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Pioneer Days In the Township Of Ennismore
The township of Ennismore was surveyed in 1823. Its first settlers were a portion of the immigrants under the Hon. Peter Robinson to the number of sixty-seven and their families, consisting in all of 297 souls. During the first year, including the journey up the Prescott, there were among these Ennismore settlersí nine births and twenty-three deaths. The official returns show their first yearís produce to be 8900 bushels of potatoes, 3000 bushels of turnips and 1042 bushels of Indian corn. Of the 195 acres cleared up to that date (1826), 44 acres were sown in fall wheat. They had besides made 1330 pounds of maple sugar and owned among them four oxen, nine cows and ten hogs.
So large a result for their first yearís labour was creditable to these new settlers, most of whom had not the remote idea of the proper methods to pursue in clearing and tilling their land. More than one of them attempted to burn the timber in the winter as he chopped it and in the spring some of them swept the ground with a besom (a bundle of twigs or boughs used as a broom) lest it might not be sufficiently clean for the seed about to be sown. For the first year or two oxen were very scarce and instead of harrowing in the grain, it was hoed in as best it could about the stumps.
The Chemong or Mud Lake in front was a serious obstacle in the way of procuring supplies; for as yet the settlers were too inexperienced to construct canoes of any service and consequently the wheat to the mill and the flour on their return, had to be carried on their shoulders round the head of the lake. Roads as yet were scarcely thought of; and thus heavily laden, they followed the ďblazeĒ on the trees, through the brush, swamps and over fallen timbers as best they could. These laborious journeys and heavy burdens were not confined to the men, but even women too, at times, found it necessary to proceed laden with grain, to mill or market, and assisting their husbands and providing their families, performed feats of labour and endurance of which later times we have but a faint conception.
Sir Peregrine Maitland visited the settlement in Ennismore during his visit to Peterborough in 1826, accompanied by Col. Talbot of Western Ontario fame, Mr. Alexander McDonell, and others. They put up for a short time in the shanty of Mr. Eugene McCarthy, and partook of such refreshment as the settlement afforded.
During the last two years the population of Ennismore rather diminished than increased. There was no doubt owing to the fact that many of the younger men were obliged to seek in older settlements for employment at remunerating wages.
Ennismore is but a small township- it might be said a mere corner of Smith cut off from the remainder by Chemong Lake. It has near its centre a Roman Catholic Church, erected many years ago. There is also a Post Office of which Mr. Patrick Sullivan was first postmaster.
The soil of Ennismore is naturally rich and fertile and notwithstanding many drawbacks from inexperience and the isolation of the township by water, the patient perseverance of the settlers, in a few years, overcame the first difficulties and they and their families gradually grew into comparative wealth and independence.
This township is situated on the direst route between Peterborough and Bobcaygeon. Owing to the influx of settlers and the extensive lumbering operations carried on in the new townships bordering on that road during the years between 1850 and 1860, it was the thoroughfare for traffic between these points the bridging of the lakes on either side by the winterís ice affording the necessary facilities for such a transit. Several attempts were made to supply this necessary link of communication by bridging the water.
In February, 1842, a by-law was passed by the District Council authorizing the appropriation of twenty-six pounds currency from the wild land assessment fund of Ennismore for the purpose of building a scow and ferry boats on Mud Lake to ply from Galtís Landing in Ennismore to Edminsonís Landing in Smith. The councillor for the township and two other persons chosen at the town meeting were appointed commissioners to have the same charge and to contract with a ferryman to perform this duty. The tolls to be charged, which were very low, were as follows: a span of horses and wagon, one shilling; a single horse, with or without a wagon, sixpence; a yoke of oxen and vehicle, nine pence; horned cattle per head, three pence; pigs and calves per head, two pence; each passenger, three pence.
The ferry thus established was kept in operation for a few years, but was found troublesome and expensive, and although a convenience to the public, was discontinued.
In 1854, a joint stock company was formed to construct a gravel road from Peterborough to Bobcaygeon, intending to cross Mud Lake by a bridge at the point mentioned, and thence passing across the township of Ennismore. Of this company Augustus Sawers was president, and William Lundy, Elias Burnham, James Stevenson, and W.S. Conger were directors, with Thomas White as Secretary. The town of Peterborough adopted a by-law pledging itself to $25,000. The township of Ennismore at a public meeting took stock to the extent of $15,000 and stock was otherwise taken, chiefly by private individuals, to the amount of $5,500, but the project, though launched under these favourable auspices, was not even commenced.
Nothing more seems to have been done until 1867, when the County Council passed a by-law on the 12th of October, in which it was resolved to raise the sum of $10,000 for the purpose of erecting and building a bridge across Chemong Lake from a point in the township of Smith to a point opposite in the township of Ennismore, also for a bridge across Pigeon Creek from Ennismore to Harvey, $1.400 to be raised annually by a special tax rate for the payment of said debt or loan. This by-law (No. 806) was signed by P.M. Grover, Warden and Edgar Pearse, County Clerk.
On the 19th of June, 1868, the following committee was appointed by the county to supervise construction of the two bridges: S.S.Peck, W.A.Scott, Peter Pearse, Isaac Garbutt and James Millar; these were to act jointly with a committee appointed by the town a few days before.
The contract was let to William Trennum, who spent about three years in their construction. The great timber floats were secured in the township of Harvey surrounding Sandy Lake, and were assembled at Scotchmanís Point to be towed to the scene of the building. Mud Lake bridge was put together along the Smith shore in the vicinity of Nicholís woods, and on completion was towed into position, the event being celebrated by a dance on the new structure.
It proved a great boon to Ennismore, and from that day she continued to make rapid progress.
The original structure has been replaced by a new one, the Smith end having been moved north some distance to take advantage of a natural bar, which was filled in, and rendered the floating structure much shorter and less expensive to maintain.
The men who bore prominent positions as representatives of the people from 1852 to 1866 were as follows:
Daniel Costello, Patrick Gallivan, John Houron, P. Cunningham, S. McCarthy, Cornelius Sullivan, Martin Corkery, Jos. McCarthy,Patrick Sullivan, John Sullivan and Patrick Brick,
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