Today it takes about an hour by car
to reach Hawk Lake from downtown Ottawa. But in 1871, according
to Alice Biehler Burich, "the settlers had to travel first
to Thurso by steamer, then by wagon or on foot over dusty rutted
roads through Mayo, following logging roads over mountains,
through bush and swamp, cross rivers, and finally follow the
well-worn Indian trails and portages to their destination."
* Transportation has changed, but Water's Edge is still and will
always be in harmony with nature, denying a more modern world
entry to her soothing shores.
Edge surrounds Hawk Lake, which is near the north end of the
Township of Mulgrave-Derry. As late as 1850, the First Nations
inhabited the shores of Hawk Lake, and other lakes in the
region. Their camps were gradually displaced as lumbermen and
farmers moved into the area.
Interestingly enough, the first
immigrant settlers in the region were neither French, nor
English, but German. Mind you, at the time -- 1871-- the term
"German" included vast areas of Europe, including
Prussia, Pomerania, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Alsace and France.
By 1850 lumber was a major area
industry. Logs were hand-cut and trimmed by saw and axe, and
floated down river on the spring floodwater in what was called
"the drive." From 1857 to 1879, men made logs for $7
per month. The strenuous labour did not prevent the men from
having a good time however, and it is recorded that the Roman
Catholic bishop sent priests to the shanties to mitigate rowdy
influences: "The normally boisterous, noisy camp quieted to
a hush as the good Father heard confessions."*
Lake Lodge was opened in July 1906 by Mr. and Mrs. H.C. Yank.
Mr. Yank stocked the lake himself with three-inch long bass,
which by 1925 had grown so rapidly that bass 3.5 pounds in
weight were not uncommon.
Still, the natural domain of Hawk
Lake refused to give up ground. The first automobile to break
the peaceful quiet of Mulgrave Township arrived in September
1908 with a load of fishermen -- and promptly stalled on a
mountain road. The fishermen finished their trip on foot while
their chauffeur worked for hours to repair the vehicle. The
vehicle was finally pulled up the hill the following morning by
a team of horses. Later, the first car to successfully negotiate
MacKinnon's Hill was a six-cylinder Norwalk driven by Mr. E.M.
Farrow of Ottawa who "received quite an ovation from an
assembled crowd of sightseers." *
While the roads are paved and
easily accessible today, and modern facilities and creature
comforts abound, Water’s Edge refuses to give up the natural
beauty that makes it a blissful sanctuary. Come and make your
own historic mark in this paradise, for you and your descendants
to take pleasure in.
* For further information about the
Township of Mulgrave-Derry, we give thanks to and highly
recommend that you consult the very informative and entertaining
Olden Days: A History of German Settlement in the Township of
Quebec 1850-1890, by Alice Biehler
Burich, Chesley House Publications, Quyon, Quebec, 1990.
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