Chapter 4

The Growth of Minden Village and Area (1860-1870)

In 1860, William Gainor built the first sawmill in the village just north of Minden’s current cemetery on a lot on Beaver Creek. He served as Justice of the Peace and Reeve of Minden Township for nearly 30 years.

Minden’s original school was replaced after its first year of operation by a larger, one-room building located north of the river (and across the road from today’s elementary school). Since there were no desks for the students at the time, they sat on cedar sills built into the walls and faced the teacher’s desk and large wood stove in the centre of the room. Mr. Francis Bowron, hired as the school’s only teacher, bought a lot and built his log house just behind the spot where Home Hardware is now located. His home, dismantled and moved in 1988, is now part of the Minden Museum. Approximately 45 acres of farmland had been cleared around Minden village when Bowron took the area’s first census in 1861. There were 230 residents at that time.

Travel to and from Minden was somewhat restricted during the village’s early days. Those who wanted to visit Haliburton village would walk along a portage road to the south end of present-day Canning Lake (the foot of the Lake Kashagawigamog chain) and travel by canoe or boat from there. Travelers who wished to travel to Minden from Port Hope would take a railway train to Lindsay, a lake steamer to Bobcaygeon, and a stagecoach along Bobcaygeon Road to the village. In good weather, the trip took three days.

In 1863, The Strickland Lumber Company bought Dickson’s original logging outpost for its regional office. By then, the cabin fronted on South Water Street and had become the Minden stagecoach stop. In 1890, Edward Noice (John’s son) purchased the cabin and refinished the interior. The cabin was bought by the Anglican Church in 1899 and a second floor was added. It was used as a home for the church’s ministers and became known as the Minden Clergy House before it was sold in 1947. Today the house has been restored and modernized and is now considered one of the county’s oldest historic landmarks.

The Clergy House

By the end of 1863, Daniel Buck had finished replacing his log shanty hotel with a sturdy wood-framed building. He celebrated by hosting a New Year’s dinner and dance that lasted, with short interruptions, for four days and five nights. A few years later, the hotel was renamed Dominion House.

Haliburton’s tourist industry began in 1864 when Dick Davis, who worked in Minden’s shoe store, opened the first recorded hunting camp in the area.

The number of farms around Minden had been growing steadily. Hugh Workman (the mailman) and his brother-in-law Thomas Stinson bought lots on opposite sides of the falls on the Gull River north of Minden (the location of the current hydro dam). There they built a business that eventually included a sawmill, a gristmill and a flour mill. The complex, known as Workman’s Falls, was joined by the Allsaw Road Bridge that spanned the rapids. The mills ground flour, bran, corn meal, buckwheat flour and chop (which was used to fatten pigs and cattle). In 1873, the partners bought several hundred acres of timber adjacent to the river as well as power rights for the falls. Twenty years later, Thomas was bought out by his partner and began to modernize the mills by replacing the old grinding stones with a new roller system. The Stinson family continued to operate the mills until about 1918 by which time agriculture around Minden had declined. The property was eventually sold to Orillia Water, Light, and Power Corporation.

By 1865, Minden had the two mills, a few stores, a blacksmith shop, two hotels with taverns, a post office, a division court, two one-room log churches (Methodist and Presbyterian) with circuit ministers, and a steamboat service that ran between the village and Moore’s Falls. That year, a wagon road was completed to Haliburton village. It began on Bobcaygeon Road about two miles south of Minden, and followed the old South Lake Road to Ingoldsby Road to Kashagawigamog Road. The route was rough in the summer, nearly impassable in the spring and fall, and not used in the winter.

Later that year, Anglican Reverend Fredrick Burt arrived to become Minden’s first resident minister. The Crown granted 100 acres along the east side of Bobcaygeon Road (just above the Kent farm) to Reverend Burt. He was expected to farm the land to supplement his salary and feed his family. Reverend Burt held regular Sunday services in the schoolhouse and was able to share the Methodist Church on special occasions. In 1868, he supervised the construction of St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Invergordon Street.

In 1868, a bush road called the North Shore Road (now County Road 21), was finished from the north edge of Minden to the village of Haliburton. Although more roads were being built, road travel was still limited. Thompson’s stage ran from Haliburton to Minden three times a week in the winter. In the summer, a boat carried passengers and freight to the port on Canning Lake and the stage went only the few remaining miles to Minden.

The Curry brothers came to town in 1869. Dr. Charles Dobbins Curry set up his practice in Minden as the first doctor in the county. His brother, Fredrick, became the town’s first pharmacist. During his time in Minden, Dr. Curry was also postmaster, druggist, school inspector, reeve and county warden. Overall, Dr. Curry had a tremendous impact on the growing village and his is the third portrait on the Minden post office wall.

A sturdy, full-size, wooden bridge was built across the Gull River in 1870. River Road came into the village just north of the bridge (where River Cone is located today). That year, the county’s first summer resort, called Newnham, was built on Head Lake in Haliburton village.

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