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Victoria County, Ontario Canada
Most of the earliest settlers in Southwest Ops came
by way of Bowmanville or Whitby and Port Perry. Meanwhile, however,
another area of settlement was developing along the eastern
concessions, and by the eighteen-thirties the general route into Ops
was from Emily and not from south or southwest.
The first permanent settler on the eastern boundary was Abner
Cunningham, a Robinson immigrant. who came in early in 1826.
Cunningham had four sons, Joseph, Joshua, John and Abner. Near
neighbors were the Sutherlands, Nugents, Powers, O'Donells, Scullys,
and Corneils, David and Charles Cornell, though at this time
transplanted from Limerick County, Ireland, were really descendants
of Palatine refugees who had been granted an asylum there in the
reign of Queen Anne. James Macdonald and John Blaylock were old
Peninsular War veterans who settled hereabouts. The former lived to
be an active man at 108 years of age.
Thomas Rea was a man of prominence in this neighborhood. Rea was a
native of Fermanagh, Ireland, and had mastered the crafts of
carpenter, cooper, smith, and weaver. He came to Canada in 1820, but
sojourned temporarily in York and in Mulmur Township, Dufferin
County ,before settling finally in Ops, on Lot 7, Con. X. Here he
secured a government contract to build a road extending from Lot 5
on the Emily boundary up as far as John Walker's farm, Lot 15,
Concession VII, and passing diagonally through the modern hamlet of
Reaboro, so named in his honor. A few years later this same locality
was noted for a stone house, built and occupied by one Francis
Kelly, who handled the stage route west from Peterborough over this
road. Among the early settlers west of Reaboro were the Connollys,
Walkers, and McDonoughs, who came from Fermanagh.
South and Center
William Reynolds and his brother Robert were
pioneers in the Mt. Horeb neighborhood. They were natives of
Tipperary, Ireland. Duncan Fisher settled on Lot 12, Con. VIII in
1828. His sons were Peter and Donald. The former died in 1915 in his
ninetieth year, and the latter in 1920 in his ninety-fourth year.
The Skuces and Pogues also located early in the southern part of the
The original reservation for the site of Lindsay was a 400 acre
tract comprising Lots 20 and 21, Concession V. Prominent among the
land owners near at hand were Capt. John Logie, a naval officer, who
held 700 acres, namely, Lot 18, Concession VI, on which he himself
lived in a frame house near the river bank, Lot 24 and the north
half of Lot 23, Concession IV, which later passed into the hands of
the Hopkins family, and Lot 20, Concession VII, now occupied by two
of his grandsons, Messrs. Henry and Robert Logie. A man named Moe
owned 400 acres immediately adjoining the townsite on the north and
Duncan McDonell of Glengarrry held an equal reservation just south
of the site.
Some Annals of
The history of the growth of Lindsay will be given
later in a separate chapter.
The story of Scugog River may, however, be appropriately included in
the present sketch, and in its telling we shall now come to a man
whose name is also written on the first page of Lindsay's annals.
This is William Purdy, who, in 1830, built a mill on the river
within the modern limits of Lindsay.
The Scugog, before this time, had been a very small and shallow
stream. The early settlers in Patrick Connel's time used to drive
through. it with oxen and a jumper loaded with sacks of grain on
their way to "Gray's Mill," their nearest gristing place, which lay
far to the south near Orono. On Lot 21, Concession VI, the banks
became high and steep, and there were rapids by which the river
descended three feet. At the head of these rapids, where J. Perrin's
boat works now stand, Purdy and his sons Jesse and Hasard built a
mill and a dam with a head of ten feet.
He was then authorized by the government to grist for the
neighborhood for a toll of one-twelfth. On the 9th of May, 1834, the
following Order-in-Council was also granted in his favor: "Ordered
that a Deed issue to William Purdy of the Township of Ops in the
District of Newcastle, miller, for Lots numbers 20 and 21 in the 6th
Concession of the said Township of Ops, and that the Surveyor
General do make such a reservation in the Deeds that hereafter issue
for the Lots now overflowed by the mill dam as will secure him in
the rights of keeping the water at its present height without
subjecting him to an action for damages. (Sgd.) John Birkie, Clerk
of Executive Council.
