The following article was written by the Gull Lake Property Owners Association and reprinted here with their permission. As our close neighbour, their lake history overlaps our own and Moore Falls in mentioned throughout it.
It gives a great overview of the history of the area including some of the same early landowners on our lake such as the Wessel, Leary and Valentine families, some history of the land development and logging as well as history of Minden and area.
Area History- Gull Lake and River Area Historical Perspective
Native Canadians left their mark on the land with artifacts and rock etchings. As early as 1590, Jesuit priests travelling to Huronia, told of Iroquois war parties searching for Huron Indians along the Trent water system in what are now Peterborough, Victoria and Haliburton Counties. The Mississauga and Ojibwa hunted extensively in and around Algonquin Park in the amalgamated Townships of Sherborne et al. Native artifacts have been discovered around Grass, Boshkung and Kashagawigamog lakes, and burial grounds have been unearthed in the Ingoldsby and Maple Lake areas. Copper objects were discovered in 1951 in Harcourt at Farquar Lake that are estimated to be at least two thousand years old.
It is not known for sure who were the first non-native people to see Moore Lake. Early maps and reports of the Gull River system are unclear as to whether they were descriptions of the area or actual travelled routes. Explorers sought water routes to avoid the Great Lakes and possible confrontation with invading Iroquois nations. In 1615, Samuel Champlain used a map showing a route through Georgian Bay, Lake Simcoe, Balsam Lake and the Gull River to Ottawa. Later, routes were sought to avoid American soldiers. Lieutenant James P. Catty, Royal Engineer, in his 1819 report, describes a chain of small lakes joined by rivers and waterfalls, which could well have included our lake. The 1827 report by Lieutenants Briscoe and Walpole name Norland, Moore’s Falls and Gull Lake. But again, it is uncertain if they travelled those routes or just noted them on maps. Over the course of time, various treks were made up the Gull River in search of a trade route from Georgian Bay to Ottawa. Several expeditions were made in search of an easily travelled highway in 1819, 1825 and 1827. It was determined that this route would be of use only after great expense and effort. Despite the lack of the simple route, other visionary settlers realized the logging, trapping and settlement potential of the area. The Peter Robinson settlement of the Peterborough area did reach as far as what is now Haliburton County. Eventually surveyors were commissioned to begin mapping the land for settlement. The first to arrive was John Huston. In 1826, Huston studied the areas north of Harvey and Verulam townships in search of useable land, but a number of events led Huston to report that the area was unsuitable for sustainable settlement. In 1836, David Thompson, one of the greatest British surveyors travelled the areas of Sherborne and McClintock where his party caught many speckled trout and admired the stands of hardwood. By the 1840's the need for land had become great. Scottish and Irish immigrants were arriving in Upper Canada in larger numbers. Also interested in settlement were Canadians who were the children of immigrants who had settled around the great lakes.
In the 1850's land was being divided and sold for settlement and timber. In 1854, Michael Deane created the guideline that eventually became the Bobcaygeon Road, opened up the townships of Lutterworth, Snowdon, Anson, Hindon, Minden and Stanhope. This line opened the path for settlers to find their fortune in Haliburton. In 1854 the Canadian Land and Emigration Company purchased nine townships in Haliburton. The name Haliburton came from Thomas Chandler Haliburton, the first chairman of the Land and Emigration Company from 1861 to 1865. The historian and author who hailed from Nova Scotia, never once visited the provisional county with his namesake and eventually moved to London England where he became a Member of Parliament and a Supreme court Judge. By 1859 there 16 were 25 families settled along the Stanhope and Minden township border and other groups were beginning to spread out around the area. The townships of Lutterworth, Anson and Hindon were annexed to Victoria in 1858, while Snowdon, Minden, Stanhope, Guilford, Dysart, Glamorgan, Monmouth, Dudley, Harburn, Bruton, Harcourt and Cardiff became townships of Peterborough County. This was the first of many separations and amalgamations between townships in Haliburton, Peterborough and Victoria Counties.
