Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Sturgeon Point Fish and Hunting

While looking for something completely different, I came across this 1889 book entitled Guide to the fishing and hunting resorts in the vicinity of the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada: containing particulars of fish, game, hotels, livery and general facilities.  I could not resist seeing what they had to say about the Sturgeon Point Hotel.

Courtesy of the Hopkins Family

On pages 13 and 14, under Bobcaygeon, Hunting, it was noted:
The noted summer resort. Sturgeon Point, is on the route of the T. V. N. Co's steamers, which call every trip between Lindsay and Bobcaygeon both ways…
(T.V.N. Co. - Trent Valley Navigation Company)

On page 35 under Lindsay:
Hotels Benson House, $1.50, Congress Hall, Veitch House, Royal, $1 p. d. ; livery—single horse $2, team $4 p. d.
Fishing — Scugog R., Sturgeon L. 8 m. ; bass, Mg. ; the former most plentiful ; best months—June and July ; bait—spoon ; guides can be had at Sturgeon Point Hotel at $1 p. d. ; boats can be obtained at 50c. p.h.

and on page 55 was: 
Sturgeon Point, Co. Victoria (reached via Trent Valley Navigation Co.,from Lindsay).— Sturgeon Point Hotel, $2 p.d. ; livery, $3 p. d.
Fishing.—Sturgeon L., Goose L. and Scugag R. ; Mg. and bass, principally Mg. ; best months—July to Sept. ; bait – frogs, crawfish, &c., for still fishing ; no guides necessary ; boats 25c. p. h.

I love the fact that it cost a $1 to stay in Lindsay but $2 at Sturgeon Point.  I also love that according to the Lindsay listing boats at the Point were 50c per hour but the Point listing says they are only 25c. 

Courtesy of the Brown Family

Monday, 27 February 2012

Eric Jordan, Co-producer of the Oscar Nominated Film "In Darkness"

We are sorry to announce that Eric Jordan's film did not win the Oscar last night.  A large portion of Sturgeon Point was able to get into Lindsay last week for the private screening of In Darkness and the reviews fell firmly on the side of incredibly impressed. We would like to congratulate him on the nomination and hope that getting to walk the Red Carpet was a great time.

Courtesy of Reuters Pictures, 23 Feb 2012
Producer Eric Jordan, nominated for an Academy Award for "In Darkness," speaks during a reception to celebrate the Canadian Oscar nominees in Beverly Hills, California, February 23, 2012.

The following article by Catherine Whitnall appeared in the Thursday, February 23, 2012 edition of Kawartha Lakes This Week.

Eric Jordan hopes for Academy Award nod
Career launched at IBM sees area resident co-produce Oscar-nominated foreign film
Local co-produces Oscar nominated film. Sturgeon Point resident Eric Jordan looks forward to hearing what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has to say on Feb. 26 about the film he co-produced. In Darkness has been nominated for a Best Foreign Language Oscar. Catherine Whitnall

(FENELON FALLS) Film making may seem just as far removed from philosophy as Hollywood is to the City of Kawartha Lakes, but for one Fenelon Falls-area resident, it’s much closer than one would think.

On Sunday (Feb. 26) while others are watching Academy Award winners take the podium, Eric Jordan will be awaiting word on his co-production, In Darkness, which is up for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Based on a true story, In Darkness is set in Nazi-occupied Poland and tells the tale of sewer worker and part-time thief Leopold Socha, who agrees to hide a group of Jewish men, women and children in the sewers; for a price.

Mr. Jordan’s own ‘tale’ begins in Toronto where he was headed to university to study philosophy, but instead took a position in IBM’s communications department.

Although he had shot some Super 8 films in his senior year at high school, it wasn’t until the company’s still photographer invited him to help out on a film project that his current career took shape.

“That’s where it started,” said Mr. Jordan who recruited Paul Stephens, his best friend since Grade 1 who had gone on to study film, to assist with other IBM projects.
Shortly after inheriting money from his grandfather, Mr. Jordan partnered with Mr. Stephens to launch The Film Works; their first big project being The Maple Leaf Forever in 1975.

Since then, the two men have created award-winning films including Beowulf & Grendel, Such A Long Journey and The Planet of Junior Brown, as well as the television mini-series, The Arrow and the TV movie Where The Spirit Lives; inspired by the company’s work Spirit Bay, the first North American television series with an all native cast, that was broadcast on networks around the world.

