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The automobile supplanted the horse and carriage generations ago, but many of the buildings of downtown Lindsay remain. Even with shopping malls and e-commerce, there is something special about the shops of historic Lindsay.
Located at the south edge of town on the Scugog River, the Devil's Elbow has long been a picturesque vista. In the years that have passed since this postcard was printed, the west shore has grown up with cedar trees, while the east shore is now home to Riverside Cemetery.
Lindsay was founded at the ancient portage around a rapid on the Scugog. It became the county town because practically all shipments to or from the Upper Lakes had to pass through this point. Lindsay was among the first locks completed on the Trent Severn Waterway. Note that the original postcard image, circa 1900, was mistakenly produced with the negative flipped.
A little further up the Scugog River is McDonnell Park. According to local legend, Lindsay was the name of an assistant surveyor, who was accidentally shot in the leg, and buried near this site.
The original photograph dates from the 1950s, when Lindsay's waterfront was started to be landscaped into the greenspace of today. On the left there was an attractive stone wall, the retaining wall on the right is near the former James Horn Knitting Mill, the north facade of which is faintly visible behind the foliage on the east bank. The large white building to the north is the Manley Motors Chrysler dealership and garage; to its immediate right is the bascule bridge.
The Former Site of Purdy's Mills
William Purdy, a controversial American miller, is often taken to be the town founder. A quarter century after its incorporation, the neighbourhood that once was Purdy's Mills had become several dwellings, with St. Mary's Catholic Church prominent in the background (the spire was added in 1890). Immediately east of the church is the Loretto Convent, later known as St. Joseph’s Convent. Today this former focal point of industry and transportation is largely residential.
In 1861 a devastating conflagration tore through downtown Lindsay, levelling much of the old wooden downtown. Just as Kent Street was being rebuilt with brick, locally sourced white bricks were masoned together to build a courthouse for the newly created Victoria County. A gaol and registry office followed, both located in the same block. For many years, this Italianate building served as both the County council chambers and courthouse; it now functions as City Hall for the City of Kawartha Lakes.
Though Lindsay residents had postal service from the beginning, it was not until 1888 that the Dominion government built a splendid new post office on the south side of Kent Street. Similar in design to other federal buildings across Ontario, it instantly became a local landmark. Demolished in 1963, the site is now home to Friendly Dollar Discount.
Kent Street Looking West
By the last quarter of the 19th Century, Lindsay boasted three blocks of substantial brick buildings housing a variety of businesses. Bakeries, dry goods establishments, hardware merchants, hotels, restaurants – all could be found on either side of what was billed as the widest main street in Ontario. Many years before automotive traffic made its way into the daily life of townspeople, horse-drawn buggies and wagons were the principal means of getting around town. Though they have long since vanished from the daily life of Kent Street, many of the buildings they passed have survived into the present century. In the original photo, the Benson House Hotel is receiving a delivery.
Kent Street Looking East
Seen from the hill in front of the Union School (now incorporated into LCVI), Kent Street is still lined with landscape trees, but not nearly to the extent it was in the early twentieth century.
St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
The Presbyterian congregation in Lindsay dates to at least 1835, but it was not until the next generation that they could afford an inspiring sanctuary. The 1887 edifice (Parish Hall was added in 1900) emulates the beautiful medieval churches back in Scotland. For generations St. Andrew's has been a community gathering place, not just for Sunday services, but also for concerts, lectures, and other special events.
Cambridge Street Baptist Church
Founded in 1863, Lindsay’s original Baptist congregation met at Wellington & Sussex until they purchased the Bible Christian Church on Cambridge Street in 1885. Surviving a fire in 1894, the Sunday School was expanded that year and again in 1927. One of Lindsay’s most popular churches for several generations, its many members include historian Watson Kirkconnell.
St. Mary's Roman Catholic
St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church was completed in time for Christmas Mass, 1859, replacing an older log chapel on the corner of Russell and Lindsay Streets. In its early years the church was active in the national campaign for temperance. In 1874 it added a convent for the Ladies of Loretto. The church spire was built in 1890, the building was enlarged four years later, with a parish hall in 1897.
St. Paul's Anglican Church
Work began on St. Paul’s Anglican Church (replacing the original Kent Street Church) in 1885. Built in a Gothic style, its 130-foot spire was topped by a beautiful hammered iron finial. A Sunday School was added two years later, and enlarged in 1926, serving today as the Church Hall.
The Union Grammar School was built around 1863 and included a curious mix of architectural styles, from High Victorian to Second Empire to Gothic Revival. While its unique design made it a local landmark, it educated both primary and secondary students. During the 1860s, the building’s third floor was used as a drill hall to train volunteers for a local militia. In 1889, secondary school classes moved to the newly-completed Lindsay Collegiate Institute (far left in the original image). Elementary school classes moved to Central School in 1910. The unused Union School was later demolished.
