 2019


(1) The original, mid-19th century name "Smithville" reflected the name of a local mill owner, with interests in the locality. The naming of hamlets in such circumstances was not unusual in 19th century Ontario.

(2) Courtesy of Pickering Public Library, 'The Historic Hamlets of Pickering', Your City Magazine, Issue 1, first half-year 2019, p. p. 32-33.

(3) See also:

Also worth seeing

The immediate Durham region has various buildings and structures of historic interest. These include:

Pickering Museum Village, Greenwood (distance: approx. 10.1 kilometres), situated on Duffins Creek , it contains various examples of interesting, heritage buildings, including a Temperance Hotel, a number of barns, a blacksmith's and woodworking shop, Redman House, a Bible Christian Chapel, a General Store, and a Gift Shop.

Post Hill House , Ajax (distance: approx. 21.1 kilometres) which dates from 1855, this building, restored recently, demonstrates the Rural Gothic Revival architectural style.


How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. (Distance from Toronto Pearson Airport to Green River, Pickering: approx. 50.2 kilometres). GO Train operates a service between Union Station, Toronto and Pickering. Highway 401 gives straightforward access to Pickering. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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