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Snowshoeing with Bouncer
Willie Boyd was memorable as the Boyd who really took an interest in his family, and also had a unique sense of how to have fun. It helped that his father was the lumber king of the Trent Valley and owned much of Bobcaygeon. Willie is remembered as the ‘social director’ of the family, who arranged activities not only for his own family, but also his older brother’s. He went on epic canoe trips in northern Ontario. One fall, a young deer came to his house (Edgewood, now Case Manor) so the family fed it, and she stayed for the winter. Bouncer became just like a member of the family, but when spring came she bounded back into the woods to live as a deer once again.
Today, little remains of the Edgewood, other than the dry stack stone wall that runs along Canal Street.
Original Photograph of the Boyds: Back Row: Doris, Sheila, Eva Bonnell, Georgie Comber. Front Row: Willie, Rosie, Bouncer, Eric, Gladys, Herbert, Eileen.
Fenelon Falls Equipment Delivery
Back when most families were farm families, they worked day after day, doing repetitive manual labour to get by. Once winter came, the fields were frozen, the crops were in, the animals and children still needed to be cared for, but now there was time for fun. Christmas began a season when there was much more time for recreation and enjoyment, when families had the time to go for a sleigh ride and visit their friends. The new year was a time of looking forward to the coming season, to purchase the equipment that would make life a little easier, and maybe even a brand new sleigh!
In 1877 Thomas and William Robson opened a foundry on Cameron Lake that made fanning mills, ploughs and other farm implements. Six years later they added a retail office on Colborne Street, which soon branched out into ordering machinery from larger manufacturers like Massey Harris and Cockshutt. Monty Robson, the last owner, was a much loved community figure, at the forefront of practically every community event going. The day that the village’s order came in was much like a winter fair, full of excitement and anticipation for what the new year could bring.
Bobcaygeon Farm Equipment Delivery
When the Massey Harris delivery came to Bobcaygeon, it was just as exciting of a day—bringing farmers the hope that maybe with the new equipment, life could be a little easier, and their children might grow up to be a little freer from the drudgery of providing for themselves. The equipment was expensive, requiring a lot of hard earned coin that the families scrimped and saved to afford. But by harvesting a few more acres of wheat, or feeding a couple more cows, it might pay dividends in the long run… if the weather co-operated. The original photograph shows the Bobcaygeon Grist (aka Feed) Mill, with the lockmaster’s house in front of it. It has been a long time since the canal was at the heart of Bobcaygeon’s industry. Instead, it is today a place for family recreation, something that would have been unthinkable 125 years ago. In the end, farm families did succeed in creating a much more prosperous life for their descendants.
Wilf Jackett (centre-right, with pipe) stands with his workers in front of a snowplow that used to keep Fenelon’s streets clear. At the time they were in the parking lot of Armstrong’s Ford Dealership (now Highlands propane), with Deyman’s furniture and undertaking in the background...
Colborne Street Looking South
Looking in the opposite direction down Colborne Street a couple decades later, the Fenelon Theatre stood on the site formerly occupied by Deymans, but today both are gone, and the lot is vacant.
Colborne Street Looking North
From the canal looking northeast, the entire block from Red Apple to the Canal has been reconstructed since the original photograph was taken. The buildings that once were Mac McCallum's Menswear and the Library were rebuilt as Sider's Jewellers and the IGA. Now these buildings are home to the Lil Wee Quilt Shoppe, Fenelon Lakes Club and Red Apple.
Sleighing in Little Britain
Looking up the Eldon Road (formerly King Street) in the first years of the twentieth century, the original street scene taken in the first years of the twentieth century shows the joyous sight of sleighing through town in the age before automobiles made it necessary to keep streets clear. Beyond the corner, a wooden bridge is barely visible. The grocery store at the corner, operated by the Yerex family for many years, remains a Foodland. The two buildings in front of it have since been replaced—now the Kawartha Credit Union and Casey’s Service Station.
