The lands south of the Port Perry
Causeway, which are often refered to as the Scugog
Marsh, have long been a mystery to most people
living in the Lake Scugog area. Residents who
have lived in and around the lake their entire
life, admit the owners are very private, and most
have little knowledge of it's ownership and use.
Today, most refer to this large tract of land
and submerged swamp, simply as the Syndicate.
Early newspaper records suggest
that the Scugog marshlands were a favourite spot
for local sportsmen. In fact up until the 1880s
it was one of the most popular spots around Port
Perry for hunting, fishing and trapping. In an
effort to uncover some of the mystery, we've researched
the property, going back to the 1870s, when it
first became newsworthy.
Aerial map shows Port Perry
and the extensive marshlands
During the early
part of the century, the land was predomenantly
swamp and marsh, flooded by the construction of
the Purdy's Dam in Lindsay in 1830. It wasn't
until almost fifty years later the first indications
of changes ahead surfaced. In November 1878, an
application was made to build an embankment from
a point near Port Perry across the lake to Scugog
Island, then drain the marsh to reclaim the land.
The application, made by a group of Toronto men
to the Parliament of Ontario, was endorsed by
local councils, and on March 11, 1879 the Lake
Scugog Marsh Lands Drainage Co. was formed and
the Act became law. Company members included Metcalfe
Thwaite, a merchant; Joseph Fisher Eby, merchant;
Patrick George Close, Esquire and Robert Armour,
The Lake Scugog Marsh Lands
Drainage Company, was given the power to construct
a solid roadway or embankement from any point
on the shore of Lake Scugog, not more than one
hundred feet north of the present Scugog Bridge
leading from the Village of Port Perry to Scugog
Island, then easterly or southerly across Scugog
Island into the Township of Cartwright. The act
also provided for the Company to construct a similar
enbankment from a point on the shore of Lake Scugog,
south or south-west Caesarea to the opposite shore
on Scugog Island and to drain all those parts
of Lake Scugog and lands lying south of the embankments.
When completed all lands drained or reclaimed
up to the present high water mark would become
the property of the Marsh Lands Drainage Co.
The Company was also instructed
to construct a free, public roadway on top of
the embankments not less than 16 feet wide, so
that wagons and other vehicles could pass safely,
and that it must be maintained at that width forever.
They would be allowed to cut a drain of sufficient
width and depth through the embankment for the
purpose of draining the reclaimed area, due to
water buildup from natural creeks or rain fall.
An article in the North Ontario
Observer in July 1880 reported that The Scugog
Marsh Reclaiming Company was about to proceed
with the work on the embankment and that steps
were being taken to proceed with the work without
At the same time as the Marsh
Reclaiming Co. was preparing to begin work on
the embankment, work was underway on completing
the final 600 feet of the Scugog Bridge. In an
effort to avoid duplicating work, the Company
attempted to take over work on the bridge from
the contractor, Mr. Trennam, with plans to build
the new part and repair the old in a permanent
manner, so as to suit their purpose in the matter
of draining the marsh.
Aerial view of part of the
Scugog (Osler) Marshlands showing some of the
It would appear
this arrangement was unsuccessful, as a report
from Ontario County Council in July 1881, indicated
that the work had been completed on the Scugog
Bridge by Mr. Trennam.
Throughout the next two years,
J.W. Codd, president of the Lake Scugog Marsh
Lands Drainage Company tried to get support from
the Village of Port Perry in constructing the
roadway. He argued that it would be far less costly
to construct a dam, for drainage purposes, and
that he had been induced into a roadway by promises
made by village authorities, offering assistance.
In May 1882, Mr. Codd made a
proposal to the village fathers, asking that they
loan the Company $10,000 by debenture, and he
would agree to have the roadway completed and
open for traffic by October of that year. If such
assistance was not forthcoming, Mr. Codd said,
he would apply to Parliament to have the Act amended
so that the Company could build a dam and not
Instead, the corporation countered
Mr. Codd's offer, and suggested that if the Company
would deposit $150 in the Ontario Bank, Port Perry,
they would prepare a by-law for a bonus of $4,000
towards the construction of a roadway from Scugog
Island to Cartwright. The Marsh Land Drainage
Company agreed, and advanced the money, but the
vote for the by-law, in December 1882, was defeated
by 17 votes. The outcome was considered very strange,
since for more than 10 years residents and business
people of the village had been arguing for such
The defeat of the by-law spelled
the end for the Lake Scugog Marsh Land Drainage
Company's dream of reclaiming the land in the
southern most parts of Lake Scugog. The high cost
of constructing a roadway, instead of a dam, made
it almost impossible for the Company to proceed.
