The first road to penetrate the northern part of Parry Sound District was the Nipissing Road from Rosseau to what is now Nipissing Village, completed on 1870. Then the Great North Road was cut out from Parry Sound up through Dunchurch to connect with the Nipissing Road at Commanda.
As soon as these roads were built, settlers took up homesteads along them. About 1870 a small community was started at Dunchurch. About 1875 settlers by names of Lorenz, Brunno, Sinclair, Bain, Arthurs, Royal, Willard, Millard, Lawson and Karl Zeikm (who later changed it to the English version of the name, Charles Simms) took up land in Ferrie Township north of the Deep River and named it Glenila. This land was so sandy it was unsuited for agriculture, so they became disatisfied and moved farther north, up the Pickerel Hill Road. (Incidentally this Pickerel Hills Road was well named as far as the hills part applied, but the word road was a misnomer). Many of these people resettled in what is now called Loring. Many newcomers also came, Rogerson, Crosswwllg Boydv Hankint Haggart, Robertson, Kirton, Davis, Kelcey, Sweet, Forsythe, Wylie, Currie and others. The nucleus of the new settlement was at the corners of the four townships of Mills, Hardy, Wilson, and McConkey and for many years was known as McConkey Corners, even after the official name of "Loring" was given to the Post Office started there. Andrew Sinclair was the first Postmaster, carrying the mail an his back to and from Glenila, making a round trip in a day, a distance of 42 miles, giving the new settlers one mail a week. We do not know what his stipend was for these services but when the Post Office was transferred to E.H. Kelcey in 1886, the postmaster's salary was ten dollars per year.
Colonel W.E. O'Brien of Shanty Bay was the Federal member of Parliament for Parry Sound and Muskoka and about 1882 he married a Miss Loring. When the settlement of McConkey Corners presented him with a petition for a Post Office he asked that the place be called "Loring" and the request was granted.
In 1885, E.H. Kelcey built the first store in Loring, and another was built by John Robertson in 1886 which was later sold to E. Forsythe. William Kirton had the first blacksmith shop and John Paul was the first carpenter. John Haggart and John Robertson built the first pit and skidway for whip-sawing lumber required by the new settlers. In 188O Mr. McWhinney built a small sawmill on Wilson Lake just north of the present Port Loring.
Mrs. Davis and Mrs. Forsythe accompanied by their small children were the first two women to arrive at Loring. Other families Joined their husbands there as soon as the meagre accomodations permitted. So educational and spiritual problems presented themselves. In 1885 a school house of hewn pine logs was built. The first teacher was Miss Tuly. This schoolhouse was also used for a Presbyterian church for some years and the first pastor was Rev. Mr. Steele. He only stayed during the summer, so services were conducted by various laymen of the community during the winter months.
Life was rugged in the pioneer days, hardships were many and amusements few and mostly of their own making. Many of the settlers carried on their backs from Dunchurch what they needed to get start in their new place of habitation. After the store in Loring many times Tom Cain carried a 98 lb. bag of flour up to his home on Sagamesing Lake, a distance of six miles. When Tom would be away cooking in camps Mrs. Cain would make the twelve mile round trip taking her family of six with her, ranging in age from ten years down, and carry back a 60 lb bag of groceries as well as carry the youngest child. This was no mean feat, especially when you consider that most of the road was a knee-deep mudhole that never dried up.
Now, in a lighter vein. In 1885, to celebrate the opening of his new store, E.H. Kelcey gave a Christmas Eve Dance in the partially completed upstairs above the store. The dance was quite a success and everyone enjoyed themselves, but it was so cold up there the fiddler was obliged to put his right arm around the stove pipe which ran from the stove in the store below, and fiddle in that position.
The first wedding was that of Mr. & Mrs. James Bain in the late 1880's and they had a wedding dance that night. The festivities lasted till break of day. Charles Simms then hustled home, changed his clothes, took a milk pail and stool and went out to milk the COW. A couple of hours later he was found sitting on the stool fast asleep with the pail between his knees and the cow placidly chewing her cud in the shade at the edge of the clearing.
