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Looking Back

Agriculture

Stock raising and dairying are likely to become the principal and most profitable branches of farming in Muskoka, as for these occupations the district is possessed of great advantages. Water is abundant and many places where the land is too light for grain or root crops, are quite suitable for pasture.
Orillia Packet July 27, 1871

District: The annual Fall Show of Dalton, Rama and Ryde was held at Cooper’s Falls on Monday, October 1st. The weather was wet and cold, which had a bad effect upon the attendance.
Gravenhurst Banner October 4, 1888

Hop-growers have discovered what naturalists have long been trying to make farmers understand – that skunks, instead of being their enemies “are among their most useful friends….Hop-yards, it appears are infested by a certain kind of grub which gnaws off the tender vines at the root and this grub is the favourite food of the skunk.”
Orillia Packet July 31, 1902

Housey’s Rapids column: Crops are very good here, except buckwheat which has been badly injured by recent frosts.
Orillia Packet August 29, 1918

Housey’s Rapids column: The crops are looking well and there is a great abundance of bloom on all bushes and trees, especially huckleberries.
Orillia Packet June 19, 1919

Housey’s Rapids column: Seeding is the order of the day here…
Gravenhurst Banner May 11, 1922

Haying is almost over here now and the crops are very good here…. Mr. Sopher has completed his barn…
Gravenhurst Banner August 3, 1922

The Muskoka Community Project: The farmers clubs have been carrying on a steadily increasing business. One club centred in Barkway buys regularly from the Simcoe District Co-operative Services in Barrie.
Gravenhurst Banner January 29, 1942

Barkway News: Mr. Ed Taylor and son of Macaulay are again threshing in our community this year. Most everyone reports a good crop of grain.
Gravenhurst Banner September 22, 1949

Housey’s Rapids column: Potato digging is the order of the day. Mr. Bradley Smith expects to dig 600 bags.
Gravenhurst Banner October 5, 1950

Housey Rapids column: The raising of hogs is not at the present time as profitable as six months ago when the primary market price per cwt (hundredweight) was ten dollars higher.
Orillia Packet and Times November 6, 1954

Barkway News: Congratulations to Mr. Lloyd Seehaver who won fourth prize on his Rodney oats in the Muskoka 100 bushel oat club.
Gravenhurst Banner November 7, 1957

Barkway: A good many from here attended the Muskoka Soil and Crop Improvement Association banquet in Gravenhurst.
Gravenhurst Banner November 29, 1973

Barkway: Community spirit prevails for the past two weeks here in Barkway. Stooking and threshing was the order of the day since most of the men were at work elsewhere, women offered to help. Liz Kilbourne and Melissa MacQuarrie spent their days stooking and threshing with the men.
Gravenhurst News September 12, 1974

Building

Lewisham column: Mr. Samuel Downey has gone to Mr. A. Tingey’s to assist in building his barn.
Gravenhurst Banner May 11, 1922

Economic Conditions

To subscribers: We are now badly in want of firewood and parties who agree to pay their subscriptions in wood will oblige by bringing it at once. We are also willing to take Potatoes, Turnips, and other Vegetables as well as Beef and Pork in payment of subscriptions.
Canadian Post November 25, 1861

Complaints of dullness in trade are almost universal. Farmers throughout the District will experience a very hard winter owing to the short crops and the dullness in the lumber trade. Tax collectors in some of the townships find it difficult collecting the rate, especially where comparatively heavy expenses have recently been incurred in connection with schools.
Orillia Packet January 5, 1877

Entertainment

Lewisham column: Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Fenton gave their wedding dance on Friday last. A number of the people attended and report a good time.
Gravenhurst Banner December 9, 1915

Housey Rapids column: A dance was given at the home of Mr. Henry Cook for F. Walker and Stanley Cook, last Friday evening.
Orillia Packet May 16, 1918

“The Sutton Bell” was later sold to William and Ernest Cook. They ran it for a number of years. It was used as a pleasure boat (on Kahshe Lake) carrying large crowds of merrymakers to and from different picnic grounds on the shore of the lake. Many a dance was held on the shore as the boat pulled the young folks up and down the lake…
Gravenhurst Banner January 30, 1947

Housey Rapids Women’s Institute:
Housey Rapids W.I. carried out a program of unusual activity this summer. Beginning with a picnic held near Riley Lake for the school children.
Gravenhurst Banner October 7, 1948

Labour, Employment and Wages

Many postmasters in Muskoka rejoice over the munificent salary of 2 ¾ cents per day. With pork at fifteen cents a pound, they don’t patronize the savings bank much.
Orillia Packet May 12, 1876

Gravenhurst column: Story on the coal strike, stopping trains, lumber not being moved.
Orillia Packet June 1, 1894

Barkway column: Mr. Oscar Speicher has returned after spending several months at the Hydro in Northern Ontario.
Gravenhurst Banner November 12, 1936

Housey’s Rapids column: Messrs. Leonard and Clarence Sopher, Phil Pilger and Archie Fitchett are working for the Orillia Power and Light commission at Cooper’s Falls. They were home for the weekend. Also Vernon Taylor who works for the same commission.
Gravenhurst Banner April 14, 1949

