Articles of Interest
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Township History - Carling Township

by Marion Belanger

The township of Carling is situated on the eastern shore of Georgian Bay northwest of the Town of Parry Sound. It was surveyed in 1973 by James Bolger and named for the Honourable Sir John Carling, president of the noted Carling Brewing and Malting Company. He was also an MPP for London, Ontario in the 1860s.

The Proclamation Date for the township was 29 May 1897. David McFarland was elected Reeve. Council members were: Alexander Alves, Francis Dillon, John Buchannon and David McFarland (the younger). James Crerar was the clerk.

The first meeting of the Council was held at No. 2 schoolhouse on 5 June 1897.

One of the early settlers in the area was Arthur Hailstone who purchased property in Carling Township in 1873 for $40. The following is taken from a letter he wrote describing the life and times of a pioneer in the Parry Sound District.

notes from Arthur Hailstone circa 1937

"During the winter of 1873-74, we worked in the woods lumbering and during the winter we earned enough money to pay the passage of my mother and four brothers and two sisters and we obtained what was called assisted passages which meant that after three months residence in Canada, a refund of $6 on each ticket was made and by that means we were in possession of sufficient money to buy our winter's flour. . .

"We had to be very economical in our living. . . as wages were small and the necessaries of life were rather high but with industry and frugality combined we were soon in easier circumstances. . .

"Now I would like to record a few things in regard to this part of Canada known as Parry Sound District . . . I consider that there is not a better place for a man with limited means in this whole Dominion. . . work was always to be had and at wages as good as those paid anywhere in Ontario. . . This District . . . is noted for its superior quality of mutton and also for its fine grazing land for any class of stock the farmer owns . . . there is always an abundance of both feed and water . . . always food to be had for winter feeding if a man uses common sense. There are beaver meadows all through this north country and these can either be used as marsh land or drained and become the most fertile of land as the muck deposit in these flats are generally heavy varying loam, one to three feet in thickness. In our own experience, having a large quantity of this low land, we have raised eighty bushels of oats per acre, forty-two of Marquis wheat, four hundred and twenty bushels of potatoes, and other crops to correspond with this. . .

"The greatest drawback . . . is the want of better roads. The Statute Labour system is not a success as has been proved, the work done in this way being of a decidedly temporary nature. The Government of Ontario has been fairly liberal in the grants made for this work, but unfortunately the money has not been wisely spent as whichever party has been in power, there has been favouritism shown to the detriment of the roads.

". . . Now in conclusion, that if anyone should come here with the idea that the world owes him a living without an effort on his part, he will be badly fooled, but anyone possessed of energy and ambition and wanting to obtain a place to call his own and make a success of life, even though his means are limited, he will be welcomed by the residents of this part of His Majesty's domains."

This article first appeared in the April 1986 newsletter, Volume 2 - Number 1


Township History - McMurrich Township

by Gail Stupka

The glowing accounts which painted Muskoka as an agricultural paradise were largely responsible for the settlement, in the 1870s, of yet another township: McMurrich, which, with Perry and Armour townships, formed the East Parry Sound Agency--opened up about the year 1869.

McMurrich contains some 38,787 acres of land and 3,324 acres of water. most lots suitable for settlement had been taken up when Mr. Hamilton wrote his Guide Book in 1879. According to the report of Mr. C.F. Miles, P.L.S., the greater portion of the township was composed of open, rolling hardwood land, with a certain portion of tamarack, spruce and cedar swamps--very wet in places. The soil was said to be a good sandy loam in the uplands and a rich black loam in the lowlands. So much for the official reports. By bitter experience, it was found to be far more suitable for timber lots than agriculture.

McMurrich had a number of settlements. The earliest was Beggsborough, located just north of the present-day Sprucedale. Other communities in the township were: Whitehall, Bourdeau, Banbury, McMurrich and Haldane Hill. With the exception of Sprucedale, all of these communities have, in practical terms, disappeared.

Lumbering was a very big business in those early days. Huge log booms were driven down the rivers to far-off mills to be cut into timber. Some of the names associated with the lumbering in McMurrich were: Dollar, Lawrence, Deans, Gayman, Fritz, Farrel, Demberline, Reid, Crawford, Shirk, Howell and many others.

About the year 1879, approximately ten years after the first settlers moved into McMurrich, Mr. Boothe, a wealthy lumberman from Ottawa, considered the advisability of building a railway from Ottawa to Depot Harbour on Georgian Bay. It provided work for the young men of the villages.

The township was organized in 1391 with the first council meeting in the Orange Hall on the 8th Concession, on 23 February 1891. Mr. M. Deans was the first reeve and the council consisted of J.C. Marshall, Thomas Cudmore, Asa McKague and D.H. Lawrence with Joseph Malkin as treasurer and Thomas Upton as the clerk.

This article first appeared in the April 1986 newsletter, Volume 2 - Number 1


Township History - Foley Township

by Marion Belanger

It has been described as a little bit of heaven just nestled in among the rocks, trees and hills just south of the Town of Parry Sound. The Township of Foley was surveyed by the late 1860s and consists of 12 concessions with 35 lots in each concession. An additional 40 lots followed the Parry Sound Road on the north and south side through the area.

The first council minutes were for a meeting held on 4 December 1872 at the home of Thomas Healy on the Parry Sound Road. The Reeve was Thomas McGown and the councillors were William Wilcox, Thomas Healy, Homan Haines and William Scott. Only two Reeves served the Township between 1872 and 1894, these being Thomas McGown and William Wilcox.
In 1880, a special meeting was called by Reeve McGown to discuss the expenses of sending delegates to advocate, in Toronto, the locating of the Canadian Pacific Railway junction line to the west of Lake Rosseau through the Township of Foley.
The name of the village of Carrington was changed to Parry Harbour in 1886 and that year a plank sidewalk was erected on Emily Street from Church to James Streets (now McFarlane Street). In 1886 the village of Parry Sound acquired lots 149 and 150, Concession A, from the Township of Foley. John McClelland was Mayor of Parry Sound during this time and waited until the village of Parry Harbour was set up and surveyed before annexing these lots. This caused many heated discussions between the two councils.

In August 1897, it was moved that the Ottawa, Arnprior, and Parry Sound Railway Company have permission to erect and maintain telephone and telegraph lines along or across the Rose Point Road. In January 1898, Reeve William Wilcox was appointed delegate to the provincial government to point out advantages of constructing the James Bay Railway through western Parry Sound District to Sudbury.

Road work took up much of the time of those early councillors. On the Christie Road, Haines Creek was always giving them trouble and had to be bridged. In 1922, it was planked with no flagman needed as the only traffic that day was one team of horses. A far cry from today's busy Highway 518, the route tourists use greatly during July and August.

Over the years, Foley has proven to be a most progressive township and even today holds one of the largest rural fall fairs in Parry Sound District. Many of the early families have left their mark in the naming of roads, hills, parks and lakes.

Others still retain the pioneer homes belonging to their great-grandparents. They carry on the traditions first established in this stalwart community founded on the principles of enterprise and industry

This article first appeared in the November 1986 newsletter, Volume 2 - Number 2

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