Lindsay Collegiate Institute
When it opened in 1889, the Lindsay Collegiate Institute was as much of an architectural specimen as its predecessor, the Union School. Modern LCVI has a more utilitarian design and is much larger than the original.
Construction began on Alexandra School (the North Ward School) just as King Edward VII died. It is named for his wife, Alexandra, in recognition of her generosity in supporting hospitals, centres for the deaf, and veterans. The schools pillared façade reflects its royal inspiration.
The Bascule Bridge
Most communities along the Trent-Severn Waterway had a swing bridge to accommodate boat traffic—particularly steamers with their tall smokestacks. Lindsay and Campbellford both employed lift bridges, which were spectacular to watch. Joseph Strauss (remembered for his Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco) designed the structure, which opened around 1910—shortly after the peak of steamboat traffic.
Strauss’ bridge was a mechanical marvel, attracting many visitors to watch it operate. A large counterweight made it possible to lift the entire bridge with relative ease. As time passed fewer steamboats passed through Lindsay. Captain Charles Gray’s Lintonia was the last to offer regular passenger service, retiring in 1931. Motor launches (later called motorboats) were not nearly so high. By 1956 the lift function had become obsolete and the bascule bridge was replaced by a fixed concrete span.
Wellington Street Bridge
The former bascule bridge seen from Wellington Street.
Durham Street Station
When the first steam locomotive puffed into town in 1857, Lindsay became a rail hub, before its larger neighbour Peterborough. Being a railroad town made Lindsay a centre of district commerce, and four years later it became a county town. By 1921, when this picture was taken outside of the Durham Street Station, trains carried passengers to Belleville; Bobcaygeon; Haliburton; Midland; Port McNicoll; Toronto; and points in between, courtesy of the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways. Spur tracks served local factories, busy yards were filled with unmistakable sounds and sounds; level crossings were frequently blocked; and enormous locomotive-servicing shops kept hundreds of local citizens employed. The flexibility of cars and trucks made regular rail service obsolete by the 1960s, and by 1990 virtually all local tracks were gone.
Lindsay’s Durham Street Station was built in 1890 by the Midland Railway of Canada (later amalgamated into the Grand Trunk Railway, then the Canadian National Railway in 1923.) Two storeys in height, it featured waiting rooms for men and women, an operator’s bay, as well as meeting space and a small library for railway employees. This station was dismantled in 1963. In the original photograph, note the luggage rack on the Model T’s running board.
Lindsay’s wharf was as much of a hub of district commerce as the railway. Though the railway was the fastest and most economical means of transportation for the communities it served, many waterfront settlements relied on steam service. There was also unmistakable charm to travelling the lakes on a steamer, much like going on a cruise today. To the 1930s, many excursions left the Lindsay wharf, including many Sunday School picnics. The sound of a steamboat’s whistle brought back many happy memories for local travelers.
In the original image the large red-brick building is the Beal tannery, beyond it is the Wellington Street bascule bridge.
Esturion & Maple Leaf
The Esturion carried passenger traffic on Sturgeon Lake for the Trent Valley Navigation Company, controlled by Bobcaygeon’s Boyd Family. It was clearly the fanciest passenger steamer on the Upper Lakes—sporting black ash and bird's eye maple interior, with red plush upholstery. It ran between Lindsay and Bobcaygeon daily, and twice daily from about the start of June to the end of September. In 1902 the Esturion left Bobcaygeon at 8:00 am, went to Lindsay and returned by 1:15 pm, left again at 3:10 and returned by 8:10, stopping at Sturgeon Point both ways on both trips. Return fare from Lindsay to Bobcaygeon was $1, and a family of up to six could buy a season ticket for $10.
The Maple Leaf was a much smaller ship, sold many times, but is best remembered being captained by Bobcaygeon’s Elijah Bottom. It served 36 years despite burning in 1883 and sinking several times. In 1887 the crew was caught in a squall and tried to ground the ship to save it. Instead it hit a rock and capsized. The crew escaped, the boat was raised, and served until 1911.
Canada Crayon Company
In 1933, this Edwardian factory building on the east bank of the Scugog River, which had housed the Boving Company in the 1910s, was repurposed as the Canada Crayon Company. Later renamed Crayola Canada, after a merger with the world famous American company, crayons and chalk were made at this site until 1965. After Crayola moved to Mary Street, the site was taken over by the Shaft Machines Company. The building sat empty for a number of years before being demolished around 2000. The railway tracks in the foreground originally led to lumber yards on land that was later redeveloped into present-day Rivera Park. Today, only a pair of white brick gateposts marking the Canada Crayon Company's main entrance survive.
