Sacred Heart, Ontario

1934 – unknown
Associated name: formerly known as Mount St. Francis
Location: on 12 acres of lot 18, west half of concession 4, near the intersection of Jane Street and Sideroad 16, four kilometres north of the unincorporated community of King City, in King Township.  43.99605 N, -79.57037 W.

Sacred Heart was a relief settlement founded during the Depression to aid struggling Toronto families. The community was established by Reverend Francis McGoey of Toronto on land loaned by J.J. McCabe north of the city.

Father McGoey believed that the principles of bartering, cooperation and community spirit could be a solution to the challenges faced by many struggling families. In 1934, five families relocated from Toronto and were settled in temporary homes on two-acre lots. Each family was provided with provisions, including 50 chickens, seed and initial food relief. Two cows were also provided to the community. Profits from agricultural products produced by the community were communally held and distributed by Reverend McGoey at the end of the season. Some of the men also went to work cutting firewood for the neighbouring properties.

The following year, the families were relocated to permanent homes on 10-acre lots on a nearby plot of land purchased from McCabe west of Highway 400 and south of Sideroad 16. That same year, 14 more families arrived. A further 16 families arrived in 1936. These families were settled in a similar fashion. To accommodate these new families, a further 100 acres (lot 15, east half, concession 5) and 68 acres (lot 18, east half, concession 5) were purchased.

Sketch map of King Township ON showing location of the Sacred Heart settlement. Source: Gillham 1975.

A sawmill was also constructed. By 1936, 35 families were residing in the community, with many receiving ownership to their plots after a few years. In time, the community became self-sustaining, complete with a barber, baker, soapmaker, shoe maker and cooperative store. Goods and services were exchanged through a system of barter, with the store owner acting as the medium. Within a few years, many of the families received possession of their 10 acres of land and became self-sufficient.

by Jennifer L. Wardle