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Coboconk from Above
Looking up the Gull River (circa 1960 and Present) many buildings are quite recognizable from the original image. Thompson's Marina is now RPM Marine, there is a new business section at the north end of town, and the bridge has been replaced. Where Bill Shields once operated Crest Hardware, today Shields Home Hardware is part of a regional corporation headquartered in Lindsay. A few other businesses, like Riverside gas station have disappeared.
Looking downstream, the dam safety barrier is striking when viewed from above. The Sunset Dye Factory (just below the dam in the original photo... it had previously operated as Cronk & Bateman's sawmill, then a tannery) later burned, and was rebuilt as a private home. An addition on the Albert Street side of the Pattie House is also now visible.
J.E.H. MacDonald's Mill at Coboconk
Cobie's dam, Plewes grist mill and the bait shack just to its left were made famous by J.E.H. MacDonald's pen and ink sketch. The Sampson-Matthews printing company turned it into a commercial colour silk screen, distributed all across Canada. The church in the background now incorporates a steeple designed by Fred Peele, who managed the Gull River Lumber Company sawmill that was just upstream. He had worked with J.E.H. MacDonald before settling into this career in Coboconk. The artist would stay with him while visiting the area, at Peel's cottage, at the northern outskirts of Coboconk on the Gull River.
Other than cosmetics and a new railing, the dam has changed little since it was built in the 1940s, but it no longer serves as an (unofficial) pedestrian bridge.
The Gull River
Motorboats have supplanted steamers since this turn-of-the-century photograph was taken. The Allendean Tourist Home stayed in the family as Thompson's Marina, but is now RPM Marine. The new bridge is wider, and has a longer span, eliminating the need for the culvert and causeway at the north end.
Phillip's Butterchip Factory
Phillip's Butterchip Factory (centre-left) produced maple veneer, boat shaped boxes used to package butter. Before there were foil wrappers, customers could ask for any quantity of butter, and a store clerk would then scoop it into a chip. Phillip's factory produced butterchip for sale around the world. In place of this industrial plant, today there are private homes.
This original photograph, circa 1915, shows the former wooden dam, which partially collapsed in 1918. The Grist Mill stood to its right, while the Gull River Lumber Company Sawmill was in the background.
Gull River Lumber Company
The Gull River Lumber Company built an impressive sawmill at Coboconk in 1913, which operated in various guises until the 1950s. Later on it was a basket factory, producing many wooden fruit baskets, as it is more often remembered today. At present, the Buck and Up owns the former mill site.
A Baptism & Queen's Hotel
This mid-century photograph of a baptism in the Gull River shows how motorists could once drive right to river's edge, which was originally to facilitate watering horses. In the 1960s, this way down the the river was still open. In the background, the Queen's Hotel was then operating as Richardson's Bakery, with a B/A gas station on its right. At one point there were 7 gas stations on the main street of Coboconk, including 3 on the corner of Highways 35 and 46 (now 48).
Queen's Hotel from Across the River
The Queen's Hotel still rents rooms as an apartment building and now features a laundromat and Tyler Higgins law office. With a new roof, the old B/A station is now Grace Cork's real estate office.
North Across the Bridge
Looking north across the bridge, the bandstand and its Coca Cola advertisement are now gone, as is the ice house that once stood beside it on the river. What was once a cabinet and casket shop (formerly Allendean Tourist Home) is now the site of RPM Marine.
Wouldn't it be fun if there was still a waterski jump on the Gull River? In the 1960s locals flocked to take in the Water Ski show. More recently the Summit Festival has featured a water show north of the dam. A Robert Wakelin photograph (original).
Allendean Tourist Home
The Allendean Tourist Home, once a popular resort, is now the site of RPM Marine.
Manita at the Government Dock
The Trent Valley Navigation Company's Manita ran regular passenger service from Coboconk to Lindsay for a few years at the start of the twentieth century. It was the northern limit of navigation on the Gull River watershed. It took 4 hours 15 minutes for a one way trip, which was a lot faster than a horse. Today the government dock is still situated where steamers like the Manita and the Stoney Lake once stopped.
