Machar Township, 1900-1950 From Ragnarokr
Machar Township: The boom fades.
The twenty years between 1880 and 1900 were boom years for Machar Township. Settlers arrived from the south just as the timber companies arrived from the north. Construction began on the Grand Truck Railway in 1883 and by 1886 the railroad had reached the future site of the village of South River. The economic focus of the area quickly shifted from the colonization roads to the railroad. Log drives on the South River became obsolete. By 1900 the old growth white pine had been cut and the large lumber companies left the area. Also, by then, many of the settlers had returned to southern Ontario or gone to western Canada seeking better land. The farmers who remained adjusted their operations to the soil and climate of the region. After 1903 the Grand Truck Railroad was extended to western Canada but a competing railway laid from Washago (just south of Severn Bridge) to Sudbury siphoned off much of the traffic that was previously routed through South River. Sawmills, the most important of which was a large mill in the village of South River, replaced the timber companies. Despite the jobs created by sawmills and a steadily growing tourist trade, the township fell into a decline from which it has never recovered.
Machar Township: The farm economy
The majority of the population of Machar Township lived in the village of South River and worked in the large sawmill there. Most of the rural inhabitants were subsistence farmers who raised a variety of crops on 100 or 200-acre lots. They supplemented their farm income with industrial work when they could find it. Most kept cattle, pigs, chickens and sometimes sheep. Their staple foods were porridge, turnips, potatoes, salted pork, beef, beans, molasses or corn syrup, tea and pastries. They supplemented their diets with venison, wild berries and garden produce.
The farmers planted hay grass in their lower lying, wettest fields and harvested crops of hay two or three times during the summer. The hay was field dried, stored in the upper floor of large barns built near the farmhouse and used for animal fodder. Oats were planted in drier fields and used for the family table and for animal rations. The oat straw was used as animal bedding and as stuffing for the straw ticks that sufficed for mattresses. The climate was too cold for field corn but corn was grown in the garden for roasting ears along with a variety of other vegetables. Turnips, beets, oats, cabbage and potatoes were about the only field crops that were not susceptible to damage by early frosts. Farmers living on Bunker Hill, Cole’s Hill and the Uplands community were less likely to feel the effects of early and late frosts and they planted orchards of apples, plums, butternuts and grapes. Wild berries such as blue berries, raspberries, ground blackberries and chokecherries were harvested in season and kept for home use or sold to a local buyer for shipment to North Bay or Toronto.
A minority of farmers sold potatoes, strawberries, milk, cream, maple syrup or some other product in commercial quantities. In the 1940s, the Machar Potato Club sponsored field competitions to encourage potato cultivation and until the mid-1970s several farmers specialized in growing potatoes. Between 1920 and 1950 Alex Bow and his son sold thousands of quarts of fresh strawberries annually from their farm in the Uplands Community. Other men sold strawberries in the village of South River and, in the 1970s, a community of Seventh Day Adventists sold strawberries and tomatoes from their farm north of Bunker Hill. For many years there was a stockyard in South River or Sundridge where animals were bought and sold. The winters were too long to make beef cattle profitable but a few farmers had small dairy herds and most farmers kept a few milk cows. Steers and any milk cows that failed to produce calves were sold. In the early 1920s farmers from Machar Township drove their surplus animals down the Muskoka Road to cattle pens near the railroad station in Sundridge. There a broker sold the cattle to Dominion Packers in Toronto. In later years the stockyard was relocated to South River. By 1900 South River had a resident butcher who had a slaughterhouse a mile west of the village on Spiessman’s Hill. He and the butcher from Sundridge purchased cattle and pigs from local farms for cash and sold the meat locally. Farmers in rural Machar Township slaughtered their own cattle and sold or bartered the meat to their neighbours and relatives. In the 1920s and 1930s Art Edwards, who had worked as a butcher in the lumber camps, sold mutton to cottagers from his farm on Edward’s Hill in the Uplands community. By the 1970s farmers were carrying their livestock to a licensed slaughterhouse in Powasson.
