Thanks to the following people for their contributions – Jim Lamb, Audrey McConnell, Fred Johnson, Mary West, Walter Humeniuk, M.K., Marguerite Rickard, Margeret Lydan, Duncan Meyer, Marion Lovell, John Laviolette. Some of our dates are approximations but they are, to the best of the recollection of the above people, accurate. This accumulation of historical information is a beginning not a finished product. It is our hope that more people will come forward with information and therefore, we can have a more complete chronicle of Duclos Point, “Then and Now”.
The naming of a great deal of the geography in this area took on the names of various families that had been here for generations — Moores Beach, McRaes Beach, Weirs Sideroad, Sibbalds Point. The name Arnold is a common name in Georgina Township and relates back to Benedict Arnold and the war of 1812, where the British gave a great deal of the land to Benedict Arnold, for the assistance he provided during the war.
John Graves Simcoe, apparently never really felt comfortable with the French influence on many of the names of the communities in the Lake Simcoe area — Bouchier Point (Jackson’s Point), Bouchier Mills (Sutton). Rumour has it that Duclos Point once had the name of Deuquesette Point named after a Métis native. Simcoe renamed many of the towns and key landmarks. The Laviolette family owned the land at the North West corner of Highway 48 and Duclos Point Road (green barn). Peter Laviolette, Jr, sold the land of Duclos Point to George Cronsberry, a member of the local farming community, in 1906. A group of five men known as the “Syndicate” purchased the land from George Cronsberry in the early 1920’s – Stewart Terry, Alex Locke, Merritt Ough, Sulby Evans and Mr. Print. The entire Point was purchased for the sum of $5,000. One of the reasons for the purchase was the Metropolitan Railway, that came up from Toronto and ended in Jackson’s Point. There was a possibility that it would be extended to Beaverton and therefore Duclos Point would be prime Cottage land that would be accessible. The Metropolitan Railway was never extended.
Subdividing of the land began and lots were sold — $10 a foot on the single road, $15 a foot on the oval and $20 per foot on the north single road. A man by the name of Laurent purchased and subdivided the land at the end of the point starting in 1946-47.
Earlier cottages were grouped towards the entrance to the Point as the road was spotty at best. The road went to the 2nd right-o-way on the East Side and then it cut down to the Lake on the east side and followed the shoreline up to approximately Humeniuk’s cottage then cut back to it’s present position. The reason for this was that the entire areas from the south parkette up to where the large park oval begins today was swampy marshland. A heavy duty sandsucker was brought in by McNamara Construction in 1946 and ran for most of that summer to fill in the marshlands with sand drawn from the shallow bays on each side of the Point.
Drinking water was supplied through 5 drilled wells that were located as follows 1 @ 1st right of way, 1 @ 2nd right of way, 1 @ south end of park, 1 @ north end of park and 1 @ north end of the Point (approximately where Lou Larry’s cottage is located today). Although some of the remnants of the pumps exist today, the only visible one appears in the South end of the large park. These wells were tested annually and in the late 1960’s the last well ceased to be functional due to the quality of the water.
A Store, just inside the gates to the Point, was originally built in 1937 by Fred Johnson, to supply groceries and ice to the cottagers. This store was a satellite store to the Johnson’s larger store in Pefferlaw. The store was purchased by the Wakely family in 1946 and in 1952 by Gertrude and Sid Lamb who took over and started to offer Postal Service, newspapers and eventually became the first telephone location. Ice continued to be supplied by Lambs for cottager’s ice boxes. Don Shepherd also ran a small store for candy, cigarettes and ice cream. In the mid 1950’s due to hydro and technological advancement refrigerators were ‘in’ and ice boxes were ‘out’. The McRae’s Beach Store, owned by Marion and Earl Lovell, was originally owned and operated by Tom and Sadie McRae in 1948-49. The store was originally called McRae’s Booth. In May 1965 the store was sold to the Lovells on the condition that gas pumps were not erected in front of the store. Originally the business operated on weekends from May 24th through Thanksgiving (in July & August on an everyday basis until 1978). At this time living quarters were added to the original store and the business became a two-season business – six months summer and three months winter, closing when the lake is freezing up and breaking up.
From the early 1940’s through to 1956, 6 holes of golf were played in the large Park just south of the present day tennis courts. If you look very closely you can still find a few of the original cups that were used as holes on the greens.
The Trees of Duclos Point
Many Willows exist on the West shoreline. Due to their root system they have assisted over the years in preventing shoreline erosion. The large Willow in the North Parkette originated as a branch from a willow tree at Lambs in 1956. Cedars are plentiful on the Point, perhaps attributed in part to a government sponsored planting campaign in the mid 1940’s. Large Dutch Elms covered most of the Point up until the late 1960’s when Dutch Elm disease ravaged many of the large elm trees. One Elm tree at the end of the Point, that was cut down measured 13 feet, 6 inches in diameter.
