Longford: The Township and the Lumber Company
November 4, 2023
Joe English and Logging Crew in Longford Township
By Guy Scott
Longford is the northernmost township in Victoria County. It never had any settlers, but has an interesting history all the same. The area is nicknamed the “Longford Rocks,” which describes its agricultural potential. However, it did contain some of the finest white pine in Ontario. When the Canada Land and Emigration Company purchased a block of 10 townships in Haliburton County, Longford was a detached part of the deal, despite the fact that it was a long way from the other nine townships. Longford was sold for 50 cents an acre. Realizing the useless agricultural potential and wide separation from the Haliburton block, the company sold the pine timber to the newly-formed Longford Lumber Company from Orillia for $20,000. Five years later, they sold the entire township for a mere $5,000! Clearly pine was worth more than land.
The Longford Lumber Company cut pine in the township until the 1890s. They set up a depot in Uphill that consisted of a store, hotel, livery stable, warehouses and even a large farm. The company even maintained the Victoria Road north of Uphill at their own expense. During forest fire season, a fireman was station at each bridge to prevent these valuable structures from burning. His fire-fighting equipment: water buckets!
The Longford Lumber Company ceased operations in the late 1890s when the timber was exhausted. The next phase was the Digby Ranching Company. It soon failed and Longford Township was eventually sold in its entirety to a group of sportsmen from Syracuse, New York. The township became a private vacation resort for a group of wealthy Americans who cottage, fish and hunt on its pristine lakes and forests. It is still a private preserve to this very day.