Bobcaygeon is a community on the Trent-Severn Waterway in the City of Kawartha Lakes, east-central Ontario, Canada.
Bobcaygeon was incorporated as village in 1876, and became known as the “Hub of the Kawarthas”. Its recorded name bob-ca-je-wan-unk comes either from the Mississauga Ojibway word baabaagwaajiwanaang “at the very shallow currents”, giishkaabikojiwanaang “at the cliffed cascades” or obaabikojiwanaang “at currented rocky narrows”, or from the French beau bocage “beautiful hedged farmland”. The first lock in the Trent-Severn Waterway was built in Bobcaygeon in 1833.
The town is situated on three islands, along with the main land.
Bobcaygeon’s chief industry is tourism, particularly related to recreational fishing. Bobcaygeon is a hub for the region, providing many of the services unavailable in the smaller neighbouring communities.
Samuel de Champlain passed through Bobcaygeon with a band of Hurons during his 1615 military expedition.
By the early 1830s, the government of Upper Canada had completed its survey of the Township of Verulam and the area began to attract settlers. Thomas Need, who arrived in 1832 is recognized as one of the earliest settlers of the Township of Verulam and is the founder of Bobcaygeon. With his purchase of 3000 acres (12 km²) of land, Need built a sawmill, gristmill, and the first store.
In 1833, the provincial government began construction of a lock and canal at the narrows between Sturgeon and Pigeon Lakes. This was the first lock constructed on the Trent-Severn Waterway. Soon a community began to develop around the lock and the Thomas Need’s sawmill and gristmill. In the 1850s, the economic development of Bobcaygeon was stimulated by Mossom Boyd’s lumbering business.
The provincial government had reserved and surveyed a town site on the north bank of Bobcaygeon River between Sturgeon and Pigeon Lakes, which was named Rokeby by visiting Lieutenant Governor Sir John Colborne. Need laid out streets and plotted lots on the island, which was named Bobcaygeon. Today, Bobcaygeon designates both sides of the Bobcaygeon River, after the post office was established on the island by the first postmaster, Thomas Need.
In 1844, Thomas Need sold his profitable business interests to Mossom Boyd, and returned to England. Boyd and his sons built up a logging enterprise that was recognized as the third largest logging operation in Upper Canada. In addition to timbering, the Boyds also operated a system of steamboats under the name Trent Valley Navigation Company as well as an experimental beefalo herd on Boyd Island. Descendants of this herd remain in Alberta.
By 1869, Bobcaygeon was a village with a population of 800 in the Township of Verulam County, Victoria County. There was a good trade in lumber, limestone, hides, grain and the GalKay lead mine. There were stages to Lindsay, Peterborough and Minden. In summer, boats travelled to Lindsay and Peterborough. The average price of land was $20 per acre.
Bobcaygeon, with a population of about 1,000, was incorporated as a village by a Victoria County by-law of 1876.
A group of local businessmen worked for many years to bring a railway into Bobcaygeon. Sir Sam Hughes sat on the board of the Lindsay, Pontypool & Bobcaygeon Railway. The line was leased to the Canadian Pacific Railway on completion. In July 1904 the first passenger train steamed into town. The service lasted until 1957, the railway lands becoming the Beach Park.
The village government joined with the Township of Verulam in 1999. In 2000, it was amalgamated with the other municipalities of Victoria County by the provincial government following the recommendations of the Victoria County Restructuring Commission, led by commissioner Harry Kitchen. Now Bobcaygeon exists as a community within the City of Kawartha Lakes.