This was the busiest, most active community on the Opeongo Line. Originally called Brudenell Corners, this intersection of the Opeongo and Peterson Roads by 1871 boasted three hotels, three general stores, two blacksmiths, shoemakers and carpenters, a race track, a church, a hall, and a school. In Ghost Towns of Ontario, Ron Brown states that Brudenell had daily stage service to Eganville, Rockingham and Combermere. James Grace, James Whelan, and Mme. Desiree Payette owned the three hotels. About 200 people populated this community.
In the 1880's the Costello family arrived and soon established itself in the business community. By 1885, James Costello was operating one of the general stores. Mike Costello opened a blacksmith shop and purchased one of the hotels. Whelan's hotel was purchased by John Devine and then by Mme. Payette whose husband died in 1886 at the age of 33; however, Mme. Payette continued the hotel business for several years. Also in 1886, Mike Costello's hotel burned, but he rebuilt it without delay.
The building in the picture is part of an original general store and residence belonging to James Costello and later Hugh (Cooey) Costello. James Costello acquired the nickname Black Jim. He was known as a tough, shrewd businessman who staked the loggers heading to the pineries. Their families could draw supplies from his store while the wage earners were in the lumber camps. The men settled their accounts at the Costello store in spring when they returned from the winter camps with their pay. It seems that there was seldom much cash left over once the bills were paid. One of Black Jim's accomplishments was bringing by ox-team and wagon a Heintzman grand piano to Brudenell for his wife. Since he did not know there was a method of disassembling the piano, he removed one wall of the house in order to place it in its intended location.
Further profiles will deal with the story of Black Jim and the tale of The Black Prince.
Brudenell village and township were named about 1857. The name commemorates James Thomas Brudenell, the leader of a cavalry charge which took place during the Seige of Sebastopol, a port on the Black Sea, during the Crimean War. Tennyson's poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade", published in 1854, commemorates the valour shown in this disastrous charge and celebrates the glory of dying for one's country. This old attitude which glorified war changed. Wilfred Owen's poem "Dulce et Decorum Est", reveals the horror of war especially the effects of chlorine gas used in World War l. He ironically quotes Horace's words "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" (Sweet and honourable it is to die for one's homeland).
The defeat of John A. MacDonald by Laurier changed the fortunes of Brudenell. The railroad that was supposed to service Brudenell was rerouted through Killaloe. The arrival of the railroad in Killaloe and the end of the square timber era in the Ottawa Valley sent both the Opeongo Line as a key transportation road and Brudenell as the "sin-bin" of the Opeongo into gradual decline.