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Pioneer Families

Excerpts from History of Ryde Township
Written by Robert J. Boyer, Herald-Gazette Press, 1979.
Published by Ryde Centennial Committee

“All the histories name James Housey as the first settler of Ryde.  Most of the pioneers of Muskoka were young people when they came, wanting to establish a part in a new country.  James Housey, who appears to have come to Ryde for the first time in 1871, was then 27 years of age.  He located his land on the west side of Bass Lake, his property also running west along the rapids of the stream which runs from Bass Lake to Kahshe Lake.  The locality soon came to be known as Housey’s Rapids.  In the first year, James Housey stayed all summer and built himself a cabin, the ruins of which were still to be seen in recent times.

After the first summer, James went back to the Severn to work.  When he returned in the spring of 1872 he found other families had moved in.  Following Mr. Housey, the first settlers in Ryde were Joshua Long, Robert Benn, Brass [two families], and Brooks [two families].

We read from the 1879 Atlas of Muskoka and Parry Sound: “After the Rusks [two brothers], Davey and Matz [three families] had settled in Ryde they did not know each other’s place of residence.  Messrs. Downey and Long were settled 5 miles apart, and each unknown to the other.  They came in by different routes about 6 years ago.  Downey, hearing someone chopping, met Long and found that he had a near neighbour and that there was a road to Bracebridge.”  This 1879 book also mentions that eight German families were among the early pioneers.”

Also from the Boyer Booklet: Families in 1879

“According to information in the Atlas of Muskoka and Parry Sound, issued by W. E. Hamilton in 1879, the families living in Ryde a century ago were those of James Housey, Joshua Long, Robert Benn, Allan and Robert Brass, Charles and Thomas Brooks, Mr. and Mrs. Wyle, (parents of the first while child in Ryde), William and George Lowe, Ira Davey, William and James Allan, William Merkley, Herman Bush, James Plewis, George and Felix Lidgold, James Redmayne, Jacob Rebman, Fred Seehaver, Charles, William and Walter Tingey, Phylister Brace and others.”

“In Ryde today are families whose names are pioneer names, the descendants of early settlers. There are properties entitled to be called Pioneer Farms. To give a list of families always poses a hazard because of the possibility of omissions, but we might mention such names as Bush, Rebman, Merkley, Pilger, Tingey, Taverner, Goheen, Seehaver, McWade.”