Uplands Fight for Independence....'Can't we all just get along?'
In early 1900 rumors of a new city rising in the Inland Empire were met with skeptics and angry retorts of "What's wrong with those people?" in letters to the editors of both local newspapers, the Ontario Record and the Upland News, both papers were in the heat of the battle.....There could be only one outcome....Cityhood for Upland.
By 1906 the war of words had intensified to a war of rocks and bricks being thrown at opposing groups as they stared off at each other in political gatherings....To read reports of both papers you would think that civil war was at hand, or perhaps even a new Revolutionary War.....The Ontario Record thought the whole idea of Upland city was pretty much revolting....Letters of residents and the editor kept on emphasizing how much better off the region would be if Upland stayed a part of Ontario.....The Upland News on the other hand, was urging citizens of North Ontario, to officially change the name of the community to Upland and seek independence from the greedy landbarons of Ontario....They were talking about the Chaffey Bros, and the Local Winery God Fathers and that sort of talk offended a lot of people on both sides of the fight.
The Upland News demanded action....As one reporter said, 'this isn't exactly the Boston Tea Party, but we want our independence from Ontario'.....The Upland News Editor went on to say that, and this is a quote, "We must either incorporate and handle our own affairs or enter into an alliance that would be distasteful and unsatisfactory for years to come, and which would deprive us for many of the advantages which we now have" (Wikipedia Source)
On February 16, 1906, the Upland News declared War of a sort on the City of Ontario....The editor of the Upland News was responding to an article published by the Ontario Record which suggested that all lands of the Ontario Colony should stay together and be included in one large city....The city of Ontario....The reasoning....Water was located in Upland and San Antonio Heights and that water kept the valley green....Many in Ontario felt that if they lost those water rights to the city of Upland the entire area of Ontario would turn into a wasteland.....These feelings were made known when this very process began in 1902....Those people interested in creating the city of Upland, even went so far as to convince Federal Officials to change the Post Office name to Upland and even got the Santa Fe Railroad to change the name of the Depot from North Ontario to Upland.
The Publisher of the Upland News made it known that she blamed her counterpart at the Record in Ontario for fostering ill will against the city of Upland, while at the same time the editor and publisher of the Record did nothing to hide there open disdain, almost outright hatred of any thing having to do with the possible future city of Upland.
Political leaders trying to calm things down, only made things worse when they tried to be smart and play the whole affair down....The Chaffey Bros. were out of the Frey having left for Australia, but there business partner Charles Frankish really stirred up the ire of Upland Residents, when he portrayed the whole city issue as a farce.....He had written that Upland had a made a serious mistake in trying to separate from Ontario and that they (The residents) would one day pay for it.
But the papers attacked first, calling Mr. Frankish's statements, dangerous and ill advised and he was just venting his spleen over spilt water.....'Ontario would be ruined as he put it and the whole area would suffer dyer consequences if this split were allowed to happen.....Its funny to think now that this whole affair was over water rights...The Chaffey bros. had built the water systems up in San Antonio Canyon and the valley had benefited.....Now, everything that the Chaffey Bros. had build was in danger of collapsing....But it wasn't, and disaster never occurred.
Today, 100 years after this fierce fight to prevent a new city of Upland being formed, both cities are prosperous and doing pretty good....Rancho Cucamonga, has title to much of the water that flows down into Ontario, with both the Chino Water District and the Cucamonga Water districts working together to ensure that there is enough clean water for the entire valley.
In February 1906, this final editorial was written on the expected creation of the city of Upland. "Ontario can now settle down to business and likewise paddle its own canoe, which she ought to have been doing years ago, rather than have wasted so much time trying to bring peace and harmony between her citizens and the obdurate neighbors of Upland"
In May 1906, the city of Upland was incorporated into the county of San Bernardino.
Gary Hall, the ghostpainter