The following year, in a final attempt to salvage
the project, they applied to Parliament seeking
an amendment to the Act which would allow them
to build a dam, rather than a roadway, but the
request was rejected, effectively bringing the
project to an end.
With no further use for the
marshland accumulated by the Lake Scugog Drainage
Company, it was sold in December 1883 to a group
of Toronto men, who had plans to make the Scugog
Marsh into a private hunting and fishing area
for family and friends.
It wasn't long after they purchased
the marsh, the new owners began to post signs
warning intruders or poachers to keep out with
"Private Property" and "No Hunting or Fishing"
News of the land being taken
over by a consortium of private "out-of-towners,"
did not sit well with area residents, in particular
those who had hunted and fished in the marsh for
much of their lives. In fact some members of the
community, defied the posted signs, but would
later feel the wrath of the owners when they were
hauled into court, prosecuted and fined for trespassing.
The council of the village of
Port Perry, in a letter dated October 8, 1890,
requested the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario not
to grant 'Letters of Patent' to the group, arguing
that the effect of granting application would
create an unjust monoploy to the applicants -
and would exclude all other persons from hunting
or shooting over the marshlands.
N. F. Paterson, clerk of the
village, wrote that, "in the opinion of this council
the said Incorporation is sought solely for the
purpose of enabling the said applicants to enjoy
an exclusive right to shoot wild ducks over the
said marsh as against the public who have equal
But the objections fell on deaf
ears and James Baird, editor of the North Ontairo
Observer wrote the following, scathing article:
Toronto Swells Buy Marsh
It appears that a syndicate
of Toronto Swells have purchased the Scugog Marsh
for the purpose of breeding fish and fowl, and
for the foolish purpose of hooking the former
and shooting the later.
They also propose to protect
the game - such protection as the wolf gives the
lamb. They certainly have got more money than
brains if they expect that by paying a lot of
money to somebody they can secure a monopoly of
hunting and fishing on the Scugog Marsh.
If these would-be notables are
allowed to take part with the public hunting and
fishing over the Marsh they may thank their stars,
but if they get impertinent over it they will
be excluded entirely and serve them right.
But their mightiness are putting
it on a little too thick when they put up poster
forbidding trespass on the Marsh; such modesty
on the part of the syndicate would melt the heart
of a stone.
Trespass on the Marsh! O, my
country! Will the modern Neros allow us to creep
past the Marsh on our hands and knees? It is said
that they intend to employ a gameskeeper who will
pour all the terror of the law on the head of
the unfortunate who may be found on the Marsh
Their bark is perhaps worst
than their bite, they may bark away but if ever
they attempt to bite we will extract every tooth
they have and give them a free and permanent pass
to their grab-all home in Toronto
There may be localities where
the good natured, broad backed, easily ridden
community will smile when they are sat upon, but
he that imposes on this community will find he
has caught a Tarter.
An article in a Toronto newspaper
on October 10, 1890, described the conflict between
the owners of the Scugog Game Preserve Company,
or "Syndicate" and the residents of Port Perry,
suggesting that the thought of losing the rights
of shooting over this large tract of marsh, estimated
at more than 2,000 acres, had rankled some of
the sporting residents, who formulated a plan
to frustrate the owners.
Henry Smith Osler, one of the
purchasers of the marsh.
wrote that an arrangement was made with several
hunters to trespass on the grounds and shoot with
the hope that they would be brought before the
magistrates on the charge in accordance with notices
posted on the lands.
It was even implied that some
of the magistrates knew of the arrangement and
a verdict for the defendants was hinted at. But
the trespassers did not consider all the avenues
open to the promoters, and a writ was issued against
Jonathan Blong of Port Perry, in the High Court
instead of before the magistrates, with whom the
hunters had allegedly conspired. The writ claimed
$500 damage for trespassing on the grounds and
also asked for an injuction restraining future
Lawyers for the Scugog Game
Preserve Company, recognizing that relations with
the Port Perry "locals" was diminishing rapidly,
suggested a letter be written to the local newspaper.
