The beautiful vacation area of Muskoka and Parry Sound Districts was primarily a hunting ground for the nomadic Huron, Ojibwa and Algonquin Indians. People from Europe and the British Isles were looking for new lands and the government looked to the north. Immigrants brought with them their valuable knowledge of crafts and skills and as a result this area soon developed in to a bustling community. According to records maintained by the settlers, the village of Magnetawan was mapped out in 1873. Croft Township was surveyed in 1869 and Chapman Township in 1870.
As a result of early surveys in search of a feasible canoe route to Georgian Bay in 1829 and 1837, the Canadian Government had considered leaving this area untouched as a reserve for the Indians. They found the Petawawa and Magnetawan Rivers did not offer the suitable waterway they were looking for. The Magnetawan River winds 115 km. As the crow flies, with a drop of some 800 feet from its beginning in Algonquin Park to the Georgian Bay. Though the surveys failed, the reports of excellent forests of the highly prized white pine whetted the appetites of many.
This timber was in great demand in the United Kingdom and the United States, where the 60’ to 80’ feet tall trees, seven feet across at their bases, were excellent materials for shipbuilding. Beginning in 1853, and over the next twelve years, the Government built twenty Colonization Roads into these forested areas in order to reap their riches and to entice settlers to clear new farmlands. The last of these roads was the Nipissing Colonization Road, names for the Nipissing band of Indians whose Chief was Simon Commanda.