Have you recently moved to the Lindsay area? Horizon Family Dentistry wants to welcome you to Lindsay and offer some history about our interesting community in central Ontario. While you are settling into your new home, do you need a new family dentist? We are accepting new patients; call us for an appointment.
The Township of Ops was surveyed in 1825 by Colonel Duncan McDonell, and Lots 20 and 21 in the 5th Concession were reserved for a town site. The same year settlers began to come to the region, and by 1827, the Purdy's, an American family, built a dam on the Scugog River at the site of present-day Lindsay. The following year, they built a sawmill, and in 1830, a grist mill was constructed.
A small village grew up around the mills, and it was known as Purdy's Mills. In 1834, Surveyor John Huston plotted the designated town site into streets and lots. During the survey, one of Huston's assistants, Mr. Lindsay, was accidentally shot in the leg and died of an infection. He was buried on the riverbank and his name and death were recorded on the surveyor's plan. The name Lindsay remained as the name of the town by government approval. Lindsay grew steadily and developed into a lumbering and farming centre.
With the arrival of the Port Hope Railway in 1857, the town saw a period of rapid development and industrial growth. On June 19 of the same year, Lindsay was formally incorporated as a town. In 1861, a fire swept through the town and most of Lindsay was destroyed with hundreds of people left homeless. It took many years for Lindsay to recover from this disaster. In the late 19th century, local photographers Fowler & Oliver worked out of the Sunbeam Photo Gallery. It was also the home to Sir Samuel Hughes, the Canadian Minister of Militia during the First Word War. The Victoria Street Armouries were built during this time.
In 2001 Lindsay's town government was officially dissolved and merged with Victory County into the new City Of Kawartha Lakes.
Much of Lindsay’s history is linked to the railways that ran through it starting in the mid-nineteenth century and left their influence in bridges, stations and streets. Beginning with the Port Hope, Lindsay & Beaverton railway (PHL&B), the first train arrived at Lindsay’s first station at St. Paul and King Streets on the east side of the Scugog River on October 16, 1857. Renamed the Port Hope Railway in 1869, it expanded its reach over to the west bank of the Scugog River via a swing-bridge and then headed out to Beaverton.
Lindsay’s second railway began in 1871 as the Fenelon Falls Railway. It later changed its name to the Lindsay, Fenelon Falls & Ottawa River Valley Railway, and then to the Victoria Railway. Terminating in Haliburton, its end in Lindsay connected with the original Midland Railway route on William Street North in 1875, which you can now visit as the parkette Victoria Junction.
Lindsay built its second brick station in 1877 on Victoria Avenue between Glenelg and Melbourne Streets to serve the two railways as a union station. That union station was demolished in 1890 to make way for another station – Lindsay’s fourth – that lasted until 1963. Though the Victoria Avenue stations and freight sheds are now gone, their history lives on in the area’s name of The Railway Lands.
Lindsay’s third railway was the Port Whitby & Port Perry Railway, extended from Port Perry to Lindsay in 1876, reaching Albert Street, Lindsay on June 15, 1877 as the Whitby, Port Perry & Lindsay Railway (WPP&L). In 1881, the Midland Railway acquired the neighbouring smaller railways and built two links important to Lindsay. One was between Wick (Blackwater Junction) and Cresswell (Manilla Junction).
In early 1883, a direct railway route finally linked Lindsay and Toronto via Lorneville Junction, and the same year saw a direct Lindsay – Peterborough connection via Millbrook Junction. Also in 1883, Lindsay’s third station, which burned in 1885, was built at the south end of William Street.
The “missing link” between Peterborough and Omemee came in late 1883. Lindsay then had a new entry from Omemee and built another bridge over the Scugog River at the east end of Durham Street. The history of that bridge lives on if you are familiar with the Victoria Rail Trail – part of the Victoria Recreation Corridor – as it runs across and along the river today.
Lindsay’s importance as a railway town increased in 1887 when the Midland Railway made it their operational headquarters, with a large freight yard, running shed and connected shops on the east side of Albert Street south of Durham. The Lindsay airport is located on the former Midland Railway route, which was abandoned in 1907.
As the 19th century began to end, the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) took over the Midland in 1884, and Lindsay became a division point for three of the GTR’s districts. In 1923, the GTR merged into the Canadian National Railways. Gaining more importance and substations, Lindsay reached its peak as a railway centre in 1931.
Lindsay’s fifth station was built on the east bank of the river at Caroline Street for the Lindsay, Bobcaygeon & Pontypool Railway (LB&P). The last train to Bobcaygeon from Lindsay was in 1957.
You can visit the monument to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lindsay’s first railway in front of the old town hall on Kent Street, created by chainsaw carver Gerald Guenkel of Omemee.
Learn more about what to see and do in Kawartha Lakes: