THROUGH FENELON, SOMERVILLE AND BEXLEY TO NORLAND - 1892
Tuesday evening 20th, it was our privilege to attend an anniversary and tea in the Methodist church at the handsome village of Norland where Gull River is located. As we drove along admiring the scenery and signs of prosperity every where visible our delight was great. Through Fenelon the farm houses, gardens, orchards and fields all indicated thrift and comfort. At Rosedale the beautiful waters of Balsam Lake appear, and the locality at once impresses the traveller with visions of a future summer resort. The groves and shores are beautiful. Somerville lies east of the lake and the road to Coboconk skirts the shore. There too, though the land is not rich, yet signs of progress and prosperity abound.
Baddow school appears on the right, Mr. Burnett's new house is about completed; one farmer buys out his neighbour Dundas, and pays a good cash figure for the property, and horses, cattle and sheep look well. Near Coboconk the residence of that prince of sheep raisers, Ben Burtchill is passed.
The land near the road looks rough, but farther back is good. Coboconk is improving rapidly. New stores are going up and progress is visible on all sides. Mr. Shields has a splendid large new store well filled with choicest goods. Dr. Broad has almost completed a beautiful drug store, with office and surgery attached, while John Ham's new store and post office are almost ready for occupation. These are all on the main street and on the Bexley side. Cross the river to Somerville and the large gristmill shows marked improvement. A complete system of flour rolling is now established and will be working in a couple weeks.
Mr. J.H. Harvey is centering his energies in this and will make it a success. Revel Bros. and the Phillips firms are busy in shingles, timber and lumber, while other industries and stores are prosperous. Mr. Callan is busy burning lime in his enormous kiln, and last week came across pockets of petroleum in the rock. He is doing well. Onward to Norland passed the fine farm of Mr. James Moore, and others, the beautiful Mud Turtle lakes unfold beneath the traveller's eye.
The road skirts their western shores and at intervals discloses magnificent scenery. Every summer and fall tourists in great numbers now visit all those waters, and in the near future North Victoria lakes will stand unrivalled as summer resorts. The country abounds in minerals which in a few years will be developed and add wealth to the district. At Norland all was bustle. Mr. Carl's and Mr. Woodcock's store were doing a rushing business, Mr. Bellís and Mr. Russell's blacksmith shops were busy, and all other places assumed holiday aspect. Mr. John Bailey, reeve of Laxton, is now erecting a splendid new bridge over Gull River above the mills. It has three piers with two approach piers. The water in the river at that point is twenty feet deep, with rock bottom. Messrs William and Robert Adair, Mr. Peel and others assist Mr. Bailey. Repairing to the Orange hall one of the happiest sights of the day presents itself to view.
Ranged along the hall were rows of tables laden with delicacies and good cooking of the ladies of Norland and vicinity. But better than cookery were the pleasant honest happy faces of those assembled. There they were a genuine democratic gathering, all happy, all healthy, and all bright. Among the good people we found some Methodist clergymen, ever kindred spirits, and some schoolteachers, even more kindred with us. Rev. Dr. Galbraith of Berkley St., Toronto, had come in response to an invitation, and in obedience to his promise to lecture in the old settlement, where thirty years ago he began church life a young missionary on his third year of probation, roaming the woods and rivers, preaching to the scattered settlers. Rev. Mr. Mears once on the Norland circuit in recent years was also present. Rev. Mr. Garbutt of Coboconk came to show his neighbourly feelings and to give a few practical words of encouragement. Rev. Mr. Fralick, the pastor, a shrewd, able Bay Of Quinte youth gives indication of as great growth and progress as did former probationer Rev, Mr. Galbraith.
An excellent tea served, all repaired to the church. On entering, wreaths, fruits and products of the field and garden met the eye. Every window, wall and nook had its wreath and motto. The worked devolved on the ladies of whom we learn the following took part, Mrs. A.S. Martin, Mrs. B.F. Pearson, Miss Gilbert, Miss. Allely, Miss. Wakelin, Miss. Houston, Mr. Houston and others. The chair was taken by Sam Hughes, and a very interesting programme was presented. The choir was splendid; the school children under training of Miss. Gilbert were the delight of all, while the addresses were instructive and entertaining. Rev. Dr. Galbraith delivered the lecture of the evening and pleased very much his old congregation. Of those in the church thirty years ago Mr. Wakelin remains the only member of the board. The proceeds nearly wiped off the debt. Norland is one of the great centres for intelligence and sociability to be found in the country.
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