On the south shore below the bridge, the former United Church is now a private home. To its right once stood the manse. Bryant Insurance was formerly the liquor store and Dr. Jamieson's office: Once inside, "To cause a headache turn left, to cure a headache turn right!"
Bell still operates a sub-station at its former Coboconk office.
When steamers needed to refuel they would stop and "wood up," which might entail a lengthy delay as cordwood was piled on board. In this picture, the steam tug anchored itself by putting its nose into the opening that was used to feed logs through the combination mill dam and bridge on the Cameron Road (now Highway 35). Today, this is site of Cobie's north bridge.
Circa 1965, when the original photo was taken, Bill Shields owned the IGA, a dry goods store and Crest Hardware. Once the partitions were removed between the stores, the shop floor was on 3 different levels, reflecting its original layout. On the opposite side of the road Rose Casuals sold women's clothing.
Main Street - East Side
Comparing two views northeast from the bridge (1910s and 1940s), the later picture features the bandstand, Levida Ice Cream Parlour, Bryant's (insurance, undertaker & gas station) and Mel Cook's, then 2 private homes.
East Side Today
...The bandstand is gone, but several other buildings have withstood the test of time.
The Kawatha Garage is no longer a gas station, but remains a popular garage. Don Logan has operated the business for many years, since purchasing it from the Hannivan family. "Kawatha" is a more correct spelling of the district name, as the Acme Marketing Company added an 'r' to make it sound more appealing, though there was no 'r' sound in the Anishinaabe or Ojibwa language.
Millyard’s Drug Store Becomes Souter’s Variety
One of the many striking buildings on the main street of Coboconk, the exterior of Souter’s has changed little since it was Millyard’s Drug Store in the early twentieth century. By 1918, Harriet Eades lived there, and married Dr. Wiley Schell Millyard in 1926. Harriet operated a pharmacy in the front of the store, while patients could visit the doctor at the back of the building. Harriet was not a pharmacist, but hired qualified druggists as long as she operated the store. After Dr. Millyard died at the age of 57 in 1942, Harriet carried on operating the drug store, while she was deeply involved in village affairs.
For four decades, Harriet’s store was also home to Coboconk’s Bell Telephone switchboard—located at the back of the store—operated by Hazel Field for many years. It also once included a public library. She affixed shelves in an unused doorway, and arranged with the Victoria County Library for circulating books. The library proved so popular that it expanded to have its own room at the back of the building. When the Coboconk library building opened, the former library became a hairdressing salon.
In 1977, Harriet sold the store to Howard and Norma Souter, who renovated the interior, doing away with the variety store, while Harriet continued to live in the apartment above. The next January, Deb Angiers took a job working for the Souters, then bought the business in May 1983, and the building five years later. She operated Souter’s for three decades, as it became a popular gift shop and a favourite spot to stop for a Kawartha Dairy Ice Cream on the steps overlooking Highway 35.
The billiard hall beside Souter's was rebuilt into the CIBC, then served as an antique store, which is now Riverside Pizza. The restaurant still contains the bank vault.
Sheilds' once sold meat, groceries, china, dry goods and hardware, today it is just Sheilds' Hardware (with a little clothing on the side).
This view looking west past the Queen's Hotel, was one of the best known images of Coboconk at the turn of the century. The community's second wooden bridge, shown on this postcard, has since been replaced by two steel and one concrete spans. Coboconk had 2 conflagrations, one burned much of north side of the river, a few years later the south side burned, with exception of Queen's Hotel—which remains a landmark to this day.
A lot has changed since this postcard was produced of Albert Street in Coboconk, circa 1920. The old dirt road has given way to asphalt, and Model-Ts no longer chug down the street to the distinctive sound of their valves, ticking coils and slow exhaust. Back then it was an exciting thing to take an automobile for a drive, started with a hand crank. Though the street is still well-treed, it does not compare to the mature trees that lined the route a century ago. Where Ham’s Creamery once stood is now the site of the LCBO.
