Ontario Cemetery Records
Ontario Census Records
Ontario Church Records
Ontario Court Records
Ontario Genealogy Societies
Ontario Immigration Records
Ontario Indian Tribes
Ontario Land and Maps
Ontario Mailing Lists
Ontario Military Records
Ontario Online Books
Ontario Vital Records
Free Genealogy Forms
Family Group Chart
New Genealogy Data
Family Tree Search
Genealogy Books For Sale
FREE Web Site Hosting at
Township of Fenelon,
Victoria County, Ontario Canada
Fenelon Township reminds us, by its name ,of Francis
Fenelon, the famous seventeenth century Archbishop of Cambrai,
France. Experts assure us, however, that the township was named
after the Archbishop's elder brother, who was a Sulpician missionary
and explorer in Canada and founded a mission on the Bay of Quinte in
The superficial area of the municipality is about 108 square miles,
but much of this is made up of the water surfaces of three lakes,
Sturgeon, Cameron, and Balsam. Sturgeon Lake is shaped roughly like
a bent human arm, with the elbow pointing southwards towards Ops,
the long forearm stretching eastward through Verulam to Bobcaygeon,
and the shorter upper arm extending north through the eastern
concessions of Fenelon towards Fenelon Falls. The Scugog River flows
in at the point of the elbow, and is joined near its debouchure by
McLaren's Creek, a smaller stream that flows eastward through South
Fenelon. Cameron Lake lies a mile north of Sturgeon Lake and
twenty-three feet above it. It is shaped somewhat like .a potato,
four miles from north to south and two from east to west. It s
drained into Sturgeon Lake by the Fenelon River and is reinforced at
is northwest end by the united waters of the Balsam and Burnt
rivers. he former flows from Balsam Lake a mile to the west and the
latter from. far to the north and northeast in Haliburton County.
The two rivers mingle their waters just before entering Cameron
Lake. Balsam Lake may be compared to a wolf's head, with the long
muzzle pointing southward as South Bay, two long ears pricked up
into Northwestay and the Gull River estuary, and the neck half
represented by West Bay. It is a large lake and only the wolf's
snout projects down into Fenelon township.
It is of interest to note that there are three small bodies of
water, each known as "Goose Lake," at or near the south, west and
north boundaries of Fenelon respectively. The first is near the
mouth f McLaren's Creek and about five miles north of Lindsay. This
shallow pool was originally marshland but has been made partially
navigable by the building of a dam at Bobcaygeon. The second Goose
Lake lies two miles north northwest of Cambray village in the deep
moraine locked valley of an ancient preglacial river. The third is
just north f the mouth of Burnt River, and is a small tract of
The land surface of Fenelon is more uneven than in Ops and becomes
increasingly hilly towards the north. The chief elevations are kames
and eskars of morainic sand. The soil is best in the southeast, and
the whole southern half of the township is of fair average value.
Towards the north, however, steepening hills and swampy depressions
are more discouraging to agriculture.
Settlements in Fenelon
Fenelon was surveyed about 1822 but general
immigration did not commence until more than ten years later.
The earliest settler was Angus McLaren, who, many
years before any formal locations were made, squatted just north of
the creek which still bears his name. McLaren had a wife and four
daughters and ultimately held some 1400 acres in this neighborhood.
Much later than McLaren, but still early in the settlement of the
southern borders, were the Edwards, Waldons, and Tompkins. The
heyday of McLaren's Creek was in 1852, when Squire Kempt, of
Lindsay, brought in a contingent of French-Canadian lumbermen and
cleared out the stream and its banks so that the largest squared
timber could be brought out and floated down the Trent System to the
St. Lawrence and Quebec.
Most of the early settlers in Fenelon came in by way of
Peterborough, thence six miles by trail to Bridgenorth, on Chemong
Lake, and the rest of the way by rowboat or canoe across Chemong,
Pigeon and Sturgeon lakes.
About 1833, John Langton settled on the east shore of the north arm
of Sturgeon Lake, on the modern Graham farm. Langton was an M. A. of
Cambridge University, and a man of exceptional ability. It is
therefore not surprising that he became District Councilor for
Fenelon in 1842, Warden of Colborne District in 1847, member of
parliament for Peterborough County in 1851, and Auditor-General of
Canada in 1855.
