Kingston and Pembroke Railroad Pictures (K&P Railroad)
History Of Calabogie (Taken off Polly's little Shanty website) There are several theories for how Calabogie received its name. One theory claims Calabogie came from the Gaelic word “calladh bogaidh” meaning “marshy shore.” Others claim it is derived from the Spanish term “calaboga” which is a body of water in which it is necessary to row. One tradition says the name comes from “callibogus,” an alcoholic Newfoundland drink.
According to Alfred Clarke, a long time resident of the area who wrote “A History of Calabogie” in the mid-1960’s Barryvale was first called Calabogie and the railway station at what is now Calabogie was called Madawaska. However the Ottawa-Arnprior and Parry Sound Railroad Company which crossed the upper valley around Barry’s Bay, also had a station named Madawaska, so the name of the station at Calabogie Lake was renamed Calabogie.
According to Mr. Clarke the derivation of the name Calabogie was from the Indian name for Sturgeon. The Sturgeon came up the river to spawn. They were not able to go above the high falls, about a mile from the lake, and so they congregated in the lake.
First There Was the River
The Madawaska River is fundamental to the history of Calabogie. Without it the whole area would have been settled much later. Some of the earliest commercial lumbering in Ontario took place along the Madawaska between 1860 and 1890. In addition to the demand for lumber by a growing population in Upper Canada, many of the tall white pines of the area became ships masts in the British navy. The Madawaska River was one of the important water routes to the remotely located stands of timber and a water highway for shipping the felled trees to market. Dams were also constructed at Highland Chute, Mountain Chute, Calabogie and Arnprior to assist operations. It was the damming of the Madawaska around Calabogie that created Calabogie Lake. The lake became a place where logs from the various drives were separated and stored before being floated down to the Ottawa River. In the earliest days the village developed around the timber men from the sorting camps around the lake. Hotels were opened and a general store. According to Alfred Clarke the first store was open by Sam Dempsey and was located at Grassy Bay.
The Railway Changed Everything
The K&P Railway, which was also known as the Kick & Push, it reached Calabogie in the 1880’s. The line was originally built to give local entrepreneurs access to outside markets. It also provided access for people.
Around 1879 the K&P Railway was taken over by a contractor named M.J. Obrien who committed to building what was called the Renfrew Extension. The first section, which would bring the line across the Madawaska to Calabogie, was considered the most difficult part. Part of the challenge was building a causeway over Grassy Bay. The causeway is still a permanent landmark in the area. In 1883 the K&P arrived in Calabogie. Some years later M.J. Obrien built a dam and power house to supply Calabogie and Barryvale with electricity and also install a telephone system.
With the railroad came lumber and lathe mills, grist mills for grinding local grain, shingle makers, mining and the service industries to serve a growing work force. There was an iron ore mine in the area, but it soon shut down because of the ore’s sulphur content. But then there was graphite from Black Donald Mines that was carted to Calabogie and shipped out by rail. Graphite is used for led pencils, stove polish, metallic paints and especially as a lubricant for heavy machinery. The graphite at Black Donald was one of the largest deposits in North America and was extremely pure; 84% pure. The graphite was also in the flake and compact form at one site: which was very unusual. Graphite mines usually produced one form or the other, but not both.
Calabogie, In the Thirties & Forties
Mill Street, just a gravel trail back then, was called High Falls Road and was the main east – west thoroughfare in Calabogie, long before the bypass, County Road 508, was completed. There was a short stretch of wooden sidewalk running from Most Precious Blood Catholic Church up around 400 yards. On the waterfront, on Madawaska Street, there was Moran’s Hotel, Legree’s Hotel and Pinkham’s Boarding House and Barber Shop, which would later become the Whippletree Shanty.
There were five stores operating then, and all did a thriving business, especially on Saturday nights when they stayed opened until 9 or 10 pm. Boxes store, located in front of Lorna and Willard McDermid’s on the waterfront and next to Moran’s Hotel, was a general store, as was Braden’s, now Sullivan’s Apartments. Charbonneau’s Store specialized in meat products and was located next door to Polly’s Little Shanty in the vacant lot and Scully’s Store located around the corner from the Shanty and last but not least Belanger’s Store which is now Polly’s Little Shanty. The Shanty building is the only building out of the five business’ from the 30’s and 40’s existing as a business for over 80 years.
Thank you for making Calabogie one of your destinations and we hope to see you again!