February 6, 2023
by Guy Scott
Watson’s Siding was a whistle-stop on the Victoria Railway, approximately half way between Burnt River and Kinmount. The Railway usually planned for these flag stops at regular intervals of 5-6 miles along the track. A spot on the Watson Farm where the Burnt River, the 11th Line of Somerville and the Pinery Road all met was the selected location. There was never any hamlet, businesses, school or church in the area. Farmers usually did their business and worshipping in Kinmount. Students went to the White School on the Monck Road or into Kinmount School. But the Watson family did run a saw mill next to the railway: access to transportation being the key factor for the lumber business.
A number of farmers settled along the Burnt River in the vicinity, including the Cole family. Charles Cole was a harness-maker who opened a shop on the Main Street of Kinmount. In the early 1900s he got ‘Prairie Fever’ and moved to Western Canada. He packed all his belongings, including his sign ‘Chas Cole – Harness Maker’ into a settler’s (rail) car and went West. Somewhere on the level and lonely prairie, he set up his sign and started over again. His sign was the beginning of Coleville, Alberta.
Today, Kinmount residents travel to Fenelon Falls via County Road 121. In the 1800s, the route to Fenelon led down through Watson’s Siding. The Fenelon Road ran out the Monck Road (#503/45), went down the Pinery Road to Burnt River and on to Fenelon via Baddow and the Northline Road discharging at Nelson’s Corners. This put the community of Watson’s Siding directly on a major road.
The farmland at Watson’s Siding was very sandy and played out quickly. Likewise, the mill was closed for lack of suitable timber. The Fenelon Road was shifted to its current route and lastly the railway was abandoned. Today, the river is lined with homes and cottages and the flat acres of the old Watson Farm has become a residential subdivision. There is still recreational traffic on the old rail line.