Lumber, Road & Railway
Lumber, Road & Railway

Lumber, Road & Railway

James SKEAD & the McLACHLIN Family

James SKEAD arrived in the Ottawa Valley in the 1830s, and by 1842 he was conducting lumbering operations on the Madawaska River including a depot farm at Bark Lake. In addition to developing his lumber business, SKEAD’s lumber activities along the Madawaska attracted workers and sometimes their families to his depot, bush camps and lumber-related industries, even before the Ottawa and Opeongo Road was constructed.

Daniel McLACHLIN entered the Ottawa Valley lumber industry in 1834. He had acquired extensive timber limits along the Madawaska River before he moved his operations from Bytown to Arnprior in 1851. In 1867, he transferred his business to his sons. McLACHLIN Brothers Lumber Company had timber limits in this area and operated a depot on the “blueberry plains” at Barry’s Bay. When the railroad came to town, McLACHLINs owned much of the land west of what is now Bay Street.

The Ottawa and Opeongo Road

This was a colonization road to open up this area for agricultural settlement. Surveyed in 1852, it was meant to extend from the Ottawa River near Renfrew to Lake Opeongo in what is now Algonquin Park, but construction was abandoned between Barry’s Bay and Madawaska. In 1855, T.P. French was appointed to supervise settlement, and free 100-acre lots were offered to settlers. Small communities like Brudenell, Hopefield, Barry’s Bay and the Bark Lake settlement sprung up along the road.

J.R. Booth & The Ottawa, Arnprior & Parry Sound Railway

John Rudolphus BOOTH, one of Canada’s pioneer industrialists, had a significant impact on the development of Barry’s Bay. He arrived in Bytown in 1852 and within fifteen years had a large sawmill, was fulfilling important government contracts, and was able to out-bid other lumber magnates to obtain extensive timber limits along the Madawaska River. BOOTH realized rail was an efficient means of getting his logs to mill and market, so between 1879 and 1896 he built the Canada Atlantic Railway, connecting his Ottawa mill to US markets and ocean ports, and the Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway from Georgian Bay to Ottawa to supply his mills.
The construction and completion of BOOTH’s railway (1892-1896) was an opportunity for local business owners, farmers and land speculators. Between 1891 and 1901, the lumber depot, stopping place and farms found on the “Blueberry Plains” at Barry’s Bay became a small village with surveyed streets, two hotels, at least one liquor store, general stores, a carriage maker, blacksmiths and 148 residents.

A shanty and workers at a lumber camp in the Barry’s Bay area in the 1904-1905 season.
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