Victoria Harbour ON

My mother was born in Victoria Harbour, Ontario, in 1916.  Her parents were Swedes from Finland.  Her father was a teamster (in those days he managed a team of horses) for the Victoria Harbour Lumber Company.  In the 1960s my family began renting a cottage near Victoria Harbour. In 1970, my parents built a cottage here. The family lived in Toronto and my parents eventually retired to that cottage.  My sister who lived in a variety of places in southern Ontario has retired to that cottage after a career as a nurse.  I have lived in that cottage since 2000.  I am fortunate to have Georgian Bay outside my front window.

Georgian Bay from Robins Point Road, Victoria Harbour, Ontario

from the Tay Township website:

The Township of Tay is located in north Simcoe County on the shores of Severn Sound (Georgian Bay) and is a rural and small urban municipality with a permanent population of 9,232.

In addition to a large rural community, Tay is composed of the communities of Port McNicoll, Victoria Harbour, Waubaushene and Waverley.

Whether you are starting or relocating a business, moving your family or retiring to this magnificent area, we know you’ll be happy with your decision. Its picturesque setting is strategically located only 90 minutes north of Toronto.

Georgian Bay is the east end of Lake Huron.  It is long time cottage and summer resort playground.  For a time the world record muskellunge was caught near Methodist Island.  Other sport fish found here include bass, pike, pickerel.  Water birds include ducks, Canada geese, and trumpeter swans (reintroduced successfully in the past thirty years).

The area was the homeland of the Huron Nation from about 1300 until 1650.  There are over 600 archaeological sites in Huronia which encompasses much of Simcoe County.  Tay Township is in the NE corner of the county.  In 1610, Etienne Brule came to live with the Hurons.  Brule was the first European to see many of the Great Lakes.  It is believed he was even able to navigate around the shoreline of Lake Superior.  In 1615 his master, Samuel de Champlain and Fr. Joseph Le Caron visited Huronia.  Caron celebrated the first Mass in what would later be Ontario.  In 1649, Iroquois warriors from present day New York State destroyed the Huron Nation in Huronia.  One French priest remarked in a letter home that the problem was not in getting lost in the forests but rather getting lost in the endless corn fields that the Hurons cultivated.

The rolling hills are marked by huge deposits of sand and gravel deposited after the great Ice Age. There are wetlands, mixed forests, various farming  operations including maple syrup production.

Victoria Harbour was settled in the early 1800’s by John Hogg. The community grew throughout the nineteenth century, becoming known for having the 2nd largest lumber mill in Canada.


Lumber mills were operating in the Victoria Harbour area since John Hogg settled here in the 1830s. Hogg built one of the Georgian Bay area’s first sawmills on the riverbanks west of where present-day Victoria Harbour is situated, and a settlement gradually grew up around it. The settlement was called Hogg after its founder, who also gave his name to the Hogg River and Hogg’s Bay. The McNabbs, who by 1853 were operating on the abandoned ruins of Hogg’s mill, continued the lumber trade. By 1869, Arthur Fowlie and John Kean of Orillia and Richard Power and W.D. Ardaugh of Barrie formed the Kean & Fowlie Company and built up an extensive sawmill operation to the east of Hogg River. They operated the mill until 1876, and the settlement continued to grow around the industry. In 1872, the first official post office was established, and the settlement was christened Victoria Harbour after Queen Victoria, who was the reigning monarch at the time.

After Kean and Fowlie pulled out of the area, several smaller firms came and went. Then, in 1885, the economy turned around and Scottish entrepreneur John Waldie came to the area and purchased the mills. He formed the Victoria Harbor Lumber Company, which at its peak was recognized as the second-largest lumber mill operation in Canada and the third-largest in North America. Waldie built company housing for his workers, which encouraged men to come from as far away as Quebec and New York looking for work and a place to live. The Company houses in Victoria Harbour were painted bright yellow, giving the town the nickname “Canary Towne.” The Company store, where the mill workers bought most of their goods, was also painted yellow. Waldie was generally well liked by his employees, and considered to be a bit of a philanthropist. Everyone in the town was connected to the lumber industry in some way and to Waldie the well-being of the town and the well-being of the company were no doubt synonymous. It was common practice for Waldie to give a five-dollar gold piece to the parents of every male child born in the village, and at Christmas, each family was given a large turkey. Company workers were given credit at the company store over the off-season, until employment picked up again. His last donation, the year before his death, was St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, which he built and presented to a Board of Trustees. By the late 1920s, the lumber supply, which had for a long time seemed limitless, had been exhausted, and mills were shut down all along the shore. John Waldie’s son, Fredrick Waldie, died in 1927, the same year the Victoria Harbour mill closed, leaving a large sum of money to be divided among the needy of the village, especially those left unemployed by the mill closure.

from 2006 census, Tay Township

  • Population: 9,748 (9,162)
  • % Change (2001-2006): 6.4
  • % Change (1996-2001): 1.3
  • Dwellings: 3,470
  • Area (km²): 138.93
  • Density (persons per km²): 70.2


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