Hurricane Hazel

October 15th, 2016

62 years ago, on Oct. 15, 1954, Hurricane Hazel ripped through southern Ontario, killing 81 people and leaving over 1800 homeless. Most of the casualties were drowned by swelling rivers, as over 8" of rain fell in just 24 hours. At the time, damage was estimated at between twenty-five and a hundred million dollars. That equates to over a billion dollars, by today's standards.

Meteorologists tracked Hazel's path for about ten days, after spotting the storm about 75 miles east of the island of Grenada. It followed the coast of Venezuela and suddenly swung toward Haiti, killing close to a thousand and devastating half the island's crops. With winds of about 240 mph came tidal surges of over 13 feet Hazel battered the Carolinas, flattening the entire town of Garden City in South Carolina. Hazel lashed Washington DC and crashed through Pennsylvania and New York, killing one hundred Americans.

In Toronto, the worst damage came from flooding and mostly around the Humber River. Some thirty residents of Raymore Drive perished as the flood waters tore homes from their foundations, washing them away. Emergency crews were stymied when swells flooded all of the major highways and many resorted to using their personal boats for rescues. After Hazel, the provincial government made changes to the Conservation Authorities Act to regulating vulnerable lands (including the former Raymore Drive). The Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority developed dams, reservoirs, erosion control plans and designated flood plains which would allow rivers to flow naturally during floods, thereby reducing the risk to people and their properties.

Locally, although diminished, Hazel upended trees and ripped through barns. Old-timers still talk about how she made her presence known.

New Mortgage Rules

October 5th, 2016

Liberal Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, has announced changes in mortgage rules. Some of these changes are meant to protect Canadians from taking on bigger mortgages than they will be able to afford if rates rise and some are meant to curtail the number of foreign buyers (many of whom buy, pretend to live in the residence and then flip, skewing all the statistics).

Some believe that these changes have come late, in an era where interest rates have remained extremely low. The federal government suggests that it wants to encourage better lending practices and reduce the potential for defaults.

As of October 17th, lenders will perform a "stress test" when approving high-ration mortgages. Buyers looking at this type of financing will need to qualify for the interest rate on the loan they have selected and also, for the same loan at the Bank of Canada's five-year fixed posted mortgage rate (which is generally higher than what most buyers can negotiate). Buyer will be limited to spending no greater than 39 per cent of income on costs like mortgage payments, property tax and heat (typical home expenses).

Buyers will also have to meet a total debt service ratio (TDS) that does not exceed 44 per cent. TDS includes all other debt payments.

As of November 30th, there will be new restrictions on insurance for low-ratio mortgages. The amortization period must be 25 years or less, the buyer must occupy the property, the purchase price must be below one million dollars and the buyer must enjoy a credit score of 600+. (Up until 2008, CMHC insured high-ratio mortgages for up to 40 years. In 2008 it was reduced to a maximum of 35. In 2011, it was reduced again, to 30 . (Until 2010, the maximum Canadian's could borrow was up to 95% of the value of their home. In 2010 it was reduced to 90% and in 2011 it was reduced to 85% for refinancing. In 2012, the maximum loan limit was set to 80% of the home's value).

In addition, anyone who sells their primary residence will be obligated to report the sale to the Canada Revenue Agency. This is the rule that will affect foreign buyers who have been falsely claiming primary residence exemptions.

Indian Summer

September 20th, 2016

There's been some chat about the phrase "Indian Summer" lately. It seems that any time it's warmish after labour day, people say it is "Indian Summer". Some folks insist that a real "Indian Summer" has to come after the first frost.

A little investigation about the etymology of the term gives me reason to believe that nobody is exactly sure where the phrase originated. There are a lot of different opinions on the subject. In many cases, it has to do with the mist that forms, due to a variation in temperatures. Some hold that when the first European settlers came to this country, they mistook the mist to be that of fires, deliberately set by the native people. Others suggest that native raids frequently took place in the late Autumn and that has something to do with it. Still others will tell you that it has to do with native harvesting.