Through many hardships and times of strife, the small settlements in the Haliburton area began to grow and evolve into communities, with a post office, stores and established government. Minutes from the Provisional County of Haliburton date back to 1874, as do many of the County's townships. After originally being surveyed in 1858, Minden was named after a town in the North RhineWestphalia a federal state in Germany. The Minden community has been around since April 1, 1859, prior to which the settlement was originally called Gull River. The original settlers were drawn to the region via the Bobcaygeon Road. Minden lies on the banks of the Gull River. During the 19th and 20th centuries, loggers used this river to move timber through Gull Lake to downstream sawmills. To provide safe marching routes for the army, away from the “American enemy”, the government built roads. These colonization roads also helped to open up “the wild wastelands to the north “. One such road which helped to open up Lutterworth Township and Minden, was the Bobcaygeon Road. Construction began in 1856. The road was to run from Bobcaygeon to Lake Nipissing but it was never completed to Lake Nipissing. It did provide a major north south route for cottagers until Highway 35 was built in the early 1930’s. Parts of Bobcaygeon Road still exist in Minden and along Highway 35. The Cameron Road (Hwy 35) began in the 1860’s at Balsam River connecting the Toronto and Nipissing Railway station in Coboconk to Minden. Although it is not now a travelled road, those who know where to look, can find signs of it around Sandy Bay on Gull Lake and it is still marked on old cottage deeds. Unlike the smooth paved highways that we travel today, when built, these colonization roads, except in winter, were barely passable and described as “hazardous, bone rattling, tracks in and out among the bush, rocks, swamps and hills”.
As roads and land were surveyed, the government parceled out property in 100 or 200 acre lots known as Crown land patents. Sometimes land was given away to compensate soldiers and their families, for war service. Other times, it was sold. Along with other conditions of ownership, settlers with property fronting on colonization roads were expected to also maintain the road. J.W. Fitzgerald’s 1857 survey report for Minden indicates that squatters had already settled on “Moore Lake, also on Gull Lake and five miles still further up the Gull River”. Lutterworth Township was surveyed by Charles Unwin in 1858/59 and the first Crown land patents were granted along the Bobcaygeon Road in 1863. The first Crown land patent granted on Gull Lake was taken up in 1866, by Mary Ross on Concession 7 lot 23. The islands were next; most were granted 1872 – 1874. The next lots granted were on the west side of the outlet at Moore’s Falls (1873), Miners’ Bay (1874), both sides of the river mouth including part of Sandy Bay (1874) and immediately north of the mouth on both sides (1867 & 1874). Written records of property owners around Gull Lake, are found in the census, voter’s lists, survey reports, old maps and Crown Land Patent records. Diaries written by farmers and local clergymen, and minutes of Council meetings, also provide windows into the past. 17 Some current cottagers have the original Crown patent papers indicating they purchased their land directly from the government and were the first owners of that piece of land. Others purchased their land from local farmers. The 1901 census reported 464 farms in Lutterworth Township but this number dropped off year by year as land was sold, sometimes to cottagers, for back taxes, since much of the land was totally unsuited for agriculture and could not sustain a family.
The names of some of the early farmers who remained on their land, is followed by the date of the earliest recorded ownership of land fronting on Gull Lake/River or a neighbouring lot: Learys (1873), Hulbigs (1874), Wessels (1874), Ottos (1880 – owned 400 Acres), Harrisons (1890), Hounsells (1892), Ransons (1897), Pogues (1907), Trumbulls (1907), Windovers (1918), Gillespies (1931). Other families that owned land around 100 years ago or more, are: Brohm (1873). Ellis (1889), Valentine (1904), Hoidges (1906), Groselle (1907), Chambers (1908), Horn (1908), Tennison (1909), Willett (1910), Mundy (1911), Bickell (1912), Burns (1912), Humphreys (1914), Sparks (1915), Bennett (1919). These dates do not necessarily indicate when the family originally came to Lutterworth. Relatives of many of these families still live or cottage on Gull Lake. Some folks living in Minden, like the Stinsons (owners of a livery, flour and grist mill) and Sowards (owners of a grocery store), came down the river to have picnics on the shores of the Lake. They liked it so much that they purchased property. Stinsons, related to the Wellstoods, Sowards, Max’, Wingates, Ingals, and Rogers families, registered ownership in 1914 and were listed as merchants in 1916. Sowards built one of the first Gull Lake cottages or hunting camps. Although registered ownership is not until later, family members say it was built around 1904 on Sandy Bay. Other early cottagers took the Grand Trunk Railway train from “the city” arriving at Gelert where they were picked up by a horse drawn stage coach and taken to Minden. Later, when the roads were built through to Minden, the drive would take about 6 hours from Toronto.
