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

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Early Settlers, Victoria County, Ontario Canada

In 1825, the first settler, Patrick Connell, settled on Lot 7, Concession IV. Others, the Bradys, Pynes, Hydes, Twoheys, Murphys, and Hoeya, joined him along the valley of the Scugog. Lot 16 in Concession V, just south of the present Riverside Cemetery, was granted by the government to the Rev. Father Crowley, the sole Roman Catholic priest of Central Ontario, in order that he might assist in the settlement of this township. The lot passed in 1846 to Father Crowley's nephew, John Ambrose, and now belongs to P. J. Murphy. In the late twenties, however, the priest had a house built on it at the water's edge. This was not for his own residence (since he had his headquarters in Peterborough and practically lived on horseback) but for the storage of settlers' effects. The spot was known as "The Priest's Landing." A trail called "the middle line," which ran from Cobourg through Peterborough and Omemee, ended at the "Landing," and from here on the settlers who had entered by this route proceeded by canoe. An early pioneer has declared that the scenery along the Scugog was exceedingly beautiful. The bright ribbon of water wound to and fro through a majestic forest that towered high above it. No human devastation had disfigured that quiet avenue among the primeval pines. The ugliness of waste and destruction and decay had not yet blighted it. Even the lowest banks were soft with beaver meadows, and wild rose blossoms rioted at the water's edge.

The Millers of the Scugog

The virtual founders of Lindsay were three Americans, William Purdy and his two sons, Jesse and Hazard. About 1827, the government entered into a contract with the Purdys. They were to put up a ten-foot dam on the Scugog River at Lindsay and build a sawmill in 1828 and a grist mill in 1829. If the work were accomplished within the time limit, the government was to deed them 400 acres, comprising Lots 20 and 21, Concession VI, or that part of modern Lindsay which lies between Colborne Street, Lindsay Street, Durham Street, and the eastern boundary, and to pay them a bonus of six hundred dollars.

They began work in the winter of 1827-8, bringing all supplies from the head of Scugog Lake, on the ice in the winter time and by log canoes in spring and summer. The dam was located at the foot of what is now Georgian Street, about the present site of Perrin's Boat Works, for here the banks were highest and a wing dam through the woods therefore unnecessary. The river at this point was about thirty feet wide and eighteen inches deep. By September 1828 the dam was finished, and a sawmill 20 feet by 45 feet ready for operation. Many guesses were made as to how long it would take for the millpond to fill up. The most ambitious conjecture was twenty-four hours. It was not, however, until the following April, seven months later, that the water finally reached the top of the dam. No one seems to have realized that a ten-foot dam built at the head of the rapids at Lindsay would actually raise the level of Scugog Lake by several feet.

The pressure during the spring freshet of 1829 was too much for the dam. The center timbers shifted on the rock bottom of the river; the dam broke; and everything was swept away. The Purdys then wrote to the government at York and secured a time extension of one year. By April 1830, the dam was repaired and the sawmill running at last.

Then a grist mill, thirty feet by forty, and three and a half storeys high was built. As the time allowance was now running out rapidly, a single run of stones was put in and the mill started. The first flour ground was for Mrs. Dennis Twohey's wake. There was no bolt for some time, so the early flour was dark, though wholesome. The miller's toll was set at one-twelfth of the grist. Patronage was brisk, and it is recorded that women brought grain on their backs from their homes in Eldon, fifteen miles away. One girl of 'sixteen carried a bushel that distance. Customers had to wait their turn and it sometimes took two or three days for a man to get his grist. In the meantime he camped on the river bank or slept at night before a great fireplace in the mill. If food ran short, flap jacks were made from new grist.

The Survey of the Townsite

In the original survey of Ops by Colonel McDonell in 1825, Lots 20 and 21 in the 5th concession had been reserved as a townsite. In 1834, John Huston of Cavan came in with a small party to plot out this site into streets and lots.

One of Huston's assistants, a man named Lindsay, was accidentally wounded in the leg by a gun shot; infection set in; and he died. Lindsay was buried on the river bank on or about the site of the present G.W.V.A. club house. The circumstance of his death led to the townsite being called "Lindsay" on the surveyor's plans submitted to and approved by the government.

The original area surveyed at this time consisted of that portion of modern Lindsay bounded by Lindsay, Colborne, Angeline, and Durham streets, a parcel of 400 acres or one-quarter of the present town. The east half of the site was surveyed into 345 half-acre building lots and the west half into 30 park lots of about five acres each. Two main streets, the modern Kent Street and Victoria Avenue, each 100 feet in width, bisected the town from east to west and from north to south respectively. On the four corners of the intersection of these two streets a market square of six acres, known as "Queen's Square" and extending half a block in depth to north and south of Kent Street between Cambridge and Sussex Streets, was reserved. Victoria Avenue was, of course, named after the heiress apparent to the throne and Kent Street after her father, the Duke of Kent. All the other streets were laid out 66 feet in width. Those running north and south were chiefly named after Victoria's uncles: the duke of York, King William IV, the duke of Cambridge, the duke of Sussex, and Prince Alfred (a street later renamed Angeline). Albert Street was named after the Prince Consort and Adelaide Street after Victoria's aunt, the wife of William IV. Streets running east and west were named, on the other hand, after English statesmen and governors of Canada: the Earl of Durham, Lord Melbourne (British premier, 1833), Baron Glenelg (Colonial Secretary, 1835-39), Lord John Russell (another colonial secretary, author of the Act of Union), Sir Robert Peel (British premier, 1834), the Duke of Wellington (British premier, 1828-30), Sir Francis Bond Head, and Sir John Colborne. None of these streets except Durham and Colborne ran farther west than Albert Street, though an irregular corduroy road ran southwest towards Port Perry from the corner of Bond and Albert.

Such was the original plan of Lindsay as mapped out by Huston, the surveyor. Several years passed, however, before any attempt was made to chop out even one of the streets surveyed in 1834 through the almost impenetrable forest and swamp that stood on the townsite.

Town of Lindsay

Victoria County

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