This article first appeared in the April 1988 newsletter, Volume 5 - Number 1
This lot was settled by JACOB & ELIZABETH KNOEPFLI, a German Swiss couple, on March 24, 1888. It contains 87 acres. The Magnetawan River divided the lot as does Highway 124. The KNOEPFLI DAM and the KNOEPFLI RAPIDS are on this lot. A strip of land one chain in perpendicular was reserved along both shores of the Magnetawan River. The right to access to this strip and the waterway was reserved for the use of vessels, boats and people and for fishing purposes. It is interesting to note that although this is the clause in most deeds of land along the river it is omitted in the deed of Lot 12. All mineral rights and all the pine trees were reserved by the Crown.
The KNOEPFLI family lived in a house on the shores of the Magnetawan river near the rapids and across the road from where the KNOEPFLI INN now stands. The East Parry Sound Board of Education has a few of the old school registers. In it are listed six of the KNOEPFLI CHILDREN with ages so birthdates can be fixed to within a year. Jacob 1887; Lily 1889; August 1893; David 1897; Mary 1901 and Henry 1903.
On March 4, 1914, the lot was sold to the CROFT LUMBER COMPANY of Huntsville for $1200.00. It seems the KNOEPFLI family continued to live in the house until they went west after 1928. It was that year that the son Jacob was drowned even though he was a good swimmer. In the early spring he had gone in a canoe with two others to fix a broken boom on Beaver Lake (Ahmic Lake). It was only a two man canoe and was heavily loaded with equipment to fix the boom. Near Rocky Reef the canoe sank. The water was so cold even a strong swimmer couldn't survive.
When the Croft Lumber Company had taken off all the lumber it wanted it was sold to ALFRED PAGET on March 17, 1926. He was the manager and part owner of the Croft Lumber Company. He built the Knoepfli Inn which was opened in 1926. The story of the Inn until 1947, written by RETA BROWN, daughter of ALFRED & GERTRUDE PAGET appears elsewhere in the history. The KNOEPFLI home was converted into an ice-cream parlour with rooms above and behind for paying guests.
In 1947, the property was sold to RALPH LORNE THOMPSON who continued to operate the Inn until 1971. It was sold to another person who held it for a short time and then sold to "KAPTAN LAKELANDS". It was divided and the part north of the river with the Inn was bought by JOHN and GEORGINA KOLMAN who continue to operate it. The part south of the river was subdivided - Plan #409 - to make 11 cottage lots along the river and a road which is excellent because it had to be built to township standards, a big Block B of nearly 20 acres and a swampy part, Block A between Lot 1 and the old highway 124. Mr. KAPTAN operated through several small companies and this plan was listed for sale under DRIFTWOOD PROPERTIES. All the lots were soon sold as cottage lots- Block A was retained by Kaptan Lakelands.
Block B and some lots were bought by the three PENROSE brothers. Later one lot was sold to a fourth brother and a sister, Nora Huyck who have become permanent residents.
Four of the cottages have become permanent homes: Henry and Nora HUYCK May 31, 1978; Anne and Albert HUXTED August 16 1979; Clare & Carola PENROSE on August 31, 1979 and Hart Anne SMITH in May of 1962.
It was learned that Mr. PAGET had had an excellent garden in Block B. It was discovered quite overgrown with trees, shrubs and raspberries. Rhubarb was still growing in a small clear patch and asparagus in several areas. It had not been worked after Mr. PAGET sold. Two of the original big old cedar corner posts are still standing, the other two had fallen and have been replaced. It is an excellent garden with three families sharing the space. Wild raspberries have been controlled outside the garden.
Mrs. BROWN, the PAGET daughter saw the garden a few years ago. She remembered it but said there were no trees in the bush beyond the garden when she lived at the Inn. All that was good for timber had been cut down in the first part of the century. What is there is all second growth. There are many maple trees and maple syrup has been made each spring starting in 1982. It is made the old fashioned way with buckets on the trees and boiled in big open flat pans over crude furnaces. The taste is excellent. Some people prefer it to that gathered in plastic tubing and boiled down over evaporators.
The road ends at the last lot # 13 and since it ends at the KIRKPATRICK property which won't be sold in the foreseeable future and we don't intend to sell any of Block B, we almost have a private road even though it is part of the Ahmic Lake Roads Board system and maintained in excellent condition all year round. It is a unique situation which is appreciated by the cottagers and permanent residents.
This article first appeared in the April 1990 newsletter, Volume 6 - Number 1