"The history of Bobcaygeon has
a charming tale."

The fascinating story about the history of Bobcaygeon can be traced back to as early as 1615.

Bobcaygeon locks on the Trent Severn Waterways in the Kawartha Lakes
Bobcaygeon locks on the
Trent Severn Waterways in the Kawartha Lakes

Its recorded name bob-ca-je-wan-unk comes either from the Mississauga Ojibwa word baabaagwaajiwanaang, meaning "at the very shallow currents", giishkaabikojiwanaang, meaning "at the cliffed cascades" or obaabikojiwanaang meaning "at currents rocky narrows".

Bobcaygeon locks on the Trent Severn Waterways in the Kawartha Lakes
Boats arriving to tbe Bobcaygeon locks
from Pigeon Lake

Some consider the name Bobcaygeon came from Champlain and his men when they traveled through this neck of the woods and noted in his diary, that the forests around Bobcaygeon were the finest he had ever seen in all his travels. He described this area as 'beaubocage' (beau-beautiful, bocage=hedged farmland).

The history of Bobcaygeon continues two centuries later, when the first white settlers arrived, they heard the Mississauga Indians calling Bobcaygeon 'Bobcajewonunk'. It was their version of the name Champlain created.

'Bobcajewonunk' evolved into meaning "narrow place between two rocks, where water rushes through". This was before a wooden dam and lock were built, altering though not removing its beauty.

Three islands dissect the Bobcaygeon of today. The Trent Canal, where Sturgeon Lake flows into Pigeon Lake and bordered on either side by the Big Bob and Little Bob chanels, divides Bobcaygeon. There are a total of 7 bridges joining Bobcaygeon together. The original lock at Bobcaygeon was the first lock to be built on the Trent-Severn Waterway. The wooden lock was initiated by Lieutenant Governor Sir John Colborne in 1832 and financed by the provincial government.

The boyd Heritage Museum in Bobcaygeon Ontario Canada
The Boyd Heritage Museum in Bobcaygeon

Thomas Need (Author of Six Years in the Bush, or Extracts from the Journal of a Settler in Upper Canada 1832-1838) settled here in Bobcaygeon. He later opened a store and built a sawmill and a gristmill in the narrows between Sturgeon and Pigeon Lake. The sawmill and lumberyard were situated on the lower end of Centre Island.

In 1849, Thomas Need sold his mills to Mossum Boyd. Many of the locals believe that the history of Bobcaygeon's village was founded at this time. Mr. Boyd later became known as the "Lumber King of the Trent Valley" and the founding father of Bobcaygeon.

In addition to his lumber empire, Mossum Boyd found the Trent Valley Navigation Company (1883 - 1915), which operated freight and passenger steamers between Lindsay, Coboconk, Sturgeon Point, Fenelon Falls, and Bobcaygeon.

A large booming tourist business came to the Kawartha Lakes region as a result of Mr. Boyd's ambitious enterprise. The Boyd's extensive family home and gardens still stands today.

The history of Bobcaygeon lives on with the opening of Kawartha Dairy in 1933. Kawartha Dairy began with incorporating the new pasteurization plant technology. Over time other smaller dairy companies sold their licenses to Kawartha Dairy as they went out of business.

Kawartha Dairy is still growing, and their trucks can be seen all over Ontario. We have seen Kawartha Dairy ice cream in the stores of Lindsay, Bancroft, Minden, Peterborough and as far as Newmarket.

Bobcaygeon is one of our favourite villages. Click here to see why we like Bobcaygeon