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Crystal Lake

November 13, 2023

Crystal Lake Road winds its way along the southern lakeshore

By Guy Scott

The Crystal Lake Road is the concession line between concessions 10 (south side) and concession 11 (north side) of Galway Township. The Crystal Lake Road today runs from Highway #121 (Bobcaygeon Colonization Road) east across the whole of Galway Township: 35 lots or about 8 ½ miles as the crow flies. While the Crystal Lake Road follows the concession road allowance as faithfully straight as possible until it hits Crystal Lake itself (Lot 20), after that it meanders to avoid natural obstacles such as the Lake itself. Nevertheless, it is likely the straightest/longest concession road in the Kinmount area.

Crystal Lake was originally called Swamp Lake. The lake itself is not at all swampy, but direct access via the Crystal Lake Road was blocked by several swamps and thus the name Swamp Lake. However, only certain locals used the less glamorous title ‘swamp’ because early (1860s) writers were already using the title Crystal Lake.

The Crystal Lake Road begins at the concession road allowance between lots 25 and 26 of Concession A. The earliest settlers clung to the Bobcaygeon Road, but by 1860, settlers were pushing inland to settle on the good land behind Concession A. Maple or hardwood ridges were the preferred land to clear for farming. Low lying ground was avoided as it was prone to spring flooding and had to be drained to dry properly. This meant extra work at a time when the earliest farmers were primarily concerned with getting as much land cleared as quickly as possible. The poor drainage meant the pioneer settler had to wait for the low ground to dry up in the spring and sometimes the season started too late for the low, flat meadows. Grain crops such as wheat and oats did not like wet ground. Tame hay such as alfalfa and timothy likewise often ‘drowned out’ on wet, low flats. The western section of the Crystal Lake Road featured a lot of wet meadow flats and was thus largely ignored by farmers in the first rush of settlement.

The Crystal Lake Road was slow to be developed for the above reasons. The first three lots north of the Road (concession 11) featured some suitable high ground, but the low-lying flats handicapped road building and farm building. At lot 3 (Mill Hill), the road crosses the Flats of Union Creek, a low lying meadow that is ¾ of a mile long. This swampy meadow was a big obstacle for the road builders as it required a built-up road bed to avoid muddy conditions in the spring and fall when the Union Creek flooded the flats. The Union Creek itself was a major obstacle and required a bridge, not built until the 1870s. Even when the creek was bridged, a large obstacle further on was the Long Swamp or Dalton’s Swamp. This swamp (it was no meadow, but a real, dirty syne of a swamp!) was part of the Venner’s Creek drainage area. The Long Swamp was not bridged for several decades, and even then was prone to flooding. It was eventually bridged by a corduroy causeway called a cross-sway. The pioneer road builders cut logs or poles (handy in the vicinity!) and laid them down parallel in the swamp. Several layers were required as the corduroy logs tended to sink into the muck. Eventually, the logs were covered with soil, but each spring the front would heave the logs upwards and remind everyone how rough these corduroy roads could be. Logs were still surfacing each spring in the Long Swamp until 2010 when the township rebuilt the Long Swamp section of the road by adding many loads of gravel and raising the road bed much higher.

All these obstacles meant the west section of the Crystal Lake Road was not opened for several decades, likely being largely impassable until circa 1900. The earliest settlers in the concessions south of Crystal Lake accessed their farms via the Galway Road and Allen’s Alley. The Galway Road crossed higher ground, much more favourable for pioneer road building than its southern neighbour.

Concession A fronted the Bobcaygeon Road and will be included in the Union Creek section. The earliest settler along the Road was Michael Grainey on Lot 1, north of the Road. His first claim was lot 26 in Concession A, but the land was too rough and swampy and the family resided on Lot 1, Concession 11. Michael had several sons who claimed lot 2 next door and lot 1 (Con 10) across the Road on the south side. But the Graineys failed to do ‘settlement duties’ (clear 5 acres and build a shanty within 5 years) and Lot 1, con 10 passed to Alexander Barr by 1871. The Graineys did occupy 300 acres, including lot 2, con 11. But this lot was so rough and rocky, it was used mostly for grazing and was called ‘the Commons.’ In Britain, the commons was a pasture field held in common by the community, where all the neighbouring farmers could bring their livestock to pasture. The Graineys lived here for several generations until Kit Grainey’s death in the 1960s. Kit was a great trapper and outdoorsman: and trapped in an age when beaver were a protected breed.