“Paul and I have always like the good stories,” said Mr. Jordan of what drives his passion for film.   “We love the business. We love the storytelling.”

That’s the easy part.

Gathering all the other pieces isn’t always so.

Toronto writer David F. Shamoon actually brought the script for In Darkness to Film Works in 2002. It took four years to “get going” said Mr. Jordan, explaining many factors had to be dealt with; from securing funding and finding a director to fleshing out the story and scouting locations for filming.

At one point, a significant portion of funding was lost.

Further delays were created when acclaimed writer-director Agnieszka Holland - who co-produced Julie Walking Home with Film Works - pushed to have the film presented in the original languages, Polish, German, Yiddish and Ukrainian. Polish and German producers were brought on board in 2007, and the film was finally shot in Poland and Germany - partly at full scale reproduction of a period sewer system on a sound stage - in 2010.

“There were days when we didn’t think it would get done at all,” said Mr. Jordan. “But Agnieszka had a vision to do it as realistically as possible. She wanted it to be authentic.”
Despite creating a challenge, Mr. Jordan agrees it was necessary to be true to the piece.

“The story isn’t sugar-coated,” he said, noting Ms Holland brings with her a unique view point having been born into a Jewish-Catholic family in 1948. “So she grew up with it all. She knew it [film] had to be a story about real people. That’s what makes the story so interesting - the complexity of the Polish worker and the Jews themselves...It has the traditional paradigm of an individual who is turned into a hero set against the backdrop of millions [of people] being slaughtered.”

The film was also shot in digital high definition, pushing the technology “to its limits” in order to create a very dark feel, both literally and figuratively.

Considering all the effort which has gone into developing the film, the Oscar nod is extremely gratifying and validating for Mr. Jordan.

“It was a very difficult film to make, so I’m very proud of the nomination,” he said.

Success, he advises, comes down to one thing. Persistence.

”It’s just a question of if you want to do something badly enough. You have to commit. It hasn’t always been easy. I’ve had to take financial and personal risks,” said Mr. Jordan who advises anyone interested in a career in film, regardless whether it’s in front of or behind the camera, to enrol in a post-secondary program. “After all, if you can’t commit to that, then you’re not likely going to make it.”

He also recommends volunteering on productions which not only provides invaluable hands-on experience but also helps develop the all important work ethic.

“If you have a vision, ideally, you have to give yourself time to go at it and see if you have what it takes,” continued Mr. Jordan. “It’s a tough business. You can’t give up. And don’t forget, there are always options. It’s about finding your niche.”

In a sidebar, Ms Whitnall wrote:
Mr. Jordan is currently working on the feature documentary, Fly Colt Fly; the story of teenaged ‘barefoot burglar’ Colton Harris-Moore, who had never even been in a plane before he hot-wired a Cessna and flew more than 600 kilometres before crashing in a field and vanishing into the wilderness.

Directed by the Adam and Andrew Gray, the film is a creative point-of-view look at Colton’s life, using brilliant animation and dramatic recreation in this ground-breaking documentary.
Distributed in Canada by Maple Pictures, the film has been sold to Movie Central and The Movie Network and will be completed later this year.

He also has co-productions with India and Israel in the works and is glad that technology has advanced to the point where he can work from the Sturgeon Lake view home he shares with wife, and Cambray native, Faye.

Producer Eric Jordan, nominated for an Academy Award for "In Darkness," speaks during a reception to celebrate the Canadian Oscar nominees in Beverly Hills, California, February 23, 2012.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

And a few more swimming pictures...

I was asked for a few more boating pictures...  The first group come from the Brown family and were all taken before 1910.

Joseph Brown driving one of his steam launches

The Admiral on Sturgeon Lake
R1 loaded to the gunnel...

The R1

Also taken during the Great War and come from the photo album of Charles D. Barr.


Ethel Roper Barr with daughters Margaret and Bette at the oars, 1915


Charles Barr, age 14, 1915
Note underneath reads: "myself in canoe St.Pt. '15"
 Then there was a wonderful picture of Charles Barr and his friends canoeing in 1915...

but the image made no sense as they are clearly in front of the Upper Warf looking towards Chivas.  However if you mirror the image... suddenly everyone is heading the correct direction.  The only challenge remaining is the identification of the two story boat house as being Chivas, as it should be where the first brown boat house is (centre).  The two story boat house should be the one then belonging to Lloyd Woods (Lots 12& 13 Lake Avenue).

