J. H. Neville Buys Boyd Property Near Bobcaygeon - 1926


For valuable, historical data there are very few spots in this part of Ontario that can compare with, or equal, the beautiful Town of Bobcaygeon. Today, because of the recent purchase of a large block of the old Boyd estate by J. H. Neville, a young man in his thirties, residents of the town are linked up this rich historical background with the fairy-like conditions of today.

The writer has visited Bobcaygeon on many occasions but never (until a few days ago), had the opportunity of wandering aimlessly around its thickly wooded outskirts. Hundreds in this district have never taken time to "get acquainted" with Bobcaygeon where the people are so friendly and hospitable. Next time motoring parties have no particular destination; they would be well repaid to visit "beautiful" Bobcaygeon.

The word "beautiful" is used without apology. This famous and popular summer and fishing resort is ideally situated on three small islands in the river between Sturgeon and Pigeon Lakes, and is the centre of the world-famed Kawartha Lakes on the Trent Valley Canal system. It is a mecca for tourists, especially from the State of Ohio. It is the fisherman's paradise. It is also surrounded by a natural verdant park.

The musical name "Bobcaygeon" dates back to Indian origin, and in the language of the old-time Indians, means "running waters". Few visitors to the Town ever realized that the Town was located on three small picturesque islands. Before the skilled navigator and engineer planned and constructed the present well built canal and break water system and shores of these islands were lashed with the running water of Pigeon River. These were the days when Indians roamed the woods, and according to historians, these were the days when the greatest of explorers, Champlain, and his noble followers, plied the waters of Sturgeon Lake and adjacent waters on his trip from Lake Couchiching to Lake Ontario.

Pioneers of Bobcaygeon, in their talk, look back to these glorious pages of history with a great deal of pride.

However, the writer, after giving this smattering of historical gloss, does so knowing that it is after all very meagre and realizes that some one better versed in the early days of Bobcaygeon, could do the subject more justice.

It is interesting to note that closely and vitally linked up with the early history of Bobcaygeon there is one name that is known throughout Canada and in other parts of the world, namely, that of Mossom Boyd was Bobcaygeon's pioneer citizen and members of the third and forth generations are today among the highly respected residents of the Town.

Almost a century ago (1832) a fine specimen of humanity a well-developed, the roughly respectable young man, of erect military bearing, who had been connected with military-service in India, made his way to the spot now called Bobcaygeon. He had very little of the world's goods, but was blessed with a rugged constitution, a keen business intellect and a desire and ambition to do something big and worth while.

This young man was the late Mossom Boyd. He took up his abode in Bobcaygeon when it was covered with a pine forest so dense that it was dangerous for men to move far in the bush for fear of being lost, or for fear of being molested and attacked by wild animals. He commenced to organize. He started a small sawmill and in time the huge piles of sawdust bespoke the energy which this young man was putting into the mill business. In a few years the mill and lumber business grew to such an extent that the old mill was destroyed and a new and larger mill erected. Mossom Boyd was the pioneer lumber king of the district. No railway entered the village and the logs were conveyed by a Mossom Boyd tug and scow through Sturgeon Lake, Scugog River and Scugog Lake to Port Perry, the nearest railway outlet.

Mossom Boyd and his good wife were blessed with two sturdy sons, William and Mossom, who followed in their father's footsteps, becoming expert lumbermen. They in turn carried on the milling business until the virgin pine was all cut, and with the advent of the railway the mills were shut down and all operations ceased. The Boyds then traveled to Western Canada, invested in timberlands, made considerable money, and some of these large holdings still remain in the estate. Both have passed to their eternal abode, but their beloved widows are still enjoying life and the associations of friends at Bobcaygeon. The Boyd estate is a large one and practically surrounds the village. Both sons erected large, substantial homes, of the old fashioned, majestic type with large stables and outbuildings. Being lovers of horses their stables were roomy and well equipped.