Across from the Commons on lot 2, con 10 the earliest settler was John Cook. He built a shanty right at a slight bend in the road and the bend was called ‘Cook’s Shanty.’ Cook did not stay very long due to the rocky nature of this lot and the Cook lot was acquired by neighbour Alex Barr. The Barr farm (lots 1 & 2, con 10) were either extremely rocky or part of the meadows along Union Creek. Bar had about 70 acres of flat meadow land along the Union Creek, and when cleared and drained, was likely the best farm on the whole Road. By 1911, the Barr homestead was sold to James Kennedy, who moved from the Dutch Line in search of better farmland (and found it). The Kennedys moved to Dunsford and were replaced by Earle Chalmers and then Bill Scott. Before leaving, Edgar Kennedy severed a 10-acre parcel from lot 2 and built a log cabin known as “Edgars”.

Lot 3, con 11 north of the Road was the farm of Maurice Rouch. The swamp before the Rouch cabin was the start of the ‘Winter Road.’ In the dead of winter, the Bobcaygeon Road was often blocked by snow drifts. There were few trees to act as windbreaks and no snow ploughs. A trail was cut from Crystal Lake Road all the way into Kinmount using a series of gullies, frozen swamps, and low land where the wind could not drift the snow. It was a difficult journey and was only used in times of emergency or need. Such a situation occurred in the early 1920s, when a young Bradley girl from the French Line died suddenly. Her family was heartbroken and wanted a church funeral. It was the height of winter and the roads were blocked by snow. The men of the community banded together and shovelled the sleigh with the body into town. It took 2 days to get to Kinmount! The first night the twenty-some shovellers stayed over at a house on the Dutch Line and made Kinmount the next day. The Winter Road entered town near the fairgrounds, where a stone bridge remains to mark its passage over Dunbar Creek. It took only one day for the crew to walk home. It was a tough job, but that’s what friends and neighbours would do in times of need. Across the road, the lot was part of the Sutherland/Peters farm on the French Line. Once again this lot had a lot of low meadow along the Union Creek. But the meadow was solid enough when ditched to support a road that crossed the Creek and linked the French Line with the Crystal Lake Road. At lot 3, the road descended a hill into the flats of the Union Creek. This hill is still called Mill Hill after a sawmill that ran for several years on the south side of the hill. Logs from south of the Road were teamed (in winter) to this site and sawed into lumber. A water hole was dug to hold water for the steam engine; and this is all that remains of the mill site. At the Mill Hill, the Crystal Lake Road dodged off to the south side and dog-legged up the hill. In the days of horse and wagon, it was a tough haul straight up the hill, so a switch-back or Z leg was used to make the grade less steep. The switch-back was abandoned in the motor car age.

At lot 4, the Road entered the Flats of the Union Creek: a low meadow. On the south side (con 10), the Flats became even swampier and eventually descended into what was called the Big Marsh. While the beaver were absent, it was mostly mud flats after the spring flood subsided. But when the beaver were present, it becomes a shallow lake. The rugged pioneers of Galway were willing to clear and farm even this marshy lot! A Flaherty family from Crystal Lake actually built a shanty on lot 4 and a small knoll on the flats and tried to farm the swampy lots. In the spring flood, they accessed their front door by planks, and of course, no basement was possible. A driveway still marks the spot before the bridge where these poor swamp people tried to farm. Lots 4 and 5 turned into pastureland after they left.

North of the Road, the meadowland was a bit higher in elevation and was eventually turned into productive farms. The Thomas Hunter family occupied lot 4. The Hunters were part of the ‘Lanark Connection’ that settled in the area. This group included the two Barr families, two Molyneaux families and the Hunters, Trudeaus and maybe others. The Molyneaux brothers, (John and Duncan) had worked on the Bobcaygeon Road crew and returned with neighbours and family to settle at Union Creek. Lot 5 & 6 north of the Road was left vacant for over a decade because they were considered too wet to farm and eventually (1872) both were claimed by John Molyneaux. The Hunters and Holyneauxs eventually ditched and cleared these two low lying lots and turned them into prosperous farms. When the flats dried out, the farmers ‘fired’ the meadow by burning the whole 300 acres in one day! The flats were covered with tag alder and willow scrub and large trees were virtually absent. Fire was often used to clear fallow land. After the great burn, a farmer could pick the willow debris and tag alder swamps at the rate of 1 acre per day. In a few years, several hundred acres were cleared and ready for ploughing. It was likely the easiest land clearing in the whole area since there were no stumps!