The next two pictures were take in the 1920s by the Mulligan family from Treetops on Lake Avenue.

Note:  The Morgan's boat house was in the background.


Hope you enjoyed these.  Many thanks to those who shared.

Dreaming of Swimming...

I am not sure why February makes me long for swimming but with finally getting some snow up here my brain is thinking that a lovely warm blue lake is where I would really like to spend the day.  So here are some lake pictures...

The Needler-Robinson family in August 1918 and watching from shore was aunt Sara Helena Needler

In the 1920s, Mary Maud Needler Robinson and a friend swam off their dock at the bottom of 3rd Street.

In the 1940s the kids were all having a great time.
Liz, John and Dawn were joined by friends in the summer of 1947 at the Upper Warf.

In 1948, they were relaxing and listening to records on the Hopkins dock.

In 1949, the little kids were all swimming at the bottom of 3rd Street.

By 1951, the girls were all swimming at the public dock...

and in 1955, the boys were messing about with motor boats...
Later in the 1950s...
By the late-1970s...
and into the 1980s...
and on the dock at Culzean in 1987...

and in 1991 at the Public Dock with the canoes...

and on a very warm Victoria Day Weekend in 2010

Our Canada Day display this year will focus on Sturgeon Point on the water.  Please send us your pictures.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

175th Anniversary of Anne Langton's Arrival on Sturgeon Lake!

The Sturgeon Point History Project is pleased to support and promote the activities of the historical orangizations around Sturgeon Lake.  This press release was issued by the Fenelon Falls Museum on 24 Feb 2012.

