The Magnetawan Historical Museum has many artifacts commemorating the rich logging and farming history in the area.
This great tourist attraction opens its doors at the very beginning of July and closes for the season at the end of August. Hours of operation are Monday to Thursday 10:00-6:00 and Friday, Saturday and Sunday 9:00-7:00
Amongst the museum’s collections are the restored plant and turbine that supplied the first electricity for the village, local historical artifacts and finally a 1930’s style log cabin. Guided tours of the museum and locks are available by appointment.
Box 70, Hwy. 520 (at Biddy St. at the Magnetawan Locks)
P0A 1P0 Magnetawan
I think I should go back before my time to the first Water Power at the site. It was installed in the 1880s, in the days when the dam was made of wood, timer, and plank, it operated a flour mill, Purdy’s Four Mill. The flume to carry water to the bulk head was around 100 feet long, all made of timber and plank. Wood also composed the bulk head. There was a track conveyer to transport grain and flour from the mill to the steamboat or scow at a point below the present locks. This flour mill burned down in the late 1890s and then John Schade bought the Water Power and in a new frame building operated a grain chopper and other working equipment.
In 1922 Robert and Ernest Daley bought the plant from John Schade. They also bought from Ontario Hydro a 75 K.W. two phase 2300 volt Generator, Exiter, Switchboard, etc. which Hydro had dismantled from High Falls near Powassan. It was installed temporarily beside the building bought from Schada and operated by the same old water turbine which had operated Purdy’s Flour Mill. I was taken on the job as operator.
In 1925 we three Daleys built the present cement building and cement walled water intake from the same spot in the dam. The dam was by then stone and concrete. We installed a larger 100 horse-power unit. We moved into the new building in 1926.
All was smooth running until Easter Sunday of 1928. Heavy snow, warm weather and rain raised the water so fast in two days there was two feet of water over the dam and a swift river all around the Power Plant. The water was up for over a week and during that time I could only leave the power house by boat.
During our about thirty years of Electric service there was on e particular lightening storm to remember when we lost three transformers. There was one wind storm in as winter night which blew trees across and broke down the primary line. A short would shut the plant down automatically but in this case it did not short. Bare wires carrying 2200 volts lay across the road when Bill Harrison drove up and picked them up to carry them off the road. His wool and leather mitts and rubber footwear no doubt saved his life.
When Ontario Hydro came to Burks’s Falls in the early fifties they also came to the Magnetawan rural area. They bought our rural lines to Camp Chikopi, Cedar Croft, Knoepfli Inn, the E. Jenkins farm and the Thompson farm.
The Village of Magnetawan bought our Distribution System for the village. In a way it was a great relief because the responsibility was too great for a small outfit. Nobody wanted our power plant. We, then Tom Jr. and myself continued to operate it for power in a small saw mill. In the early sixties it was shut down and partly dismantled to make use for the building as an office for lumber and building material. Later in the 1960s it was sold to the Lands and Forests. Though partly dismantled the power plant equipment is all there.
Maybe I could add a few side incidents. I was just old enough to remember the first great glow of a fire I had ever seen. It was when the Purdy’s Flour Mill Burned in the late 1890s. This was a distance of three miles from where we lived on the south side of Ahmic Lake. On the day before that memorable Easter Sunday, I had tied a ladder to an upper window at the sheltered end of the building and also tied my boat there. Early Sunday morning the plant was shut down by the ice and driftwood that had knocked down a pole and wires. Sam Langford came in a canoe to see if I was okay. Then Harvey Schada helped me to re-rout the wires into the building and we were ready to run again by night. Harvey would not let me stay alone because the end of the building exposed to up river was getting a heavy pounding from ice and driftwood. So he stayed all night with me.
The old turbine which was used to operate the flour mill was sold to Eugene Kent and I think went to his place at Sterling Falls. A little Giant turbine which came with the Hydro purchase was sold and shipped to Nova Scotia.
As written by Mr. T.J. Daley
In the early thirties, at the height of the depression, there were many young men without jobs who lacked ways of spending their spare time. There was a dire need for some kind or recreation.
Into this gap stepped Dr. Howard Kelly of Baltimore who had a summer home on Ahmic Lake. He formed a Young Men’s Club and rented a room in Grandview House which served as a Club Room until the log cabin was built.
Dr. Kelly was a devout Christian and one of the Club rules was that a religious service be held in the Club room each Sunday night after the local church services.
Rev. Gordon Troyer, the Presbyterian Minister was the Club Chaplain and conducted these services while Mr. G.J. Grunig led the sing songs and strummed his auto harp.
In the summer months, Dr. Kelly personally conducted the services for these young men of Magnetawan while residing at Indian Point. At the close of each service on Sunday night a huge tray of sandwiches, coffee and other goodies were brought in by Taylor’s Inn. Which at the time was operated by Barbara Taylor on the same site as June’s Restaurant.
P.S. There was never any food returned!
The Club was open 7 days a week from 10:00a.m. to 10:00p.m. There was one of the members appointed each day to clean, keep the fire burning and get the mail. This person was known as the Proctor and received $1.00 per day.
Dr. Kelly supplied a good library, daily newspaper and a subscription to many good periodicals. Also there was table tennis, crokinole, and a card game always in progress. Among other things a speaker from various professions would visit the Club. Two of those whom the writer remembers were: a Conservation Officer, Neil McNaughton, who gave a talk on the evils of spearing pickerel which was quite rampant at the time, and Dr. J.S. Freeborn who claimed to have attended the birth of almost everyone present, gave a very strong lecture on sexual behavior.
After employment was on the upswing, the Club was disbanded and was used as a meeting place for Cubs and Scouts, and later to be used as part of the Magnetawan Museum.
In conclusion this club served as a place where many young men spent hours of wholesome companionship and will ever remember its founder, Dr. Howard Kelly for making it happen.
Howard Stewart another of the young men who belonged to the Club, adds a few more facts: Dr. Kelly came to Magnetawan from Baltimore, Maryland from the John Hopkins university Hospital at the turn the century. He used to come up as a summer resident. He was a great canoeist and traveled around the area from lake to lake exploring. He settled on Ahmic Lake in a spot he liked near the present day golf course. The log cabin he built for the Young Men’s Club was called the “Blue Room”. It is now part of the Museum and houses a number of antique items.
Written in 1987 by Norman Morris, a Member of the Club