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 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 1934, Taylor (John’s cousin) Kernohan bought the farm in lots 7 ad 8, concession I. He began to sell cottage lots at the south eastern end of the lake in 1940. At the time these lots had no road access.
Ed Pettinger, in May, and Joyce Horne, in June, were the first to buy Kernohan’s lots (now 1109 and 1113 Trellis Trail) at 25 cents per foot of lake frontage. They became the fifth and sixth cottagers on the lake. To access the lots from the River Road, Kernohan had an old, rutted lumber trail expanded into a rough bush road (presently the first part of Tennyson Road) and then a right turn (presently the first part of Trellis Trail) up to the lake. Ed and Joyce paid to have their driveways blasted and lots cleared. Ed, with the help of his brother Jack, built his own wood frame cottage. Joyce 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. Joyce 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 above. For the next 60 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.
Ed Pettinger had originally bought three or four lots. In 1945 sold one of those lots (now 1103 Trellis Trail) to Daniel and Doreen MacPhee.
Adam and Minnie Hutchinson bought a lot from Taylor and built a small cottage in 1946. For the next 15 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 their supplies and groceries for them.
In 1947, Arthur Boon (Wendy Hyland’s father) bought their present lot which was three lots south of the Hutchinson’s. 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.
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.
George and Muriel Donnell bought lot 8, concession II in 1955. They built their cottage on the point behind Big (now Green) Island. Lots 9 and 10, concession II were bought in 1957 by Ray Weldon who was a lawyer and land developer from Lindsay. The Donnell property included one third of Big Island and Weldon had the other two thirds of the island.
The picture below shows 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 a lot (now 1419 Trellis Trail). The Private Road had been extended up to and ended at their property. The Dobson’s had an old log cabin moved onto their lot from a 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.
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.
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.
George and Muriel Donnell still owned all of lot 8, concession II. In 1975, they started to sell cottage lots on the eastern shore behind Big Island.
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 the fall of 1980 at the old Crawford cottage on the Private Road. It had been a big party weekend and the empty cottage burnt down Sunday night after everyone had gone home to the city. The Crawfords’ rebuilt two years later.
In 1980, Luis Alverez bought a large piece of lot 8 which included the Donnell cottage and 1/3 of Big Island. Over the years, Luis dumped 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 blocked all of Luis’s endeavors. By the mid 1990s, the Alverez family had sold most of their land.
For 26 years, Neil Campbell was 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. He wrote a book of short stories, Cell Phones & Sap Buckets, about Bob Lake and the Minden area. Neil became very well known to cottagers all round Bob Lake when he became a master maple syrup maker in 2001 using his sugar maple lot on Sapsucker Ridge.
The lake’s third major cottage fire happened in the spring of 2000. People from a neighbouring cottage carelessly started a brush fire which quickly spread and completely destroyed a Kernohan’s Pit Road cottage. Over the next few years, it was rebuilt by the owners.
In 2001 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. The Private Road was renamed Trellis Trail.
The east’s Bob Lake Association was incorporated in 2004 and renamed the Fleming Road 2004 Cottager’s Association.
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, Bob Lake resident
- Wendy Hyland, Bob Lake cottager
- Peter Glaser, historian, Bob Lake cottager
- Dave Roberts, computer guru, Bob Lake cottager
- Doug Thompson, ex-Bob Lake cottager
- Terry & Elaine Wray, Bob Lake cottagers
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