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Looking North up the Main Street
Rosedale is a community where the main street has moved. For most of its history, Bridge Street was its main thoroughfare, and the village’s business community grew up along that route. In the 1960s, when a fixed concrete span replaced the swing bridge, Highway 35 moved slightly to the east, allowing traffic to pass much higher above the river, removing the need for a swing bridge. But when Bridge Street was no longer the main route through town, many of the enterprises on that road withered away. It was, however, a mercy for summer traffic and boaters alike.
The original photograph looks north from the bridge, up what was then the principal road running north through Rosedale. It is one of the oldest photographs of the community, and shows Abraham Whig Brown’s tavern, the second building on the right. Brown purchased the property in 1865 and by 1867 his establishment was the only stopping place between Fenelon Falls and Minden. In 1869, supper, bed and breakfast cost 67.5 cents. It included a barn to house travelers' horses. When the stage coach operated on the Cameron Road (similar route to Highway 35), it could swap the horses for a fresh team at Brown's.
The north half of the building was a general store, and the south half was the tavern, warmed by an open fire place. In 1901 James Dickson (Fenelon Falls Reeve and Algonquin Park founder) purchased it as a summer home. At that point there were only about 5 or 6 permanent houses in Rosedale. The Dickson family hosted many social events for the community there over the years, but being Presbyterians, did not continue to operate the tavern.
Gateway to Balsam Lake
Rosedale, the Gateway to Balsam Lake, has grown up around the intersection of the Cameron Road, later Highway 35, with the Rosedale River and Trent Canal. Until it was replaced in 1962, the swing bridge was one of the most photographed views in the community. In the foreground, just east of the bridge is Connie and Bob Burroughs’ tourist lodge. The present photograph shows the new bridge, built to the east of the former Highway 35, while the Pride of Balsam Lake Marina has replaced the accommodations.
Swing Bridge Looking East
Rosedale's swing bridge, looking east, before it was reconstructed in 1962.
Sir William Mackenzie rose to national prominence as a contractor, building railway stations and bridges. With a reputation for completing work on time and sometimes even under budget, for a period he was said to be the richest man in Canada. He invested in electrifying the Toronto Railway Company (forerunner of the TTC) and building the Canadian Northern Railway. The CNoR ran into financial troubles and had to be nationalized, which drastically curtailed Mackenzie’s wealth.
While Mackenzie stood at the pinnacle of Canadian society, he commissioned the yacht Wawinet from Toronto shipbuilder Poulson Iron Works. Completed in 1904, this 87-foot ship attracted much attention when it arrived in the Kawarthas, as many local residents brought their horses and buggies to see it, and its famous owner, arrive. In keeping with the social expectations of Canada’s turn-of-the-century elite, the Wawinet toured his family, friends and associates through the Kawarthas, while Mackenzie lived at his Kirkfield estate.
The Wawinet would later be owned by Bert Corbeau, who played for the Montreal Canadiens when the NHA became the NHL in 1917, then the Toronto St. Pats, when new owner Conn Smythe renamed them the Maple Leafs in 1927. After retiring from hockey, Bert was plant superintendent in Penetanguishene for the Midland Foundry and Machine Company. On the night of September 21, 1942, he set out with a party of 41 of his friends, then hit a sandbar, causing the boat to quickly sink. Bert was among the 25 who perished that night.
The original photograph shows Rosedale’s bridgemaster’s building, and the swing bridge pivoted open on its pier. Since the new bridge was constructed further east, the former site has started to grow up. A new public dock has been constructed on the west side of the span.
A rowboat or punt in front of Rosedale’s first swing bridge in the early twentieth century, compared with the second swing bridge in the mid-century view.
In 1962, the second swing bridge was replaced by the current fixed, concrete span that allows boats to pass underneath.
Looking Under the Bridge
Looking under the concrete bridge, where Burrough’s Marine and Twin Spruce Villa once stood is Pride of Balsam Lake Marina with Rosedale Marine further downstream.
Morning Catch at Bennett's
An impressive morning catch coming in at the dock in front of Bennett's Boats and Cabins. Where there was once a dock for the guests at the lodge, another has been built for Pride’s Marina. Bert Bennett was very active building the community, as he bought properties, fixed them up and sold them. He also operated a restaurant on Bridge Street (later Fred and Dot’s), and was remembered as an avid fisherman. Jim Hopkins recalls, “I went fly fishing with him off the dam, and he would catch fish when no one else could.”
Bennett's Boats and Cabins
Bennett's Boats and Cabins was one of the most popular places to stay in Rosedale, with many guests coming back year after year. Guests would often stay for few days or up to a couple weeks. By today’s standards, the cabins were small—enough room for a bed and a chair. But guests of that era were happy just to have a vacation on the Trent-Severn Waterway. Bert sold the business to Connie & Bob Burroughs who put in a 45 foot filtered swimming pool, operating the resort as Twin Spruce Villa.