At Coboconk Station
Before there were cars, the train was the fastest long distance transportation, sometimes fitted with a snow plow to keep the tracks clear. The Toronto & Nipissing Railway (lines were ambitiously named to attract more investment) was completed to Coboconk in 1872. After falling into disuse over the course of the twentieth century, the old railway station was saved by moving it up the hill. Today the original site is Tri-County Building Supplies.
Stuck in a Snowdrift
Every once in a while there were snowdrifts that were so deep that not even a train could plow its way through. What do you do when the locomotive gets buried? Get out the shovels! Imagine what a job that would be! The former Victoria Railway (shown here at Burnt River) is a recreational corridor that is very popular with snowmobilers, maintained by a groomer that fortunately does not have to deal with such large drifts.
Digging out the Snowplow
... Early snowplows could have similar problems on the roads. Being much smaller than the snowplows of today, they could get mired in snow, and sometimes would get pushed into the ditch because they were not heavy enough to withstand the counterforce of the snow they were trying to clear. This original photograph is of a snowplow stuck west of Lindsay.
Plowing Murray Street
After the Second World War the snow plows became much larger allowing them to push ahead through almost any drift. Two views of Murray Street, Fenelon Falls.
Snow in front of the Sundial
With a modern snow plow tremendous mounds of snow could be made as in this original image in front of the Sundial Motel. Today it has been reincarnated as Road 121 motel and Ultramar service station.
A Drive Near Fenelon Falls
But even before modern heavy equipment, tremendous snowpiles were made in clearing roads. When automobiles first appeared, many drivers put their vehicle away for the winter because the roads were not plowed. But it didn’t take long before practically everybody became a motorist and then road clearing began. So tremendous volumes of snow had to be moved, and heavy equipment was not available for the job. But then, how wonderful it was to be able to travel by motor car all year round.
Cameron Lake Ice Road
Before the age of automobiles, when the lake froze over it opened a whole world of transportation possibilities. Whether by snowshoe, ski, foot or sleigh, people could go almost anywhere on the lakes—as long as they knew where the ice was thin. Going places in winter could be so much faster—especially on a journey like Bobcaygeon to Peterborough, where there we so many lakes inhibiting ground transportation in summer. Travelling across the ice continued after the advent of automobiles, petering out in most areas in the mid twentieth century. To allow cars to drive on the lakes, formal roads were ploughed, which was not necessary for snowshoes and sleighs. Curve Lake maintained its ice road to Selwyn up until a few years ago. In the original photograph, Wilf Jackett and Ted Sims pose with the snowplow on Cameron Lake.
Plowing the Ice Road
The Cameron Lake Ice Road ran from Fenelon Falls across to modern-day Highway 35 on the West Bay.
The Fenelon Gorge
Winter used to be so so wintery that you could ski over farm fences, actually bury your car in the ditch, and the Fenelon lock used to overflow with snow. The Fenelon River froze over almost all the way to the falls. The winter of 1935 was very different from the comparatively mild seasons we take for granted today. In the original picture, the building at the top right is the remains of a kiln, and the hand crank to manually operate the lock is centre right.
Digging Out Colborne Street
When the big snow falls hit, everyone might chip in to clear the snow. Many hands made light work in front of Alvin Gould's Drug Store.
Al Finney and Jack Campbell Clear an Ice Jam
For 35 years, Al Finney (centre) was a devoted village of Fenelon Falls employee, who faithfully looked after public works. He knew all about every water and sewer line in town. In this photograph, he helps clear an ice jam at the Francis Street bridge to ensure that the village did not flood.
Making Ice on Cameron Lake
Up until the 1940s, few people had electric refrigeration, and those who were fortunate enough to have an ice box would need a block of ice every three days to keep their milk and butter cool. It took thousands of blocks of ice to supply the village. Dating back to the nineteenth century local ice was also shipped to Toronto on the railway—there was no shortage of water in the Kawarthas. This original photograph shows Wilf Jackett’s ice operation. Note how the ice field is laid out in large squares—each would be a day’s cut. Also note the railway in the foreground. The vantage, being Fenelon Falls’ Sand Hill on Louisa Street supplied the Jackett family with aggregate for many years. Today it is much loved tobogganing hill owned by Jim Webster.
