November 17, 2021
George’s parents were the first deeded settlers in Reach Township (Port Perry), and soon became members of the Markham Gang. Though initially contented to rob their neighbours, their crimes escalated to grizzly murders. The gang members had agreed to serve as each other’s alibis, but before long the local justices of the peace realized that the same group of people were either the suspect or alibi for a rash of disturbing crimes—in one case, the murder weapon was a hammer. Four members of the gang were executed, but the Crandells escaped with lighter punishment. There was insufficient evidence to implicate George of the murders, but he was caught red-handed for larceny and served 5 years hard labour at the Kingston Penitentiary.
When he was released George got a job working on the Steamship Woodman. After three years of work the steamship caught fire, prompting her owners to give up the business and pass the remains of the boat to George.
George was industrious and idolized Cornelius Vanderbilt, a transportation magnate who was then the wealthiest man in the world. George set about making his own transportation empire, expanded to own a fleet of ships offering co-ordinated service throughout the Kawarthas. The Vanderbilt, launched in 1873 was the area’s largest and most comfortable passenger ship. Crandell also founded the cottage community of Sturgeon Point and the luxurious Sturgeon Point Hotel.
George served on Lindsay Town Council for 33 years, but even as a senior he kept is pugnacious spirit. Councillor Crandell would brawl (and beat) local roughs much younger than he on the town streets. He also punched out the Lindsay lockmaster because he would not get out of bed to put Crandell’s boat through, long after the locks had closed. George was without doubt one of the most memorable characters of the nineteenth century Kawarthas.