As I type this blog, I find myself repeatedly using the term "native"... meaning our first nation or aboriginal people. We all know the term Indian was a misnomer...it started when poor old Christopher Columbus who was voyaging to the Orient and got a little confused. But our current "Indian Summer" doesn't correlate with India, either. In India, the hottest point of their summer is in May.

Sigh.

A Busy Market, A Disappearing Summer

September 10th, 2016

While it's nothing like the type of market you find in big cities like Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver... Bancroft, Barry's Bay and surrounding areas have enjoyed a busy market all summer and there is no sign of it letting up.

Prices haven't climbed to the extent you see in big cities, either. There are still good deals to be found. This is a perfect place to find a recreational or retirement property. We have all the amenities that you need and, yet, our prices are still affordable.

It's getting more difficult to find large acreage properties and waterfront property is still very popular- especially four season access. You see, there is still much to enjoy about cottage country apart from the summer season. Hiking is beautiful when the air is a little crisp, the bugs are gone and the leaves begin to change. In winter, cross country skiing, snowmobiling and ice fishing are among the most popular activities.

& all year long, there is something beautiful to behold about cottage country... and the locals are warm and welcoming regardless of the season.

P.S. To Ghost Towns around Bancroft & Barry's Bay

August 28th, 2016

I have received a ton of feedback and email on a blog that I wrote 08/05/09... that blog has had hundreds of thousands and maybe millions of "hits".

Most recently, I got this message from a fellow named John:

"You don' t mention Gooderham or Irondale:: Irondale maybe tiny but it has quite a history of the mines. At one time it was a busy place:
I went to school there from 1943 to 1948 then moved back to Toronto."

I spend a lot of time answering emails from my blogs and today, I thought I would share my response.

Hi John,

I didn't mean my 2009 blog to be totally inclusive of every ghost town in Ontario... but over the years, it's gotten a lot of attention. Like you, many people mention communities that were overlooked in that particular blog and, when I get their messages, I am reminded how important it is that share our history.

The following article from the Toronto Globe & Mail mentions Irondale and some of the other communities that were once going concerns (largely due to the IB & O railway):

Many Fished From Windows Of the Train
Special to The Globe and Mail

Bancroft, March 10, 1960—This is not Bancroft’s year. The Canadian national Railways is closing the 53.7 mile Irondale, Bancroft and Ottawa branch line from York River crossing to Howland Junction at the end of March. This news followed an announcement in January by officials of Canadian Dyno Mines that its property would be closed at the end of June. It is one of the three producers in the Bancroft uranium camp. Both the mine and railway decisions are the results of retrenching economies.

The mine’s closing will tighten the belts and crimp the pocket books of the come-lately mining people. But the end of the railway service touches the hearts of four generations of Haliburton district residents.

Not many old timers are left who recall the building of the IB & O in 1880. Their tales of early days on the Pike, however, and
its subsequent operation are folklore stuff that dim the derring-do of Casey Jones.

What Ontario railway, Haliburtonians ask, has a built-in 10 per cent grade with a two-mile terraced slope? Where else could passengers fish for bass from the colonial-style coach windows in the brawling Burnt River that coils close to the tracks in a dozen places? The counting of deer and moose by train crews is too commonplace to mention.

The east-west I B & O joins a north-south railway extension line at either end: the Howland Junction to Haliburton village line;
the York River to Wallace line. Lumbering and mining produced enough early revenue on the I B & O without extending the line to Ottawa, as the original charter title suggests. During its busiest 60 years the I B & O helped spawn 11 settlements along the line, all with unusual names: Furnace Falls, Irondale, Maxwells, Gooderham, Tory Hill, Ward, Wilberforce, Mumford, Highland Grove, Baptiste and Hughes. The terminal stations at York River and Howland are but small single buildings.