Founded in Linden Valley (between Oakwood and Cambray) in 1871, Alexander Horn’s woollen mill moved to Lindsay in 1892 as Horn Bros., named for his sons Alexander Jr. and James. Manufacturing yarn, flannel and underwear, the company was best known for its wool blankets, marketed internationally, often with an H.B. label. One of Lindsay’s largest employers, 200 people worked there in 1914, as they tried to supply Canada’s need for grey wool military blankets. After a fire later that year, the factory rebuilt, with a landmark water tower. Alex Jr. died in 1942, and the company was bankrupt by 1955. Today, the old factory has been repurposed as AON’s Wedgewood Park Apartments.
Dominion Brake Shoe
After the Second World War, Dan McQuarrie (1887-1970), Lindsay’s Industrial Commissioner was tasked with attracting manufacturers to town to provide employment for all of the returning servicemen. The east ward became the town’s manufacturing district, with well-known businesses like Union Carbide and Dominion Brakeshoe. Brakes for vehicles, trains and aircraft were manufactured at the corner of Colborne at St. Peter Streets, until the dawn of the 21st Century (as ABEX Industries in later years) before changes in the economy saw it close for good.
Opened in 1893, the Academy of Music has long been one of the most beloved cultural centres in the Kawarthas. How many local kids had their first experiences of theatre performance in a school production on its stage? Through all the talent it has brought to town and the homegrown acts it has hosted, the Academy Theatre has touched practically everyone’s life at one time or another. Just being in the theatre is a unique cultural experience that many locals take for granted.
After much volunteer work by R.J. Matchett and Fred Knowlton, Peterborough architect W. Blackwell was commissioned to design the building. This Richardsonian Romanesque masterpiece could accommodate up to 900 patrons who gazed in wonder at the 28-foot high proscenium arch and a spectacular ceiling which rivaled that of live theatres in larger urban centres. It was initially marketed as the most technically perfect theatre in Canada.
Originally host to Vaudeville performances and homegrown productions, the Academy began showing silent films around 1918, then talkies five years later. By the 1930s it was primarily functioning as a movie theatre. Competition from a new cinema in the 1950s saw the Academy close in 1956, and by the early 1960s it was being threatened with demolition. In 1963, Dr. Bill Service and volunteers citizens formed the Academy Theatre Foundation and saw to it that the “grand old lady” was completely renovated and updated. Within two years the Kawartha Summer Theatre company had been formed under the direction of Dennis and Maggie Sweeting, and what became known as the Academy Theatre for Performing Arts was once again welcoming audiences from far and wide. One of the original projectors lives on in the museum at Keith Stata’s Highlands Cinema, Kinmount.
Established in 1954 as the Lindsay Boys Band by Muriel Kennedy and Lloyd McMullen, the Lindsay Kinsmen Band went on to become a cultural fixture in the community for over half a century. When this photo was taken outside of Queen Street United Church, the band had some 100 members aged 10-17 under the direction of bandmaster, Frank Banks. In addition to playing in local parades and giving concerts in Victoria Park, the band toured all over North America, going as far south as Florida and as far west as Calgary. The original image likely predates the adoption of the Canadian Flag in 1965. Today, the Kinsmen Band is no more and the United Church is now Celebrations events venue.
The Lindsay Town Hall was built in 1861, in the Italianate style of architecture. Originally housing the town council chambers, from 1863 to 1893, the second floor was an opera house. A stage was situated at the west end of the space, with seating stretching towards the east. As Lindsay’s population grew in the last quarter of the 19th Century, a more commodious performing arts became desirable, and the Academy of Music – later rechristened the Academy Theatre for Performing Arts – was opened at the foot of Kent Street. The building now houses offices for the City of Kawartha Lakes.
Lindsay had a reading room as early as 1860, later a 1,600 volume collection on the second floor of the Grand Trunk Railway Station, which continued to serve dues-paying railway employees and the public through the 1920s. In between, a Mechanics’ Institute was formed, laying the groundwork for the present-day public library system. In 1904 the public library was built through an Andrew Carnegie grant. A few years after the original image was taken, a large two-storey addition was constructed to the immediate east of the original building. Since then the lawn in front of the library has been landscaped into a beautiful public greenspace.
Over a thousand recruits from Victoria and Haliburton Counties enlisted to serve in the First World War (1914-1918); many more signed up for service in the Second World War and Korean War a generation later. Not all who served in these global wars would return home, and they are memorialized in this monument of a soldier at rest, dedicated in the early 1920s.
