James Holland (1821-1896)

by F. Bruce Ryans (1953-55,56)

The bodies of water in Dudley Township were named after the first settlers in Dysart Township (Town of Haliburton etc.)  In the book, “Fragments of a Dream – Pioneering in Dysart Township and Haliburton Village”, Leopolda (Leo) z Lobkowicz Dobrzensky writes,

“After 1859… trappers David Sawyers, George Gregory, James Holland and William Gainforth decided to stay in Dysart permanently.  They were joined by three farmers….  These seven squatters… (were) identified as Dysart’s first permanent residents. “ (p.21).  He also quotes from another letter to the commissioner of Crown Lands, dated June 29th, 1861, in which (P.L.S.) Gossage writes; “There are three squatters… in this township (Dysart) on Lake Kashagawigimog (sic), two of which have taken in their families. One of the two was … James Holland, who usually returned home… after the trapping season, but in the spring of 1861 decided… (on) setting-up house-keeping.” (p.25).  It is also stated that he “travelled… in a birch bark canoe to the cabin… where Algonquin Indians once camped.” (p.25). James Holland accomplished a great deal in his 75 years, but our interest lies with his trapping endeavours in Dudley Township, H.S.R’s home base.  The author says that “Another Holland camp was located on East Lake. Holland’s Lake, and Holland’s Creek which flows into Drag Lake’s East Bay, were named after James who trapped there.” (p.27)

The 135th Troop first saw Holland’s Creek in ‘48.  We were not told it’s original name. ‘Irish’ (Jimmy Bruce (50)) our guide, called it the Drag River and told us that the water flowed into Drag Lake’s East Bay, about a mile and a half to the west.  We were gathered at the ford in the gorge, ready to climb that steep slope to Pike’s Peak, for the first time. This lower reach of Holland’s Creek may have been called the Drag River for many years, but it was much more a creek than a river.  East Lake (a.k.a. Lake of Two Islands or Two Islands Lake) had not yet undergone a name change in ‘48.  It is about one-half mile south of East Bay, but only one-quarter mile east of the much smaller bay, found just south of East Bay.  James Holland would probably have used this shorter and easier portage to reach his camp on East Lake.

The peninsula that separates these two bays was owned (ca. 1930 to ca. 1970) by Wm. Niddrie, a good friend of my late father-in -law.  Bill Niddrie was known to the few cottagers on the lake as “The Mayor of Drag Lake”.  Shirley (Shirley (Fink) Ryans (55-56)) called him “Uncle Bill”.  In the summer of ‘58 we stayed at her family cottage, located at Rock Point on the west shore.  Almost daily I crossed the Drag Lake to work for “The Mayor”. Among other chores, I shingled the cottage, boathouse, icehouse, outhouse, and the sleeping cabin at the edge of the rock face. That cabin was near the entrance to East Bay, but the boathouse was around the point to the south, at the entrance to the smaller bay. “Uncle Bill”, Shirley and I had never heard of James Holland, but we knew that the bay was called Holland’s Bay. I have no idea why the author failed to mention this fact in her book. Today, residents still call it Holland’s Bay.

If there was a post to mark the corners of the four townships of Dudley, Harburn, Bruton and Harcourt (clockwise in order), that post would be in the middle of Fourcorner Lake (a.k.a. Buck Lake). About a mile and three quarters due west of this point, there is a small pond that could be considered the source of Holland’s Creek (a.k.a. Drag River).   The old Peterson Colonization Road and the northern boundary of Dudley Township, pass along the north side of the pond. It is known as Boundary Pond. Holland’s Creek wends its way south-westward from there, through a series of : ponds, swamps, marshes – as far as Holland’s Lake.  Here the creek heads west to Minnie Lake and then south and westward again, through the Pike’s Peak Gorge, until it finally empties into Drag Lake’s East Bay. From Boundary Pond to East Bay, it is 6 miles as the crow flies.

James Holland had many tributary streams such as: Hurst Creek, Scraggle Creek and Kennabi Creek, where he could have extended his trapline. He may have trapped the shores of Lake Kennabi itself, but we can’t be absolutely sure. We cannot even be certain that he trapped the valley as far north as Boundary Pond. We can be sure however, that Holland’s Bay, Holland’s Creek and Holland’s Lake were named after James Holland (1821-1896). We can also be sure that he trapped on HSR property long before Mill Valley Lumber Co. (1935-1945) or the earlier Laking Lumber Co. (1903-1928) cut timber. He was a pioneer trapper long before Len Holmes, ‘Black’ Archie Scott or Ken White were born.  He has a place in HSR history.

The 135th Troop had a great view from Pike’s Peak before we were led down the north slope (no definite trail) to the sandy shores of Minnie Lake. ‘Irish’ our Scottish guide pointed out the tracks of many birds and mammals. The timber wolf tracks drew the most attention. We circled Minnie Lake clockwise and tried to cross Scraggle (Moore?) Creek on a unique beaver dam. It was neither big nor long, but it was treacherous. Probably fed-up with human traffic, the engineers had covered the top of their dam with dozens of rolling pins. These beaver had stripped the bark from 2” or 3” poplars, cut them into about 2’ lengths and them spread them over the top of the structure. I have seen dozens of dams in Algonquin Park and in Haliburton and Hastings counties, but none were quite like that dam. Scouts with soakers and soggy clothes followed their guide eastward with Holland’s Creek on their right. I can still see the white plume on the green tam-o-shanter up ahead, leading us through the marshy growth towards the Hurst Lake Road. We turned right and halted at the bridge. Jimmy Bruce pointed northward and said that Holland (sic) Lake was upstream and just out of sight. At the camp road we turned left toward H.Q. and our camp at Big Bear Point.  It had been a great hike.

The mistake, albeit tiny, had probably been made prior to the ‘47 birth of Camp Kennabi. I do know that the H.Q. staff usually called them Holland Lake and Holland Creek ca. ‘50. Even Government of Ontario maps supported the error.  If someone in ‘53 had told me that the possessive form was the original, correct and only form that should be used, I know that I would have laughed.  The boys would have thought it to be of little or no consequence. We were both young and wrong. We could not see the future.

Horror of horrors! I saw it on a HSR map, and I even read it in the Alumni Thunderbird. “Hollen” Lake!!! Was the family name gone and the history with it? We had let ‘Holland’s’ slip to ‘Holland’ which was such a tiny error. Now we had let ‘Holland’ slip to ‘Hollen’ which was a total mistake. The language problem was both oral and written. An enunciation error followed up by a spelling error seems to cover the situation. I can now picture the day when a staff guide (ca. 2020) will be trying to explain ‘Haul-In’ Lake to a group of campers. Some may say that that’s far-fetched. I do not think so. We are almost there now. It gets even worse! …Just east of Hidden Bay there is a small lake. On the east shore of that lake there was a logging camp operated by The Ire’s Lumber Co. Yes!  It was on Ire’s Lake. You, or rather we call it Iris Lake. Once again we are quite wrong. There is neither an Iris Lake nor a Hollen Lake, near Lake Kennabi (a.k.a. Kennebic or Kennibic Lake).

Surely future HSR maps can be corrected. Surely we all could make the effort to correct our enunciation of Holland’s. I do know that it would please at least one old timer. More importantly, James Holland and his descendants deserve our effort.

Help!!!  I rest my case.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s