Anne Langton, self-portrait, c.1833
Archives of Ontario - Ref No. F1077-1-0-2

Anne Langton, Gentlewoman Artist and Pioneer Settler:  the Fenelon Years

On May 24, 1837, Anne Langton, her parents and aunt, sailed for New York City on the packet ship Independence. After they arrived in New York, the family took a leisurely trip towards their destination, the Kawartha Lakes, arriving in mid-August. They stopped en route to shop on Broadway, toured scenic towns along the Hudson River, and visited with other genteel families. They brought with them supplies and furnishings that would allow them to live a comfortable life, relative to most of their neighbours, at their new home, Blythe, built for them by Anne's brother John on the north arm of Sturgeon Lake, south of Fenelon Falls.
Anne Langton was a well-educated gentlewoman whose artistic and literary accomplishments have provided residents and cottagers in the Kawartha Lakes, researchers, art enthusiasts, and readers of early Canadian history with an unparallelled record of early settlement on Sturgeon Lake.  Anne's letters home to her older brother William described every facet of Anne's experience in the 'backwoods', and frequently included postcard-like sketches illustrating her surroundings.  Anne Langton's letters and journals were preserved by her family and made available for all to enjoy in A Gentlewoman In Upper Canada, recently republished by the University of Toronto Press.
A student of Swiss and Italian masters, Anne's sketches and paintings from this period vividly portray the landscapes that settlers created as they chopped farms from the forest. Her sketches reflect the rugged countryside, stumps, cabins and camps she knew. It is the privilege of the City of Kawartha Lakes to possess a significant collection of Langton's work that defines a pivotal period in the history and environment of the Kawarthas.  Predating photography by a generation, Langton’s art provides almost the entire visual record of this era, and its value to the historical researcher rivals its interest to art enthusiasts. Some of her better known pieces include panoramas of the Fenelon Falls countryside and early village scenes, views of the Langton estate at Blythe, Mississauga encampments, nearby farms, and the interior of Blythe.
In 2012, the 175th year since her emigration, Anne Langton's legacy will be celebrated in and around Fenelon Falls through a series of artistic, literary, social and recreational activities, to which the public is invited.  Langton's artwork will be featured in an exhibition curated by Barbara Williams at the Fenelon Falls Museum's newly-created Langton Gallery between May and October. Williams, Langton authority and editor of the revised edition of A Gentlewoman In Upper Canada, will share her knowledge about Anne Langton at different venues throughout the year.  Aspiring artists in the community are also invited to learn to paint in Langton's style at a free workshop with Len Harfield on Friday, April 27th. 
Despite the difficulties of their new lives, the genteel settlers of the upper Kawartha Lakes formed a close group of friends that gathered frequently to play games like cards, chess, and backgammon; and discuss politics, business and the old world.  Anne enjoyed leisurely activities in the backwoods. In addition to the time she spent painting and sketching, she frequently went exploring, and was taken by boat on exploratory trips to destinations such as Balsam Lake.
Numerous troubles made living on Sturgeon Lake far from the comfortable life that the Langtons had once enjoyed in England. One of the privations that most bothered Anne was the cold. She complained repeatedly about the inhospitable conditions in Blythe. Built with unseasoned (green) timber, the house was draughty once the timber shrank. Even though the Langtons burnt as much firewood as two large trees per day, it was common in the winter for their home to be below the freezing point. Much of Anne’s time was spent putting wood on the fire, struggling to keep the house decently warm for the 'old folks'.
In Anne's letters to her brother William, she often described recreational activities, but Anne found that she was working very hard in the backwoods.  Although servants assisted at Blythe, the Langtons endured continual turnover of staff and could not secure enough help to free them from domestic labour. Anne baked, butchered, preserved food, sewed, glazed windows, made candles, cleaned and even drove a sleigh. While these activities were in stark contrast to her previous lifestyle in Europe, she did not seem to have minded this transformation. She mused to her brother about one of her servants seeing her while she worked, but assured him that she would not lose her feminine grace.
Anne Langton's experiences in the Kawarthas will be brought to life by Barbara Dunn-Prosser this summer in her new one-woman show Wood Notes Wild:  a dramatic and musical presentation based on the journals of Anne Langton's "A Gentlewoman in Upper Canada", to be launched at St. James Anglican Church on July 7th.  A special dinner at the Fenelon Falls Legion on August 18th will afford the opportunity to enjoy cuisine typical of the Langton era, and St. James Anglican Church in Fenelon Falls, established through the efforts of the Langtons, invites the public to a re-created 1837 service on August 19th.  You may also wish to view the Langtons' Sturgeon Lake neighbourhood on a guided cruise of the historic waterways on Saturday, September 8th.   
Anne taught many of her neighbours’ children by running a school in Blythe house, meeting two or three times a week, usually for an hour. Many of her pupils came to school not knowing their letters. Anne found her students challenging, and attendance was spotty.  Nonetheless, she sought to ensure their education, and in July 1841, used a small inheritance to purchase land to erect a school. Anne also made her books available as a circulating library, although she had few patrons.
Anne was not able to remain in the area that she chronicled. In 1846, an ague epidemic struck the settlers on Sturgeon Lake. Anne's aunt and mother died. It ended all work at Blythe and convinced the Langtons to retreat to Peterborough until the atmosphere cleared. Anne survived her bout with the illness and sailed for England, where she remained until 1850. John then convinced Anne to help raise his family, which included seven children. Together they lived first in Peterborough, then Toronto, Quebec and Ottawa.
Join the Anne Langton 175 Committee in celebrating the rich legacy of this early gentlewoman, artist and pioneer settler this year.  Visit the Fenelon Falls Museum's British Empire afternoon teas, enjoy an old-fashioned Strawberry Social on July 1st, come to Family History Day – A Day in the Life of Anne Langton, or enrol students in pioneer summer school.  You can also obtain your own commemorative Anne Langton souvenir when you mail a letter at the Fenelon Falls Post Office:  Canada Post will cancel your mail, upon request only, with a decorative stamp canceller commemorating the 175-year legacy of Anne Langton in Fenelon Falls.  For more information about these and other events and activities, contact the Fenelon Museum at 705-887-1044 or go to

Monday, 20 February 2012

Mystery Cottage

This picture of this cottage was first shown to me three years ago and it had me completely stumped.  I am still stumped and am hoping by showing it again, someone might recognize it.  It was given to the Y2K Committee for the calendar and was supposedly called "Terra Cottage".