Many farmers sold milk and cream to their neighbours when they could find a buyer. In 1910 an enterprising dairy farmer left Machar Township and walked with his herd fifty miles to North Bay where he started the Maple Leaf Dairy. During the 1930s and 1940s dairymen carried their cream cans to the railroad platform in South River where the cans were picked up and sold in Toronto or North Bay. The farmers fed the skimmed milk to pigs until in the 1930s the Blue Ribbon Dairy opened in Sundridge and farmers from the whole region were able to sell bulk milk there. Beginning in 1932 Harve Pinkerton Sr., a teamster for the W.G. Tough sawmill, began selling quart bottles of his own brand of milk door-to-door in and around South River. He carried his milk to Sundridge to be pasteurized until in 1955 he opened Johnson’s Dairy on Highway 11 near South River. After the Ontario Milk Marketing Board began regulating the sale of milk, dairying provided a reliable income and there were several diary farms in the township between 1950 and 1980.
The stone ridges of Machar Township provide an excellent environment for the rock- or sugar-maple tree. The early settlers brought maple sugar-making equipment with them and almost every rural household tapped a few trees for their own use. Local farmers were tapping as many as 500 trees as early as 1925 and in the 1970s several producers were making syrup from between 1,000 and 1,400 taps each. A history of Machar Township that was published by the Township in 2000 listed 13 local farmers as having had commercial sugar bushes over the years. Much of the syrup was retailed to the same customers in southern Ontario year after year and the surplus sold to wholesalers. The maple syrup season occupies only a few months of the year and no one in Machar Township relies on maple syrup for a major portion of his income. Preparations for making the syrup usually begin in February and clean-up is finished by the end of May. The intensive part of the sugaring off season lasts from the first thaw in March until the deep snow has melted six or eight weeks later. During the short sugaring season sap flows intermittently only on warm days following cold nights and there may be no sap to gather and boil for days on end.
A similar seasonal activity that brings some income to Machar farmers is the annual deer hunt. The white-tail deer that inhabit Ontario are giants of their race and they were often plentiful in Machar and the surrounding townships. As early as 1920 local men built and maintained hunt camps to accommodate hunters from southern Ontario. Some of the camps are located on land west or east of the township that is leased for this purpose. Other local men served as hunting guides or hosted groups of hunters in their homes or in bunkhouses nearby. The deer season lasts for only a few weeks in November and the hunt camps are often booked years in advance by hunt clubs in southern Ontario. Often friends and relatives from southern Ontario use the occasion of the deer hunt to visit local families and join the men of the household to form a hunting party.
Machar Township: The non-farm economy
When the first settlers arrived there were no roads in the township. The settlers had to make them. The surveyor had clearly marked road allowances and, since the settlers fully expected that the township would one day be densely populated, they carefully avoided cutting roads through the surveyed lots. The settlers cut their trails to follow the road allowances even though the road allowances had been laid out in a grid pattern without regard for the township’s topography. In the pioneer days this was not a problem because most travel was on foot and the township roads were nothing more than paths through the woods. Little effort was made to avoid steep hills. On the other hand, the colonization roads were built by the government and were designed to handle vehicular traffic. These roads skirted extensive marshes and steep inclines but even they were impassable to wheeled vehicles for several years. The first, and for many years the most reliable vehicles, were sleighs. A few years after the Muskoka Road was put through carriages and wagons appeared but for many years wheeled vehicles were useful only during the six months between June and December. By June the mud was usually firm enough to support wagon wheels and in December the first heavy snowfall closed the roads to wheeled traffic.