In the 1880s, the Molyneaux farm was split with lot 5 going to the oldest brother John. Duncan and the rest of the family lived on the original homestead (lot 6, con 11). In the 1920s, John Molyneaux sold his holdings to John and Vincent Maguire who moved from further in the Road to the better farm land along the Union Creek. Their lot was 95% meadow, but very flat and easily ploughed. However, the lack of high grand meant they had to find their firewood elsewhere. The Maguire farm also included the swampy lot 6, con 10 across the Road and a bush lot in the 8th concession. Lot 6 was mostly swamp, but a 5-acre field along the road was high enough to be a hay field. The Maguire family sold the lot in the 1970s and moved away.  

While the meadows along the Flats of the Union Creek could be cleared & cultivated with a bit of effort, the next obstacle, the Long Swamp, was just a hazard. It started at lot 7 and was about a ½ mile of sheer, unpassable swamp. To make matters worse, at its abrupt end (lot 10), the Road ascended a very steep hill called Dalton‘s Hill. It took a lot of road building (mostly corduroy road) to push the Crystal Lake Road to lot 11 where it met the cross line called Allen‘s Alley. This section was the last section of the Road to be opened and the most difficult! The Long Swamp was drained by a small creek that flowed out of Connelly‘s Lake and eventually reached the Union Creek. This creek was the northern branch of Venner‘s Creek. The centre branch flowed out of Venner‘s Lake (or Sheehan‘s Lake) while the southern branch of Venner‘s Creek flowed out several swamps in the 8th Concession. All 3 branches met the Union Creek in the Big Marsh (lot 6, concession 10).

Joseph Venner was an early settler along the creek in the 9th concession. The fringe of settlement in the south end of Galway Township was the 9th concession. Concessions 1-8 were totally unsuited for farming, but a pocket of suitable land started in the 9th concession and ran to 18th (and last) concession. The pioneers on lots 1-6 concession 9 were discussed in the previous article on the French line settlement. But there were also several homesteads in the 9th that gained their access along the Crystal Lake Road.

John Barr located on lot 8 in the 9th concession on the north bank of Venner‘s Creek. Since surveys were sparse in the 1800s, Joseph Venner unknowingly located on the same lot, but south of the beaver meadow that divided the lot. Only later did they learn they both claimed the same lot! But in a Gentleman‘s Agreement, they agreed to split the lot along the course of the middle branch of Venner‘s Creek. Barr cleared a lot of acreage and eventually bought out his neighbour, Sam Faulkner to the west (an unoccupied lot 7). Charlie Molyneaux bought out the Barr property in the 1920s and added the Venner/Henderson/Lougia holdings as well to build a 600 acre cattle ranch.

An English settler named Albert Baker patented lots 10 and 11, con 9, next door to the Barr homestead. While both homesteads had high ground, they also split a large beaver meadow along the middle branch of Venner‘s Creek. Sometime before 1920, the Bakers sold their holdings to Harry Dettman from Kinmount. Harry eventually bought out the Maguire lots along the Road and acquired an 800 acre farm. Harry Dettman worked a lot in the lumber trade and kept several heavy bush teams. To house these teams, he built a monster barn. It was by far the largest barn in the area: so large a team and wagon could turn around in each hay mow! Strangely it was never even close to being filled with hay from the hay fields on his farm.

North of the Crystal Lake Road in concession 11, the high ground was settled by pioneer farmers in the 1860s. Joseph Menary lived on lots 7 & 8. He came from Quebec and stayed for a couple of decades before selling out to Maurice Allen. The next 3 lots were farmed by James Allen who lived on Allen‘s Alley and left his name to the cross line. In 1871, three Allen families were present on the census rolls for Galway Township. By 1911, there were 9 Allen households: all in Mount Irwin Post Office (on the Galway Road)!