There are a couple of cottages that we know were taken down - the Jones' Cottage on Lot 11 Lake Avenue (taken down between 1935 and 1942); the Woods' Cottage on Lots 12& 13 Lake Avenue (taken down in 1928); the original cottage on Lots 21 & 22 Lake Avenue on the west side at the bottom of 5th Street and Lot 27 Lake Avenue on the west side at the bottom of 3rd Street...

We also have this mystery cottage which I think may be the original cottage on Lots 21 & 22 Lake Avenue on the west side at the bottom of 5th Street.  The two sets of double doors make this cottage unusual.

Dr. Jacob Neelands sitting in front of an as yet unidentified cottage

If you can help us identify one of these cottages or if you have an unidentified cottage in one of you pictures, please drop us a line.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Square Dances...

Back in the 1950s, every Friday night, there was square dancing at the Sturgeon Point Golf Club.  Hugely popular, these evening were organized by Minnie Gray.  The live music was provided by local musicians and the caller was Walter Junkin.

This painting was found at a local garage sale by Mr. Shea and is now owned by one of his daughters.  A copy of the painting was taken by Joan S. and she has shared with us the only known image of the square dancing.

Square Dancing at The Sturgeon Point Golf Course
artist unknown

Only a few of the dancers have been identified - on the left, spinning the girls, with his back to the room is Joan S.'s brother-in-law, Russell S.  The late Jim Macmillan is in the blue jeans and blue top closest to the band.  But known attendees include Paddy M., the twins - Tim & Mike, Ian K, Nelia, Penny & David, Sally, Bev & Barb, Martha D - who advised that although she was much younger, her mother would bring her down and she would sit on the table in the back and watch the dancers.  Bob Wisner was an infrequent attendee but excellent dancer. Russell Rutherford would also show up.  There were usually two full sets of dancers and sometimes a third was squeezed in.

To recover from the dancing, they took breaks on the verandah where they purchase bottles of pop and nibbled on snacks.

Robin O. met Maureen at a Golf Club square dance.  She was working with her friend Lois as the Heinzman's summer babysitters at Swananowa.  Supposedly as they walked off toward the first tee, the nasty little boys lined up and made cat calls from the varandah.

Penny recalls that she wore a black felt skirt decorated with white rope and turquoise bows.  She received the turquoise blouse for her birthday and it was made of this fantastic new material called "nylon".  It had a peter pan collar and pearl buttons.  The girls all wore their saddle shoes.  Penny and Nelia both still have their skirts.

Penny also told a great story of feeling unwell at one of the square dances and going back to Granny Lucas' cottage on Henry Street.  Her aunt Eleanor called the doctor at 10pm on a Friday night and Dr. Diamond came over.  He advised Eleanor to cook her a pork chop and cabbage.  If she vomited, then to take her to the hospital in Lindsay immediately as it might be her appendix.  The challenge of locating a pork chop and cabbage on after 10pm on a Friday in the 1950s not with standing, Eleanor accomplished that miracle only to have Penny throwing up.  Eleanor did not have a car.  So she borrowed her sister Kay Campbell's car - now Kay lived over on 1st Street.  Finally Penny arrived at the hospital where they did not want to admit her because her parents were not there - her father being at a baseball double header and her mother at a cottage with no phone.  Finally they admitted her and as the surgeons began to operate, her appendix ruptured.  At 3 am on Saturday morning, they wheeled Penny into a private room, the size of a closet with a gorgeous view of a brick wall.  The next day, the Sturgeon Point teenagers began to pile into cars to visit her - Anne F., the twins, Ian, Bev and Barb, Nelia and David.  They brought great gales of laughter, loud chatter, lots of silliness and bags of peanuts, which ended up all over the floor.  Their attempts to cheer-up the patient were interrupted by a battle-axe of a Matron, who rapt their knuckles and sent them all home.

If you have stories about the square dances, we would love to hear them.  If you have any pictures, we would really love to see them.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Wood Stoves

In the course of creating the furniture for the Cambell Cottage dollhouse, I checked back to my notes from Pauline D. whose family bought the cottage from Ed & Kay Campbell.  Pauline wrote: We had a wood stove in the kitchen that my mum would use all the time.  In speaking with Babe R., I was told: We also had a wood stove. All the cottages did. My mother could gauge the temperature just by sticking her arm in the oven door, but I prefer the accuracy of my electric stove.  So the dollhouse cottage has been built with a wood stove.

