It’s Wayback Wednesday, sponsored by Jamie Lockwood, broker/owner of Sutton Group Muskoka Realty!
Muskoka Digital Archives from Rebirth of the Portage Flyer by Russ Nicholls, c2005. The major obstacle to water navigation between Huntsville and the resorts on Lake of Bays was the portage between Peninsula Lake and Lake of Bays. Although only a distance of one mile separated the two lakes, the difference in elevation between the lakes was 100 feet with the ridge of land adding an additional 70 feet. This made it impractical to build a canal.
In 1900, the Huntsville and Lake of Bays Navigation Company obtained a charter to construct a railway over the portage under the name of The Huntsville and Lake of Bays Railway. Construction began in 1903 and was opened for operation in 1905. The railway was built to the narrow gauge of three feet and one-half inches between rails based on second-hand equipment purchased from the E.B. Eddy Company of Hull Quebec, consisting of two 1888 vintage H.K. Porter 0-4-0 saddle tanks locomotives and two 12 by 5-foot four-wheeled box cars. In 1948, the original locomotives were sold and replaced by Locomotives Number Seven and Number Five, and a new engine shed was erected to accommodate them.
The S.S. Iroquois which had been built at the South Portage in 1907 to do the South Portage-Dorset run, sank at the South Portage in 1950. The S.S. Iroquois II which began the South Portage-Dorset run in 1949 saw its last season in 1958. The S.S. Algonquin which ran from Huntsville to the South Portage was retired in 1952. The Portage Flyer operated on its own for its last season in 1959.
A provincial plaque commemorating the Huntsville and Lake of Bays Railway Company was unveiled at the South Portage Dock, on August 21, 2007.
See more Wayback Wednesday photos here.
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