The next section of the Crystal Lake Road was nicknamed: The Soldiers Section. In 1859 a group of retired British soldiers had been settled along the Bobcaygeon Road between Silver Lake & Union Creek. These retirees had spent at least 30 years in the British Army and were given both a small pension and a land grant. Their sons & daughters were also eligible for a 200-acre free grant upon reaching the age of 21 years. These old soldiers were into their 50s when they were settled along the Bobcaygeon Road and most had large families reaching maturity. The original grants were on poor farmland, and the next generation patented lots along the Crystal Lake Road between lots 15 and 20. James Maguire moved from his swampy land at Silver Lake and settled on lot 15, con 10 across the road from the current landfill site. A census names 4 sons: James Jr., John, Joseph and Frank. All four Maguire boys patented lots in the vicinity. Again, the land was not first class agricultural land and Frank and John relocated to lots further west on the Crystal Lake Road. Frank farmed on lot 25, con A at the Bobcaygeon Road corner while John replaced John Molyneaux on lot 6, con 11.

On the north side of the Road lived James & John Dalton (lot 13), son of John Dalton another Silver Lake soldier. They patented a number of lots, farmed for 50 years & left their name on Dalton‘s Hill on the east side of the long swamp. In the era of the great Westward Migration to Saskatchewan in search of better farm land, third generation Bert Dalton moved West. The Dalton family had barely arrived when the father died suddenly. Alone in a strange environment, the widow Dalton fled back to their former, abandoned home on the Crystal Lake Road where she was close to her Flaherty relatives. But good memories didn‘t translate into good times, and the Dalton family eventually moved on.

On the south side of the road, Lot 13 was patented by Johnny Owens, another soldier‘s son from Silver Lake. The section of the Road in front of his homestead was called Owens‘ Shanty. The two lots east were settled (briefly) by Herb Clouston before being acquired by Ed Sheehan The third north-south cross line of Galway Township between lots 15 and 16 was called the Gully Road. It crossed 2 major gullies or valleys between the Crystal Lake Road and the Galway Road. The one gully was formed by the north branch of Venner‘s Creek as it flowed out of Connelly‘s Lake. The Gully Road featured major hills that made travel difficult, was never snowplowed and used primarily to connect travel between the two side roads, and for travel to the Swamp Lake School.

Lot 16, concession 11 (north of the Road) was settled by Dennis Connolly who left his name on Connolly‘s Lake. His neighbour (lot 17) was Morris Sullivan. Both were present by the 1861 census and were part of the Duoro Connection. Across the Road (south side) lived Edward and Daniel Sheehan, also from Duoro. They left their name on Sheehan‘s Lake; the same body of water on the south side of the Crystal Lake Road. On several maps it is also called Venner‘s Lake because the centre branch of this watershed has its source in this pond. I use the term ―pond generously since Sheehan‘s Lake is extremely shallow and basically a mud-bottomed bog; often called the largest frog pond in the area. Rumour has it canoes became stuck in the mud.. in the middle of the lake!

At the west side of Sheehan‘s Lake, a cross line was opened south into some good land in concession 9. It was called George Street, but today is titled Flaherty‘s Road. It led to the homesteads of Edward Smith (lot 15) and David Curtain Jr (lot 16). Both were later settlers who were forced further from the Crystal Lake Road because the lots along the Road were already taken. The Curtain homestead existed until recently and was called the Porcupine Inn. It was a junction for some major snowmobile trails. A road was opened between concessions 8 and 9 to access the farm of Francis Flaherty on lot 18 in the 8th concession.

This road was continued east to join up with Cain‘s Line. The Flahertys were among the earliest settlers at Crystal Lake. James (lot 18) and Michael (lot 19) were located in concession 10 south of the Road as early as 1857. Six Flaherty families were present at Crystal Lake in 1911. At the west end of Crystal Lake along Mill Bay lived Nicholas Cheevers. His farm (lot 19,20) marked the end of settlement in the 11th concession. The property was later owned by William Ashforth before being turned into cottage properties.

Mill Bay received its name from a sawmill that graced the shore of Crystal Lake in the vicinity. The saw mill was originally owned by Kelly & Smith, a noted lumber company from Fenelon Falls. The timber was excellent along the shores of Crystal Lake, even if it was second growth pine and other varieties. The earliest lumbermen in the late 1800s had stripped all the good white pine and floated it south on Nogies Creek. But the Nogies Creek route ended up in Pigeon Lake, downstream from Fenelon Falls (and the railway) and totally away from Kinmount. There is a major height of land between Connolly‘s Lake (flows into the Burnt River via Union Creek) and Crystal Lake (flows into Pigeon Lake via Nogies Creek). Also, hardwood really did not float well, so it was decided to move the mill to the logs rather than drive the logs to the mill. The milled product could also be cadged out the Crystal Lake Road to market.