Wood Stove - template, underconstruction and completed

While the Campbell and Grover families used the woods stoves well into the 1960s, electicity arrived at the Point from Fenelon Falls in 1925 at a cost of $9,918.48. Council had sought an estimate from the Hydro Power Commission in 1924 and by the spring of 1925, it had been installed. The electrical rates for that first season were "3 lights cost $5.00 and additional lights cost $1.00 each...; an upright toaster cost $2.00 and flat toasters were prohibited; electric iron cost $2.00; and an electric stove cost $5.00 per month. In 1927, meters were installed to each cottage that was using a stove or heating water.  The service charge on the meter was 42.00 per month for three months and 5c for the first sicty watts and 2c after that.  In 1930, the meter rate rose to 6c for the first 100 kilo-watt hour and 2c after that, with a minimum charge of $10.00."
Source:  The Village of Sturgeon Point from Incorporation to Amalgamation 1899-2000 by Patricia Aspinwall, p20

I was really intrigued at the comment about the acceptability of one toaster over another.  So here as some samples of each.  The first is the most common one, the General Electric Hotpoint from about 1923 - there is still one of these in my cupboard - does anyone throw anything away around here?!? and a fancy one also from the 1920s.

General Electric's Hotpoint Electric Toaster and Landers, Frary & Clark's Universal "Sweetheart" Toaster

Advertisment for General Electric's Hotpoint Electric Toaster

And here is the 1920s Sunbeam Model B Flat Toaster - their advertisment claimed that it would cook toast 50% faster...

from the Saturday Evening Post - February 12, 1922

I have no idea why one would be acceptable and the other not, except perhaps it drew more electricity...

So, today's question is: When was the woodstove taken out of your kitchen?

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Meeting Sturgeon Pointers...

I had the pleasure last week of meeting Len & Norma Shea at their home, which had been built by another Sturgeon Pointer, William Needler.  They were absolutely charming and very welcoming.  Mr. Shea has a long history of historical activism in the city in which he resides and is a font of information.

He was able to share some absolute gems and I will be writing about them in the near future.  But the big find that he had was the original Sturgeon Point Hotel Register from 1881 to 1897.  It was saved by hotel visitor as they ran out of the hotel on the day of the fire.  A short look through yielded names like Flavelle, Lucas, Mclaughlin, and Ryerson.  People came from cities like Lindsay, Port Hope, Halifax, Rochester, Buffalo, and Toronto.  Plans are being made to photograph the Register which will open some interesting avenues of exploration and show how many of the early families were hotel guests originally.

The Sturgeon Point Hotel, after 1893

I would like to thank the Sheas for their willingness to share their information.

If you have pictures or information about the Point, please drop us a line or give us a call.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

2012 Fundraising Raffle

This year the Sturgeon Point History Project will be holding a raffle.  Our big prize will a dollhouse built to replicate the Campbell Cottage on 1st Street.  Other prizes will be announced at a later date.

The dollhouse is being built by Jay Vehrs and will be decorated by Liane Kennedy to reflect the known history of this cottage and the combined decorative style of most of our cottages - comfortable, unchanging over decades, accommodating of wet swimsuits and wet dogs, comfortable for a beer or martini on the porch, strewn with life jackets, golf clubs, bicycles, National Geographics, last weekend's paper, towels on the line and a couch long enough for a Saturday afternoon snooze.  Artistic enough for an adult to enjoy and large enough for small fingers to play with.

The house will be on display at community events beginning with Easter in the Park in April.  Tickets will be sold through until August 11th when the draw will take place at the end of the talk by John Summers of the Canadian Canoe Museum at the Church.

Here is a sneak peak at one of the furniture pieces - a bench to go at the back door... a spot for a Popsicle or to shell peas...

built and painted by Liane Kennedy

We look forward to sharing the development of the dollhouse with you and we hope that you will continue to support the Sturgeon Point History Project.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

A trip to the Kirkfield Lift Locks

One of the photo albums that came in was filled with pictures of the locks and waterfalls on the Trent Canal.

