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Highways of Long Ago, Victoria County, Ontario Canada

The early roads by which men came to Purdy's mill or departed to north, south, east or west have almost vanished. The present highways tend to follow the correct concession lines but the first bush roads to be slashed through cut deliberately across country towards their objective, though with many a bend and swerve by which to keep on high, dry ground.

A traveler leaving Lindsay for the south would drive out Queen Street, in the East Ward, as far as "Kerry's Corners," where J. R. O'Neill's store now stands. Here he would turn south to Logie Street There was also a by road, over "Bigelow's Hill," by which the river could be reached without going as far as Kerry's. The modern Logie Street .as far south as J. J. Ward's house is part of the old road. It did not touch the concession line, however, until about Daniel Murphy'sgate. It then swerved towards the east about half a lot in order to cross Sucker Creek, returned to the line about Frank Curtin's farm and after following the present road for half a mile, struck off towards the river. Thereafter it skirted the Scugog very closely, though keeping to high ground, as far south as Clabo, whence it ran straight south to Janetville, Orono and Newcastle.

Should our traveler's destination have been Reaboro, Omemee or Peterborough, he would have taken the same route as far as Kerry's Corners. He would then push on straight east out Queen Street, but on swerving southeast at the present town boundary, he would continue in that direction as far as the line between the 7th and 8th concessions, cutting across the Logie and Ball farms. On one pasture field here, the old road, closed some decades ago, is still quite distinct. The route next ran down the concession line as far as Lot 14, Concession VIII, now occupied by William Fox, and thence diagonally across country through Reaboro and out into Emily at Lot 5, Concession XI. This last section of the old road is still open.

The first road to Fenelon Falls ran northwest from about the present Presbyterian church, across Brewery Creek, a swampy stream now masked by the Sussex Street Drain, and up over the Court House hill. The section that lay across Brewery Creek was known as "The Long Sault" because of its hazardous wetness. Leaving the town on the same northwest run, it crossed the next creek on Lot 24, Concession IV, west of the present Fenelon Road. This lot was occupied by Alex. Logie, a son of Captain John Logie, who ran a sawmill on the creek. The road then passed over the Murphy and James farms ultimately to run north to the boundary on the line between the 2nd and 3rd Concessions. Here, to the east of the road, on Robert Tompkin's farm, about half a mile north of School Section Number 3, was long the chief cemetery for South Fenelon and Northwest Ops. The grave yard may still be seen, though fallen upon days of profound neglect. The old Fenelon Road, after crossing the boundary, and slipping down the great limestone escarpment (here very much diminished), struck northeast over the Widow Tompkins' farm, crossed McLaren's Creek by a stone bridge which still remains, midway between the two concession lines, and then ran slantwise towards Cameron. Many decades passed before anyone undertook to chisel a road down the cliff on the line where the main road now descends to McLaren's Creek.

The earliest road to Oakwood went straight west from Lindsay, crossing over a swamp on the 3rd and 4th concessions by means of corduroy.

Still another pioneer road ran southwest from the head of Kent Street West across country to Port Perry. Fifty years ago its course was still very evident, although it was then fenced in. Even at that time pedestrians made use of it for convenience sake.

Officials and Figures

The municipal history of Ops has followed a course similar to that in the other townships. In 1842, Francis Kelly represented Ops on the first District Council held in Peterborough. The first Township Council comprised the following:

Reeve, William McDonnell
Councillors, John Gibb, Patrick McHugh, Thomas Rea, and Thomas Keenan
Clerk, Dr. William Bird.

Patrick McHugh was the first reeve of Ops after the separation and incorporation of Lindsay in 1857. In more recent times, John Kennedy and his son Peter have served successively as Township Treasurer for over fifty years.

The chief municipal undertakings in Ops have been the draining.. of the "Long Swamp," west of Lindsay, in 1880, and of the Stoney Creek area in 1908. The latter scheme ran two trunk drains north eastward from about Lot 6, Con. VI, one past Reaboro and on into Emily and the other via Cunningham's Corners to Salem school. Thorough drainage was supplied for 1246 acres and an outlet for 3809 acres.

A large township hall of brick was built in 1861 at what is now the entrance to the Riverside Cemetery. When the old building was crowded with a nomination meeting on December 31, 1906, the rotted floor gave way with a crash and jagged rents appeared in the walls. The crowd knocked all the windows from their frames in the mad rush outwards that followed. No one was hurt.

The racial and religious elements are manifested by the decennial census returns of 1911. The races represented are:
Irish, 1690
English, 626
Scotch, 172

The church adherences are:
Methodists, 844
Roman Catholics, 834
Presbyterians, 456
Anglicans, 376
Baptists, 125

The population of Ops in 1886 was 3101. In 1920, thirty-four years later, it had dropped to 1981. The township assessment had increased during that same period, from $1,529,729 to $2,726,766, valuation greater than that of any other township except Mariposa. A just reservation must always be made for the enhancement of land values by proximity to Lindsay, but urban conditions are not found any distance beyond the town limits, and the most conscientious allowance will still leave Ops a very rich municipality.

Southern Townships

Victoria County


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