In the summer of 1834, William Jordan, with his mother, wife, and
four children, became Langton's neighbors on Lot 19, Con. XI.
Magistrate George A. Jordan of Minden is a grandson of this William
Jordan. Other early settlers in this neighborhood were James Cook,
E. Palmer and D. S. Willock. Most of the pioneers in the Sturgeon
Lake area were Protestant Irish, who had sought Canada after the
passing of the Catholic Emancipation Bill in the Old Land.
In the center of the township, however, a different nationality was
taking possession. About 1840, Isaac G. Moynes and Thos. Moynes
struck east from the Scotch settlements in Eldon into the dense
swamps and woods of Fenelon. Here, near Lot 20, Concession V, they
built their log cabin. Many Scotchmen, the McNabs, Browns,
Gilchrists, Murchisons, McNevins, and others, soon followed, and the
central and western parts of Fenelon are dominated by Scotch
Presbyterians to this day.
Later than Scotch and Irish, and much more numerous than either,
came an immigration of English Nonconformists, who located chiefly
in the neighborhood of Fenelon Falls.
The census for 1911 gives the following analysis of the township:
Dutch and German, 55
all others, 52
The religious groupings were:
Roman Catholics, 74
all others, 121. The census did not state whether the seventy-one
Mormons constituted a single household.
Land around Cameron Lake was granted in early times to Duncan
Cameron, a Toronto banker and Family Compact politician. From this
circumstance the lake derives its present name. The actual pioneers,
however, to whom the credit is due for the clearing and settlement
of this locality were John Bellsford, John McIntyre, Hamilton and
Samuel Boyce. James Humphrey, and Robert Dennistoun, who became
County Judge of Peterborough in 1868.
The Village at the
At the southwest corner of Cameron Lake its waters
issued in a considerable river, thundered down twenty-three feet
over a limestone cliff, and then boiled and spurned through a rocky
gorge to Sturgeon Lake, half a mile distant. The conditions of the
day made the banks of this cataract an inevitable mill site and
ultimately a village site, known first as "Cameron's Falls," and
later as "Fenelon Falls."
According to the Ontario Domesday Book, Lot 23 in Concession X,
which includes the falls itself and the heart of the modern village,
was patented to the Hon. Duncan Cameron. Lots 28, 29, and 30, Con.
XI (northeast of the village) were granted to the Earl of
Mountcashel; and Lots 21, 22, and 24, Con. X, Lots 22 and 23, Con.
IX, and Lots 21, 24, and 25, Con. XI (all adjacent to and partly
included in the present village) were deeded to James Wallis and
In 1841, Wallis and Jameson added Cameron's lot to their holdings
and built a grist mill on the left bank of the falls almost at the
modern road bridge. The stones for this mill were brought all the
way from Toronto on sleighs in the wintertime.
In 1851, this first establishment was demolished and separate grist
and sawmills were built on the same site. In 1851 the first
steamboat of the Kawartha lakes, the "Woodman," of Port Perry,
arrived in Fenelon Falls on her maiden trip. The following year,
James Wallis had the "Ogemah" built at Fenelon Falls, in order to
carry his lumber to Port Perry, whence it was teamed to Port Whitby.
At the launching of the "Ogemah" a great celebration was held and a
free banquet furnished at Wallis's expense to the population of the
This feast was perhaps a minor undertaking, yet a real village was
beginning to take form on the east bank of the river. The growth of
the gristing and lumbering business called for more hands. The first
blacksmith, Jeremiah Twomey, who was later a prominent citizen and a
considerable landlord, arrived about 1850. In that year James Wallis
opened up a store and a. man named Comstock built a log tavern on
the site of the later McArthur House near the modern locks. There
was also a post office, in charge of William Powles, and an Anglican
church and parsonage.
The first Anglican incumbent, the Rev. Mr. Fidler, met a tragic
death. He used to hold occasional services at Willock's Settlement,
now Dunsford, south of Sturgeon Lake, and would be rowed thither, a
distance of ten miles, by two of his parishioners. One Sunday the
little party had returned from such an expedition and had portaged
above the falls on the south side, preparatory to crossing over to
the parsonage, which stood on the north shore a little farther up.
