Our Northern Lakes

August, 1895

A Visit to Laidlaw Bros. Stock Ranch on the Shore of Balsam Lake.

A few days ago Messrs, J.C. Kells, John Dawson and Wm. Thexton, of Millbrook, John Hughes and Robert Jobe, of Blackstock, and R.J. McLaughlin, G.H.Wilson and R.D. Thexton, of Lindsay formed a party whose destination was Cameron and Balsam lakes.

The staunch little steamer Nouna Roy was chartered for the occasion, with Capt. Thexton at the wheel and Mr. Fred Cullen at the throttle. Shortly before eleven a start was made, and soon the little vessel was plowing through the water at an eight-mile an hour clip. On reaching Sturgeon Lake the water was found to be very lumpy, but the Nouna Roy rode the waves like a duck and bounded along without any perceptible decrease of speed. Fenelon Falls was reached about 12.30, where the slow task of passing through the locks of elevation of Cameron lake caused an hour's delay.

Dinner over, three whistles were sounded for the bridge, and as that ponderous structure swung on its carriage our little craft passed through into CAMERON LAKE, which was quickly traversed until the mouth of the Burnt river was reached. A short cruise was made up that picturesque river so that its beauties could be admired, and none were disappointed, as the dense foliage on either bank, interlacing in the centre, forms a picture not soon forgotten,

Gull River was again reached, and continuing our course ROSEDALE LOCKS speedily came in sight. Repeated whistles falling to rouse the lock tender, the captain ordered all hands out to assist in working the gates. The trip was then continued through the village and into Balsam lake. Undoubtedly the view is one of the finest of our inland sheets of water, and is as yet little known by either Toronto people or Americans, or its banks would be lined with summer cottages and dotted with tents.

Proceeding to the northern end of the lake, the fine farm buildings of Messrs. Laidlaw Bros. were in sight, and shortly after a landing was made. A more picturesque site could not be chosen. The situation on the shore of a lake dotted with islands, with a sandy beach stretching out in front, almost invites one to take a plunge in the clear waters.

The party soon separated to inspect LAIDLAW BROS. RANCH, and all were surprised to find such evidences of enterprise. The ranch consists of 5,000 acres of land admirably adapted for ranching purposes, having abundance of water and shade, and first-class pasture can be obtained no matter how dry the season. While there the party enjoyed the sight of seeing the horses, over 250 in number, being brought up to be counted and inspected, as is done twice a week during the season.

Mr. Jas. Laidlaw mounted on an excellent horse decked with a Mexican saddle, WITH A LASSO SLUNG ON THE POMMEL, Texas fashion, made a picturesque figure. He brought up the horses to the corral with the aid of a short Texan whip with a 30 foot lash and a cracker like a gun, the report of which so inspired the drove that they came up like a whirlwind. The horses are the property of the Howry firm, and were turned out jaded and thin after a winter's hard work, but are now as fat and sleek as seals. Some beef cattle were also inspected by the party, and the animals are fat enough for the butcher's knife, so good is the pasture. When asked the terms of per month, Mr. Laidlaw stated their only charges was 50c. per month for cattle and $1 for horses.

The whole ranch is carefully fenced, part of it being surrounded by a SIX FOOT STONE FENCE constructed after an English plan without mortar, but is as smooth and as carefully built as the wall of any house. The stables that are in the basements of the barns are built of stone. The lofts over-head for the storage of the fodder and are frost proof. The floors are of concrete, and before each stall is a plentiful supply of water. The stables are capable of giving accommodation to 1,300 head of cattle.

Laidlaw Bros. have given considerable attention to the ranching business, and do not engage in general farming, only having sufficient land under crop to feed their stock in winter. Their venture though comparatively new, is being appreciated, and horses and cattle are sent to them from all parts of the country, as it is found to be profitable by farmers and stock farmers. The party were kindly entertained by Mr. Laidlaw and his estimable wife at their residence, and a most enjoyable evening was spent. Comfortable sleeping quarters were provided on the steamer.

At break of day Mr. John Hughes, who is a veteran fisherman, and Mr. Dawson, were off for a fish, but after toiling for several hours without any success returned, having experienced fisherman's luck. The day was spent in CRUISING ABOUT BALSAM LAKE. Then we were on the way homeward, and Lindsay was reached early in the evening. All joined in pronouncing the outing one of the most pleasant of the season, and the Nouna Roy to be the nicest and most comfortable craft for a small pleasure party on the lake. Capt. Thexton was a most careful and obliging navigator.


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