In the 1890s, as Alexander Fleming expanded his farm land in Anson Township, he had a cow path / wagon trail that ran between concessions II and III going west from the Bobcaygeon Road towards Big Bob Lake. In the 1920s, the Gull River Lumber Company would have expanded that wagon trail into a logging bush road which extended all the way to their property on the eastern shore in lot 9, concession II. In the late 1940s, John Kernohan (from Kernohan Construction) opened a gravel pit a few kilometres along that logging bush road so it became known as Kernohan’s Pit Road.
In the 1930s, 40s, and into the 50s, the Gull River and Phillips Lumber Companies carried out limited logging in lots 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, concession II, Anson. To access these properties, they had rough trails going south from the future Kernohan’s Pit Road and north from the River Road. There are stories of an old logging cabin from the late 1930s at what is now 1127 Trellis Trail.
In 1934, Taylor (John’s cousin) and Vivian Kernohan bought the farm in lots 7 and 8, concession I, Anson for about $1100. Taylor began to sell 26 lakefront cottage properties in lot 8 at the south eastern end of Big Bob Lake in the spring of 1940. To access the lots, Kernohan had an old, rutted, Philips Lumber Company trail expanded into a very rough bush road that ran from the River Road up the eastern side of the lake. Presently, this would be the first part of Tennyson Road and then a right turn onto the first part of Trellis Trail.
Robert McIntosh and Ed Pettinger and were the first to buy from Kernohan. On May 24, 1940 for $25 apiece, they each bought a lot (now 1097 and 1103 Trellis Trail respectively). After visiting Ed, Joicey Horne bought the lot (now 1113 Trellis Trail), two down from Ed’s lot, in June for $100. They paid to have their driveways blasted and lots cleared. Ed and Joicey were the fifth and sixth cottagers on the lake. Robert’s lot sat empty until it was bought by John D. Elliot in 1950 for $2000.
Ed Pettinger was a builder. With help from his brother Jack, he built a wood frame cottage in the summers of 1940 / 41. Ed used this cottage as he planned his next projects.
Joicey Horne was a Minden girl who lived and worked in Toronto as an art teacher. On her father’s farm just outside of Minden, she found an old 16’ by 20’ log cabin which had been used, among other things, as a chicken coop. Joicey labeled and numbered the logs – her figures are still visible on the logs. With help from her father and brother, she disassembled the cabin, carted the logs by horse and wagon out to the lake via the new bush road, and put them back together on her freshly cleared lot. That year, she spent the summer months cleaning and refinishing the interior walls to make the cottage liveable.
The second section of road to the Pettinger/Horne cottages had a ‘Private Road’ sign at its start (now the junction of Tennyson Road and Trellis Trail) as shown below. For the next 50 years, it was locally called the Private Road. As Kernohan sold more lots, the Private Road was slowly extended up the east side of the lake.
In August 1942, Robert McIntosh bought another lot from Kernohan for $25. Ed and his brother Jack built a very primitive hunting cabin (now 1099 Trellis Trail) on the lot for Robert.
Ed Pettinger bought a second lot (now 1109 Trellis Trail) in January 1943 for $80. Over the next two years, Ed built a log cottage which he kept for himself.
Ed sold his first cottage to Daniel and Doreen MacPhee in August 1945.
Adam and Minnie Hutchinson bought a lot (now 1179 Trellis Trail) from Taylor Kernohan and built a small cottage in 1946. For the next 18 years, they rode up to the lake in a cab from their home in Toronto. They stayed for a two week vacation and then took a cab back home. While at the cottage, their neighbours would pick up in Minden supplies and groceries for them.
In 1947, Arthur Boon (Wendy Hyland’s father) bought their present lot. The next year, he built their cottage. Arthur was one of the Toronto residents who specifically bought a cottage to get his family away from the polio epidemic running through the city. Glen (Wendy’s older brother) Boone remembers that, from their farm house on the River Road, the Kernohans sold fresh milk to the cottagers as they drove in from Minden.
A cottage construction story: After a few years of renting cottages on Little Boskung Lake, George and Elizabeth Devereux with their daughter Helen bought lots 24 and 25 out of Kernohan’s 26 lots in the fall of 1948. The lots were $200 each. The next summer, George, his brother John, and Helen started to construct their first cottage by working on weekends and their 2-week vacations. Being city people, they didn’t know much about camping, they didn’t even have a tent. During their first summer, they camped under the stars on a tiny beach with mosquito netting over their cots, cooked over an open fire, and slept in the car if it rained. The first thing that they built was a small outhouse on the beach. Next they cleared a 38’x16’ space on the shore for the cottage. Then they started on the cottage. They used flat beach stones for the cottage foundation piers, built the floor frame with 10”x16’ beams, and nailed plywood sheets for the floor. The second summer started with Helen buying a third lot, #23, from Taylor Kernohan. The Devereuxs now had 325’ of lake frontage. Over that summer, they put up the exterior and interior walls, raised the roof, and used plastic sheets for the windows. But now they had wood floors to camp on and a roof over their heads. During their third summer, they installed glass windows and finished the interior. In 1952, the full family started cottaging on Big Bob Lake.
