50 fascinating historical facts about Kawartha Lakes

By Ian McKechnie

Cherry Tree Lodge at Sturgeon Point. Photo courtesy of Kawartha Lakes Museum and Archives.

In celebration of the Advocate’s 50th edition, we’ve put together 50 interesting historical tidbits about Kawartha Lakes.

(1) The frame building at the corner of Cambridge and Peel Streets was built in 1877 by W.A. Goodwin — Lindsay’s famously countercultural artist.

(2) Alma Finnie, a First World War nursing sister who was among the first Canadian women to vote in a federal election, taught school for a year in Yelverton.

(3) H.G. Duerr, an American-born architect specializing in theatres, oversaw renovations at the Academy Theatre twice — in 1931 and again in 1963.

(4) Over the winter of 1931–32, the Lindsay Citizens’ Relief Association prepared up to 40 meals a day for those living in poverty.

(5)  “Kawartha” is the anglicized spelling of an Anishinaabeg word meaning “land of reflections.”

(6) Lindsay-born Albert E. Matthews was Ontario’s longest-serving Lieutenant Governor, in office from 1937 through 1946.

'Friends and Neighbours': The inspiring story of Stanley Dayton
Stanley Dayton. Photo courtesy of Kawartha Lakes Museum and Archives.

(7) Long-time Lindsay Daily Post correspondent Stanley Dayton lived for more than 80 years at the first crossroads north of Little Britain — a neighbourhood known colloquially as “Gabtown.”

(8) The August Civic Holiday weekend of 1931 saw almost 500 people travel from Lindsay to Haliburton on an excursion organized by the local Rotary Club.

(9) The Dominion Arsenal employed more than 260 women from Lindsay and  by the end of 1917.

(10) The Light, Heat, & Power Company of Lindsay, which opened in 1900, could transmit up to 1,100 volts of electricity thanks to dual Samson turbines and a 400-kilowatt generator.

(11) Irish-born Lindsay author William McDonnell had a three-act opera, several novels and two long narrative poems to his credit.

(12) In 1943, Ada Greaves became the first woman elected to Lindsay’s town council.

(13) Canadian National Railways No. 91, which in 1959 became the last steam locomotive to operate regularly out of Lindsay, now hauls tourists on a short-line railway in southeastern Pennsylvania.

(14) The Rev. Dr. J.W. MacMillan, who lived and worked in Lindsay from 1895 through 1903, served as chairman for the Minimum Wage Board of Manitoba during the First World War.

(15) Cognizant of labour unrest in other parts of Canada, the Horn Bros. Woolen Mill in 1919 announced that it would be reducing hours for its staff while maintaining their wages.

(16) Cherry Tree Lodge, located at 19 3rd Street in Sturgeon Point, was designed to evoke the appearance of tents used by campers in the 19th century.

(17) In 1948, families could pay between $22 and $30 in rent for one of the so-called “wartime houses” built in Lindsay between 1946 and 1947 under the auspices of Wartime Housing Ltd.

(18) As a young lawyer in Lindsay, former Ontario premier Leslie Frost defended Fred McGaughey, the last person to be hanged at the Victoria County Gaol, in 1924.

(19) Northern Casket was formed in 1925 by a group of local businessmen, including James Mackey, Charles Ferguson, Jimmy Arnold, and William Varcoe, and produced its first casket in 1927.

(20) The 1,300-pound (590 kg) bell once housed in the tower of Lindsay’s fire hall was originally cast in 1872 for the Lindsay Town Hall.

(21) The apple trees south of the Lindsay Adult and Alternate Education Centre trace their origins to an orchard occupying the grounds of the House of Refuge, which opened on that site in 1905.

(22) In 1945, patrons could buy a sundae for 20 cents at Lindsay’s Olympia Tea Room, when Eudoxia “Ma” Tozios assumed the role of manager.

(23) Following a fatal bicycle accident in 1970, the heart of Lindsay’s Marlene James was successfully transplanted into the body of the Rev. Edward Madigan — one of the first such surgeries in Canada.

