Fenelon Falls From the Church Hill: The Earliest Known Photo of the Village. How much the village has changed and yet how much has stayed the same….
Gone are the days when the village was filled with stumps, and automobiles have replaced the horse and carriage, but the array of lots and streets remains much the same. Cornerstone Home Furniture (centre-right) sits in the place of George Crandell’s Hotel. The Great Fire of Fenelon Falls ignited at this site in 1884, destroying much of the west side of Colborne Street, which was subsequently replaced with the brick blocks that survive today.
The building across from Crandell’s is Deyman’s furniture and undertaking, the ancestor of Jardine Funeral Home. Note the board ladders nailed to roofs for fighting fire, and the Presbyterian Church, which now is (ironically) the Liquor Store.
Many buildings remain from a colourized postcard circa 1900—though the artist tinting the postcard may have guessed incorrectly what colour they were. The timber slide is gone, and the bridge has been rebuilt, but the power plant and mill race are still recognizable.
Maryboro Lodge, formerly a popular tourist lodge, is now a public museum, and remains a popular community gathering place.
When the Abbott Sisters hosted guests at Maryboro Lodge, they had a tennis court on the lake side of the building. It is now a picnic area in the oak grove.
37 Oak Street has long been one of the most striking homes on the street, originally built for F.J. Kerr. Oak Street had been the private park of town proprietor James Wallis, so it was not developed until the late nineteenth century, when prominent families built fine new homes. This created a beautiful neighbourhood that the City of Kawartha Lakes designated as a heritage district in 2017.
The Victoria Railway has become a popular recreational corridor. Visitors can view Cameron Lake and the Fenelon River from the colourful butterfly benches, where the building for the swing bridge operator once stood.
Fenelon Falls’ Train Station has become the Station Gallery, a gift shop featuring the work of local artists.
The bridge and Heritage House are still recognizable from a photograph circa 1960, while the roof of the former Lindsay Power Plant has been lowered to create a restaurant.
For many years the Lindsay Power Plant operated as the Falls View Restaurant, today it is the Locker.
The Sundial Motel, once a popular restaurant offering Broasted Chicken, remains a motel, though it is now an Ultramar Gas Station as well.
In 1944 Fenelon Falls residents would swim on the side of the canal, in the same channel where boats would pass. Today it is parking for the public boat launch.
In 1957 J.H. Stanton’s photographic studio was rebuilt as Sider’s Jewellery and an IGA grocery store.
After the IGA constructed a new store further north on Colborne Street, Siders operated both halves of the building, and were succeeded by Stokes on Trent. Today the building is the sales office for the new Fenelon Lakes Club condominium and the Lil’ Wee Quilt Shop. The Fenelon Falls Rotary Club often showcases their Classic Car Raffle on site.
Originally the livery stable for the McArthur House Hotel, in the mid twentieth century this stone building facing the locks was home to John Demerling’s machine shop and Dick Bulmer’s Blacksmith Shop. After a generation as the Livery Stable gift shop, it has been transformed into the Fenelon Brewery.
Watching Boats pass through the locks remains popular today, as it was when the locks were reconstructed in the early 1960s.
Launched in 1900 the Manita covered the northwestern section of the Trent Valley Navigation Company’s transportation network (Coboconk-Fenelon Falls-Sturgeon Point-Lindsay), which proved short lived with the advent of private motor launches that dominate the waterway today.
Most of the shops facing the canal have changed since the 1970s.
Viewed from the Bridge over the Falls, the Fenelon Dam is no longer surrounded by Flett’s Cabins and the Fenelon Creamery. The Trent Severn Waterway cleared the island in the 1960s.
Though the sawdust pile is gone, the mill at Handley Lumber is still managed by Chris Handley, great-grandson of its builder Joe. Chris’ father Ken still operates the mill.
The McArthur House, shown here with owner John Aldous and his famous race horse Little Hector, became the local Canadian Tire…
Before Canadian Tire was in turn reincarnated as Subway.