Twin Spruce Villa
As the decades passed, ever more cottagers came to the region to stay at their own waterfront property, and the post-war cabins became too small for modern expectations. Where so many tourists once came to stay in Rosedale, Pride of Balsam Lake and Rosedale Marinas now operate.
Bennett's White Rose
Prior to 1962 when the swing bridge was replaced with the present concrete span, there was a government dock beside the swing bridge, where boats would tie up as they waited for it to open. Alongside his boat and cabin rentals, Bert Bennett operated a White Rose gas station for watercraft passing through the Rosedale River. After he sold the business to Connie and Bob Burroughs, the marine gas station switched to B/A, with a second story added to the marina.
… After the swing bridge was removed, so was the adjacent dock and the site has become a public boat launch. Today there is a dock a little further downstream for customers of Pride Marine Group, and the tourist cabins are now a distant memory. Pride Marine Group originated on Lake Muskoka in 1986, and today Rosedale is one of eight locations that the company operates.
While the Burroughs family owned the marina and resort the new concrete bridge was built in 1962, moving the highway much closer to the marina. The marina was also revamped to become a boat showroom facing the water. The back of the second floor was rented out as apartments.
Twin Spruce Villa
… After Burroughs owned the property, the Skinner family bought the marina in 1959. Then in 1963, Pauline and Mel Davies acquired the property and operated it as Twin Spruce Villa. When it was a resort, it was a pretty sight coming down Grey Wood Drive, with the cabins and evergreen trees. Everything that once was Twin Spruce Villa—the swimming pool, trees, cabins and even the marina, has been cleared out, along with Starrett’s Rosedale Marina, to make way for Dave Nelson’s Balsam Lake Marina. Nelson consolidated it into the larger marina property that is there today, then sold it to Mike Reeves, who in turn passed it on to the Johnsons. Currently it operates as Pride of Balsam Lake Marina.
Rosedale’s annual regatta was one of the community’s most popular and anticipated events. Founded in 1926 as a fundraiser for St. John’s Anglican church, the congregation’s ladies prepared meals for visitors which were sold—including many scrumptious pies. Local businesses donated prizes, while the T. Eaton Company provided the trophies. In time, the event would support the Anglican, Presbyterian and Catholic churches. The regatta did not continue through the Second World War, but was restarted in the late 1940s.
The regatta consisted of swimming and canoe races in the canal, with motorized races around Balsam Lake. In the 1950s, sea flea racing was a popular event, and Al Lytle was a memorable competitor. Other events included canoe jousting, where pairs of participants would stand in canoes, with a padded wooden pole, trying to dunk their opponent, while remaining upright themselves. Though it remained popular, the event was not able to continue because insurance companies would not cover the motorboat racing in the river. Today, the dock where spectators once gathered to witness the event is now the public boat launch.
Automobile at the Locks
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many people used steamboats to travel to the waterfront communities in the Kawartha Lakes region. Because Rosedale did not ever have a railroad connection, steamboats connecting with the railways at Lindsay, Fenelon Falls or Coboconk were the most convenient mode of transportation for visitors from a distance. To make it convenient to pick up passengers travelling by boat, Rosedale formerly had a turning circle adjacent to the lock.
In the era of railways and steamers, travellers were constrained by the routes of the transportation companies. With the advent of automobiles and motor boats, which were faster and allowed their owners much more freedom in choosing where and when they wanted to go, steamers soon became obsolete. By the 1930s, when this picture was taken, the old paddle wheelers were becoming a rare sight. Then as now, the Trent-Severn Waterway maintained beautiful waterfront plantings, just the garden locations have changed.
Before motor boats became common, much of the recreational traffic on the Trent-Severn Waterway consisted of canoes and punts. Here, Mel Copp, himself an avid photographer, poses with his canoe in the Rosedale lock.
In the late nineteenth century, George Crandell and the Boyd family’s Trent Valley Navigation Company offered competing, integrated steamship transportation networks—at the time there were many others who operated a boat or two. By 1909, both had retired, and other local enterprises emerged to offer scheduled service. One of the busiest routes had connected Lindsay, Sturgeon Point, Fenelon Falls, Rosedale and Coboconk—three communities that had railway connections, and two popular destinations that did not.
In response to the demise of the Trent Valley Navigation Company, Charles Burgoyne commissioned the Wacouta. Along with Purser Charles Graham, he would operate the boat from 1909 to 1918, on the Lindsay to Coboconk route. Burgoyne was a well-known Fenelon Falls entrepreneur, who had a general store on Colborne Street catering to a sophisticated clientele. The Wacouta was the first boat to travel to Orillia through the Trent Canal. Burgoyne found that business was declining during the Great War, and he sold the boat in 1919. It became a fishing boat at the Bay of Quinte.
