The territory surrounding Lindsay is of a uniformly good character, the Township of Ops ranking among the best, agriculturally, in this part of the Province. It occupies a central place in the southern tier of Victoria County townships, its respective boundaries being formed by the Townships of Emily, on the east; Fenelon, on the north; Mariposa, on the west; and Manvers, on the south. The superficial area of Ops is 61,200 acres, remaining since the detachment of 1.025 acres included within the corporate limits of Lindsay. Of this area there were reported by the census of 1871, in the township named, 48,195 acres occupied; 26,870 acres improved; 22,629 acres under crop; and 361 acres of garden and orchard. The improvement which has since taken place in Ops, however, has rendered the above quoted figures only approximately descriptive of its above status.
There are diverse opinions as to the date of the survey of Ops, it having been variously stated in alleged historical sketches to have taken place in 1825, 1830, 1833, and other years, but we have it upon the authority of the earliest settlers in the township that it was surveyed prior to the fall of 1828, which was the date of the first settlement in the township.
The honour of being the pioneer of Ops has been contested between several parties, but diligent inquiry among those apparently best informed on this subject established the justice of Patrick O'Connell's claim to the distinction of having first located within the wilds of this township. He settled on Lot 7, Concession 2, just west of the Scugog, as early as 1828, and in consideration of being the first settler appropriated the title of "King Connell," by which he was known during the balance of his life.
Following very closely upon the location of O'Connell came that of the Purdys, where Lindsay now stands. This family included the father William, and his sons, Jesse and Hazard. They received a grant of 400 acres of land and $600 in cash, as a bonus for building a mill in the township, in addition to which they were to have a deed from the Government of the land flooded by their millpond. This latter condition evidently induced their shrewd location of the dam at the head of the rapids now destroyed by the Lindsay lock, instead of at their foot, and by the time their permitted head of nine feet of water was secured, the level of Lake Scugog had been raised six feet, and hundreds of acres of adjacent land had been flooded. To have received a title to all the area thus flooded, would have made the Purdys very extensive landed proprietors - after demolishing their dam; but the matter being brought to the notice of the Government, the removal of the dam to the foot of the rapids was ordered.
In the fall of 1829, the pioneers of the west side of the Scugog, north of Black creek, came in and selected locations along the river. Their names were John Maloney, Dennis Twohey, and ___Jones; the former taking up Lot 17, Con.4; the others locating immediately to the north of Maloney. At that date Thomas Rea and sons had already settled where is now Reaboro, but with that exception, the entire south eastern portion of the township was still unsettled at that date. Among the pioneers of the township (nearly all of whom were Irish Roman Catholics) were the Hazeltons, Millers, Pynes, Hydes, Kellys, and others, while the name of John McArthur is deserving of special mention, as the pioneer of a considerable expanse to the southeast of Lindsay.
The name of " Ops " is certainly not very euphonious, and the reason of its application to this township is difficult to ascertain, but the probability is that it was called after the Latin Ops, Goddess of Plenty, as the aspect of the township, even in its primeval wildness, is said to have been unusually fair and suggestive of the " plenty " which its residents now enjoy. Ops was represented in the first District Council of 1842 by Francis Kelly, Esq.; but on the taking of effect of the Municipal Act in 1850, a Township Council was elected, consisting of John Gibb, Patrick McHugh, Thomas Rea, Thomas Keenan, and William McDonnell, of whom the last named was elected Reeve; William Bird being appointed to the Clerkship. The list of Reeves thence-forward to 1860 ( from which date their names appear in our Municipal history), was as follows, viz: 1851, Wm. McDonnell; 1852, Hiram Bigelow; 1853-54, Thomas Keenan; 1855, Thomas Rea; 1856, Jeremiah O'Leary, who was succeeded during the same year by Patrick McHugh, by whom the office was held during the remainder of the interval mentioned.
The situation of Lindsay is naturally pleasant and advantageous. Lying in the midst of a vast fertile tract, of which the commerce centers within its limits, it enjoys the benefits of an agricultural trade second to no Town in the province, while the river and railway communications with which it is supplied places it among the most favored, in these respects, of Canadian towns, and materially assist the development of its agricultural and lumbering interests; this being the point whence a major portion of the products of the vast forests to the north are shipped to American markets.
In 1836 there were but two habitations on the Town plot, occupied by Major Thomas Murphy and William Culbert, respectively. The first named of these had been in his location, on the corner of the present Kent and Lindsay streets, about four years, during which period he had kept a small store, considerably patronized by the settlers in the surrounding township. Mr. Culbert's house was located on the river bank, in rear of where the Benson House now stands, and in it was kept the post-office of the time, established in 1834, prior to which date the nearest post-office was at Peterborough, thirty miles distant.
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