Historical Plaques of
Parry Sound District

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PLAQUE #1

Location: Beside the anchor from the Waubuno, Market Square Park,
bordered by Gibson, Mary, and McMurray Streets, Parry Sound

THE SINKING OF THE "WAUBUNO"

1879

This anchor, recovered in 1959, belonged to the steamer "Waubuno", a wooden sidewheeler of some 200 tons which was built at Port Robinson in 1865. She carried freight and passengers in the shipping trade which flourished on Lake Huron during the nineteenth century. Commanded by Captain J. Burkett, she sailed from Collingwood on November 22, 1879, bound for Parry Sound. The "Waubuno" encountered a violent gale later that day and sank in Georgian Bay some 20 miles south of here. All on board perished, and although some wreckage was later discovered, the bodies of the 24 victims were never found. The specific cause of this disaster has never been determined.

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario

PLAQUE #2

Location: Municipal Bldg., 52 Sequin St., Parry Sound

FOUNDING OF PARRY SOUND
About 1857 James and William Gibson erected a sawmill at the mouth of the Seguin River. William Beatty, with his sons James and William, acquired the mill in 1863, and the following year were granted a licence of occupation for some 2,000 acres. In addition to lumbering, they laid out a town plot, promoted settlement, opened a store, built a church, constructed roads, and operated boats on Lake Huron and a stage service to Bracebridge. William "Governor" Beatty (1835-1898) lived here and managed the family's enterprises which stimulated the growth of Parry Sound. Incorporated as a town in 1887, it was named in honour of Sir William Edward Parry, noted Arctic explorer.

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario

PLAQUE #3

Location: 101 James St., Parry Sound

PARRY SOUND DISTRICT COURT HOUSE
The court house for the Territorial District of Parry Sound, established in 1870, was the first of a series of early northern court houses built under the direction of Ontario's Department of Public Works and its chief architect, Kivas Tully. Erected in 1871, the modest frame building contained a second-floor courtroom and main-floor jail and registry office. Increased settlement soon imposed greater demands on the court house and in 1889 an addition housing a larger court room was built. This addition and the rear wing built in 1921-22 were constructed of brick and designed more elaborately than the original structure and reflected the provincial government's recognition of the north's growing importance. Subsequently altered, the building continues to serve as the District's judicial centre.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Citizenship and Culture

PLAQUE #4

Location: Near the Lock H-Way 520, Magnetawan

MAGNETAWAN LOCK
The lock at Magnetawan, built by the Ontario Government, 1883-6, was replaced in 1911 by the present concrete structure. The original stone-filled timber cribwork measured 112 by 28 feet. The lock raised or lowered steamers about ten feet, enabling them to run between Ahmic Harbour, ten miles below Magnetawan, and Burk's Falls, twenty miles above it. In the quarter-century following its completion, an average of 704 passages were made through the locks by steamships each season. Notable among these ships were the "Wenonah" (1886), "Glenrosa" (1891), "Wanita" (1896), "Glenada" (1904) and "Armour" (1906). The "Mike", the last steamship to ply these waters, was removed from the river about 1934.

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario

PLAQUE #5

Location: NOTE: This plaque is located in 2 towns.
1. Sparks St., Magnetawan
2. At the Nipissing Township Museum, H-Way 654 & Beatty St., Nipissing

THE ROSSEAU-NIPISSING ROAD
Designed to encourage settlement in what is now the Parry Sound District, the Rosseau-Nipissing Road was authorized by the government in 1864. A survey was completed the following year by J.S. Dennis, Provincial Land Surveyor, and construction began in 1866. Commencing at the Parry Sound Road, about a mile northwest of Rousseau (now Rosseau), it ran 67 miles northward to the South River, terminating here at Nipissing then a tiny settlement. By 1873 the road was open for winter traffic and two years later was considered negotiable by wheeled vehicles. Although the road lost its importance after the railway between Gravenhurst and Callander was built in 1886, most of it is still used by local traffic.

Erected by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board,
Ministry of Colleges and Universities

PLAQUE #6

Location: Centennial Park, off H-Way 520, Magnetawan

ELISE von KOERBER AND SWISS SETTLEMENT
In 1873 a small group of Swiss immigrants arrived in the Parry Sound District and formed the basis for a Swiss colony. The settlement was organized and directed by Elise von Koerber, a native of Baden, Germany, who had been living in Canada for some sixteen years. Appointed immigration agent by the federal government in 1872, she actively promoted immigration as an outlet for poor and socially dislocated persons and by 1877 had brought several hundred Swiss to Canada. With her encouragement and assistance many of these settled in her colony in Parry Sound. Most of the German-speaking settled at Magnetawan while the French-speaking chose the Doe Lake area. Although the hardships of settlement discouraged many, in 1881 about 200 Swiss remained in this region.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture and Recreation