The problem of road building occupied the township authorities from the very beginning. The Provincial government hired local men to work on the colonization roads and before 1900 pairs of men called Pathmasters were appointed to supervise road maintenance in their communities. In Machar Township, there were Pathmasters in the communities of Mandeville, Midford, Stewart Bay and Hamilton Lake. By 1910 road maintenance and construction began to be contracted out by the township government. In that year, George Smyth was paid one hundred dollars to clear and make a road that ran west of Eagle Lake from what is now Eagle Lake Road to the Boundary Road with Strong Township. Before 1938 the Township hired a road superintendent and a crew of men to maintain the roads. By then much of the road system constructed prior to 1900 had been abandoned because the road was either not suited for cars and trucks or the inhabitants had moved elsewhere. The remaining township roads consisted of straight sections that followed the road allowances and a few newer roads that cut across lot lines to avoid steep inclines, rock outcroppings and swamps. (insert link to file 6.3, “Machar Township roads, 1900”)
Post offices were appointed in nine locations in and around the township and this provided a small but steady income for a few families. After the railroad arrived the mail come to the post office in South River by train and was delivered to the rural post offices on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The rural post offices were located in either a storefront or a private residence. The first post office was at Peter Shaughnessy’s store in the Uplands Community at the corner of the Muskoka Road and the path to South River. Around the turn of the century there were six post offices in the township scattered about four or six miles part. Sometime before 1936 the rural post offices were closed. Thereafter a mail carrier picked up the mail at the Post Office in South River and delivered the mail directly to each farmer’s mailbox on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The first school in the township was built in 1878. Five others were built in 1893 and 1894. In 1902 a seventh school was opened. In 1900 there were 32 students in the rural schools and 159 attending school in the Village of South River. The Township paid for the construction and maintenance of these schools. Each school consisted of one classroom with a wood burning stove for heat and a separate outhouse. These were originally log structures. The schools each enrolled between two and twenty students from grade one to eight and employed one teacher. The curriculum consisted of reading, writing, arithmetic and the geography of Ontario. When the students reached the age of 13 most stopped attending school. Only a few students continued beyond grade eight. Students wishing to continue their education had to leave the Township and attend a boarding school. The parents of the students stocked the school with firewood and each school was watched over by a group of trustees organized into a school board. The school board paid the teachers a small salary and the teachers, almost always single women, usually boarded with a family nearby. Beginning in 1920 these rural one-room schools were closed as the number of students declined. The Mandeville School closed in the 1920s when only one student enrolled for the coming year. The Uplands School closed in the late 1930s. In the 1950s the four remaining rural schools were closed and the students were bused to a consolidated school in the Village of South River. In 1961 the remaining rural school buildings were sold to private buyers.
The number of farmers who were able to live from the proceeds of their farming operation or who were lucky enough to have a source of income from the Township, the Post Office or the schools was relatively small. Most farmers in Machar Township supplemented their incomes by working in some aspect of the sawmill industry.
The logging camps run by the J.R.Booth Company were designed to operate in wilderness areas and were practically self-sufficient. There is little evidence that the men working for the timber companies were also settlers in the township. However there was frequent contact between the settlers and the logging camps. The settlers sold eggs, butter and milk to the camps and they carried cut logs to the company sawmills to be milled into planks for their cabins. Conflicts arose between the settlers and the timber company because the white pine timber had been reserved by the Crown and sold to the Company. The timber company had the concession to cut all of the white pine but the terms of the land grants allowed the settlers to cut enough timber to construct a homestead. This confusing situation resulted in disputes over who owned what logs. Representatives of the J.R. Booth Company attempted to, and sometimes did, seize logs cut by the settlers. In 1876 the Company confiscated 440 of 500 logs cut by a settler in Machar Township. He had tried to barter some of the logs to the Company sawmill in exchange for cutting the remainder into dimensional lumber. On another occasion company men stamped the company mark on logs cut by another settler but the settler responded by sawing the marks off and standing guard over the logs. Before 1900 the timber companies had left the area and the existing sawmills were sold to their operators.
For the next three generations sawmills provided work for the people of Machar Township. Unlike the timber companies, sawmills cut the timber into dimensional lumber at mills in the township and then shipped the lumber on the railroad to markets in eastern North America. The mills hired local farmers and their teams to work at the logging camps during the winter months. A much smaller number of men worked throughout the summer milling the logs harvested during the previous winter. The logging operations of the sawmills were organized similarly to those of the timber companies with the men housed and feed by the company. Working men, skilled and unskilled alike, moved in and out of the area to work in these sawmills. Some settled in the township. Gradually an economy was built around seasonal work in the woods during the winter and farming during the summer. For the next fifty years this work cycle was characteristic of life in Machar Township.
In 1876 the JR Booth Company installed Shannon’s Sawmill at the Eagle Lake Narrows and in 1880 Dundar’s Mill at Sundridge, possibly to service the needs of the incoming settlers. However the focus of the company was the export of whole logs to Europe. In 1885 the company continued to make improvements to the South River to facilitate the floating of whole logs to the Ottawa River. In 1884 William Erb installed a sawmill near where the village of South River is today. Two years later the Grand Trunk Railroad was built just west of the river. For the first time, it was practical to ship milled lumber to markets in southern Ontario and beyond. In 1887 a new company called the South River Mercantile Company built a larger steam-driven mill above the existing dam. This mill manufactured railway ties, pit props, beams and fence posts with a crew of 100 men. The mill burned in 1900 and was replaced in 1901 by the South River Lumber Company.
