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White Lake/Fortescue

July 10, 2024

White Boundary Road

By Guy Scott

The Galway Road discharges itself into the White (Lake) Boundary Road where the road meets the Snowdon Township boundary. The road then takes a right turn and heads east towards White Lake itself and crosses into Cavendish Township. A settlement of pioneer farmers grew up along the shores of White and Fortescue Lakes in the late 1800s. The land is rather unsuited for farming, but some hardwood ridges were cleared for agriculture.

The White Lake/Fortescue settlement overlapped into 4 townships: Glamorgan and Snowdon in Haliburton County and Galway and Cavendish in Peterborough County. The nearest hamlets were Kinmount and Gooderham. The mail came from Furnace Falls via the IB&O railway. Most of the settlers looked to Kinmount as their shopping centre. Access was gained to Kinmount via the White Lake Road, now called White Boundary Road. This was a very rough road that met the Monck Road (now #503) near Furnace Falls. This road ran through some very marshy ground called the White Lake Plains. It was totally unsuited for agriculture and did not attract a single resident! The Road never had winter access (snow plowing) and access to Kinmount could also be gained via the Galway Road or the Salerno Lake Road and Irondale. No matter which road was taken, it was still a long and often daunting trip to Kinmount. The White Lake Road continued east past Salmon Lake and met the Buckhorn Road (#507) south of Gooderham. The Fortescue Post Office was opened in 1891 and closed in 1946. Most of the settlers lived in the vicinity of White Lake, but there were already other White Lakes in Ontario, and it was decided to use the title Fortescue after the lake. Fortescue was the surname of a noble English family and there were several prominent Barons Fortescue.

A school, USS #7 Galway was started in 1880 with settlers coming from Haliburton County as well as Cavendish Township. The student body was never very numerous and by 1942 was reduced to 2 students (the Thompson Family) who moved to Lindsay and the school was closed.

Only a few families settled in the area. Prominent names included the Switzers, Fords and Peacocks. Others at White Lake were Joseph Smith, Thomas Kivell, John Johnston, David & Joseph Smith and Richard Sidley. Richard Sidley was a graduate of Queen’s University in Dublin, Ireland. He may have been a “Remittance Man”. This designation meant he was from a prominent family and was ‘exiled’ to the colonies for less than stellar behaviour or was an embarrassment to his family. Each month a sum of money or remittance was sent for his upkeep. In other words, these gentlemen did not have to earn a living like other pioneers, they being guaranteed a monthly pension.

White Lake Road starts where Galway Road ends and slips to go east to South Salmon Lake and north towards White Lake. When White Lake Road reaches the Haliburton boundary, it turns to run along the county line. It then swings north for a way to get around White Lake. Although it is then in Glamorgan Township, it is still treated as Galway Road. Just after it swings north, there is a fairly steep hill with a turn about half way down. The property through which that piece of road travels is Lot 1, Concession 1 of Glamorgan. A fellow by the name of Richard Sidley arrived from Ireland sometime before 1879, as he was councilor of the United Townships of Glamorgan and Monmouth in 1879. It seems he built the house that stood on the hill above the road until it was burned in the early 1970s. Richard, of course, is abbreviated to Dick and the hill was called Dick’s Hill.

Backing along White Lake Road, on the section along the county line, there is a valley with a creek that crosses under the road. The house just west of that is in Lot 31, Concession 1 of Snowdon. Johnny, the brother of Sidney Switzer, lived in that house for a number of years with his wife and children. The steep hill leading down to the valley is “Johnny’s Hill” and the creek at the bottom is “Johnny’s Creek.”

At the corner where White Lake Road turns to follow the county line, there is a road that runs west along that same line called “White Boundary Road.” Since the road follows the boundary (it does but it wiggles), maintenance is divided between Trent Lakes and Minden Hills. The dividing point is a short steep hill, known as Jackson’s Hill. I was told it was named after Austin Jackson, who was road superintendent in Galway-Cavendish before Ralph Pearson took over. Backtracking further along White Lake Road to Fire Route 345, there is a hill known as Johnson’s Hill, named after a family that lived and mostly died there.

Sometime in the 1880s, a Harriett St. George arrived at the Sidley property with a family of grown children. She was a remittance person as well, coming from a prominent Anglo-Irish family, and escaping her “rake” of a husband. The St. George’s were also well educated and ‘cultured’ people. It is rumoured the Sidleys and St. George’s knew each other “very well” back in Ireland. The St. Georges did not stay very long in isolated White Valley settlement, being totally unacquainted with pioneer life. They moved first to Kinmount and lived in town for several years before removing to Bobcaygeon.

White Lake produced one of the area’s finest poets: Theo Peacock. Theo was born and raised on the east side of White Lake at Ford’s Hill. Legend has it Jonathon Peacock, the first of the family, was a professor at an English University. For some reason, he rejected university life and settled near Irondale. His son William located to White Lake and the next generation became hunters, trappers, and general outdoorsmen. Theo was an unfocused youth until age 14, when a new teacher, Miss Irene Molyneaux became the teacher at SS#7 White Lake. Somehow the love of learning struck Theo and he began to write poetry. His poems dealt with Nature and trapping and the ‘call of the wild.’ ‘Tales of the Trail,’ a collection of his poems was published in 1974. It captured a part of the soul of the White Lake community in verse.

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