In the late 1940s, the Private Road was described as “a winding cow trail of a road, very narrow and rutty with trees right up to its edge”. The Big Bob Lake Cottagers Association was formed in 1949 to maintain the Private Road. Unfortunately the early records of the association have been lost so nothing else is known about its start up.
The hydro line was put in along the Private Road in 1951.
After a few other owners, in 1951 the Reverend Arthur Steed and his wife Muriel bought the hunting cabin that Ed Pettinger had built in 1942. They enlarged the cabin and added several improvements to make it into a family cottage. Looking for an even bigger cottage, they sold to Albert and Madeline Riddell in 1956.
The painting below is of the second cottage (now 1251 Trellis Trail) built by George, John, and Helen Devereux. It is on the second lot that the Devereuxs bought in 1948. Its construction went from 1953 to 56. Helen painted the picture in 2007 but this is basically what she remembered the cottage looked like in 1960.
George (Don) and Muriel (Skye) Donnell bought lots 7 and 8, concession II in 1955 for $4500 from the Phillips Lumber Company. They built their cottage on the point behind Big (now Green) Island. For $10,000, lots 9 and 10, concession II were bought in 1959 by Ray Weldon who was a lawyer and land developer from Lindsay. Ray purchased the lots from the Walter Peel estate and Walter had purchased the land from the Gull River Lumber Company in 1950. The Donnell property included one third of Big Island and Weldon had the other two thirds of the island.
Drawn from memory by Helen Devereux in 2009, the following is a sketch of the lake. It is an excellent map but Helen is slightly off in the timing of a few of her landmarks.
Helen calls the Private Road the Phillip’s Lumber Road. In her notes, Helen refers to the “School Teachers Cottage” as a big white cottage. This is probably the Thompson’s cottage that was built in 1956. Their daughter Sue became a teacher in 1975. Between the School Teachers Cottage and Elliot’s Cottage, BigBob Lodge, built in 1946, was going strong in the 1950s but Helen left it off of her map. The Lodge closed in 1962. The “Track to old farm on Bobcaygeon Road” would have been an old logging trail. The “Log Cottage on Pine Point” is probably the log cabin that the Dobsons moved onto their property in 1962.
In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, Bob Lake was described as “a fisherman’s dream”. There were plenty of lake trout, small mouth bass, and cisco to catch. As bigger motor boats became more prevalent, there was an unspoken agreement on the use of the lake through the day. The fishermen would set out in the early morning and come ashore mid-morning. From mid-morning to dinner, the swimmers, boaters, and skiers would be out. After dinner, the lake was calm and it was once again fishing time.
The pictures below show the low water level at the south east end of Bob Lake before the dam was enlarged in 1961.
In the spring of 1961, Ray Weldon started selling lots on the eastern shore, north of Big Island. Murray and Vera Dobson were the first to buy (now 1419 Trellis Trail) for $1500. This large lot goes from the lake up to Fleming Road. The Private Road had been extended up to and ended at their property. Murray Dobson and Don Donnell were old buddies. Every few weeks, Don would attach a blade to the front of his old jeep and grade the Private Road so that Murray could access his lot. The Dobson’s had an old log cabin moved onto their lot from Kernohan’s farm on the River Road. The cabin has been dated back to 1867.
The first of the two Bob Lake drownings happened in the summer of 1962. The teenage daughter from a south east cottage fell out of her boat by the dam. She was caught in the stronger current of the new dam.
A story from Rick Riddell from 1964 when he was 15 years old: “My friend and I decided to walk in to the Beaver Theatre and catch the 7:00 pm movie. We expected to hitch a ride back afterwards. We tried to catch a ride but no luck and with no phone at the cottage to call for help, we had to walk back. There was some lighting from town and this was OK down most of Orde Street. There was a bit of a moon so we were able to easily walk along the River Road. But when we got to the top of the big hill on the Road to Bob Lake, we couldn’t see a thing, not even a hand in front of our face. The canopy of the trees covered over the dirt road. We kept walking off the edges of the road. Eventually we decided to hold hands and each of us walked in one of the road’s wheel ruts. We crept along very slowly for what seemed a very long time. When we were finally able to see the lake in the distance, it was the happiest moment (up to that point) of my life.”
There were about 23 cottages along the eastern shore in 1965.
In 1966, John Kernohan bought a large piece of land in lot 9, concession II from Ray Weldon. John extended Kernohan’s Pit Road by first going north (the future Shakespeare Drive) into Cecil Brown’s land in concession III and then going south into concession II. In 1967, Kernohan sold the land to Frederick Riedesser. Fred sold some of the land to a group headed by Lothar Hoetz in 1969. Fred and Lothar’s group started selling lake front lots along the new road in 1971. The first to buy were Edwin and Margot Nufar (now 1011 Fleming Road).
In 1972, Trina Wood bought the lot (now 1001 Fleming Road) which was immediately north of the Dobson property. Kernohan’s Pit Road ended at her property. There was about a 200 m gap between the south end of Kernohan’s Pit Road and the north end of the Private Road. Trina’s driveway actually linked the two roads.
