Common menu bar links

Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site of Canada

Cultural Heritage


Towns and Timber Barons

In the mid-1800's, the Trent River became a lumberman's highway. As the thriving industry cut timber further north, cribs of logs were driven down the timber slides of the Trent bringing prosperity to waterway communities. The lumberman actively discouraged canal-building, which might have hampered their interests.

During the 19 th century, the settlement of the Kawarthas was closely linked with the developing waterway. Rapids and waterfalls connecting the lakes were an impediment to travel, but they were also perfect waterpower sites for the early mills around which villages began. Bobcaygeon and Fenelon Falls are good examples of towns which sprang up around sawmills and gristmills, and then became local lumbering and transportation centres as dams, timer slides and eventually locks opened up navigation.

Mossom Boyd of Bobcaygeon was a 19 th -century timber baron who built a family empire around the waterway. Beginning with rafting squared timber to the St. Lawrence River, the Boyd family developed a thriving sawn lumber industry. In 1883, they formed the Trent Valley Navigation Company, which operated a fleet of freight and passenger steamships throughout the Kawarthas.