The rebuilt mill operated 24 hours a day. In 1901 it produced 10 million board feet of lumber. In later years its capacity was increased to 125,000 board feet a day. A separate lath mill made 50,000 pine laths a day for use as backing for plaster walls and ceilings. A steam-driven generator provided lighting and a company store was built on Ottawa Avenue. A dummy or logging railroad was built to the east of the river and the company maintained logging camps near Algonquin Park. The company built housing for its mill workers in the area west of the South River, which, in 1907, was incorporated as the Village of South River. In 1904 the South River Lumber Company and the Turner Lumber Company merged to become Standard Chemical. Standard Chemical was the most important of the lumbering and logging operations in the township for many years. It continued to operate the logging railroad and the lumber camps east of South River and later operated a camp in the area of Hamilton Lake.
As the supply of mill quality logs declined, Standard Chemical shifted its emphasis to industrial chemicals. A chemical plant was built to manufacture charcoal briquettes, wood alcohol and acetate of lime. The chemical plant used cordwood as its feedstock. Standard Chemical purchased hundreds of acres of poor quality land from disgruntled settlers in the 1920s and 1930s and contractors were employed to cut the cordwood growing on the company’s lots and haul it to the nearest road. Standard Chemical also purchased cordwood from landowners and employed a large proportion of the workers living in the Village of South River. It rented housing to its workers and built gravel roads east of the township to access its timber concessions. It also maintained a winter road across Tyerman's Marsh following the Old South River Road to access its bush lots in that direction. Standard Chemical gradually declined as a result of changes in the chemical industry. In the 1950s an international corporation purchased its parent company and most of its activities were moved away from South River. In the 1960s the only remaining product made at South River was pressed charcoal briquettes. By 1970 the South River charcoal plant had closed leaving a single caretaker to watch over the abandoned buildings containing the charcoal press.
Although Standard Chemical dominated the sawmill business east of South River, the western part of the township was home to numerous smaller sawmills. These mills were portable and were moved when the lumber within about a five miles radius had been cut. The sawmills were all driven by wood-fired steam boilers and almost inevitable burned down. An early planing mill was located west of the village behind the old agricultural fair grounds. It later manufactured windows, doors and coffins. It burned in 1907. Charles Robb had a sawmill where the Eagle Lake Golf Club is today. The mill was sold and moved prior to 1910. The piles of sawdust from the mill were burned in the 1930s. The mill operation left the East Bay of Eagle Lake in front of the mill full of stumps, treetops, culled logs and sawdust. In the 1930s, Art Edwards, who farmed the hilltop west of the Uplands School, cleared the beach along the shoreline and put in sand to make a bathing spot.
Another early timber man, Charlie Quirt, lost his sawmill to a fire in 1912 and purchased a mill belonging to a son of Charles Robb. This mill employed six men and a cook and had a bunkhouse where the crew lived. In 1914 Charlie Quirt sold this mill to G.C. Anderson. His brother, Harvey Quirt, stayed in the business and moved his mill to four locations within Machar Township over the next thirty years. After G.C. Anderson closed the mill on Eagle Lake, the bunkhouse was left standing and was used as a dance hall for a number of years. James Joy operated sawmills around Bray Lake during the 1920s and 1930s. He originally installed his mill on the west side of Bray Lake in 1916. This mill burned in 1919. His second mill was located near the first and it burned in 1921. This third mill was on the north end of the lake and burned in 1935. His mills employed about 30 men. Three different mills were located on the shores of Hamilton Lake. The first operated from 1890 until 1908. The last mill burned in 1947.
W.G. Tough owned four sawmills in four locations between 1925 and 1950. Three of the mills were in Machar Township. The last was located on Deer Lake in Lount Township and operated from about 1930 to 1950. Tough’s mills employed about twenty men and a cook. Between 1890 and 1970 some thirty sawmills operated in Machar Township, not including several two or three one-man operations.
Machar Township: The lumber economy
The work of the lumber companies was seasonal. Woods work was done during the winter and saw-milling was done during the summer. Extra men were hired in the fall to harvest the timber while snow was on the ground while a smaller number of permanent employees worked in the yard and in the sawmill processing the logs into sown lumber during the summer. Milling commenced as soon as the logs thawed in the spring and continued until around Christmas or until the supply of logs was exhausted. During the summer the sawmills employed from as few as two or three to as many as 100 men depending upon the size of the mill and the finished product being made. Each mill had a crew of semi-skilled yard workers who delivered the saw logs to the head saw. There a sawyer, operating a circular saw, cut the log into boards of whatever dimensions the market and log called for. The boards then passed to a trim saw that cut the boards into standard lengths. After leaving the trim saw the boards were graded and stacked. The stacked lumber was air dried and, in some mills, passed through a planer. A few mills further processed the lumber into doors and windows. Most mills custom-cut to the customer’s order whenever possible.