A hand written letter, from the law offices of
McCarthy, Osler, Hoskins and Creelman, was sent
to Mr. S.G. Beatty on October 14, 1890 suggesting
that in view of the peculiar nature of the trouble
at Port Perry, it might do a great deal of good
if a letter were written to the papers there stating
the other side of the case, while as much as possible
avoiding controversial matter.
They enclosed a draft letter
for Mr. Beatty's consideration, which he forwarded
to the Ontario Observer in Port Perry. It was
printed in its entirety in the Oct. 15, 1890 edition.
The letter read as follows:
I have learned with much regret
that not a little feeling has been aroused in
your town by reason of my recent purchase of marsh
lands. I am convinced that when the public fully
understand the facts of the case, this will at
once come to an end and I therefor ask leave to
state my position through your columns.
I am no lawyer but am advised
by my solicitors that I have an absolute title
to the marsh lands purchased by me and a right
to preserve and protect game upon them and to
prevent trespassing just as any owner of land
The marsh is not fenced but
I am advised that the only result of that fact
is to prevent my having recourse to the Ontario
Trespass Act under which a cheap way is provided
for a land owner to protect his right without
putting an unfortunate trespasser to the cost
of a law suit.
Now if my rights are as I have
stated, I think that all law abiding citizens
will agree with me that they should be respected.
If there is any doubt about the law and any one
wishes to test it in a friendly way, I am willing
to join them in bringing it before the Courts
in the most inexpensive way possible, consistent
with the proper presentment of the case. If however
any persons persist in openly defying the law
I shall be compelled to take whatever protection
the law affords and I think that in so doing I
ought to have the approval of the public.
I have no desire to deal hardly
with anyone and in proof of this I would point
to the fact that although many persons have both
trespassed and shot ducks since the notices were
posted in the marsh I have hitherto refrained
from proceeding under the criminal law as I am
advised I have a right to do, and have only instructed
civil action to be taken against two gentlemen
who are, I have been given to understand, well
able to bear the expense. Those who are objecting
to the purchase of this marsh by outsiders should
also bear in mind that if I had not bought it
others would have done so who would perhaps have
had more leisure to shoot than myself or my friends.
I feel that I have already taken
up too much of your valuable space but perhaps
under the circumstances you will permit me to
say a word as to the interest of the public in
the matter. I have with four other gentlemen applied
for a charter incorporating us as a Company but
we have not asked for any powers with reference
to the marsh which we would not posses as individuals.
Only five are not interested and our present intention
is to admit only two more, making seven in all
who will have the right to shoot in the marsh.
At the ouside, the charter applied for will only
allow us to issue ten shares altogether.
The membership will be confined
to men, who like myself, are in business and consequntly
unable to get away for more than a day or two
at a time and the number of days shooting to which
each member will be entitled during the season
will be strictly limited.
I do not know how many citizens
of Port Perry have been in the habit of shooting
in this marsh or how many ducks they have been
as rule able to kill, but I am informed that numbers
of outsiders come every year to your town to shoot,
and that the ducks have been so continually shot
at that they have become scared and wild.
Now, I will venture to say that
the result of the protection of this marsh will
be, that fewer outsiders will come to your neighborhood
to shoot, and that the ducks having a safe and
quiet place to breed in the close season and being
able to feed in the open season without being
banged at from daylight to dark will come more
plentiful elsewhere about the lake, and the result
will be that the sportsmen of Port Perry will
be able to get better shooting than they have
had for years.
A caretaker poles his way through
the marsh in the early 1900s
The same week the letter
appeared, a deputation from Port Perry, consisting
of N.F. Peterson, Q.C. and Johathan Blong came
before Reach council. Mr. Peterson, was acting
on behalf of Messrs. J.B. Blong and J.M. Davis
who were being taken to court for trespassing
on the marsh by Samuel G. Beatty and members of
the Syndicate who purchased the Scugog Marsh.