Mines along the line were opened and closed. Lumbering bared the forest and in recent years trucking has eaten in the rail haulage of pulpwood until there is little or no reason for the line being continued. A suggestion in the CNR Trainman News that the line could be used for weekend sightseeing trips is unlikely to be put into practice. The I B & O railway will make its last
trip on March 31.

Gooderham is built along Gooderham Lake, bordered on the south by the Irondale River and Pine Lake to the north, located on a now defunct railway line, the IB&O Railroad, which has been since converted into a trail network. Settled in 1873, its main industry has been logging. Today, M. W. Hunter Lumber Ltd. is the only major sawmill left operating in the County. In the 1950’s Gooderham had 3 General Stores, a Barber Shop/Confectionary Store and Mountain View Lodge. It was also home to the famous Skyline Dance Pavilion, where, on a Saturday night, people came from all over to enjoy dancing to a live band.

Hill is so named because, it is written, when Alexander Niven, Liberal Candidate, came electioneering to the settlement, it did him little good as he received only one vote. In exasperation, he said to John Anderson, “Jack, you get the Post Office you have wanted for a long time and you had better name it Tory Hill!” John was appointed the first postmaster, and subsequently named the village Tory Hill.

Wilberforce was once a much larger town. It was established as "Pusey," a station on the Irondale, Bancroft and Ottawa Railway (IB&O), and named for railway president Charles J. Pusey. This little railway had initially been built to carry iron ore from open pit mines in Irondale. With or without the railroad, Wilberforce was destined to become a settlement and is home to Ontario's first Red Cross Outpost.

0s and 30s Brown's Mill operated in the area, using the IB&O to transport product via Ward's Siding.

Highland Grove was once a thriving community that supported three stores, a cheese factory, a blacksmith shop, two schools and two churches. Beginning in 1890 the IB&O railway served the transportation, supply and communication needs of Highland Grove’s residents and businesses (the hamlet’s first telephone was installed at the railway station). A Post Office first opened in 1897. Elmer Hughey, one of the earlier postmasters explained that Highland Grove was so named because it boasted the highest point of elevation in the County. On one side of a nearby hill, water flows in the direction of Haliburton and on the other toward Bancroft's York River.

Hughes Hughes Mill or Hughes Siding was where logs were processed and shipped via the rail depot once located on Baptiste Lake's south shore. It is currently the location of Baptiste Lake Marina. When the IB & O Railway reached Baptiste Station, the William Hughes Mill opened on the lower basin of the lake, it became the Jennings and Kin Mill in 1914... the Jennings & Bailey Mill in 1914 and in 1921, Whitney Martin joined the firm. Bailey bought out Jennings and Bailey moved to Haliburton to start a mill. Martin and his brother, Garfield purchased the company and formed Martin Brothers Lumber Company, in 1930.

Baptiste
:
William Mulcahey was the first non-aboriginal resident on Baptiste Lake. He owned much of the property that is currently known as the village. His beautiful home is now the main lodge at Birch Cliff Lodge.

By 1900 the IB&O railway had a stop at the shoreline on the south shore of Baptiste Lake, on his property. By 1904, tourists were coming to see the village. Mulcahey built a general store on the hill overlooking the train station. He provided a dining room for loggers, trainmen and travelers and boarding rooms above the store. He built boxcar cabins nearby for overflow guests. He sold the store in 1917, to Hiram and Elizabeth Grant. The Grants, and their daughter Mabel ran the store and post office for years before selling it to Bruce Montgomery in 1984. Bruce and his wife, Roberta, operated Grants Inn until 2001. The store was demolished by the new owners George and Susan Poulton, who constructed a new building in its place.

