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New Settlers Encounter Indigenous People

1865- As settlers build a life on the Free Grant land in North Hastings interaction with the First Nations Algonquins was inevitable. A well documented encounter in the summer of 1865 by settlers Andrew O’Neill and wife Catherine (Kitty Otterson) published as a story in the Bancroft Times by great grand-daughter Marlene Parkinson shows how mutual respect and cooperation paved the way to harmonious co-existence could take place even 150 years ago.

1866- First wooden Dam built at foot of Baptiste Lake by the Ontario Government and Harris and Bronson Lumber Co. This dam raised the water level of Baptiste Lake (originally called Long Lake) to better provide for the spring river drive coming from logging operations north on the York Rivers headwaters in Bruton township. Original Dam replaced in 1931 and a new concrete structure built in 1952.

1879 – Official name of Bancroft recognized in an act by Senator Billa Flint changing from York River.

1884- Central Ontario Railroad (COR) brings expanded economic hope to North Hastings as it linked south Hastings with Coe Hill by way of Marmora on August 28. The lure of mineral wealth and the “gold fields” of North Hastings, Coe Hill iron ore, Bancroft marble and Bessemer iron to the east and an alternative to the almost impassable route overland on the Hastings road brought a renewed hope of prosperity to the area. Another local railway line started up as the Irondale Bancroft and Ottawa Railway serving from the Haliburton County origin in Irondale easterly to Baptiste Village until it was extended to Bancroft in 1910. It was never linked to the Ottawa area as its name implies but served the Bancroft to Irondale route until its closure in 1960. Its impact on opening the cottage industry on the Baptiste Lake and York River water system was pivotal to creating an early destination for city dwellers longing for the lure of solitude in “Cottage Country”.