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Victoria Harbour and the booming lumber trade

'For single men, there was a boarding house if you worked in the mill,' author notes. 'In the bush, it was a shanty'

Victoria Harbour Lumber Company and Store. 

John Waldie’s mills in Victoria Harbour employed a large proportion of men from Tay and beyond to cut, haul, float and mill the mighty old-growth forests from this area and further north to fill the needs of a growing country. Gone now.

For single men there was a boarding house if you worked in the mill. In the bush, it was a shanty. 

Those saltbox houses one sees in card No. 1, beyond the VHL company store,  were built by Waldie for his employees. The manager’s homes, of two stories,  were on the hill near the Presbyterian Church.

The locals called it Canary town  as many of the homes were a creamy yellow.

John Waldie, it was said, would build a library and town hall if the citizens  voted to make it a “ dry “ town. That building sits there to this day and one

tries to remember where one could go have a drink in Victoria Harbour except the Legion.

About one-eighth of what was left of the entire Eastern forests were to be found around Georgian Bay.

Michigan had already been logged out and lumbermen cast their eyes on the issuing of timber licences for Simcoe, the Parry Sound District and Muskoka, which were up for auction by a government looking for revenue.

Logging it was said, opened up the country, encouraged settlement, trade and brought people.

The names Cook, Dodge, Waldie and Playfair are just some of the names that help recall the booming lumber trade on Georgian Bay and its impact on the landscape.

René Hackstetter July 8, 2022.