Purdy was thus given 400 acres of land and the promise of freedom
from legal action from the scores of settlers who were already
located upstream and whose land would be extensively inundated by
the building of the dam. But all was not well. Not only Scugog
River, but East and West Cross Creeks and Scugog Lake as well, were
heaped far back over their customary banks. All trees on this
drowned land died. The stagnant waters grew miasmic and a plague of
fever and ague killed off scores of settlers on the farms near by.
Then grief found vent in action and the whole bereaved countryside,
from as far south as Port Perry, rose up one summer day in 1838,
seized flint flocks, axes, and pitchforks, and marched to Purdy's
mill. An attempt was made to call out the militia, but in vain.
However, no personal hurt was done but the dam was soon hacked away
and swept down stream on the unpent waters.
The grievances of the settlers were so genuine that the government
made no attempt to punish this act of violence.
The sequel may be found in an old document recording an agreement
made on December 18, 1843, between Purdy and the Board of .Works of
the Province of Canada, a government department which had been
established the year before by Act of Parliament. By this agreement,
the Board of Works built a dam and lock farther down the river, on
the exact site of the corresponding structure of today, and granted
Purdy the use of all surplus water that would not be ,needed for
navigation. Purdy was to provide all his own flumes and flume heads
and to keep the dam in repair. The Board of Works was to receive
half an acre of land bounded by the river and the present Lindsay
and King Streets, and extending five chains to the east, as premises
for the .house and garden of a lock tender. Purdy, more over, was to
relinquish all claim for damages for the destruction in 1838 of his
first mill dam, and in settlement for this and all other concessions
in the contract he received from the government four hundred pounds
The government dam had been begun in 1838 and was completed In 1844.
It raised the level of the river by seven feet, or three feet less
than the earlier maximum. This level was acceptable to the country
side, though complaints were rife several years later, when Hiram
Bigelow, Purdy's successor, raised the water an extra foot by
placing a flash board along the top of the dam.
River navigation received an impulse by the building of the lock in
1844. This structure was 131 feet long, and 32 feet 6 inches wide,
and had an eight foot lift. At first the chief craft were horse
boats, small barges worked by a treadmill with side paddle wheels
attached to its major drum. A sturdy nag would be placed on the
battens at Caesarea with his nose towards that village, and his
steady tramping would bring the one-horse-power vessel slowly down
through Lindsay to Fenelon Falls or Bobcaygeon. About 1851,
steamboats were built. The "Woodman" of Port Perry was the first to
be launched and the "Ogemah" of Fenelon Falls followed shortly
In 1855 the government found the canals and locks on the Trent
system so heavy a financial loss that it turned all such works over
to a corporation known as the "Trent Slide Committee." This
corporation abolished the lock at Lindsay and substituted a timber
slide. A toll was then exacted on all timber floated.
At the time of this change, all the steamboats were on the waters
below Lindsay. The township therefore undertook to build a flat
wooden bridge, placed on shanties, across the Scugog on the line
between Lots 15 and 16, Concession V, west from the Pottery Corners.
This new crossing was known as "Ambrose's Bridge," but was
constructed by Charles McCarty. After some years, another steamboat,
the "Lady Ida," was built at Port Perry, and it became necessary to
force a passage through the bridge. This was accomplished by sawing
it in two across the center and shifting the two halves by means of
"cats" or windlasses. The arrangement put too much strain on the
bridge, how ever, and it soon collapsed. Years later, enterprising
citizens of Lindsay came out and took away all its timbers for
firewood. Today not the smallest trace of "Ambrose's Bridge" can be
The timber slide on the Scugog gave place to a lock again in 1870.
This was installed by Thomas Walters on the same sills as the 1844
lock. The present lock and dam, which are also on this same
location, were built in 1908.