Parry Sound District

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, 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

Heritage map of the Township of Foley, District of Parry Sound

Map taken from Guide Book & Atlas Of Muskoka And Parry Sound Districts Author: Hamilton, W. E. (William Edwin), b. 1834; Rogers, John, 1846-1926 Published 1879

A copy of the book can be downloaded here