The men working in the sawmills were more likely to be full-time employees than the woods workers, some of whom were local farmers. The sawmill workers were members of the industrial working class and were often highly skilled in their trade. The mills were powered by steam machinery and employed one or two firemen to operate and maintain the boiler. The sawyer, the trimmer and the slab saw operators often maintained their own blades and sharpened their saws at the noon hour and before beginning work in the morning. The mills frequently employed a blacksmith and a millwright. A teamster kept the mules or horses in working condition and maintained the rigging used to haul the logs from the woods to the sawmill.
With the return of cold weather in the fall, and especially after the lakes and swamps were frozen over after Christmas, the woods work commenced. The work of harvesting the timber was greatly facilitated by the cold weather because the frozen swamps and lakes were used as roadways. The winter roads made by the logging companies are sometimes called swamp roads. These roads were used only during the winter months and, unlike the township roads, cut across property lines. Winter roads avoided hills and followed gentle inclines, lakes and swamps. They were designed for heavily-loaded sleighs pulled by teams of horses. Some of the winter roads were used to deliver lumber to the railroad station at South River. As early as 1894 a lumbering road was built as a shortcut in the Mandeville community. By 1900 there was a winter road from Rat Lake in the Stewart Bay community to the village of South River. In the 1930s a winter road ran from the south end of Deer Lake in Lount Township to East Bay on Eagle Lake and then through the woods to South River. This road crossed Eagle Lake south of the Narrows, left East Bay at lot 27, concession 4 and proceeded through lot 20, concession 3 to the 4th Concession Road and then on to South River. The public used these roads as well as the logging companies but the loggers maintained them. Winter roads were also built to access standing timber. The same roads were used year after year and many of the logging roads in use today were at one time cut as winter roads. After the roadway was cleared of standing trees the snow was packed down. Water was poured on the ruts to make it easier to pull the heavy sleighs. The men who iced the road worked from a tanker mounted on skids and pulled by a team of horses. Downhill slopes were sanded to prevent the logging sleighs from getting out of control. Workers called “beavers” (and supervised by a “buck beaver”) cut the road, “icers” put water on the ruts, “sandpipers” spread sand on the downhill slopes and “chickadees” kept the road clean by removing horse droppings and trash.
Crews of lumberjacks cut and hauled the logs out of the woods and to the roads. A chopper first found and marked the trees to be cut. Next a pair of sawyers felled the tree and cut it into lengths. Trail cutters limbed the logs and cleared a trail for the skidders. Teamsters skidded the logs to a place along the skid way called the cross-haul. At the cross-haul pairs of men called rollers used cant hooks to move the logs out of the skid way. The logs were then skidded to the road where they were loaded onto logging sleighs using a decking line or a jammer. The sleighs were pulled along the ice roads to the sawmill or to a body of water. These logging sleighs were from eight to fourteen feet long depending upon the condition of the road.
In the late 1930s many sawmills began using gasoline-powered trucks and motors although wood-fired steam boilers continued to power the sawmill until relatively recent times. The use of gasoline motors changed the logging operations and increased their efficiency. The mills no longer had to be moved every few years. In the 1940s trucks replaced teams of horses and it became practical to haul logs from 40 or 50 miles away. The Township had gradually rerouted the township roads to avoid especially steep hills and improved their surfaces. Winter roads continue to be used to access areas where no gravel road existed but their importance declined. Since the 1940s the Township regularly ploughs snow from the main roads and wheeled vehicles can be used even during the winter. (insert link to file 6.4, “Machar Township road 1930)
Machar Township: Woods work
The first cars in the township appeared around 1914. Prior to 1920 an automobile repair shop and two gasoline pumps were installed at a blacksmith’s shop in South River. By 1920 the blacksmith had become a Ford dealer and in 1928 he erected a larger repair shop for automobiles. Until the 1940s, the usefulness of cars and trucks was severely limited by the poor road conditions. Until the 1940s most local families used a team and a wagon for the muddy season in the spring, a team and a sleigh during the winter and a car in the summer. The poor roads isolated the farms and made it unlikely that travelers would venture into the rural parts of the township. The road from Highway 11 to Eagle Lake was over Bunker Hill and in the summer many cars had to be put in reverse to climb the steep lower part of the hill. In the winter it was impossible to get up the hill in an automobile. Travelers in the winter months parked their cars at one of the farms at Bunker Hill and continued to the lake on skis or snowshoes. As the roads were gradually improved so did the number of visitors to Eagle Lake.