The first church was built in 1920 on property donated by Mr. Neil Bowen on the hill but it was too large with a very high ceiling and difficult to heat in the winter. The yard was okay for horse and buggy but not suitable for cars. In 1942, St Matthew's was constructed on property donated by Mrs. Hiram Grant. The windows, floors, pulpit and chairs, wainscoting, pulpit railings, box-stove, furnace and bell were taken from the first engine (the Old Mary Anne) to run on the IB & O Railroad.

In 1961, a church hall was added, connected to the main building.

Note:
The lake was originally known to the pioneers as Long Lake and renamed Loon Lake. It was known to the native people at Kaijick Manitou meaning Cedar Spirit). It was renamed in honour of Algonquin Chief Jean Baptiste, who is believed to have been the first permanent resident, arriving from Lake of Two Mountains (near Montreal) in the early 1800s.

Howland Junction

histle stop on the Irondale, Bancroft and Ottawa Railway, this small village also housed a roundhouse to transfer train cars from the main CNR line to the I.B.&O. line.

Howland Junction was a flag stop on the Victoria Railway, the first stop north of Kinmount and originally called Kendricks- so named for an English remittance man (Sterne Kentdrick) who was an early settler along the creek that empties into the Burnt River at this locale.

Here, the Great IB&O met its terminus where it joined the Victoria Railway. Apparently, the remnants of the roundtable can still be found in the woods, near what is left of the old station.

The station burned in 1917 and was replaced with a small waiting room.

Howland Junction never had any stores, churches or schools... but rumour has it that Sterne Kendrick may have buried a hoard of gold somewhere along the creek.

Mumford (Harcourt) also known as Kennaway

Kennaway created its farms out of the piney soil of the Canadian Shield. Surrounded by forest and lakes, the village was relatively isolated in the area, approximately 10 km away from Wilberforce, a larger town to the southeast.

Irondale est. 1870

n was discovered in 1870, Irondale was actually known as Devil's Creek. The community consisted of just a post office and a few residents.

The prospect of iron in the district was attractive to a Toronto lawyer by the name of Short, who opened the Victoria Iron Mine in 1875. He ran out of money in short order, pardon the pun.

In 1878, a second Toronto investor, M Miles, an Irishman, too over. He formed the Snowdon Iron Mine Company, building six and three-quarter miles of single track which ran from Howland (north of Kinmount) to Irondale, on the south shore of the Burnt River. He spent $60,000 and was able to ship several cars of ore before he went bankrupt.

Chicago business men, Parry & Mills spent $200,000 on a smelting furnace in what is now known as "Furnace Falls" and sold it to Charles Pusey before it burned down.

Irondale, may be considered a ghost town by some today, but was once the site of a large iron-mining operation and the focus of various roads and railroads. Charles Pusey built the Irondale Church ( in 1887 or 1889 depending on which account you read) for his wife, at 1019 Elm Rd, just off Salerno Lake Rd . In 1901 it was donated to the community by railway president Charles Pusey. It was sold to the St John's Anglican diocese for $50 in 1901.

Henry Stark Howland was an American who arrived in Canada around 1840. He was a founding director of Canadian Bank of Commerce then 1875 first president of Imperial Bank of Commerce —ironic twist, both banks later merged as the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in 1960. Henry partnered with Charles Pusey on some mining sites and the railroad promotion and construction.

I like this little news piece:

HAND CAR BEAT TRAIN BY HOURS TO STATION Impatient Passenger Preferred Travel By Man-Power
Toronto Star Tuesday, April 16, 1935—

The Irondale, Bancroft and Ottawa railway, which runs from here through Haliburton county to Bancroft, met with the crowning indignity of its career on a recent trip. West of Howland Junction a coach jumped the track and was put back on with the aid of passengers.

Reaching Tory Hill,the engine developed a bad cough and finally a cylinder gave out. The drew started to coax it on. This was too much for one passenger. He sighted an assistant road foreman on his hand-car a short distance up the track and reportedly jumped from the train and hopped on the car. The train was five hours later; the hand-car arrived two hours earlier.