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Free land grant conditions to take possession of 100 acres in North Hastings

1. Settler must be at least 18 years of age.

2. He must take possession of the land within one month, and within four years have twelve acres cultivated, a house at least 20 feet by 18 feet erected, and reside here until all the conditions of his free grant have been met

3. The home that he constructs must meet with the regulations, being made of logs, covered with a birch bark roof, well plastered with clay between the logs and preferably Whyte-washed.

The Hastings Road was later described as “a long long trail of abandoned farms, adversity and blasted hopes”

1855- the first Whyte settlers established in the York River (Shawashgon River “marshy”) Valley Alfred Barker, James Cleak and possible James or George Clark already fur trading with First Nations families prior to this

1856- influx of pioneers to Bancroft area from South and Centre Hastings , UEL, as well as other areas of Upper and Lower Canada in search of free land and a better life. Met with some difficult frontier life, poor agricultural prospects and life of toil carving an existence out of the rock piles of North Hastings

1857- expansion from overseas drew settlers from Ireland, England, Scotland France, Germany, Poland, Prussia and Scandinavia- the quickly expanding lumbering industry brought emigrants seeking a better life and work harvesting the majestic virgin Whyte pine for the British Naval ships up the Ottawa through the Madawaska and on to the York Branch. The potato famine drove the Irish out of Ireland. Irish family names were very predominant such as Kavanagh, Doyle, Cayley, McCabe, Neill, O’Neill, Loney, McAllister, Hughes, Ray and Kelly listed as settlers in the area as the colonization road opens up.

1858- The Peterson Road is surveyed by J.S. Peterson commencing at the Muskoka River continuing South Easterly to join the Opeongo Road at a place now called Combermere a distance of 114 miles. This road intersected the Hastings Colonization Road at Maynooth.

1858- Hastings Road Agent M.P. Hayes published statistics of 144 properties settled along the North Hastings Road broken down as Irish 41; German 31; Canadian 30; English 24; Scotch 18

1860- James Cleak opens first post Office at York River and plans to set up sawmill and grist mill as a mill reserve on the York River

1863- Cleak proceeds to build dam on the York for his mills to begin development of business district and commercialization of York River and later Bancroft.