The shores of Gull Lake were littered with logs that escaped from log booms owned by companies such as the Gull River and Gilmour Lumber Companies. Mossom Boyd, lumber baron whose mill was located in Bobcaygeon, sent thousands of logs down Gull Lake. Diary entries made in the summer of 1870 indicate the ”boom was being sorted” at the dam in Minden on July 1, 1870; July 25, 1884 “past Minden and in Gull Lake"; July 29, 1884 “now at Moore Falls". Disagreements between those who want to cut down trees and residents and cottagers who want to protect the trees, still continue today. There were several lumber mills on Gull Lake. A shingle mill was indicated on an 1883 map of Racketty Creek. The Delamere family, related to the Bedlingtons, Earls, Lewis’ and Sharpes, were granted the land around Racketty (Concession 12, lots 12 & 13) in 1878. Hounsells also had a small mill beside the present location of Kilcoo Camp. The lumber business reached its peak around 1872-73. One of the last drives down Gull Lake occurred around 1929-30 but most of the big white pine trees were gone by 1880.
David Galloway operated a store in Norland in the 1870’s. In 1881 he was granted the original Crown land patent for the property where Miners’ Bay Lodge is now located. He opened the first post office near Miners’ Bay in 1908. At the end of WW1, Bay View Hotel, later called Miners’ Bay Lodge, opened up and included a small grocery store. Early owners of the Lodge were the Hopkins brothers and the Tracys. In 1938 the Wunker family took over ownership. Pine Ridge Resort, in the next bay, was operated by a number of owners until it was shut down due to a fire in the 70’s …(Fisher, Ecclestone, Wood… Around the 1930’s Welch’s Grocery store in Minden, saw a business opportunity and delivered groceries to the early cottagers, some of whom remember taking orders and making deliveries from the boat. Gibling’s also had a small store (registered as a summer resort in 1914) at the north end of the lake at the river mouth. Cottagers still come from all 18 around the lake and folks even come from Minden to get fresh spring drinking water that still runs year round sometimes flooding Sandy Bay Road. Lutterworth post office opened in 1948 on Sandy Bay Road, with a small grocery store where milk and bread could also be ordered. Evelyn Hoidge Austin owned the store and ran the post office assisted in later years by her daughter and grandson, until it closed in 1975. The Hoidges, (registered as merchants in 1914) Evelyn’s father and his brothers, bought their land on Sandy Bay, from the Harrisons, in 1906. As with many of the early cottages, building materials were brought down the river by boat. Sometimes people “squatted”, as surveyor Fitzgerald noted, clearing the land and building a home, before they actually owned the property. Sometimes they owned the property for many years before they built or registered it. Some of these original cottages and outhouses still exist relatively unchanged, except perhaps for the addition of indoor plumbing and electricity. Gas could be purchased at Miners’ Bay Lodge, Evelyn Austin’s or at Braeside Inn near Kilcoo Camp. The area around Braeside Inn and Kilcoo, was purchased by the Lackie family around 1910. University of Toronto Professors Stewart and Banting, searched far and wide for property suitable to run courses in Civil Engineering. They arrived at Gull Lake in 1919 and Banting promptly bought his own property that same year. The University site was chosen partly because of its easy access to a large variety of geological formations. A three 3 week compulsory programme was created for third year students in the Civil and Mining Engineering and Applied Geology. Several of the faculty and students fell in love with Gull Lake and returned year after year as cottagers . Listed in the 1935 course guide are: Professors Stewart and Treadgold, Associate Professors Banting, Crerar, and Melson. The Bantings are related to the Crerars, and Melsons, and Metcalfes, families now on Gull Lake. William Duncan graduated from the engineering programme in 1928 and purchased property from the Bedlingtons. Spencer Jewett graduated from the engineering programme in 1932. The Mintos, long time caretakers of the U of T property, originally purchased land on Bobcaygeon Road, in 1911.