In the 1960s the Trent-Severn Waterway rebuilt the canal, with Grenville Fountain serving as the crew’s foreman. While the shores of the Trent Canal remain forested, the lock station building now stands in place of the turning circle, where horses and buggies once picked up passengers travelling by steamer.
Looking East on Rosedale River
Looking east from the bridge towards the Trent Canal, the original photograph shows Rosedale’s marinas circa 1970. Mel and Pauline Davies took over the marina from Burroughes, switching the B/A to an Esso. Anne Mae and Iain Starrett rented cottages and operated Rosedale Marina, pumping Shell gasoline. Skinners Marine is visible further downstream in the distance.
Rosedale’s dam was built in 1905, and it looks much the same today as it once did, though with railings attached for safety. For many years before the railings were built, people would gather on the dam to fish, often standing on the piers. The river was shallow on either side, and those fortunate enough to catch a big fish, often found it easier to land it closer to shore. In the 1950s, when local pickerel fishing was in its prime, the dam was often a busy place in summer, with many tourists and also some locals. But as accidents happened over the years, railings were installed. It remains a favourite spot to go fishing.
For much of the twentieth century, Rosedale had a cottage on the island that had been formed when the locks were constructed. Originally erected for the use of the canal, the building was sold to a canal construction company paymaster with a 99-year lease of the land. It subsequently passed to his son in law, Merv Long, who served as deputy game warden. Dalton Terry purchased the cottage in the mid 1970s. It burned down in 1982 and forests have reclaimed the island.
Shannon's Boat House
The south shore of the Rosedale River, west of the bridge has been home to cottages for generations. On the right, in the original photograph is Frank Shannon’s boathouse, which was a local landmark…
Frank Shannon worked at the Laura Secord Chocolate Company, and had many business associates who were looking for a summer destination. Frank operated Shannandoah Lodge, which catered to affluent visitors, and Frank was adept and meeting their expectations. Bill Isaac lived next door and worked as gardener and groundskeeper. Keith Holliday served as Shannon’s chauffer. Frank sold the business to Bill Branniff, who later started the gas station on the west side of Highway 35, south of town. Today, the former site of Shannondoah Lodge is private homes.
The original photograph is a view looking north on Bridge Street, from just north of the bridge, circa 1930 (at that point the swing bridge was actually on Bridge Street). The porch that appears on the right is from the cottage that formerly belonged to James Dickson, a Fenelon Falls Land Surveyor, whose ideas shaped the formation of Algonquin Park, hence Ontario Parks. The Presbyterian Church is visible on the left. The Cameron Road north through Rosedale was improved to become a gravel road. By 1947 it had become Highway 35, which was then paved from Rosedale to Coboconk.
Oliver's Service Station
J.B. (Bruce) Oliver and Family operated a Shell Station and store at the corner of Goodman Road and Highway 35. This service station sold gasoline, but did not repair vehicles—the nearest garages were in Coboconk and Fenelon Falls. Early on, a large portion of the general store had a gravel floor. It sold everything from pop to groceries and coal oil lamps. ...
Once Highway 35 was moved to the east to meet the new bridge across the Rosedale River, the service station was no longer on the thoroughfare. Reg and Alice Branson immigrated from England, and were interested in opening a gallery. Reg was memorable for his beautiful wood carvings. In the 1980s, they sold the property to Myrna Conlon, who continued to operate it as a gallery. Since then it has become a private residence.
Hugo & Lucille Beall operated Club Balsam, which was a restaurant and gas station, serving soda, coffee, hamburgers, French fries and club sandwiches. Over the years, Lucille made many pies to serve to their visitors. One of their unique menu items was the Banana Burger, which was a hamburger with peanut butter on it, named after their daughter Nan (Annette). The name of the entrée came from Nan’s nickname—it did not actually contain bananas.
… In the 1960s, Club Balsam became the Balsam Motel and cottages, as a motel was built between the service station and the water. With the rerouting of Highway 35, Club Balsam was no longer on the thoroughfare, and the former restaurant and gas station was used as a games room, then an antiques store. The business was renamed Balsam Resort in the 1980s, and since then the former Club Balsam building has been torn town.
In 1947, Lucille Beall opened a china shop in what had formerly been Rosedale’s Wesleyan Methodist Church. For a few years, the china shop did double duty as the family home, before becoming exclusively retail. Lucille sold Royal Doulton figurines, tea cups and many other collectables. At that time, collecting figurines was fashionable, and many motorists would stop in on their way to check it out. When Lucille retired, her daughter-in-law Judy Beall took over the management of the business, changing the name to “The Olde House,” because it was Beall’s former home. The business sold Canadiana crafts, featuring something from every province. Afterwards it became an antique store. Like the former Club Balsam, the English China Shop has since been demolished.