The county did some major construction work on the River Road in the summer of 1972. In the fall, the River Road was renamed Deep Bay Road.
Don and Skye Donnell still owned all of lot 8, concession II. In 1975, they divided the property into 7 large (18 to 65 acres each) lake front cottage lots and started to sell them in 1976.
In 1978, Luis and Elisa Alverez bought three of Donnells lots which included the Donnell cottage and 1/3 of Big Island. Luis’s plan was to kept the cottage for himself and make a camp ground on the other two lots. Over the next few years, Luis planted many small pine trees, dumped many, many truck loads of fill and sand into the bay behind the island, tried to build a causeway onto the island, and tried to dam the creek that runs into the bay. Neighbouring cottagers complained bitterly to the township about all of his projects. The township eventually blocked all of Luis’s endeavors. By 1988, the Alverez family had sold all of their land.
With their road deteriorating, the cottagers along Kernohan’s Pit Road formed what they also called the Bob Lake Association in 1979. Ed Nufar was its first president. Cottage owners paid $100 per year for road maintenance and those with lots but no dwelling, only paid $25 per year.
The lake’s second major cottage fire happened in October of 1983 at the old Crawford cottage (one of the original Devereux lots, now 1243 Trellis Trail) on the Private Road. It had been a big party weekend and the empty cottage burnt down Sunday night after everyone had gone back home to the city.
No one was hurt. Higher up on the hill, the Crawfords’ rebuilt two years later.
The county notified all cottage associations in 1985 that they needed to implement a standard emergency lot numbering system that encompassed their entire lake. The north and west Bob Lake associations had organizational problems and the system was delayed until 1992. When the new lot numbers were issued, the Private Road was named the East Bob Lake Road. The cottage association was renamed the East Bob Lake Road Association.
The lake’s third major cottage fire happened in the spring of 2000 on Kernohan’s Pit Road. Renters from a neighbouring cottage carelessly started a brush fire which quickly spread and completely destroyed the cottage. Over the next few years, the owner built a beautiful new cottage.
Snow plowing along the East Bob Lake Road started in the winter of 2000/1.
In 2003 with the implementation of the provincial 911 lot number system proceeding, Kernohan’s Pit Road was renamed (against public opinion) Fleming Road. The two small cottage roads branching off of Fleming Road became Shakespeare Drive and Brush Trail.
Also in 2003, the East Bob Lake Road was renamed. The year before, the association had suggested the names Trillium and Sunset. But those names were already designated so the county chose the name Trellis Trail. A few years later, their cottage association was renamed the Trellis Trail Road Association.
The east’s Bob Lake Association was incorporated in 2004 and renamed the Fleming Road 2004 Cottager’s Association.
After 60 years on Bob Lake, Helen Devereux sold her cottage in June 2008. Helen remarked that: “She will miss her cottage and Haliburton but letting go was made easier by the changes on the lake. What was at one time a pristine wilderness has since become a city suburb on the water. It is a check-by-jowl existence with water, noise, and light pollution.”
For 26 years, Neil Campbell had been a sports writer for the Globe and Mail. In 1974, he bought 25 acres in lot 5, concession II (along Kernohan’s Pit Road) and in 1981 bought another 25 acres. He retired in 2002 and moved to Bob Lake. Neil also moved up in the newspaper business by becoming a columnist for the Minden Times. Neil became very well known to cottagers all round Bob Lake when he became a master maple syrup maker, using his sugar maple bush on his Sapsucker Ridge. In 2010, Neil wrote a book, Cell Phones & Sap Buckets, featuring his newspaper columns about Bob Lake and the Minden area.
In 2013, the new Trellis Trail Road Association sign was erected.
Doug and Margaret Riddell had purchased the family cottage from Doug’s grandmother in 1995. They tore down and rebuilt the cottage in 2009/10. In 2020, when no one was there, a lithium-ion battery in a small remote control car spontaneously caught fire and the cottage’s interior was destroyed. This was the lake’s fifth major cottage fire. The Riddells have since rebuilt.
During the summer of 2021, Erin Vaillancourt and Gerald Flach’s cottage at 1319 Trellis Trail was featured on HGTV’s Vacation House Rules, season 3, episode 5. The hosts of the show, Scott McGillivray and Debra Salmoni, helped do a complete renovation of the cottage. Below are two pictures of the results.
The picture below comes from Peter Glaser. On August 22, 2021, coming out of the water from an afternoon swim, he found this native arrow head on the shore of his Shakespeare Drive cottage.
Thanks to the following who contributed photos to this chapter:
- Neil Campbell, writer, maple syrup maker, Fleming Road resident
- Helen Devereux, ex-Bob Lake Cottager
- Erin Vaillancourt & Gerald Flach, Bob Lake cottagers
- Peter Glaser, historian, Bob Lake cottager
- Wendy Hyland, Bob Lake cottager
- Greg Pyke, historian, Bob Lake cottager
- Doug & Margaret Riddell, Bob Lake cottagers
- Dave Roberts, computer guru, Bob Lake cottager
- Doug Thompson, ex-Bob Lake cottager
- Terry & Elaine Wray, Bob Lake cottagers
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