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Young’s Point, Burleigh Falls and Mount Julian

March 6, 2024

Waiting for the Steamer, Stony Lake

By Guy Scott

Why are these three subjects related? Historically, they were all tied closely together. Young’s Point is the narrows on the Otonabee River where the river leaves Clear Lake and starts its tumultuous drop into Rice Lake. Before the completion of the Trent Canal, Young’s Point was the head of navigation for Stony and Clear Lakes. A steamer service ran regularly from Young’s Point to Burleigh Falls, Mount Julian and other points on Stony Lake. The communities along Stony Lake were all serviced by steamer rather than road.

Young’s Point is named after the Young Family, Peter Robinson emigrants who settled at the falls in 1825. They used the site to construct a dam and operate a grist/saw mill. Eventually a bridge and a store were added to the village collection. The Strickland family of Lakefield sensed economic opportunity to the north and through political pressure, had a six-foot lock built at Young’s Point in 1871 to allow water transport north to Burleigh Falls and Stony Lake. In the era before the Liftlock at Peterborough opened the canal south in 1903, Lakefield was the head of navigation.

The Young Family quickly formed the Stony Lake Navigation Company to exploit this opportunity. Thus Young’s Point became a “port.” The improvement of the roads system in the 1930s killed the steamboat era. Today, Young’s Point contains a bridge where Highway #28 crossed the Trent Canal and lock 27 on this waterway. A few businesses that cater to tourists fill out the commercial section.

Clear Lake and Stony Lake have a mystical quality in native folklore. The Petroglyphs native rock carvings are found at the eastern end of Stony Lake. The earliest Europeans used the lake and its tributary streams for logging. Stony Lake has some very attractive vistas, and combined with hunting and fishing, attracted some of the first tourists in the Kawartha Lakes region. The earliest resorts were simply camps tied to the lumbering industry, but as lumbering failed in the late 1800s, tourism replaced it. Most of these resorts were related to the “landings” or sheltered bays along the shoreline. Tourists also loved the numerous islands that dotted the lake. The most famous of these landings on Stony Lake is Mount Julian. It was a water-access community, and only later was it liked by road to the Burleigh Road and points north. Steamers from Young’s Point regularly serviced Mount Julian bringing tourists and goods to be freighted north. In the early times when the Burleigh Road (now highway #28) were often impassable, the water trip to Mount Julian was often the easiest way to Apsley and Bancroft. Samuel Strickland purchased the Mount Julian site from the Gilmour Lumber Company in 1863 and surveyed a town site in anticipation of great things to come. The village of Mount Julian never achieved village status, but it did grow to contain two resorts, several stores, a dock and a church.

The Mount Julian Inn was the first hotel (1865) and catered to lumbermen and then tourists. It changed hands with regular abandon over the years, and is still in operation today! The second resort at Mount Julian was the Viamede Resort, founded in 1890 to cater to the booming tourist trade. Over the years it has undergone numerous expansions and today is a major four-star resort.

The steamships and the lumbermen are long gone from Stony Lake. The few farms are slowly settling back to nature. But the sparkling waters and stunning vistas still attract tourists. Stony Lake has become a hot spot for tourism and those seeking the benefits of traditional retreats.

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