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Last of its kind – Fryfogel’s Tavern dates back to the early days of Perth County

January 2022

The historic Fryfogel’s Tavern in Perth East, Ontario, is one of a declining number of pre-Confederation buildings remaining in Canada, and is the only structure of its kind within the former Huron Tract.

Built in 1844-45, it’s an example of an Upper Canadian building in the Neoclassic-style. Fryfogel’s Tavern was a stagecoach stop on Concession Line 34, the Huron Road, a pioneer highway essential to opening up the Canada Company‚Äôs Huron Tract. Sebastian Fryfogel, believed to be the first settler in Perth County, built the brick tavern to replace an earlier log tavern on the property, dating back to 1827, when the Huron Tract was first being surveyed.

When built, the tavern sat alongside a corduroy roadbed, twelve feet lower than the present elevation of the highway, now known as Highway 8.

Fryfogel and his wife Mary operated the tavern, which remained quite popular until about 1856, when a railway line allowed travellers to by-pass the tavern, causing a decline in business.

In addition to running his tavern, Sebastian Fryfogel was also a Captain in the local militia captain, and served at various times as a district councillor, reeve, county warden, magistrate, and the first Warden of Perth County in 1851.

After he died on 10 June 1873, at the age of 82, he was buried on the property, along with two sons who predeceased him.

Fryfogel’s Tavern is now owned by the Stratford Perth Heritage Foundation, who are in the process of restoring the building as a tourist attraction and community gathering place.

The building retains the original lathe and plaster walls, wide-board pine floors, wooden mouldings and decorative paint schemes, including panelled wainscot, faux-finished walls, ashlar and two scenic landscape murals applied to the plaster above the fireplaces, one depicting Niagara Falls. The interior also features large rooms once used for dining, drinking, and dancing, recalling its past as a tavern.

Other historic features include ide gable roof with cedar shingle cladding, return cornice with multiple mouldings, two internal end chimneys, red brick exterior constructed in common bond with a rubble coursed fieldstone rear wall, a foundation with roughly struck and scored mortar joints, 12 over 12, double-hung, wooden sash windows and small, square, four-pane attic windows, small rounded, blind arches at the gable peak

Surrounding the Tavern is a five acre estate that has been developed as an Arboretum consisting of the trees, shrubs and plants native to South Western Ontario.

Sources: HistoricPlaces.ca – HistoricPlaces.ca, Fryfogel’s Inn – Ontario Heritage Trust, The Fryfogel Tavern Matters – This Place Matters (The National Trust for Canada).

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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