Whitchurch-Stouffville’s Byers Pond is a historical landmark. It was named after Joseph Byers, a politician who was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada in 1806. The pond is one of two prominent landmarks on Abraham Shotwell’s survey for the town of Whitchurch. The survey was conducted between 1817 and 1819.
The land that would become Byers Pond was once owned by Joseph Byers. The land was part of Crumlin Township in 1806. Byers, a native of Ireland, was born in 1772 and he had lived at Lot 31 on Yonge Street from 1800-1805. In 1805 Commissioner Peter Russell gave Byers two acres of lot 20 on Markham Road (Yonge Street). This parcel of land was in the Crumlin Township. Byers only lived on Lot 20 from 1805 to 1820 when he moved to Whitchurch-Stouffville.
Byers Pond in Whitchurch-Stouffville is a site of cultural heritage significance. Under the Ontario Heritage Act, Byers Pond has been designated as an archaeological site and is therefore protected. In addition, it was investigated in 1980 by archaeology students from York University. The former cottage on the property was burned down in 2008 by vandals
A community group known as Friends of Whitchurch-Stouffville was established in 2008 to protect the property. The conservation group’s goal is to restore and maintain the area around Byers Pond, protecting it from pollution and including it in a walking trail system. According to Barbara Durnford, founder of Friends of Byers Pond, a naturalized wetland will be created at Byers Pond. Eventually, the group hopes to extend the trail system throughout Whitchurch-Stouffville.
The pond is home to over 150 species of birds, insects and waterfowl. It has been declared an important bird habitat by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. In addition, deer and beaver are living in the area around Byers Pond. A land survey completed in 1818 found that there were nearly eight acres of marsh surrounding Byers Pond.
Byers’ neighbour, pioneer settler John Bostwick owned an adjoining parcel of land that was over 11 acres in size and included a marsh. The presence of a marsh indicates that the area around the pond had abundant water sources for animals living there.
In the 19th century, Byers Pond was used for fishing. In 1823 there were two boats registered with the government on Byers’ property. The first boat registered on his land was a rowboat belonging to John Bostwick. The second boat was owned by Nicholas Senger, who lived next door to Byers.
Byers Pond is one of the best local places to visit whenever you need to escape town to find some relief and relaxation from the hustle-bustle of city life. It’s so close by that you can drive or walk there, even though the road is never taken for granted as it is a rough road almost everywhere you go.
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