Miller's Service Station
As was the case in many other communities in the area, Rosedale was once gasoline alley. With numerous service stations, and many more in Coboconk, motorists had no shortage of options. When the new highway bypassed Bridge Street, the writing was on the wall for Rosedale’s service stations, many of which also operated variety or general stores.
Hazel Miller’s store proved more resilient than the others. She would buy and then resell beef and pork from local farmers. Miller’s Store sold cold meat, milk, ice and many of the other basic needs of the community. As was common until the 1950s, the gas pumps lifted the fuel into glass cylinders, so that the customer could see both the quantity of fuel being purchased and its quality. Hazel also served as the community’s post master.
Rosedale’s Presbyterian Church stood right beside Hazel Miller’s store. The church had a central aisle, with pews on either side. For many years, Mary Halliday played the organ (she also taught at Baddow’s S.S. #4 Somerville), while her boys looked after the church. Founded in 1907, it operated until 2011, and today it is privately owned.
Bert & Betty's Tuck Shop
Bert and Betty’s Tuck Shop was just south of the Presbyterian Church—operated by Bert and Betty Bennett, who rented cabins and boats across the road on the east side of the bridge. Afterwards, it became Fred and Dot’s restaurant, which served hot dogs and hamburgers—like most eateries of the day.
For decades, the Rosedale Motel has operated just south of the village on Highway 35. While the façade of the building has changed little over the years and a turning circle remains out front, what was once its circular lawn been relandscaped and now supports many mature trees.
S.S. #8 Fenelon
Because Rosedale did not have a school of its own, village children would walk south on the Cameron Road (later Highway 35) to S.S. #8 Fenelon, while those north of town would walk to Baddow, since they were then in Somerville Township. The trip down to S.S. #8 would take about an hour for Rosedale residents. When they arrived at the school, they went in the front doors, and then ascended the stairs to cloak rooms—boys on the left and girls on the right. Past the cloak rooms, was the classroom, where Freda Bulmer (Kelly) was one memorable teacher in the mid twentieth century. Afterwards, Marlene Sedgewick, who had grown up in the Gelert/Lochlin area gave instruction. Downstairs there was a playroom, and a wood furnace, with the wood stacked inside.
Circa 1915, Felix Northey built the “Rainbow Bridge” for Fenelon Township, which spanned Pearn’s Creek on Highway 35. At the time, it was a novelty, not only for its pleasing appearance but also because it was made of concrete. Then most bridges were made of steel.
Pearn's Creek Bridge
… The Rainbow Bridge was built in the era of horses, just as the first automobiles were reaching the region. It met the needs of travellers at the time that it was built. However, as automobiles became ubiquitous and much faster, drivers began to assume that roads were meant to be driven at 60 miles per hour, not 5 mph. For automobiles, it was a single lane bridge, on a corner, and not everybody slowed down for it. There were a number of accidents, some of them fatal, so Highway 35 was rerouted closer to Cameron Lake. But the rainbow bridge continues to span Pearn’s Creek.
Sylvan Lodge was owned and operated by Minnie and Fred Goodman, being one of Rosedale’s many accommodations for tourists. Minnie had grown up there, and her husband Fred was a carpenter who built homes and cottages—the road is named after his family. The boat house had a dance floor on the second story. The façade of Sylvan Lodge has changed over the years, but the interior still brings back memories for its former guests.
St. John's Anglican Church
Rosedale’s Anglican Church was designed as a non-denominational church in 1907, and remains in use. It is a beautiful building inside, designed and built by Fred Goodman, on land he had donated. He dedicated the stained glass to his mother. Fred is often credited with being the first to develop Rosedale as a tourist destination, starting a resort on the property more recently owned by the Austin family. It has a unique design, inside and out, reminiscent of old English country churches. Its devoted minister, Rev. Mr. Palmer, was buried behind. "So dear to his heart was the little church in the wildwood, that at his death in 1934 he was buried beside the little kirk."
Rosedale Through The Years
Most of the cataracts on the Trent-Severn Waterway developed around mills, but Rosedale has its own unique history. Though the railway never came to Rosedale, it developed around transportation routes, being the intersection of the Cameron Road (later Highway 35) with the Rosedale River. This original photograph, was taken shortly after Highway 35 was rerouted to pass over the fixed concrete bridge, and shows Club Balsam (Balsam Resort) on the right, in the foreground.
Though the community has changed a lot over the years, it remains a quiet, peaceful waterfront village. Though the number of private cottages has greatly increased since the mid twentieth century, and the number of lodges has declined, the community still is a wonderful place to enjoy summer fun. Today, ever more of the cottages are being transformed into year-round residences.