(24) As a result of the 1918 Spanish Flu, the Women’s Institute funded and furnished an isolation hospital at the corner of Colborne and Angeline Streets in Lindsay.

(25) In 1901, Lindsay baker William McWatters’ oven was capable of baking 400 loaves of bread at a time.

(26) Fairy Tale Park, which operated north of Lindsay through the 1960s, brought nursery rhymes to life with farm animals and a concession stand designed to resemble a giant pumpkin.

(27) The first telephone service in the hamlet of Fleetwood ran from a nearby intersection known as Brick Corner via the neighbouring hamlet of Franklin to Dr. T.G. Brereton’s office in Bethany.

(28) Anti-Asian racism reared its head on Feb. 1, 1919, when a mob vandalized several Chinese-owned businesses in downtown Lindsay.

(29) Kirkfield’s Grace MacKenzie (1888-1946) married Jacques de Lesseps, a French aviator whose father, Ferdinand de Lesseps, developed the Suez Canal in the 19th century.

(30) The concrete pillars east of Springdale Gardens in Lindsay, which were built by Italian labourers over the spring and summer of 1911, once supported a 4,000-foot-long (1,220 m) railway trestle bridge.

(31) Frederick Geoghegan, once said to be “Canada’s finest organist,” performed before an audience of 700 people at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Lindsay, on May 1, 1967.

(32) Art Truax, who served as the first mayor of Kawartha Lakes, worked as a playground supervisor in Lindsay for a summer job during the mid-1950s.

(33) So respected was Florence O’Neill’s corner store on Albert Street South in Lindsay that when it closed in 1984, loyal customers stayed until the door locked for good.

(34) Argyle-born Eleanor McQuarrie was one of the first 50 women to graduate from the Ontario Veterinary College.

(35) When I.E. Weldon Secondary School opened in 1971, it had 740 students.

(36) The 40-metre-high Lindsay water tower was completed in 1955 and holds more than 2,000,000 litres of water.

(37) John’s Cartage, of Lindsay, was instrumental in launching Lindsay’s first blue box recycling program in 1989.

(38) The headstone on County Road 46 just north of Argyle marks the final resting place of three-year-old James Williamson, killed by a falling tree in 1831.

(39) Pearl Jordan, of Grass Hill, studied voice at the Toronto College of Music and graduated with first class honours in 1909.

(40) Lindsay’s YMCA building once featured a 10-pin bowling alley and swimming pool in its basement.

(41) King Albert Public School in Lindsay takes its name from Albert I, who reigned over Belgium from 1909 through 1934.

(42) Among the first game wardens to patrol the woods and waters of Victoria County was Edgerton R. Henderson.

(43) Lindsay’s Paul Skipworth played the part of Santa Claus in the annual Lindsay Santa Claus Parade for more than 25 years.

The Lindsay Advocate – serving the area since 1855(44) The first purpose-built arena in Lindsay opened in January of 1890.

(45) Trains were brought to a standstill in Victoria County for more than a month in 1910, when Grand Trunk Railway workers went on strike in a dispute over wage increases.

(46) More than 500 people gathered in Kawartha Park beside LCVI on June 2, 1953, to plant a tree in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.

(47) In 1957, Catherine “Kay” Hawkins became one of the first women to enter Lindsay’s male-dominated legal field when she took a job as a court clerk.

(48) Kawartha Dairy traces its history to 1937, when Bobcaygeon’s Jack and Ila Crowe purchased a dairy from Charles Johnson.

(49) The Lindsay Rotary Club held its formative meeting on March 10, 1922, and had its charter granted on May 17 of the same year.

(50) The Lindsay Advocate shares its name with the town’s first newspaper, published in 1855 by E.D. Hand.



  1. Laura M says:

    Very informative.
    #40- where was the Lindsay YMCA locate? Just curious.

    • Ian McKechnie says:

      At the southwest corner of Kent Street and Lindsay Street. It must have been a very narrow building, and apparently abutted the edge of the street. There are now some saplings and benches on the spot.

  2. Bruno Wilimek says:

    Thanks, Ian. Very interesting tidbits.

  3. Kristoffer says:

    This was Great thank you

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