From North Country wilderness to classy summer resort accessible only by boat, to a community of residents and seasonal cottagers accessible year round by its own road! Lots of stories in how we got from there to here and we'll be sharing these with you shortly.
The Skerryvore Hotel photos are courtesy of the current owners of what is called Walker's Island, the small island you see inside the curve of the bay. The cottage on the island was the original Smoke House for the Skerryvore Hotel, where the gentlemen visitors used to go in the evening to enjoy their cigars, card games and tall stories.
How it all began...........
In 1827, the Hudson Bay Company established a Trading Post on what is believed to be Shawanaga Landing, just south of Skerryvore along the Georgian Bay shoreline. The Post was abandoned by Hudson Bay in 1836. Archive notes refer to the possibility this trading post may have been in use before and after Hudson Bay's presence in that time frame. Several old maps done during the next few decades refer to a road to the "Old Trading Post". This may well have been the original opening of the area which is now Skerryvore.
The Skerryvore area in the making.....
In 1892, Mr. Ole Hansen acquired two parcels of land of some 200 acres in the township of Shawanaga - by way of the Government Free Grant and Homestead Act. This now makes up the mainland portion of Skerryvore.
In 1910, Mrs. Elizabeth Barker purchased The property from Mr. Hanson. She then built a 70 guest hotel and named it The Skerryvore Hotel.
Mrs. Barker ran the hotel until her death in 1943. After her death, her daughter Mona and son-in-law Jim Walker took over the running of the hotel.
The hotel operated until 1960 when it and the mainland property were purchased by Albert Taylor, a local contractor and developer. By the mid-60's, the hotel was gradually torn down and Mr. Taylor used the Walker's home - now known as 37 Lookout Point - as his summer home.
Late 60's saw the advent of Mr. Taylor's company, partnering up with another development company where, in addition to the mainland property, Pentecost and Hunter's islands were purchased so that the companies could promote the sale of mainland and island cottage lots under the banner name of "Ojibway Sands". A road was build linking the existing Shebeshekong Road to the bay giving vehicle access.
From the beginning, a "road issue" developed between the First Nation Band and the Skerryvore property owners. The First Nation band saw the road as being private, the Skerryvorites saw it as being a public road. Over the course of the next 25 years, between road closures, court battles and law suits, Skerryvore property owners lived in "interesting times"! The final outcome was where the courts declared the road private.
The Building of The Skerryvore Road 1997
To solve the problem of non road access, the Skerryvore property owners agreed to pay half the cost of a new road (by-passing the First Nation property completely) along with the Ontario government. In late spring of 1997, the new road opened and was named The Skerryvore Community Road. It has the distinction of being the one and only public road in Ontario if not in Canada partly paid for by the private property owners of the area. 2007 saw the first 10 years of the 10 & 10 road debenture paid off with some residents opting to buy down their share of the balance and others opting for another 10 years of road tax.
Meanwhile, the Skerryvore community prospered, from gaining electricity service in 1973, to beginning the water quality testing in 2000, to getting included in the 911 mapping system with new street names in 2002. In 2006, the Skerryvore Ratepayers Association applied for and was accepted as Associate Member of the Georgian Bay Association, signalling the community's awareness of the need to become better stewards of the local environment.
The community now has 182 seasonal and full time homes. Social activities range from an early summer BBQ and an Annual General Meeting for the ratepayers association members.
The Skerryvore history in booklet form is available, giving full details. Contact your directors for your copy.