The Growth of Minden and Area (1910-1930)
Towards the end of the 19th century, elementary school students were required to pass a high school entrance exam if they wanted to continue their education. Of the 34 students in Haliburton County who took the entrance exam in 1910, only 14 passed. If any of them wanted to go to high school, they had two choices. They could continue in their home school for two more years to complete Grade 10 before they went out to work, or they could attend the high school in Lindsay and either commute on a daily basis or find a place where they could board during the school year. As a result, a high school diploma was very rare. Use of high school entrance exams was continued until 1949.
In July 1912, a huge forest fire burned through a large portion of central Ontario. Raging from Lake Simcoe in the west to about 30 miles east of Bancroft, the flames moved into the southern part of Haliburton County and reached Big Bob Lake. The fire burned out of control for months until it was finally doused by the first heavy snowfall of early winter. On the southwest side of the lake, some of the burned tree stumps can still be seen today along the old logging trails.
By 1913, some local roads had improved enough to bring the first summer cottagers to Moore Lake and Gull Lake in Lutterworth Township. Bobcaygeon Road (County Road 121) and Cameron Road (Highway 35) were still rough one-lane dirt bush roads that went around steep hills and had corduroy road sections to cross over swamps.
Next door to the site where the CIBC bank is currently located, a wooden building was constructed in 1914 for the new Sterling Bank. Across the street from Ranson House, the building served as Minden’s bank building for the next 44 years. In 1924, the Sterling Bank merged with the Standard Bank of Canada (shown in the masthead photo at the beginning of this chapter). Four years later that bank merged with the Canadian Bank of Commerce (which became CIBC in 1961). When the original building was replaced with the current brick structure in 1958, it was moved and today is part of the Minden Museum.
In 1916, the Stevens family bought a large section of farm land on the west side of the Gull River near the north end of Minden village. In 1937, the family discontinued farming, sold the northern part of their land and began construction of a golf course on the remaining property by the river. The next year, when the first nine holes were finished, the Stevens realized that the course had been laid out backwards and as a result they would not be able to add an additional nine holes. The original design had the first tee where the ninth green is currently located. It took another year to reverse greens and tees, but on July 1, 1939, Minden Golf Course officially opened. The greens fee was 25 cents. During the flood of 1943, the log bridge going to the course was washed away and holes along the Gull River were heavily damaged. When the course reopened the following summer, its name was changed to Beaverbrook Golf Course.
Edgar Rogers bought the old Young & Soward General Store in September, 1919 and renamed it E. A. Rogers General Store. The following year he hired Mark MacKay, who would be employed at the store for the next 25 years.
Minden now had its three main stores (Sam Welch’s General Store, E. A. Rogers General Store, and Hartle’s General Store), all of which would continue to operate beside/across from each other on Main Street for the next 23 years.
Each business had a back shed for sheltering customer’s horses. The Roger’s building also housed the telegraph office and a White Rose gas station. Local Anglicans patronized Welch’s store; those who attended the United Church shopped at Roger’s store. All of the stores extended credit to their customers until they were able to pay their bills. Until about 1940, Welch’s and Roger’s stores also traded groceries and hardware for farm produce, fresh fish, wood, furs, deer meat and other items with customers who did not have cash.
E. A. Roger’s General Store continued until 1947 when it was sold to become Stedman’s 5¢ to $1.00 Store. That same year, William Rogers partnered with Claude Brown (from Big Bob Lake) to open the Oasis Restaurant, which operated until 1968. It later reopened as the Village Chalet. Sam Welch’s General Store stayed in business until about 1970 when the building was torn down. The lot is now the village green.
In 1920, on the north side of Minden’s elementary school, a three-room building was constructed for the new Minden Continuation School, which offered classes for Grades 9 through 12. The school opened with ten students from Minden, ten from the village of Haliburton, and seven from Wilberforce. This was a major step in the county’s growth since students would no longer be required to travel to Lindsay in order to obtain their junior matriculation (Grade 12). The following year the province of Ontario added Grade 13 to the high school curriculum, so students who wanted to earn their senior matriculation still needed to go to Lindsay for their final year.
Consisting of 20 phones, the first telephone system in Haliburton County was setup in Stanhope village in 1921. The next year, telephone service was established throughout Minden and a trunk line was added to connect it to the Stanhope system. A second trunk line was added to connect Haliburton village. Residents in Minden and Haliburton could call each other by going through Stanhope.
After another disastrous fire year in 1924, the Ontario Forestry Branch built a series of fire towers across Muskoka and Haliburton. A 50’ wooden ranger fire tower and base cabin were built in Lutterworth on the hill about a third of a mile off of the north side of River Road, just south of present-day Bob Lake Road.
Haliburton village opened its own continuation school in 1924 for Grades 9 through 12. That year, a total of 57 students started Grade Nine in either Minden or Haliburton. In 1948, the Haliburton school added Grade 13. Instead of going to Lindsay, Minden students could join the students in Haliburton for their senior year.
After serving in the First World War and then finishing his medical degree, Dr. Wilfred Crowe returned home in 1925 to open his practice in Minden. In the 1930s, Dr. Crowe also tended to the construction crews working on Highway 35 and was paid 50 cents per month for each worker. At the time, Minden did not have an official ambulance so Dr. Crowe used a Hewitt Transport van, named Black Maria, for emergencies. In 1939 when he went off to serve in the Second World War, Dr. Crowe sold his practice to a young doctor from Toronto, Dr. Agnes Jamieson. She practiced in Minden for about 15 years and also became Ontario’s first female coroner. The Agnes Jamieson Gallery, part of the Minden Hills Cultural Centre, was named after her.
In 1926, Bill Pete Smith sold the first cottage properties on Big Bob Lake at the north end of the lake (marked in red on the map below) on what would become known as Parlee’s Point.
In the spring of 1929, the last log drive on the Gull River went through Minden.
The Department of Northern Development began construction of Highway 35 to replace the Cameron Colonization Road in 1930. Under the Unemployment Relief Act, the government used depression era crews to build the highway from Lindsay to Dorset. Each man earned 20 cents a day plus room and board. By 1934, Highway 35 was paved to Dorset, Highway 121 (now County Road 21) was paved from Minden to Haliburton village, and the Bobcaygeon Road (now County Road 121) was paved north from Lindsay through the town of Bobcaygeon to Highway 35.
Have a comment or contribution? Just use the “Leave a Reply” form below or connect with Greg by submitting the contact form on The History and Stories of Bob Lake page. Chapter 9 coming soon!