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The French Line

May 3, 2024

Union Creek and French Line Road

By Guy Scott

The French Line is technically the road allowance between Concessions 8 and 9 of Galway Township in the vicinity of Union Creek. Access is gained from the Crystal Lake Road, on the sideline between Concession A (along the Bobcaygeon Road) and the first lot in Concession 10. After crossing the Union Creek by bridge, the French Line turns east and becomes a forced road through the middle of the lots in concession 9. The physical road allowance was deemed impractical to open. The French Line ran east for 5 lots before ending abruptly at lot 6; the home of the last settler! It was called the French Line because the two settlers at the end of the line were of French descent.

The French Line is still open, but the farms are long gone. It is currently an “unassumed road allowance” for much of its course, meaning it is not ploughed or maintained by the township. As the road turned east, the bend was nicknamed “Foley’s Bend.” The Foley Family actually lived on the Bobcaygeon Road, but because Sergeant Foley was an army veteran, he was given an extra 100 acres (lot 1, concession 9) behind his farm.

All the rest of the farms were in the 9th concession. Lot 2 was claimed by Sam Magahey. He had claimed lots all over the area, and within a decade had moved to the Monck Road west of Kinmount. Magahey was replaced by Thomas Bradley, who stayed on the farm until the 1930s. It was then abandoned.

Lot 3 was owned by John Sutherland. He also owned lot 3 to the north fronting on the Crystal Lake Road. Sutherland had the best farm on the line, with open fields along the Union Creek. As late as the 1990s, the farm was still used as open cattle pasture by the Henderson Family. Sutherland built a proper barn, with sawn boards instead of logs. When the Sutherlands moved, they were replaced by the Peters family. All the buildings are now gone, but the foundations can still be seen.

Lot 4 in the 9th concession was pioneered by the Peters Family. They built a log cabin on top of the pinery ledge hill that cut the lots in this concession in half. The census of 1911 identified 4 Peters on the lots: Damon and Dorval on the Sutherland farm and Ellis and Thomas Peters on the old homestead (lot 4).

Lot 5 was settled by the Wright brothers: Robert & William. Their shanty was also on top of the ledge. The foundations of the farm buildings are all that remains, along with Wright’s Spring; their water source that bubbles out of the hill near the shanty.

Lot 6 was homesteaded by Tophil Lougia. The lot is so rough and rocky that how he was able to wrest a living from it defies logic. His homestead was beside a small creek that runs all year round between the pinery ledge and the Union Creek. Legend has it Lougia kept a small fish hatchery on the creek and a small dam points out the spot. Lougia didn’t stay long on his rocky land.

Lot 7 was pioneered by Joseph Vanner. The creek that flowed through his property is still called Vanner’s Creek and its source “lake” on the Crystal Lake Road is sometimes called Vanner’s Lake (although others call it Sheehan’s Lake). Vanner and Lougia likely were more interested in logging and trapping than farming (and for good reason!) Vanner cut a bush trail from his lot to Nogies Creek, called Vanner’s Trail to mark his trap line. Vanner and Lougia sold their holdings to Thomas Henderson about 1900. The Henderson family farmed the land until the 1930s. South of concession 9, the land becomes even more rocky and rough: so much so that there were no settlers in concessions 1 to 8 of Galway Township. This portion of the township was left to the lumbermen and sportsmen and remains Crown Land to this day. The French Line was the southern boundary for farm settlement in Galway Township; literally a frontier.

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