The rowboat was set in the water and the rector and one of his
oarsmen climbed into it. The current here, just above the falls, was
very swift, but could be negotiated with care and hard rowing. While
the rector was getting to his seat, his companion held the boat fast
to shore by seizing some juniper branches. But, either through
thoughtlessness or a misunderstanding of orders, he let go too soon,
and the boat swung out into the current. Its occupants were confused
and could not adjust the oars in the rowlocks before it was too
late. With cries that could be faintly heard above the roar of
tumbling waters, they were swept over the dam. and then over the
falls, where their boat was shattered into kindling wood. Their
bodies were found next day in the pool just below the falls.
As late as 1851 there was only a narrow trail through the woods down
the modern main street, but Wallis now had it cut out to full road
width, floored it with slabs from his lumber mill, and covered the
slabs over with gravel. He and Jamieson also had the left bank of
the river surveyed and plotted into village lots. In 1854 Wm. Martin
opened the Clifton House, now the Kawartha Hotel. James Fitzgerald
opened a store on Colborne Street and the village grew steadily by
the arrival of tradesmen and mechanics until 1859, when the mill
The mill property was then bought by one Sutherland Stayner and lay
idle for a long time, to the great detriment of the village. Then it
was leased, and later bought, by R. C. Smith, of Port Hope and a Mr.
Waddell, of Cobourg. The new mill built by Smith and Waddell brought
immediate prosperity to Fenelon Falls. A growing trade in lumber
centred here. In 1872 there were three large mills, those of J. D.
Smith and Company, of Hilliard and Mowry, and of Green and Ellis
,whose annual cut of pine alone totalled nine, four, and five
million feet respectively.
In 1872 the Victoria Railway began to build north from Lindsay and
its advent was a further stimulus to the growth of Fenelon Falls. In
1873 the late Mr. E. D. Hand, who had founded the "Lindsay Advocate"
in 1855 and the "Bobcaygeon Independent" fifteen years later, now
launched the "Fenelon Falls Gazette," a weekly newspaper of Liberal
propensities. The "Gazette," after forty-eight years of existence,
still carries on. Its present publishers are the Robson brothers,
formerly of Lindsay.
Incorporation as a village came to Fenelon Falls in 1875. The first
Village Council was composed of the following:
Reeve, J. D. Smith
Councillors, J. W. Fitzgerald, Joseph McArthur, William Jordan, and
Fenelon Falls had long been the upper terminus for navigation on the
Kawartha Lakes, but in 1882 the Federal Government at last agreed to
build locks and a short stretch of canal by which to reader the
upper lakes accessible. The engineers did not attempt to lead the
canal up the natural watercourse, but cut out their channel through
the steep limestone bank to the north of the falls. Mr. A. P.
McDonald, an American, made the lowest tender for construction and
was awarded the contract. The first blow was struck on October 17,
1882, and the first rock blasted nine days later. Valor, rather than
discretion, marked these operations and large masses of rock crashed
into dwellings hundreds of yards away The locks were to be two in
number, thirty-three feet wide and three hundred feet in total
length. The cut for the lower lock was to be thirty-six feet deep
and for the upper lock twenty-two feet deep. The canal from the
upper lock to Cameron Lake was to be sixty feet wide and twelve feet
deep. This new public work was opened for navigation in the summer
That same year saw Fenelon Falls reach the peak of her prosperity.
Her population was then 1312, and has since decreased steadily until
in 1920 only 837 inhabitants remained. The wane of lumbering in the
country to the north has meant the decline of Fenelon Falls, for it
was chiefly on lumbering that she had grown. The completion of the
Trent Canal has made her only a way port instead of a teriminus for
lake trade. Electricity has been developed here, but most of it is
transmitted elsewhere, on the Hydro-Electric Commission's Central
Ontario 44,000 volt circuit, instead of being utilized industrially
In the immediate neighborhood. A recent directory credits the
municipality with two flour mills, two sawmills, a wood turning
mill, a woollen mill, four hotels, six churches, and about twenty
stores. The future of the village would now seem to be dependent on
summer tourist traffic and, far more vitally, on the economic
services that it may render to the country districts near by.
The chief racial constituents of the population in 1911 were:
The religious denominations at that time were made up thus:
Roman Catholics, 69
and Summer Villages
There are few other villages in Fenelon. Cambray,
built chiefly on Lots 5 and 6, Concession I, on the main road from
East Eldon to Lindsay, was so named because of the mistaken idea
that the township had been named after Francis Fenelon, the
Archbishop of Cambrai, France. Its population is largely made up of
retired farmers, among whom Scotch Presbyterians perhaps
predominate. A small millstream, which runs through the village, was
probably the deciding factor in the choice of its site, but its
industries have never developed greatly and its population has
seldom exceeded two hundred and fifty. In February 1866 oil was
struck near here at a depth of 350 feet, but its development never
prospered. In recent years business and occupation, have been
carried on locally by three general stores, a mill run by A. E. and
W. B. Feir, four masons, three carpenters, three blacksmiths, one
cheese maker, one thresher, one harness maker, and one doctor.
Cameron, four miles east by north from Cambray,
is a much smaller village, with a station on the Haliburton Division
of the Grand Trunk Railway. Like Cameron Lake, it is named after
Duncan Cameron, an early Toronto banker. The neighborhood is chiefly
noted for its recurrent epidemics of heterodoxy, under various
forms, during the past eighty years.
Sturgeon Point and Pleasant Point are
summer villages. The former is incorporated, with a tax roll of 141
and an assessment of $87,373. In summer, these cottage communities
on the opposite shores of Sturgeon Lake are thronged with urban
residents; in winter, all is deserted. From the earliest times the
hardwood groves at Sturgeon Point were a favorite rendezvous for
picnics and excursions. The first regatta here was held in 1841,
eighty years ago. All pleasure on that occasion was marred by the
drowning of a Mr. Wetherup, who upset from his canoe while in the
act of taking off his coat. He was a powerful swimmer, but with his
arms thus pinioned behind him he was lost at once. Thirty-five years
later, Captain George Crandell, of Lindsay, the chief promoter of
navigation on local waters, realized the possibilities of Sturgeon
Point as a summer village and spent some $25,000 in developing it
towards that end. In 1876 he built a large summer hotel, the
management of which was undertaken by W. H. Simpson. Crandell also
purchased an extensive tract adjacent to the hotel and plotted out
lots for summer cottages. These were quickly bought up and built
upon; and thus began the summer colony at the Point. The first
regatta under the auspices of cottagers was held on September 18,
1878. The event. of the day was a double canoe race in which two
Rama Reserve Ojibwas named Yellowhead won by a narrow margin from
Whetong and Toboco, two Mississagas from the Chemong Reserve. The
winners paddled a birch bark canoe at seventy strokes to the minute.
There were several white entrants in this open race, but all were
left hopelessly behind by the two Indian crews. About this time a
black bear was found roaming about near the hotel and was disposed
of by excited huntsmen. The hotel was destroyed by fire in 1898, but
the village about it has continued to flourish. Pleasant Point or
Hay's Point is a more recent summer village on the lake front of the
John Hay farm. Its ratepayers are even now seeking incorporation.
It is a somewhat effete existence that these large community summer
resorts offer to anyone possessed of youth and vigor; but they are a
true paradise for little children and a healthful weekend refuge for
urban workers who have no vacation in which to sally by canoe into
the magnificent wildernesses of North Victoria and Haliburton.
Fenelon township attained its maximum population in
the eighties and has since declined rapidly. In 1886 the township,
including Fenelon Falls, totalled 3969 inhabitants. In 1920 the
county records showed a total of 2648, a decrease of over
thirty-three per cent. The nominal assessed value of all property in
the township and its villages was $1,059,894 in 1886, and in 1920,
$2,213,460, or a little more than twice the earlier estimate.
However, Dun's price indexes for 1886 and 1920 are in the ratio of
96 to 250, so that, on this basis the present assessment amounts to
only $849,973 in terms of 1886 values.