In 1875 the surveyor wrote that Eagle Lake was a “very beautiful sheet of water surrounded by high hardwood land”. The lake quickly attracted the interests of travelers and tourists. In 1916 the owner of the South River Mercantile Company was the first to build a summer home on Eagle Lake. By 1920 parties of hunters were arriving in the township by train to hunt deer. Local families provided accommodation and acted as guides. In 1922 Henry Minor and a partner built a lodge on the south end of the lake to accommodate hunters and tourists. This lodge still exists and is until recently called the Hockey Opportunity Camp. In 1924 the engineer who operated the hydroelectric plant at South River before the War purchased the peninsula now called McLean’s Point and built a summer home there. Within the next two years, three other cottages were built on the lake and larger numbers of city residents were visiting the lake to bathe and fish. In the 1920s a group of local men organized an association called the Cottager’s Syndicate and purchased property on which to build weekend cottages. This property later became the Rainbow Bay Resort. In 1932 the Robb farm on the shores of East Bay was subdivided for cottages and 1938 Art Edward’s had his lakeshore surveyed into lots with each having 75 feet of lakeshore frontage.
Farmers with lakefront property gradually either sold out or subdivided and sold lots along the lakeshore. Existing farmhouses near the lake were sold and converted into summer homes. Sometimes local men built cottages and sold them but more often cottagers purchased lots from a developer and either built the cottages themselves or contracted the work to local carpenters. Often the cottage began as a simple lean-to or a tent. Each year the cottager made improvements until he had a cabin and eventually a house. After the Second World War the number of cottages increased rapidly and by the 1950s dozens of cottages lined the lake. Many of the cottages were built on the eastern shore of the lake to take advantage of the prevailing winds and the magnificent sunsets visible across the lake. Local families sometimes own a cottage on the lake but most of the owners are from southern Ontario. Most of the cottages are occupied from June until August every year and then visited occasionally on holidays until Christmas. In recent years some of the cottages have been converted into year-round residences, especially on the southern end of the lake.
Local farmers worked as carpenters and caretakers for the cottagers and sold them firewood and other supplies. Before electricity came to the lake, Henry Erven delivered lake ice three times a week for use in iceboxes. Milk, meat and produce were also available from the surrounding farms. In the 1950s milk was delivered every other day by Johnson’s Dairy and two South River merchants sent out a catering wagon three days a week with supplies and food. Taxis from South River provided rides and carried messages to and from the train station.
Before 1950 the poor condition of the roads made a trip to Eagle Lake an event to remember. Traffic on Highway 11 north of Lake Simcoe always backed up on summer weekends as tourists fled Toronto for their cabins in Muskoka and Parry Sound. Until the 1930s the road to the Eagle Lake was over Bunker Hill whose steep eastern slope stalled many passenger cars. There was no bridge across the Narrows at Eagle Lake until 1915. A raft ferried pedestrians and horses waded across. A wooden bridge replaced the raft in 1915. In the 1950s the bridge was damaged when a steam-driven thrashing machine broke a support beam and fell through. The old bridge was replaced with a two-lane bridge. People going to cottages on East Bay turned south at Park’s Corners onto the old Muskoka Colonization Road. They parked their cars at the Art Edwards’ farm at the western end of the 2nd Concession Road and walked down the hill to their cottages on the lake. In the 1930s Art Edwards and Henry Erven built a road along the eastern shore of Eagle Lake to move farm machinery between their farms and around 1938 the township agreed to improve this road and extend it to connect to the Eagle Lake Road. This road is now called East Bay Road. Sometime after 1940 the road to Eagle Lake was rerouted to bypass the steep hill at Bunker Hill. In the middle 1950s the Province of Ontario opened the Mikisew Provincial Park on the west side of Eagle Lake and the Eagle Lake Road was improved and paved from Highway 11 to the park’s entrance. In the summer of 1951 Ontario Hydro extended the electrical grid to the lake. With the roads improved and electricity extended to the lake, the number of cottages increased yearly and the tourist trade became an important factor in the Township’s economy.