In 1963 W.G. Jackett & Sons excavated to create a locks, leaving a giant stone pillar where the upper lock gate now sits.
Before the reconstruction, Fenelon Falls needed a two-stage lock to overcome the 23 foot drop from Cameron to Sturgeon Lake.
Where the swing bridge once opened to allow boats to pass through the Upper Fenelon Lock, since its 1963 reconstruction boats now pass under the bridge at the level of Sturgeon Lake. Lyon’s Garage is in the background of the original photograph.
With the new single stage lock, a swing bridge (shown circa 1930) was no longer needed. The fixed concrete bridge continues to allow motorized traffic to pass uninterrupted.
The Village of Fenelon Falls Municipal Building and Fire Tower once stood on the Island, which the Trent Severn has cleared to create a public park.
Many buildings from 1940 remain on the west side of Colborne Street, including the banks on the corner… the CIBC was originally built as the post office.
Across the Street, the southern most stores have seen several reconfigurations, from 1900 to 1960…
And 1960 to the present.
Though it has been worn down by decades of waves, the breakwater still guides boats into the Fenelon Canal.
Prior to its reconstruction in the early 1960s, the Fenelon Canal had a small operators building on the north side.
The roaring flow over Fenelon Falls shown in the 1980s, has once again been harnessed by a power plant.
Today as in the mid-twentieth century, Fenelon Falls remains one of the most photographed sites in the village.
The popular patio of the Falls View Restaurant lives on as the Locker.
The Bank of Montreal is one of the oldest businesses on Colborne Street.
The former Carload Food Market (c 1960) has stood vacant for several years recently, while the Reid’s Variety Store remained the as J’n B’s before becoming Jim Newton’s electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling.
The Grist Mill, visible at the end of Colborne Street in 1940, became yet another landmark to succumb to fire in 1970. The post office is now a CIBC branch.
The Baptist Church continues to be a guiding light for local believers.
Situated on the site of the former Alpine Inn, Cliffside Villa provides low cost housing, while the tip of the Fenelon Island remains a popular public park, though no longer one where cars can drive down to water’s edge.
The agricultural landscape that surrounded the Fenelon Gorge in 1900 has largely regenerated as forest, interspersed with urban development.
In 2000 the Fenelon Falls Public School was demolished, making way for Sugarbush Villa Adult Lifestyle Community.
Since the 1960s, Canadian Tire and Home Hardware have moved to the south end of Lindsay Street, while there is no longer a farm equipment dealership in town.
Visitors can still enjoy ice cream from Slices in Scoops, as at the Fenelon Dairy in 1957
Fenelon Falls Secondary School has expanded towards Lindsay Street to create a new office.
In the early twentieth century, regattas were a popular attraction at local locks, attracting thousands of visitors.
Lyon’s Garage, a Dodge-Desoto Dealership was demolished when as the Trent-Severn Waterway transformed the island into greenspace in the 1960s.
In the first half of the twentieth century, the south half of Garnet Graham Park (beside Maryboro Lodge) was the community’s tourist camp. Visitors would drive right up on the lawns and pitch their tent . The railway has become a parking lot, the original rail bridge is still in place, and Maryboro Lodge then a tourist lodge is now the community museum.
Much has changed since the Fenelon Falls' first aerial photograph was taken. The McArthur Hotel (Subway) is now a story shorter, the island has become greenspace, and the surrounding landscape has significantly regrown with trees.
The swing bridge completed in 1893 still marks the entrance to Fenelon Falls from Cameron Lake, shown here in a 1960s postcard and in 2021.
The public face of Fenelon Falls was radically altered starting in 1961. The municipal buildings, power plant, grist mill and Lyon's Garage that had been the public face of the community for generations cleared to make way for a park alongside the Trent-Severn Waterway. The Original photo was taken in 1947.