Opening doors to sometimes little known local heritage

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KAWARTHA LAKES- Almost 100 years ago the Pontypool area was home to a  number of “Jewish Resorts.”

“Round about 1914 or 1916, just before the 1st World War a gentlemen by the name of Moyshe Yookle settled in the area, they tried farming but the land wasn’t very good there,”  Ian McKechnie , Secretary, Kawartha Heritage Network, tells Kawartha 411.

Moyshe Yookle

“He found travellers were coming up from the city, he himself was a peddler, he worked in the Lindsay, Peterborough, Manvers Township area, people were coming up for the health benefits, the fresh air, the water of Pontypool and he invited people to stay at his house.”

McKechnie says Yookle would feed and accommodate them, sometimes in a barn. By the 20’s and 30’s other Jewish families were coming up and building cottages and resort facilities and by the end of the 2nd World War it was a booming business. “For a period of about 20 year people would come by the trainload from the Kensington Market area of Toronto to enjoy the resorts in the Pontypool area.” And some of them thought the resorts cured them. “One gentleman told me that they had a collection of canes, people would come up on their canes and crutches and they would leave without them.” says McKechnie.

This is just one of the little known, interesting stories of local heritage that will be showcased during “Doors Open Kawartha Lakes” this weekend.  “Doors open is important in so far as it encourages people to look more deeply at our heritage, which is more than just old buildings, it’s also the stories and social history of the people who have made our community what it is today,” McKechnie explains.

The focus of this years events is on more than physical places it’s about the social history behind them.

Residents will have an opportunity to experience the ancient tradition of harvesting wild rice. “We are featuring wild rice harvesting on Pigeon Lake which has spiritual significance for First Nations people,” Mckechnie told Kawartha 411. “People are free to bring their canoes over to the Gamiing Nature Centre on Pigeon Lake Road and make their way through the trials down to the water where Mr Whetung of Curve lake First Nation who owns the Black Duck Wild Rice will take people out onto the water and show them the traditional methods of harvesting wild rice plants.”

The event will also open the doors to a Quaker cemetery, an Amish Farm, a Mennonite Farm, Lindsay’s oldest Chinese Restaurant and a cottage up at Sturgeon point that was built by a religious agnostic who was also a socialist according to McKechnie. “He had recorded in water colour and oil the emergence of outdoor recreation history in the Kawarthas over 125 years ago.” William Alfred Goodman’s cottage will have an artist or two outside painting in much the tradition he did, many years ago.

The Anglican Church in Bobcaygoen will feature a victorian fashion show and tea. Residents will have the opportunity to tour St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Lindsay and learn the history behind the stained glass and more. St Andrews is the only church in Kawartha lakes with an original Victorian Heritage ceiling.

St. Andrews, Lindsay
Ian McKechnie at St. Andrews

“This year in particular we are focusing on 150 years of cultural and religious diversity in the Kawartha’s,” Mckechnie says.

Doors Open Kawartha Lakes runs this Saturday and Sunday. Click here for more http://www.doorsopenontario.on.ca/Events/Kawartha-Lakes.aspx