Drive one of Kawartha Lakes’ quiet backroads, and the richness of the region’s history might not be immediately apparent. Look a little more closely, though, and you’ll find a wealth stories from Ontario’s past. From a bustling 19th century lumber trade to contemporary Indigenous art, local residents have diligently preserved the region’s past and carried lessons through to the present.
Unfortunately, with COVID restrictions still in place at the time of this writing, accessing those resources is much trickier. To bridge the gap, Kawartha Lakes has put together a series of innovative 360° tours. They won’t replace an in-person visit, but they’re a fun and immersive way to experience some of the region’s most intriguing destinations from the comfort of home. Here’s what to expect from the four available virtual tours.
You might think of Bobcaygeon as cottage country these days, but in the 19th century it was home to one of the largest and most sophisticated logging operations in Upper Canada. The Boyd Museum focuses on Mossom Boyd, the so-called “Lumber King of the Trent Valley,” and the empire he and his descendants built. This tour takes place in the 1889 building which used to house the Boyd Lumber Co.
Be sure to take advantage of the 360° panorama by panning around each room and clicking or tapping on the red info buttons. Look above the entrance and you’ll find Napoleon the Buffalo, who was shipped from California to Fenelon Falls to become the herd sire of Boyd’s buffalo-cattle hyrid “cattalo.” You’ll also discover how the Boyd’s operation supplied lumber to New York City at the turn of the century, and other fascinating insights. Visit the Boyd Museum website for more.
Built in 1863, the Olde Gaol Museum’s collection spans decades of Victoria County and Kawarthas Lakes history. Panning around the virtual tour will give you a sense of the imposing weight of brick and stone, as much of the original architecture has been preserved. You’ll also find exhibits about life outside the gaol’s walls. The virtual tour includes a look at the “Industry of Lindsay” display, and John McCrea’s wood carvings that capture pioneer life in miniature. See www.oldegaolmuseum.ca for reopening dates and more digital content.
Once a thriving farm, now a lesson in hands-on history, Kawarthas Settlers’ Village will delight anyone with an interest in pioneer life. This virtual tour includes seven stops chosen from over twenty historical buildings on the Bobcaygeon grounds. Inside are housed artifacts from 1830-1935, showcasing a century’s worth of stories. You’ll find curios like a vintage icebox in the Duggan House and the Jokinen Drugstore Collection in the General Store. The Settler’s Village tour also includes some video content in addition to 360° panoramas and photos; more info is available at www.settlersvillage.org.
The Kawartha Art Gallery takes an inclusive approach, featuring work by emerging local artists alongside heavy hitters of Canada’s midcentury art scene. The virtual tour format works particularly well for an art gallery – you’ll find work by Alfred J. Casson of the Group of Seven, a powerful interpretation of Ojibwa mythology by Norval Morriseau, contemporary work by Jane Eccles, and several others. Check www.kawarthagallery.com to learn more.
Looking for more virtual experiences in Kawarthas Northumberland? Read about Westben’s Digital Concerts at The Barn and Lang Pioneer Village Museum’s Virtual Q&A program here.