Second Keys Hotel
John Keys and his wife Sarah Anne McCullough were operating the Coboconk Hotel at the time of the 1871 census. The original structure burned, then shortly afterwards, Mr. Keys died of alcoholism. His widow then married bartender John Pattie. Mrs. Pattie became the matriarch of many successful local businessmen. Through her the Patties, Jacksons and Shields are now related.
The Pattie House is not just a bar, its a legend. This renowned watering hole was once home to rock music and the occasional brawl, and it still operates a century and a half after it opened. For a generation, Coboconk served liquor while many surrounding communities were dry.
After the demise of the Gull River Lumber Company sawmill and basket factory, the site was repurposed as a plywood factory. In the original photo, the section with the smokestack remains from the original manufactory. It shows the second plywood factory, constructed in the aftermath of yet another devastating fire. Today the dome roof building is gone, but two other buildings remain, as the Buck and Up and Food Bank.
Much of the causeway remains to this day, with a new north bridge.
Tennis at the Rail Station
A tennis game in front of the original Toronto & Nipissing Rail Station is contrasted with the Grand Trunk Station, rebuilt after fire. At one point tracks ran along both sides of Grandy Road. The north track served the station and Gull River Lumber Company, the south connected the other sawmill on the mill pond.
Since the demise of the Canadian National Railway's Coboconk line, the rail station has moved up the hill and now overlooks Lions' Park. In its former place is Tri-County Building Supplies.
Robert Callan (who also oversaw the Coboconk Lime Kiln) operated the Shell Service Station that sold Seiberling tires. A Shell station for generations, when they outgrew the original one story building, it was moved over and repurposed as a storage building. Later on, the Gull's Nest operated on site, and before moving to its present site. The station was last operated by the Russell family.
One of the oldest views of Coboconk, this "air view" is actually taken from the hill above Lions' Park. The train can be seen stopping at the station. There was a shed for steam locomotives across the Cameron Road (now Highway 35). The swamp in the centre of the original picture has been transformed into a pond beside the tennis courts.
The Carl family's farmhouse became Lakewood Club, now the Saucy Willow. Bertha Caton kept house for visitors at Lakewood Club, a private American fishing association.
A local landmark for generations, Coboconk's lime kiln produced burned limestone, which was shipped by train to Toronto, where it was ground with with clay to become Portland Cement. The kiln was surrounded by sheds to keep the lime and cordwood dry. Today it marks the south entrance of the village.
Coboconk Public School
Where Coboconk Public School once stood is now a vacant lot. The institution started as a one-room school, before expanding to serve more families. Annie Robertson was a memorable teacher.
Looking Across the Dam
The Anglican Church features prominently in the view across the dam.
Today Christ Anglican Church features the tower designed by Fred Peel, and continues to serve the community's spiritual needs by offering popular soup lunches.
The Catholic Church looks much the same, minus the white fence and with the addition of landscape trees and a new school on the street side, constructed in part to accommodate Dr. Jamieson's large family.
Balsam Lake Provincial Park
Since it opened in 1968, Balsam Lake Provincial Park has brought a lot of joy to many visiting families. With its wonderful sandy beach and one-of-a-kind playground, the park has a lot of offer. This H.R. Oakman aerial postcard of Balsam Lake Provincial Park dates from shortly after it opened. The changes in the five ensuing decades are quite apparent. The former Highway 46 is still visible winding across the lakeshore, but it is no longer open to off-season vehicular traffic and has become a recreational trail. Early visitors to the park camped in open fields, with little in the way of tree cover, whereas today, everyone wants to camp in open-forested “parkland,” and aside from the beach and parking lot, practically the whole park is at least lightly forested. The waterfront on the other hand, has gone from being heavily tree covered to the much-loved sandy beach of today.
A Lasting Legacy
Much of Coboconk's built landscape is original to a century ago, making it a community whose heritage is integral to everyday life. The local Shedden Historical Society's many contributions made this exhibition possible. We greatly appreciate their ongoing support.