Sometime in the 1920s the operation was acquired by the Phillips Lumber Company of Kinmount. It is rumoured the lake bottom in the bay is still littered by sunken logs. At lot 20, the fourth cross line, called Cain‘s Lane dips south into the 9th concession and the farm of Thresher Michael Cain. The family name was originally Keane, but was altered by a census taker. The Cains came from Duoro and had been part of the Peter Robinson migration. They settled at the end of Cain‘s Lane and family members still live there today!

Lot 20 south of the Road had many owners including the Hickey and Curtain families. In the 1950s, Stafford Hickey lived on the farm. The first cottagers arrived by car after 1945, and the Crystal Lake Road was not always car-friendly (read mud!). Stafford Hickey would linger by the road with his team of horses on Fridays & Sundays with the local version of a tow truck. Often cottagers used horse power to get through the worse mud holes!

South of the Road on lot 21 settled Joseph O‘Brien. In the 1940s, Archie & Peg Dettman moved from Kinmount and opened Dettman‘s Store on this lot. They catered to the growing cottage trade and operated a summer store for several decades. Basic necessities were available, saving the long drive to Kinmount. The author remembers trips to Dettman‘s Store to get milk, bread, a newspaper or maybe just ice cream. The expedition was an adventure and the reception warm. Cottagers could arrive by boat, landing at the dock on the Township Road Allowance which hits the lake across from Cain‘s Lane and between lots 20 & 21. This 66‘ strip also serves as a public beach and boat launch. An old fence bears witness to the fact the Hickey Family used to bring their livestock to the lake to water them. This business still exists today and is called the Crowes Nest. The Dettman Family still have roots on the south shore of Crystal Lake.

The next lots east were the home of the Wells Family. John & Henry Wells were well educated Englishmen. They cleared the high ground south of Crystal Lake, but only stayed a few decades. John Wells served as Reeve of Galway between 1873 – 1875. Only 2 settlers lived past the Wells‘ Farm: Henry Thompson (briefly) and William Mountenoy. The Mountenoys cleared and farmed on Peter‘s Island. One of the Mountenoy girls married a Peters (from the French Line) and they inherited the farm. And that‘s where the name Peter‘s Island came from. These farms were very marginal land for farming; but the settlers did put a lot of work into clearing the land, stumping and fencing and trying to wrest a living from the shallow, rocky soil.

Past Peter‘s Island, the land gets even rougher and there was no attempt at farm settlement. East & south of Crystal Lake was the preserve of the lumbermen, hunters and eventually the cottagers. Crystal Lake itself is a very unusual shape. It has a long, narrow shape that runs about 4 miles (16 lots) from east to west. However due to its indented shoreline and many bays, it contains 28 miles of shore line: a cottagers dream! The lake is a part of the Trent Canal System, and water levels are controlled by the dam where Nogies Creek drains its waters southward into Pigeon Lake. No doubt the original lumbermen built an early dam here to control the water flow down Nogies Creek for their log drives. Another log dam was built at Townsend‘s Dam further downstream. When the last concrete dam was installed, it raised the lake level at full volume so high, water poured around the dam at a low spot just east of the dam. It was necessary to adds many loads of fill to block this diversion.

The present dam was built to feed water into the Trent Canal. Two years ago all stop logs were pulled to allow dam repairs and the natural level of the lake was reached. Each summer the water levels decline as the Trent Canal calls for more water until by fall, the lake level is dramatically lower. But this is not altogether bad as the spring runoff replenishes the lake level.

Tourists arrived early in the south shore of Crystal Lake. The beautiful scenery and easy access via the pioneer road to Crystal Lake led to a number of non-resident land holdings in concession 11 south of the lake. At the head of the Lake (lots 30-35) lumbermen reigned supreme with the Hopkins & Marks families from Kinmount owning many lots as well as such noted lumbermen as the Carew Company of Lindsay, Phillips Lumber Company of Kinmount, Macdonald Lumber Company of Peterborough, and J.C. Reid Company of Peterborough.

By 1920, the first tourists begin to appear in the Non-Residents’ Assessment rolls. C.M. Hamilton (Ripley, NY), A. Fricker (Lakewood, Ohio), James Jackson (Toronto), H.B. Latimer (Toronto), Anthony Fricker (Cleveland, Ohio) and James Jackson (Nanticoke, Ontario) were early tourists on the south shore of the lake. The earliest tourists did not live in cottages, but rather tented along the shore. They were not weekend warriors, but stayed for several weeks at a time.

