August 17, 2023
Silver Lake from the Air
By Guy Scott
The first road into Kinmount from the settled south was the Bobcaygeon Colonization Road. Today it is County Roads #49 and #121. The Road began in Bobcaygeon and was planned to run north until it met Lake Nipissing near North Bay. The first community along the road north from Bobcaygeon was Silver Lake. Around the spot where the road touched Little Silver Lake, a pioneer settlement grew up in the late 1870s. All lots along the road were free grants and hence were occupied as soon as settlers could locate them. The early settlers included a number of pensioners from the British Army. After 25 years’ service (or so) they were discharged and given 200 acres and a small pension. These veterans had travelled round the world in army service and seen some exotic locales. The rocky nature of Silver Lake must have disappointed them, as most left the community after a few years, often moving to better land in the area.
Silver Lake flourished due to its proximity to the Bobcaygeon Road. Travel was so rough and slow, Silver Lake was as far as many travellers would go in one day after leaving Bobcaygeon: a mere 5 miles! It was often easier to walk than ride. The community never really had a main street or core area, but several hotels, a store, post office and school were clustered along the road. A local sawmill was the only industrial structure. The Silver Lake Post Office, opened in 1859, closed and reopened four times until its permanent closure in 1927: a sure sign of a fluctuating population.
The arrival of the railway at Fell’s Station, Burnt River and Kinmount decimated the Silver Lake settlement until it became a ghost hamlet. Business and commerce switched to these railway towns, and the traffic along the Bobcaygeon Road dwindled. The only remaining symbol of Silver Lake is the abandoned Silver Lake cemetery. Even the names of most of the internees has been lost, as only a few tombstones remain to mark the once thriving settlement of Silver Lake.