George Street has changed a lot since the start of the twentieth century, it is now one way to the south… and has reliable mechanized snow removal. It has gone from being a roadway for horses, to having a streetcar, to being a one-way automobile-only city street. Basically all of the buildings that appear in the original photograph have been replaced, though 337 George Street still sells cigars, more than a century later.
The earliest reference to the City Hotel is from the 1882 fire insurance plan. Over the years it had many operators including George William Clancy, James Dolan, Bert Brown, A. Dunn and Martin Connors. In 1910 Connors moved on to become a carpenter, and the building subsequently became the Canada Malleable Steel Range Company and the Bank of Nova Scotia.
Many thanks to the Trent Valley Archives for their research contributions.
This original photograph from 1972 is practically identical to the present day view. For generations Jackson Park has been much loved by local residents....
And Jackson Park was once a much loved amusement park. The Peterborough Radial Railway Company operated trolley on the streets of Peterborough, building a line to Jackson Park in November 1904. The company then needed a reason for people to visit Jackson Park, so they began to create attractions. That winter they opened a rink (in what is now Hamilton Park—it is connected with, and often thought to be part of Jackson Park), the following summer they offered motion pictures. Hamilton Park had previous been a limestone quarry, so it dropped off sharply from the heights of Jackson Park. The Railway Company took advantage of this to create an epic tobogganing course, having multiple chutes when it was at its peak. Though it was much loved, it was not to last, because the line of the tobogganing run went across private property, and the company was not able to get permission to keep it open. Today the former site of the toboggan slide is the Hamilton Park Disc Golf Course.
Visiting Maryboro Lodge
A lot has changed in the century that has passed since Mary Kelly (centre) visited her sisters Tillie and Belle Abbott at Maryboro Lodge. There is no longer a fence to the west separating the lawn from the railway, Maryboro is now connected to the Victoria Rail Trail. The Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society has created a beautiful garden in front of the porch. The verandah has been repaired time and again, now with a concrete floor, larger bases and a much beefier beam supporting the roof to meet modern standards.
One of the dwarf Bur Oak trees that they are standing in front of is still there, and doesn’t look that much different for the century that has passed since. Further behind the sisters another tree can be seen that still stands, as part of the ancient oak grove.
The Abbotts no longer operate Maryboro as a tourist lodge, but their tradition of hosting afternoon tea lives on, and Maryboro remains a wonderful place for community gatherings… in summer. As they grew older, the Abbott sisters found it too cold to stay at Maryboro (being the oldest building in the area, it predates insulation) and spent their winters with Mary.
As can be seen in this original photograph, the Fenelon Canal was once a wonderful surface for skating. Now there is now a safety railing on either side of the canal, and both banks have been built up to be much more pronounced. The lockmaster’s house is gone, replaced by the Chamber of Commerce, now with the Fenelon Theatre Marquee in front. Several of the buildings on Oak Street are quite recognizable. There is no longer any need for utility poles running along the edge of the island since Parks Canada cleared all the buildings to create a park—in the process removing Flett’s Cottages that once occupied the west end.
At Old St. James
By the time Phrona Haskell visited the second St. James Anglican Church (located on the Church Hill, overlooking Fenelon Falls), services had already moved to the new church at the foot of the hill. But the old church remains a prominent local landmark, often the first thing that people would see as they drove into town from the south. Today, only foundation materials remain in what is now the community's old cemetery.
Today there are bigger trees and smaller buildings than when this original photograph was taken, prior to 1910. At the turn of the century, Kinmount was significant community in the Kawarthas, being a hub for the forest industries of the Upper Trent Watershed. A lot of commerce for the settlements to the north went through Kinmount—it was on the railway, while Minden was not.
A large proportion of the buildings from the original picture burned over the course of the twentieth century, many in the Great Fire of 1942. The water tower for the railway, the Forester’s Hall (which appears to its right) and the shops of the main street did not survive, while the rail station miraculously made it through all the conflagrations.
Note that old camera lenses tend to make distant objects appear much closer their modern contemporaries, as can be seen by comparing Forester’s Hall in the original picture with the Community Centre on site today.