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March 30, 2023

Lochlin Station in the 1940s

By Guy Scott

Eastern Snowdon Township contained some of the best farmland in Haliburton County, and that is not saying much! The valley of the Burnt River was claimed in the 1870s and 1880s by pioneer farmers on the hunt for new farms. But its very isolation caused the area to languish until the arrival of the Victoria Railway in the late 1870s. As the railway pushed from Kinmount to Haliburton, several new stations appeared at regular intervals along the line. These included Gelert, Lochlin and Donald. Gelert was originally called Minden Station because it was the nearest train station to that village.

The next stop up the line was Lochlin, which was originally called ‘Little Egypt” for some long-lost reason. The arrival of the railway led to the title Ingoldsby Station before the name Lochlin was selected. In Scottish mythology, Lochlin was a village in the Highlands of Scotland. A fairy tale about the 3 daughters of the King of Lochlin was in common usage among the Scottish Highlanders. Evidently 3 giants abducted the 3 princesses and the fairy tale tells the long story of their rescue.

Lochlin never was a manned station with a full time agent. A part-time agent would arrive just before train time to do business. The station was a waiting room with a platform. A quarter mile railway siding could accommodate 6-8 rail cars which were loaded with wood products. A sawmill on the Burnt River was the only industry, but local farmers sold wood products to the Chemical plant at Donald or abroad. Local farmers also shipped cattle and milk to outside markets, and in later years, cattle were brought to Lochlin for summer pasture. As was the case all over the area, abandoned farms were often used by bigger farmers down south as summer pasture. Cattle could be shipped by rail north for the season and returned by rail to their winter homes.

Many of the early settlers to the area came from Prince Edward County in southern Ontario, and many also were descendants of Loyalist Pioneers. Lochlin also had road access with the Bobcaygeon Road via the Lower Dutch Line and Gelert Road. But it was the railway that made Lochlin a prosperous little village with at least one general store, a church and a school. But after a period of prosperity, the fortunes of the community slipped into decline. The lumber industry was exhausted and likewise the agricultural sector declined due to soil exhaustion, opening of Western Canada and changing economics. The population of the entire area declined and eventually the mill and the store all closed down. Today Lochlin is a quiet community along the banks of the Burnt River and Railway corridor.

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