In particular the images were of the Kirkfield Lift Locks. The Kirkfield Lift Locks were begun in 1900 and were completed in 1906.  They were officially opened in June 1907. The concept of the lift locks was contrived by Richard Birdsall Rogers (15 January 1857 – 2 October 1927), a Civil and Mechanical Engineer who studied at MCGill University (1874-1878).  In 1879, he was appointed a Provincial Land Surveyor and in 1880 he became Dominion Land Surveyor.  He retained that position until 1884 when he became the Superintending Engineer of the Trent Canal.  Rogers the suggested the idea of the lift locks to John Haggart, Minister of Railways and Canals.  In 1896, Haggart then commissioned him to travel to Europe to study existing boat lifts in Belgium, France and England.  Rogers adopted the design of the Old Canal du Centre lifts in Belgium for the Lift Locks on the Trent Canal.

Richard Birdsall Rogers, 1878 McGill grad photo
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Prior to the construction of the Peterborough Lift Lock, also designed by Rogers, the concept of the hydraulic lift lock had never been implemented in the harsher Canadian climate. The successful completion of the locks was therefore a significant technological breakthrough.

In his biography written by Trent University, it was written:
During the construction of the Hydraulic Lift Lock, Rogers worked within a complex matrix of bureaucratic structures. He wrote reports and attended endless meetings to get permissions. Once the project was approved he found himself constantly summoned to Ottawa and Montreal to meet with authorities who demanded updates on the project. At the beginning of the work, Rogers found that he had some important and valuable supporters in the government specifically in Mr. Collingwood Schreiber, Chief Engineer of the Department of Railways and Canals, who corresponded with him on all matters relating to hiring of personnel and labourers, and on technical specifications. Mr. Schreiber was also the contact person in Ottawa for Rogers' reports. He advised Rogers on many matters and was consulted in the many changes that were ordered by the government. Rogers also had to contend with the many people who had input into the construction of this important and costly work. During this period in his life, Rogers related how occupied he was travelling back and forth between the numerous constructions sites, while simultaneously driving between Peterborough, Ottawa and Montreal, to name just a few places, to get decisions approved, to explain his methods of construction and just to reassure the authorities that the project was indeed progressing at a satisfactory pace.

Kirkfield Lift Locks under construction 1900-1906

One of two main contractors on the Works was Corry and Laverdure. The company excavated the site and built the concrete towers and lock.The other contractor was Dominion Bridge of Montreal which was hired to do the metal work including the rams, presses and large caissons of the lock.

The Peterborough Hydraulic Lift Lock officially opened in 1904 to great ceremony and fanfare with the Minister of Railways and Canals Hon. Henry Emmerson presiding and with the Postmaster General William Mulock in attendance. The Kirkfield Lock opened in 1906.
Source and for more information on the politics that tarnished Rogers' reputation, read:

The Neeland family went on an excursion on the Lintonia.

These pictures were taken about 1914.

At the time it was opened in June 1907, it was written:
"This important link in this great enterprise gives a stretch of navigation, 160 miles in length, besides placing all the towns on Lake Simcoe in connection with the canal. There only remain 23 miles at the south from Healey’s falls to Trenton and 14 miles on the Severn River to complete the undertaking of a complete waterway from Georgian Bay to Lower Lake Ontario."
Source: Orillia Times July 11, 1907

The same article also wrote:
"The trip down the canal was a very pleasant one and decidedly unique. For the most part the canal went through good farming country and there was ample variety of scene. At one time there would be high banks on either side; at another the canal would be higher than the land level, the sides being immense dykes of concrete and clay construction. One section runs through overflowed land where the canal proper is difficult of location, the buoys not being set yet. The work is of the most substantial character, the locks being cement, bridges with massive piers and one immense stone bridge with a sixty foot span is most picturesque from an artist’s point of view and is striking contrast to the iron bridges so commonly seen.

Between Lake Simcoe and Kirkfield, a distance of eighteen miles, there are five locks, each with a lift from fourteen to twenty one feet. The Kirkfield lock has a lift of 48 feet. It is situated at the height of land and Balsam Lake at the head of which it is situated, flows in the other direction. There is a driveway along the side of the canal and many availed themselves of this means of attending the opening. Houses for the lockmasters are now being erected. There is a good deal of driftwood and other debris in the canal at the present time but once the canal gets into operation, there will be a good channel for boats drawing a reasonable amount of water. The depth of the canal is eight feet."
Source: Orillia Times July 11, 1907

Have you taken any trips up the Trent Canal?  Please share your photos with us.