Mr. Peterson told council he
had written to the Hon. John Dryden concerning
the charter applied for by the Company and had
received an intimation the he would oppose all
He then referred to the action
brought about by the company against his clients,
and quoted from the Statues, in support of his
contention, that in order to be successful in
a prosecution for petty trespass the property
must be fenced. Mr. Peterson also requested council
lease, for a nominal sum, to Mr. Blong and those
associated with him, the road allowances vituated
in the marsh land, so as to give the public an
inlet to the shooting grounds.
Council agreed to memorialize
the Lieut. Governor not to grant a Charter to
the group for the marshlands, and also agreed
to lease portions of the road allowance in the
4th and 5th concession of the township running
through the marshlands, and also Reach's interest
in that portion of the boundary line between Reach
and Cartwright Twp. to Mr. Blong at $1 per year.
Martin Luther Crandell, the
Osler's caretaker, puts out decoys for the annual
spring, Mr. H. S. Osler, representing the Scugog
Game Reserve Co. attended a meeting of Reach council,
requesting a by-law be passed to allow the Company
to fence their marshland, and also to lease the
untraveled road allowances adjacent to the Company's
Over the next few months, Mr.
Osler appeared before council on a number of occasions,
urging them to pass the required by-laws. Finally
in September 1890, the by-laws were introduced,
passing their first and second readings, but Mr.
F.M. Yarnold, acting on behalf of about sixty
ratepayers, petitioned council not to pass the
A motion, moved by councillor
Leonard Burnett, agreed to lease parts of unopened
road in the Scugog Marsh, adjoining the property
of the Scugog Game Preserve Co. at a rent of $20
per year, providing the Company granted the public
free right of way over their property in the winter,
in addition to the rent to be paid; and that the
lease be for a period of 10 years and renewable
for further periods at the option of the council.
Mr. Osler returned to council
in September, once again urging the by-law be
passed. He said that members of the Company had
invested a good deal of money in the marsh property,
and spent a considerable amount within the community,
and while they are willing to do everything to
accommodate the public as far as possible, it
was unfair to expect them to allow a few people
to take advantage of them and injure their property.
He reminded council that the
assessment had been increased five times the amount
it was a year earlier plus the rent offered for
parts of the roads to be leased was most generous.
Still no action was taken.
Finally, in November 1890, with
Mr. Osler once again in the chambers, council
voted on the motion to lease, with two amendments.
The first was to strike the words "for a term
of 10 years" and substitute "annual lease", and
the second was to ad "any person may at any time
graze cattle on the property of the Company and
are also permitted to enter the property and recover
Voting for the by-law were Messrs.
Allin and Gregg; and against the by-law Messrs.
Burnett and Munro. Reeve D. McKay voted 'yea'
and declared the motion carried. The By-law was
read a third time and passed, and the reeve signed
the same and affixed the seal of the corporation.
The passing of the by-law by
Reach council came just one month before Mr. S.G.
Beatty, owner of the marshland, confronted J.W.
Davis and Johnathan Blong in a Toronto court with
charges of trespassing and shooting on his lands.
Caretaker John Murray with
retrievers bringing back ducks
THE CASE - BEATTY vs
DAVIS & BLONG
The case of S.G. Beatty of Toronto,
against J. W. Davis and Jonathan Blong, of Port
Perry, claiming damages for trespass on Mr. Beatty's
lands, and injuries to his right of sporting over
said lands, took place at Osgoode Hall, Toronto,
before Chancellor C. Boyd, on December 13, 1890.
The plaintiff (Beatty) alleged
that he was the owner of the Scugog Marsh, consisting
of lots 20 and 21, in the 4th and 5th concessions
of Reach Township, and as such owned the right
of hunting, shooting, fishing and otherwise sporting
over the same, and that on various days the defendants,
while trespassing thereon, killed and took wild
duck and other game, and refused to leave or desist,
though requested so to do.
Mr. N.F. Paterson, Q.C. acting
on behalf of the defendents, Messrs. Davis and
Blong, denied allegations of wrongdoing, and argued
that the lands were, and always had been, wholly
unenclosed, and wholly covered by the waters of
Lake Scugog, which waters were navigable, and
the lands formed part of what is known as the
marsh lands of Lake Scugog, which cover over 2,000
acres. He submitted that they in common with all
Her Majesty's subjects had a right to enter on
or pass over the said lands for the purpose of
shooting, hunting, or fishing, doing no damage
to the said lands.