Transportation to Cottage Country
Prior to 1910 steamboat service from Barrie provided access to the east side of Lake Simcoe. The Metropolitan Railway (Radial Car) ran between Toronto and Jackson’s Point between 1900-1937. Eventually a road system was developed on the East side of the lake that came up through Newmarket, Sharon, Queensville, Keswick and followed the lake road through Roches Point, Jackson’s Point, Sutton, Virginia and as far as Pefferlaw and Beaverton.
Taxes in 1947 on one of the lots was $5.82 for 1 cabin, in 1948, $6.42 for 2 cabins, in 1949, $14.06, in 1950, $19.17, in 1951, $19.58 (cottage built).
The Duclos Point property owners decided to incorporate as a non-profit corporation in 1955. Prior to this a group of earlier owners formed an unincorporated association known as the Duclos Point Cottagers Association. The objectives of the earlier group were to safeguard and promote the interests of the owners of real property on Duclos Point. In addition they wished to promote aquatic and other social and physical activities among the owners. These objectives carried over to present day Duclos Point Property Owners.
By 1956 the Duclos Point Land Syndicate (the original owners and sub-dividers) had completed the sub-dividing of the Point. At that time the Land Syndicate conveyed to the property owners all of their remaining interests in what is now our Recreational Oval (large park), the three right-of-ways (access to the Lake), the north and south parkette and all the roads which were considered as a private roadway until subsequently they were assumed by the Municipality. The taking of the lands was the reason for incorporating and thus was born the Duclos Point Property Owners Organization by deed dated May 31st,1957 and registered June 27th, 1957.
In the original conveyance there was a condition that the land could only be used as a park and recreational area. In fact this condition has been beneficial to everyone and has greatly enhanced the value of the properties of each and every owner on Duclos Point.
The mandate for the Board of Directors each year is the maintenance of the common areas for Duclos Point for the benefit of all owners (large park, north and south parkettes and the three right of ways). Our annual dues, that are established at the Annual Meeting on the 1st Saturday in July each year (presently $200 per year), are to cover the costs of grass cutting, purchase and maintenance of recreational equipment, insurance and social events.
Field Day at Duclos Point is a long-standing tradition. It was first started by Berwynne and Rita Tillcock in 1955. The original field day had running and 3-legged races, tug-o-war, and decorated bikes. Sid Bull added water events – swimming and boating. The tradition has carried on with many of the cottagers taking on the planning and organizing of this special day. (Bella Allen, Lynda McKay, Linda Parsley, Judy Scott, Carol Watson and Rosemary Lloyd). The Field Day today includes Bingo and the barbecuing of hot dogs. Field Day is held the Saturday of the long weekend in August.
The Trent-Severn Waterway
The section of the Trent System from Lake Balsam to Lake Simcoe was constructed between 1896 and 1907 wit the idea that it would be a route for grain flowing from Canada’s West destined for markets of the Eastern Seaboard. By the time it was completed in 1907 it’s future had been eclipsed by the great canals at Sault Ste. Marie, at Welland and along the St. Lawrence. And so the Trent, a half century of short-haul freight began.
From the start, excursion steamers shared the route with commercial barges. By the 1950’s the Trent Severn was already a prominent recreational waterway. Today the locks serve a vacation traffic undreamed of by their early builders.
The Trent portion of the waterway allows boaters to move up 37.5 metres through 6 locks to Balsam Lake (the highest point) and then down 181.9 metres through 35 locks to Lake Ontario. The Severn portion of the waterway allows boaters to move down 42.6 metres to Georgian Bay through 4 locks the most well-known being the Marine Railway at Big Chute. The Trent Severn Waterway meanders 386 km across Central Ontario linking the Bay of Quinte with Georgian Bay. By Fall of each year our lake water level drops approximately 18 inches to 24 inches and that flow is in the direction of Georgian Bay. Many lakes in Ontario experience a similar lowering of water level. Apparently this originated with the logging industry and the transport of the logs through the natural waterways.
The towns of Baldwin, Sutton (formerly Boucheir Mills) and Sunderland were the market centers for the people of Georgina. Also, Sutton, Baldwin, Beaverton and Pefferlaw had Saw Mills and Feed Mills on their water systems. With the coming of the Canadian National Railway, Pefferlaw became a market center. Jackson’s Point was the end of the line for the Metropolitan Radial Car, therefore, people would access Lake Simcoe this way, and for some, would carry on by Ferry boat to Orillia in the early years. Jackson’s Point was also known for the Lake Simcoe Ice Company prior to the invention of the refrigerator.
The famous Canadian humorist, Stephen Leacock, is buried at St. George’s Church between Jackson’s Point and Sibbald Provincial Park.
The Ojibway Indians, descendants from the Ojibway tribe of the Rama Reserve near Orillia, own the land on Georgina Island. A United Church camp was located between Moores Beach and McRaes Beach and was given an Indian name – Ahshunyun – “Shining Waters”. Prior to cottages being built, many summer campers would canoe across to the end of Duclos Point and set up tents for overnight camping. Camp Ahshunyun remained in existence into the 1960’s…
To be continued…