Skip to content

The Dobson Tintype: Jabez Dobson and Peter Larush (7 photos)

Early pioneers of Midland lived here before town incorporated

Who is Dobson you make ask, or for that matter, Larush?

For most, names largely forgotten. A family of Midland pioneers in the case of Dobson. A pioneering photographer from Penetanguishene in the case of Larush.

We find in the Poetical Directory of Penetanguishene, 1876, by A.G. Churchill, the description of a Peter John Larush, Photographer and High Constable. Is this the same Larush? Likely.

The accompanying photo was taken in a tent pitched on a swamp lot on the west side of King Street by “Peter Larush” in 1875, according to Osborne.

Mr. Ganton Dobson, the boy on the left told Osborne they had no money to pay for a photograph, so Dobson the elder (Jabez), allowed the photographer to put up his tent on the lot in lieu of payment for the photo. The occasion was the first excursion to Midland from Port Hope by way of Waubaushene, then via scow towed by a tug named Maid of Midland to the  townsite.

On such events where a crowd of people was assembled the itinerant photographer was always in evidence in those early days, states Osborne.

Hugel Avenue was the southern boundary of Mr. Dobson’s farm and home located at the northwest corner of Third and Dominion. A market square and a pound for stray animals was across the road where the town offices are now located.

Ganton was partners with William Carson in the Georgian Bay Shipbuilding and Wrecking Company. Mr. Ganton Dobson owned the Midland Boatworks, twice, Osborne tells us. Buying it first from William Hacker & Sons, selling it to John Gidley, buying it back from Gidley’s widow and, then finally selling it to N.K. Wagg in 1924.

We learn he built many boats, including the  Audrey C, Beaver, Clipper and other craft for both Manley and the Chew brothers.

These pioneers of 1875, were some of Midland’s first citizens, when there was no town and they put their roots down here and are to be commended for  their courage and audacity.

René Hackstetter, December 2, 2021.