PLAQUE #7

Location: At the Commanda General Store Museum, H-Way 522, Commanda

THE COMMANDA GENERAL STORE
An outstanding example of a High Victorian commercial structure the Commanda General Store was built and occupied by James Arthurs (1866-1937) about 1855. It was strategically located on the Rosseau-Nipissing Colonization Road and during the more than two decades that Arthurs, who later served in the House of Commons and the Senate, was the proprietor it played a vital service role in the development of Commanda and the surrounding area. A multi-purpose structure that functioned both as a residence and a business, the building is distinguished by its boom-town façade with two-storey gallery and intricate wood trim. It remained in commercial use until the late 1970s. Restored by the Gurd and Area Historical Corporation, it was opened as a museum in 1981.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Citizenship and Culture

PLAQUE #8

Location: At the Scenic Lookout over the lake, H-Way 94, Callander

LAKE NIPISSING
About 9000 B.C. when the glacial ice began to retreat from this area for the last time, the Nipissing basin formed an easterly extension of an ancestral Georgian Bay. The weight of ice had depressed the land, thus providing an outlet to the Ottawa Valley for the waters of the prehistoric Upper Great Lakes basin. Owing to the gradual uplift of the land following the retreat of the ice, the eastward flow ceased about 2000 B.C. Thereafter Lake Nipissing drained westward, forming the French River which later became a link in the historic canoe route to the West.

Erected by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board,
Department of Public Records and Archives of Ontario

PLAQUE #9

Location: Near the boat-launching ramp in Burk's Falls Park, H-Way 520, Burk's Falls

MAGNETAWAN RIVER STEAM NAVIGATION
The first steamboat on the Magnetawan River was the 34-foot "Pioneer", built in 1879 for service between Magnetawan and Burk's Falls, a distance of 20 miles. In 1886 a lock was completed at Magnetawan enabling steamer service to be extended an additional 10 miles to Ahmic Harbour. Other steamers came into service, notably the "Wenonah" (1886), "Glenrosa" (1891), "Wanita" (1896), "Glenada" (1904) and "Armour" (1906). These and others provided the only efficient means of transporting passengers and freight from this landing at the railhead in Burk's Falls to the scattered settlements along the river. However, the advent of the automobile doomed these colourful craft, the last of which, the "Mike", ceased operation about 1934.

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario

PLAQUE #10

Location: Burk's Falls

BURK'S FALLS
HYDRO-ELECTRIC DEVELOPMENT
Local woodworking industries first used Burk's Falls as a source of power in 1855. At this point the Magnetawan River which rises in Algonguin Park and flows into Georgian Bay drops 28 feet. In 1904 a rock-fill crib dam was built across the river. The development was reconstructed in 1923 and new generating units were installed. The plant was owned and operated by Knight Brothers Limited, a woodworking firm. In 1950, when the municipality became associated with the Hydro system, the Burk's Falls Generating Station was acquired by Ontario Hydro. Continuing in operation for another decade, the 245-kilowatt development was retired from service in 1960.

ERECTED BY ONTARIO HYDRO

PLAQUE #11

Location: Magnetawan

FIRST POST OFFICE AND KENNEDY'S STORE
The corner of Albert and Sparks Street was the site of Magnetawan's first Post Office owned and operated by one of the first settlers in the area, James Miller. Hugh Miller operated a stagecoach running between Rosseau and Magnetawan with mail and supplies. When new owners excavated to build their home, several Indian artifacts and old coins were found leading them to believe that the site had also been a Trading Post. Those articles can be seen at the village museum near the locks.

The property directly to the north was the site of one of several general stores in town. It was built in 1879 and had several owners, the last of whom was Charlie Kennedy who operated Kennedy's General Store for 27 years. After being destroyed by fire in 1948, the present building was erected of cement block with the second floor being added later. It operated as Raaflaub's Red & White Store for many years. It has now been refurbished to house the Post Office and three apartments.

THIS PLAQUE IS SPONSORED BY
WESTWIND
WESTWIND FOREST STEWARDSHIP INC.
A PROJECT OF
THE MAGNETAWAN AREA BUSINESS ASSOCIATION, THE MILLENNIUM COMMITTEE AND FORGOTTEN TRAILS

PLAQUE #12

Location: In French River Park, just off Highway 69, beside the southern approach to the French River bridge.

CANOE ROUTE TO THE WEST
The French River formed a vital link in the historic canoe route via the Ottawa and Mattawa Rivers and Lake Nipissing, which connected the settlements on the St. Lawrence with the upper Great Lakes and the far West. Most of the famous Canadian explorers, missionaries and fur traders of the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries followed this waterway. Here passed: Brûlé, discoverer of Lake Huron; Champlain, "Father of New France"; the Jesuit martyrs, Brébeuf and Lalemant; the colourful coureurs de bois, Radisson and Groseilliers; La Vérendrye, pioneer explorer of the prairies; Mackenzie, first European to reach the Pacific by land north of Mexico; Thompson, the great explorer and cartographer.

Erected by the OntariomArchaeological and Historic Sites Board

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