Canadian Genealogy |Ontario Genealogy | Victoria County | Town of Lindsay

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Conditions of Life, Victoria County, Ontario Canada

Primitive Conditions of Life

Conditions in the sixties and seventies varied much from those of today. William Street vied with Kent Street in importance as a commercial thoroughfare. Wellington Street was the leading residential section of the town. There were, however, no sewers, no town water, no lights, and few cellars. The necessities of the modern workingman were then luxuries unattainable to all.

It is interesting to note that on April 17, 1865, the day of Abraham Lincoln's funeral, this little Canadian town closed all its stores and schools, put its flags at half mast, and with two small cannon, owned by a retired British naval officer named Rodden, fired off a memorial salute to the great American.

The first telegraph system was installed in September 1862 by the Montreal Telegraph Company, who brought in their line along the Port Hope railway. On January 11, 1878, the first local demonstration of the telephone was made by attaching receiving and transmitting apparatus to the telegraph wires in Peterboro and Lindsay and so talking between the two towns. The first local telephone exchange was installed in June, 1881, by George D. Edwards of the Bell Telephone Company. The system began with thirty subscribers. The first demonstration of the phonograph was made in the Opera House in June, 1878.

The police protection of these early days was very inadequate. Drunkenness was fed by dirty taverns on every corner, and immorality was so brazen and shameless that a number of private citizens formed a Vigilance Committee in 1877 and burned down all the more notorious brothels throughout the town. For many weeks the local papers kept recording "another rookery gone." After this purging by fire, it transpired that the Chief of Police himself had been a protector and patron of the wanton sisterhood.

Cows, geese .and dogs wandered over all the streets unchecked until the eighties. From 1883 to 1889, the feverish question in municipal politics was whether or not to prevent "the poor man's cow" from ranging abroad and devouring every green thing in every private garden. A half-measure was tried ,which required every street grazing cow to be tethered, but the tether ropes grew to unbelievable lengths and in 1889 the cow was banished entirely from the streets. The first dog by law was passed on July 25, 1887, and imposed a tax of one dollar per dog.

Growth in Civic Stature

The population of Lindsay has grown slowly but steadily from 1100 at incorporation in 1857 to 1907 in 1861, 4049 in 1871, 5080 in 1881, 6081 in 1891, 7003 in 1901, and 8025 in 1921 (assessment roll figures.)

This gradual development has resulted in an unusually high standard of general comfort in the town. There are few noticeable extremes of wealth or poverty. There are no palaces and likewise no hovels. And when hard times bring the soup kitchen and the bread line to bloated industrial towns like Peterborough and Oshawa, Linday shows little evident distress.

The chief causes of the town's having grown at all are
(1) municipal,
(2) transportational
(3) industrial
(4) commercial.
The advantages which it has enjoyed as the county town are self evident. Judicial, educational, and municipal establishments have all tended to focalize at this centre.

Far more important has been the gathering in of railways. Lindsay has no fewer than eight lines of railway radiating out, spoke wise, from her boundaries; 27 passenger trains and many more freight trains pass in and out each day and the G.T.R. divisional locomotive shops, stationed here, have a normal payroll of 120 men. The part played by the railways in building up and maintaining the town can not be over estimated.

The industrial and commercial growth of the town call for separate treatment.

Town of Lindsay

Victoria County


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