Travel was difficult, especially before motor cars, and it often took a whole day to travel by horse and wagon from Kinmount to the lake. When you got there, you stayed there for a while! No daily trips to town for groceries or a newspaper! Kinmount could be easily accessed by railway and the numerous livery stables would take you on to your destination. As the photo from 1905 clearly shows, dress was still formal; even on vacation. No casual beach attire here!

The earliest cottages were very primitive affairs, usually shacks or camps. The first cottages were built at the west end of the lake and around Mill Bay because it was the easiest to access via the Crystal Lake Road. Gradually the cottages spread east along the south shore until by the 1990s the head of the lake was reached. Originally the roads were summer-only and not snowplowed. It was a step forward when the snowplowed portion reached the dam. Today, the main portion of the Road is open year round to near the head of the lake. The north shore of Crystal Lake will be dealt with in a later edition as part of the Galway Road story.

South of Crystal Lake lies the much smaller Loom Lake. In the 1980s the Department of Natural Resources built an access road from Crystal Lake Road past Loom Lake and on to Buckhorn Road (Highway 507) in Cavendish Township. The road was an emergency road in case of a forest fire. It accessed a chunk of crown land in southeast Galway and southwest Cavendish Townships. There are no homes or cottages on the road, but it has become a warren of snowmobile/atv trails and access for several hunt camps. A public access was built to Loom Lake.

Rumours continue to circulate about cottage lots being created on Loom Lake, but nothing yet has developed. The far (Cavendish) end of the road has several stone quarries operating along the road. In the recent era of government cutbacks, the MNR stopped maintaining the Access Road and it is sometimes in rough shape. Hunting was also an early form of recreation in the area. The deer hunt was especially valued by the sportsman crowd.

Sometime in the 1920s, the Wolfe Lake Hunt Club emerges in the assessment rolls on lot 34, concession 11 east of Crystal Lake on the old Hopkins limits. Ralph Byrne is listed as the contact person. This hunt club is still in operation today. Crystal Lake was always noted for its fishing. Prominent among the desirable fish were lake trout, bass and whitefish. Ice fishing was practical, especially for the whitefish and as soon as the ice was safe in December, dozens of fishermen would descend on the lake. Many came from far away, some Lake Simcoe ice fishermen ―warmed up their skills on Crystal Lake before Lake Simcoe froze over in January.

Sometime after World War II pickerel were accidently (?) introduced into the lake. Crystal Lake is unusual as it hosts both warm water fish (pickerel) and cold water fish (trout) in the same lake. The early settlers also harvested suckers in the spring spawning season. The suckers were the large mullet type often weighting over 3 pounds! A small creek at the head of the lake was a favourite spot, and a primitive sucker box was installed. The box let the suckers through, but like a minnow trap, it was much harder to go back through the trap. The locals took a horse & wagon over the logging trail to the creek, harvested their suckers after dark, and went home. Getting wet was part of the deal, and trudging home was a cold affair. The men would sometimes walk just to keep warm. The suckers were usually canned like salmon in mason sealers.

Most of the settlers along this stretch of the Crystal Lake Road were from Duoro or Ennismore. They were second generation Irish settlers from the Peter Robinson emigration of 1825. The sons and daughters of these settlers were forced to seek land elsewhere, and Galway Township was opened at the correct time for their migration north. The land was not prime farmland, but it was a home. Most families acquired bush lots that could be logged for extra cash. The lumber industry was always looking for men and young men could find ready employment in the area.

The farmers at Crystal Lake stayed on the land for several generations. But eventually the marginal farmland played out. The lumber business was over and younger generations were forced to seek their fortunes elsewhere; moving to Western Canada to farm or to the cities to seek work. A few holdouts continued to farm along the Union Creek, but most of the old farms are long since abandoned and reverting to nature. Despite the fact there were at least 34 pioneer farms along the Crystal Lake Road, there was never a school or a post office! The road was divided among two school sections. The lots up until #10 attended the Union Creek School on the highway: 3 miles away. The rest of the Road went to the Swamp Lake School at the end of the Gully Road on the Galway Road. The eastern settlers drew their mail from the Mount Irwin Post Office on the Galway Road, while the western section had a Union Creek address.

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