Housey’s Rapids column: Messrs. Maurice Cook, Philip Pilger and Robert Fletcher left July 31st for Tillsonburg, Ont. to work in the tobacco fields.
Gravenhurst Banner August 11, 1955

Religion and Churches

Barkway column: The Rev. Paull of Uffington was presented by his members of the Ryde appointment and friends there and elsewhere, with a fine black fur coat and a good pair overshoes, and at the same time they presented Mrs. Paull with a beautiful heavy shawl and skirt and woolen jacket. These kind friends also gave sugar and tea in abundance and candies to Mr. Paull’s fine promising little son. This is not the first time during the year that Mr. Paull has been presented with an offering from his people. A few months ago a good sized box was put into his cutter and upon opening it he found ‘good things’ enough to last him many days. This box came from his members and friends at the Housey’s Rapids appointment. These gifts must be pleasing to Mr. Paull, as they are a token of appreciation of his labours..
Orillia Packet February 26, 1892

Housey Rapids column: Mr. Daniel Boone delivered a very interesting address last Sunday in the Free Methodist church; the subject being the behaviour of young people in the church.
Orillia Packet May 24, 1917

Television

Good reception on television set at Housey Rapids:
A television set at the Housey’s Rapids post office and store in Ryde Township 14 miles from Gravenhurst is causing much excitement and curiosity in that area. It is the first television set known to be operating in this part of the district. The set is owned by Alfred Taylor, who says he has been getting excellent reception, particularly in the evenings since last Sunday, when he extended the aerial from 60 feet to 75 feet from the base to the top of the mast. He receives programs from Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo. The aerial is on an old windmill tower on a rock next to the store. “I guess everybody thought I was foolish to install the set at first” said Mr. Taylor. “They thought it was impossible to get reception around here. They thought the same about F.M. radio which I have had for the past two years!” Reception on his television, Mr. Taylor claims is just like watching a picture in a theatre. It is really something to have. We’ve had a lot of people around to see it.”
Gravenhurst Banner October 9, 1950

Telephone

Ryde Council – The following By-Laws were read and passed…to establish a Municipal Telephone System in the Township of Ryde.
Gravenhurst Banner May 11, 1922

Housey’s Rapids column: The work of cleaning out the brush for the Bell telephone Line is expected to be completed this week. Quite a number of new poles have been erected.
Orillia Packet and Times October 1, 1954

Trapping

The prices offered for furs are very low. Prime mink sold at Minden on the 5th from 50 cents to $ 1.25 and a few went for .25 cents each.
Orillia Packet November 23, 1877

Wolves Increase: Bounty $ 25.00
….worse than ever before. The problem of controlling them will be difficult practically half the trappers in the north have gone into the army.
Gravenhurst Bann March 20, 1941

Housey’s Rapids: The muskrat season is almost over and the trappers are busy picking up their traps. The trappers’ life may be a hard one, but being in touch with nature most of the time, they see more wild life in a week than another person would see in a lifetime. One trapper informed me that he had caught seventy five muskrats this season in this district which is fairly well covered by trappers.
Orillia Packet and Times December 29, 1960

Transportation

(Excerpts from Ryde Council Minutes)
That the sum of $ 12. Be appropriated to build a bridge on the Gartnersnake River at Lot 5, Con 12.
That the sum of $18. Dollars be appropriated on Ryde Road from top of hill south of Housey’s Rapids bridge to hill near Housey’s Mill.
April 11, 1879

That the sum of seventy-five dollars be appropriated on the Buck River bridge.
That the sum of $ 22 be appropriated to be spent on Roads in School Section 3.
May 30, 1881

…do let by contract the building of a bridge across Benn’s Creek on the side-line between Lots 15 & 16 con 12
August 20, 1883

Tenders received from Mr. Merkley at $100.and Mr. Bush at $ 190. That Mr. Wm. Merkley’s tender for building a bridge over the Gartnersnake River be accepted; that the said bridge be completed on or before the 10th day of September 1884; that when the timber is all on the ground and the Bens sat (sic) up Mr. Merkley receive the sum of $25.00.
June 30, 1884

That Eli Long be granted the sum of eighty dollars as compensation for horse fatally injured on Public road.
December 15, 1888

That Henry Dedlow be paid $2.00 for watching Gartner Snake Bridge during time of fire.
December 20, 1894

That H. Merkley be paid the sum of $5.38 for fencing gravel and repairing Road on Sideline 15 & 16, Lot 15.
August 15, 1905

That J. E. Taverner be appointed Commissioner to have road repaired which was burned out in Lewisham.
May 30, 1914

That a Bylaw be introduced to widen all heavy sleighs to a width of 4 feet between runners.
April 21, 1928

…wages for man only $.50 per hour. Wages for man and team to be $.75 an hour.
January 12, 1948

…request the Dept. of Highways to take over the rebuild of the road from Big Eddy on Black River to Housey’s Rapids.
February 5, 1962

