Are we there yet? Highway-based tourism in Kawartha Lakes

By Lindsay Advocate

Oliver's Service Station, Rosedale.

The Kirkfield & District Historical Society is embarking on an exciting project, according to a media release, funded by Digital Museums Canada. Through DMC’s Community Stories program, the KDHS is developing an online museum exhibit called ‘Are We There Yet?’ Highway-Based Tourism In Kawartha Lakes.

‘Are We There Yet?’ is about the history of automotive-based tourism in Kawartha Lakes, and in particular those places along the roadside which provided service and hospitality to weary travellers.

This story traces back to the early days of transportation in the area through the settlement and growth of communities along Highways 35 and 48, largely supported today by tourism. Portage Road and other early settlement roads became major transportation routes and were instrumental in the settlement of several local communities.

With the coming of the automobile in the 20th Century, vacationers took to these roads to get them to their destinations. Service industries such as general stores, garages, inns, and restaurants emerged along the roadside in these communities to cater to their needs. This roadside world continues to play an important role in the local economy to this day.

Have you a favourite memory of travelling by car through this area? Did you stay in one of the many motels or roadside resorts which opened across the region during the postwar years? Was there a favourite restaurant or roadside picnic ground at which your family always stopped?

Exhibit curators are looking for photographs, anecdotes, and other information to help bring the stories of these places and spaces to life. To share your stories, please contact Ian McKechnie, project coordinator, at before Jan. 11, 2022.

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