House of Refuge
Opened in 1905, Lindsay’s House of Refuge was patterned after a similar facility in Lambton County. Like other buildings constructed during the reign of King Edward VII, it was distinguished by a perfectly-symmetrical red-brick facade with dormer windows and gabled wings overlooking the grounds. Under the direction of Robert G. Robertson, the first groundskeeper, residents tended a small farm, garden, and apple orchard. Subsequently renamed Victoria Manor, the ‘House of Refuge’ was enlarged and improved over the years; a new nursing home was opened to the immediate north in 1990, and the old building briefly served at the school board’s alternative education centre, then was demolished in the early 2000s. Remnants of the apple orchard remain to remind us of what once was.
Ross Memorial Hospital
Scottish-born civil engineer and philanthropist James Ross (1848-1913) donated $80,000 to fund the construction of Lindsay’s hospital. When it opened in 1902, the Ross Memorial Hospital was state of the art facility, equipped with over twenty beds. A nurse’s residence, named in honour of James Ross’s wife, Annie, was completed in 1911 and accommodated a growing nursing staff. During the First World War, the RMH trained a number of young women who would go on to serve as military nurses in Europe. The hospital was expanded in 1960, 1974, and most recently, in 2005 –carrying on a long tradition of care and compassion that began with James Ross’s generous gift almost 120 years ago.
The original entrance to the Ross Memorial Hospital was on Kent Street, today the entrance is off Angeline Street, as shown in the photographs.
Newton Wilson Pavillion
The Newton Wilson Pavillion was one of those under appreciated local landmarks, the kind of place that few people realized how many memories were created there until it was gone. For a lot of people, the bright orange building was something you couldn't when visiting the town. The Lindsay Agricultural Society opened in 1854, and from 1883 to 2006 the exhibition was held at the grounds between Colborne, Adelaide and Angeline Streets. Over the years the Newton Wilson Pavillion has hosted countless exhibitions, 4-H shows and many other community events.
Today, the LEX (Lindsay Exhibition) is located at the corner of Highway 7 and Angeline Street. There is now a subdivision where the community once gathered in the grand stand to watch the horse pull or demolition derby.
Though the Lindsay Central Exhibition remains the largest annual event in the City of Kawartha Lakes, the most significant tourist attraction is the Trent-Severn Waterway. Lock 33 sees thousands of visitors each year, as pleasure craft operators pass through on route to or from Sturgeon Lake or Lake Scugog. Visitors who arrive in town by boat will often moor near McDonnell Park and make their way up to Kent Street where a variety of shops and restaurants await their patronage. While tourist traffic hasn’t diminished with the years, many of the landmarks once taken in by those in watercraft great and small are no more. The “old mill” – serving as a chick hatchery when the original photo was taken – was consumed by fire in 1978, and its picturesque ruin today forms the centrepiece of Old Mill Park.
Lindsay has, since the late 19th Century, been blessed with an abundance of beautifully-maintained parks. Neatly-manicured lawns and intriguing floral arrangements make for a pleasant environment in which to enjoy a picnic, have wedding photographs taken, or simply absorb the melodic sounds of nature. Looking at the northwest end of McDonnell Park in these image, it’s hard to believe that, half a century earlier, this pastoral green space was an industrial neighbourhood, where tanneries and tugboats produced so much smoke that it left layers of soot on nearby buildings. As tourism came to replace heavy industry as an economic driver, a different kind of “plant” replaced the industry along the Scugog River.
For many years Victoria Park has been an equally beautiful greenspace, home to concerts in the park and countless family picnics.
Lawn Bowling Club
The original Lindsay lawn bowling green was located at the present site of the Public Library, but the club had to move in 1903 to make way for this new community facility. After bowling at St. Mary’s Church, and beside St. Paul’s Anglican Church, the town allowed the club to build greens at the new park behind Central Senior School in 1921. In 1992 the Lawn Bowling Club had to move again to accommodate a track for LCVI and an expansion of the fair grounds. Since then it has been located at the south end of Elgin Street Park. The original photograph is of the Lawn Bowling Club, behind Central Senior School, and the contemporary picture is of the present-day club at Elgin Street Park.
Claxton & Co
Where Claxton & Co. once sold dry goods, clothing and operated a millinery shop, Men’s & Women’s Clothing, Dry Goods, Millinery, an IDA Drug Store now operates.
For many years the Bonfire was a very popular restaurant, a great place to take the family. Practically everyone loved their BBQ chicken. The site is now an Esso station.
Lindsay from the Air
Many Lindsay landmarks are much the same as when this 1960s postcard image was taken. The Academy Theatre (bottom-centre) still occupies a special place in the hearts of many local residents. Much of the historic downtown façade is little changed, as are many of the old churches and historic buildings. One thing that stands out is how much more parking there is today in the downtown, and generally, how much more intensive its development has become. It is one of the few local communities where the number of trees in the downtown has decreased in the last few decades. The village is still surrounded by the farm fields, though they have been pushed further towards the horizon. The continuing growth of Lindsay is evident from above.