Here the Boyd's of the second generation raised their families, the late William Boyd having four fine sons, three of whom were killed in the world war, while the fourth was drowned in Pigeon Lake about the same time. The families of the sons and daughters of the two Boyd's are still living in Bobcaygeon and in other parts of Ontario, the name of Mossom Boyd being perpetuated in one of the lads of the fourth generation.

A large piece of the William Boyd estate changed hands last summer, to the surprise of many residents, Mrs. William Boyd selling her beautiful, palatial residence with magnificent park grounds to one J. H. Neville, a young man of thirty summers who a few years ago lived in Bobcaygeon with his farther, Rev. Mr. Neville, Methodist minister. Young Neville has recently amassed considerable wealth through speculations on the stock exchange and in other ways, and today is rated by townsmen of 'Caygeon to be worth a cool million, while an accidental word dropped by Rev. Neville places his son's fortune at closer to two million dollars.

Unassuming and quiet, Mr. Neville came to is old home, selected the spot which he had admired as a boy and where he had trespassed as a truant in school days, and purchased the dear old place. Immediately after purchase a small army of workmen were set to work on the grounds and the buildings and these workmen are still busy.

"Edgewood," as the place is called is a beautiful spot. The large lawns, which have been allowed to grow in somewhat unkempt condition during the past few years, are now a bower of beauty. Nature, in a wonderful and glorious autumn garb can be seen in all its richness at "Edgewood." The trees, tall and stately, are a picture; the hedges which skirt all the walks and driveways, have turned a golden and crimson colour; the underbrush, which has in places been allowed to spread unhampered, has the appearance of a miniature forest.

When the writer visited the place the sun was shining forth in all its splendour through the tall trees against the large mansion in the open space, workmen have been busily engaged on repairing the home and the buildings at the rear, formerly used as a kitchen, have been removed and large new kitchens are being erected. The water system is being extended and other improvements made.

The stables have been treated to a liberal coat of dark green paint, with cherry trimmings, and the various old buggies, phaetons, carriages, gigs etc., which belonged to the Boyd estate, are being put in repair and will be used.

M. Neville is a lover of horses and intends going extensively into breeding of high-class jumpers and hunters. Recently he purchased the well-known Curtis farm and here he had some 20 riding horses, some of them from Kentucky. He has a qualified riding master on the homestead, and is sending a groom to Ireland to bring over 15 riding horses. It is understood that Mr. Neville intends breeding the best of hunters for selling purposes.

Another purchase was in connection with the old-established "Beehive" resort on Sturgeon Lake, one of the beauty spots on the lake. This was purchased at a cost of $12,000 and the summer months of 1926 were spent there.

The young millionaire has a fleet of six or eight boats of various types, five of them being in the large boathouse at the Bobcaygeon homestead. One of these is a fast pleasure yacht, which it is understood was purchased from Sir Joseph Flavelle at Sturgeon Point.

A large new dock and wharf has been built, a long cement structure, and the approach has been nicely levelled in preparation for a coating of fine gravel.

The old swimming pool, a large cement basin, is being overhauled, and an old cedar log cabin on the estate, is being preserved and will be altered.

Mr. Neville has three fast motor cars, a Hudson, a Vauxall and also a sport Stutz that he purchased at Toronto Exhibition motor show. He is married and this past summer entertained his parents and other members of the family at the old homestead at Edgewood. It is understood that he has a palatial house at Toronto and also at New York City.

It is estimated that the Boyd Estate is valued at $3,000,000. Besides the two old homesteads on Mossom and William Boyd, one of the daughters, Mrs. Oakley of Toronto built a very handsome home adjoining "Edgewood", near the mouth of Pigeon Lake. Mrs. William Boyd is building a fine new house in Bobcaygeon, and Capt. Dowling of Toronto, a son-in-law, has erected beautiful new home on Sturgeon Lake, on the Boyd property.

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