In sketch, the Barkway Road is marked “Ryde Township Road.”
August 1, 1970

Water

Kahshe Lake News: Those who use ice cubes in their liquid refreshments may be interested to know that with other waters in Muskoka condemned for ice impurities, your local correspondent sent in a sample to the government and got back an A1 for Kahshe water. B and C are drinkable but an A puts us well in the clear. It is to be remembered that the Indians brought their convalescents to the shores of Kahshe in the ‘good old days’ to recuperate on its reputably medicinal waters.
Gravenhurst Banner January 24, 1946

Kahshe Lake: The famous Iroquois Spring is going to be leaned out and re-established. This is the spring where the Indians drank more than a hundred years ago and because of it Muskoka Road took a course that lead to the clear ever-bubbling water.
Gravenhurst Banner July 15, 1948

Weather

The earthquake of last week calls to mind the terrible one which occurred in 1663. Before that date, we learn this country was a large fertile district, equal to any of the first-class townships at the front and inhabited by a superior class of natives. Since then the whole face of the country was changed. Mountains, lakes, rivers and creeks were formed and still bear traces of violent volcanic action.
Orillia Packet November 23, 1877

Prophecy of bad winter and mention of great drought of the year past.
Gravenhurst Banner October 15, 1886

It is four weeks today since we had sufficient rain to lay the dust. This is the driest spring in this neighborhood for the past twenty-three years. Yesterday about six p.m. we could hear the peels of thunder, and were in hope that the rain was coming to stop the fires but we were disappointed as we had but a slight shower. It cleared off until noon today then thunder was heard in the west and at one o’clock we were blessed with a good steady rain…
Orillia Packet May 27, 1887

District News: The ice left the Black River on the 3rd instant, the earliest in thirty years.
Orillia Packet April 9, 1897

Doe Lake Road: We were glad to see Mr.Carl Laycox back on the road with the team and in a few days when the floods have subsided maybe we will be able to travel in comfort again.
Gravenhurst Banner April 10, 1947

Barkway News: Our community was stricken with a gale blowing about 50 miles an hour on Saturday afternoon, at times the sand was blowing so that one couldn’t see the outdoor buildings. Trees were blown down and strips of roofing were taken off, barn doors taken off, in several cases the roof almost lifted. One frame barn that wasn’t in use at the time was blown down. In the midst of it all fires broke out. Men were called out to fight a fire behind Charlie Speicher’s. They kept it from crossing the road. When it reached the swamp it died down. The people of Housey’s Rapids were called to one in around Jack Ketching’s, some timber was damaged. Fred Nicols wood was saved by firefighters. Let us all be more careful with fire.
Gravenhurst Banner May 11, 1950

Hurricane Hazel: The worst disaster here was the roof taken off the log barn of Mr. Wm. Duke (on the former Seehaver farm on Barkway Lake). Fortunately the cattle escaped injury. The roads were flooded in places, culverts washed out, trees down, the hydro off for a night and day.
Gravenhurst Banner October 21, 1954

World War I

Housey’s Rapids column: Privates R. Goheen and Ralph Young paid a flying visit to Housey’s Rapids with their new uniforms on.
Orillia Packet January 13, 1916

Barkway column: Ptes. Oliver Lewis, James Tryon, Bert Merkley and J. Knight connected with the 122nd Battalion, Bracebridge secured three days leave of absence which they spent in our burg.
Gravenhurst Banner April 27, 1916

Housey’s Rapid column: The young men went from our burg to be examined for service. There are very few here left, as almost all have already gone to war.
Orillia Packet November 1, 1917

Housey’s Rapid column: Messrs. Fred Walker and Stanley Cook have been called to the colours.
Orillia Packet May 16, 1918

The proclamation has been issued calling up for military service the young men of 19 years…
Orillia Packet May 16, 1918

Registration question….who must register? Every man and woman in Canada of 6 years and upwards… Orillia Packet May 30, 1918

Ramona column: The war being over everyone is wearing a smile. Even the frogs are singing, something very rare for this time of year.
Orillia Packet November 21, 1918

World War II

Large Wolves shot in woods and Ryde: Private William Robins of Barkway shot a large wolf this fall when home on leave from camp Borden where is in training for the 48th Highlanders.
Gravenhurst Banner December 12, 1940

Barkway organizes Red Cross Society
Gravenhurst Banner January 16, 1941

10 pounds of sugar for each person (for canning). Ordinary ration ½ lb. per person per week.
Orillia Packet and Times May 20, 1943

Thanks letters sent Barkway Cross…from the boys of that community who are serving overseas… Tpr. L.M. Ruttan, Pte. G.L. McWade, Pte. O. Fitchett, GNR. C. L. Robbins. (letters from above printed also L/Cpl. K.J. Lowe, Pte. J.E. Taverner, Spr. L.H. Cook, Tpr. M.C. Lemay, Pte. D. E. Robbins, Pte. J. Tryon, Tre A. W. Lemay, Spr. W.J. Bristow, Lieut. I.S. Cook Al, Tr. L.H. Clement, Pte. R. E.C. Beaty.
Gravenhurst Banner March 15, 1945

Housey’s Rapids column: Carl Cook is now home after receiving his release from the army. He was attached to the provost corps at Niagara.
Orillia Packet and Times August 1, 1946