Dalton McCarthy, Q.C. and Henry
S. Osler, acting on behalf of the plaintiff, Mr.
S.G. Beatty, denied that the water was navigable,
and alleged that it was for the most part shallow
and marshy and was cut off and divided from Lake
Scugog by a solid embankment (Cartwright Causeway)
built along the road allowance between the 5th
and 6th concessions of Reach Twp. They argued
that the only link between Lake Scugog and the
marshland by boat was by means of a culvert under
the embankment in which it was possible to pass
in a small skiff or pleasure boat.
Caretaker Tony Bloeman with
his retriever dog "Mote"
that when the level of Lake Scugog was raised
about 1844 by a dam erected across the Scugog
River near Lindsay, the land formerly above the
lake level, was overflowed. He suggested that
even if the waters covering the said lands are
now navigable, it was non-navigable in its natural
condition and the defendants had no right to enter
upon or pass through or over the same for the
purpose of shooting or fishing, or for other purposes
After listening to all the arguments,
Justice C. Boyd reserved his decision until January
6, 1891 when he handed down his judgement stating
that the defendents Messrs. Davis and Blong were
wrong. He said, "the defendents (Davis and Blong)
are in the wrong; they came upon the place, not
for purposes of navigation, but to shoot ducks
against the protest of the plaintiff (Beatty).
The custom relied upon of persons or of the public
going to shoot or fish in that locality year after
year does not afford any defence in law agains
the private rights of the owner. The fact of the
place being to some extent navigable water, does
not justify any interference with private rights
of fishing and fowling.
Having regard to the novelty
of the action, and the fact that the plaintiff
has not entirely succeeded because of the issue
as to navigable or non-navigable water I give
judgement against the defendents, with $40, which
I access for damages and costs."
The judgement is interpreted
Ownership of land or water,
though not enclosed, gives to the proprietor under
the common law, the sole and exclusive right to
fish, fowl, hunt, or shoot within the precincts
of that private property, subject to game laws,
if any; and this exclusive right is not diminished
by the fact that the land may be covered by navigable
water. In such case the public can use the water
solely for bona fide purposes of navigation, and
must not unnecessarily disturb or interfere with
the private rights of fishing and shooting.
Where such waters have become
navigable owing to artificial public works, the
private right to fishing and fowling of the owner
of the soil must be exerciesed concurrently with
the public servitude for passage.
View over the marshland towards
Port Perry from the clubhouse taken in 2002
With the law
now firmly on the side of the marshland syndicate,
local hunters resisted any further urge to challenge
the owners of the property, realizing trespassers
would be delt with harshly. The results of the
case appears to have brought an end to the two-year
conflict between town residents and the owners
of the Scugog Game Preserve, although the fact
that the land was being monopolized by a group
of non-residents wasn't entirely forgotten by
locals, as the subject of hunting in the marsh
Despite the animosity felt toward
them, by some local residents, the owners settled
in and began improving the property for their
private hunting concerns.
In October 1892, H.S. Osler
called for tenders to construct a clubhouse. Port
Perry contractor Chas. Powers, tendered to do
the work for $890. and was awarded the contract.
Construction of the 30'x40'
two-storey clubhouse began in Dec. 1892. The house
was located on a rising piece of land on the east
shore of the lake, just south of the causeway,
known as Hemlock Island. The building featured
a third-storey tower, surrounded by windows, which
provided a perfect vantage point to keep lookout
across the marshlands for intruders or poachers.
The clubhouse as it looks from
the lake during the winter
piece of property purchased by the Scugog Game
Preserve Co., was about 2,000 acres, but over
the years has grown substantially. It is estimated
that between 8,000 and 10,000 acres of land and
marsh was amassed by Henry S. Osler before he
died. The land stretches from the Port Perry Causeway
south to the Shirley Road, and winds its way along
the shoreline of Lake Scugog back to the Cartwright
Causeway, then north, to just south of Caesarea
on the east side, and south of Pine Point on the
Scugog Island side of the lake.
The only piece of acquired lands
known to have been sold, was a 50 acre parcel
of Henry S. Osler's Pine Point property, which
he sold to a syndicate of gentlemen in May 1915.
Subsequently it was developed into a series of
cabins along Pine Point Rd., most of which still
There are two separate hunting
clubs which have exclusive use of the marshlands
for hunting, the 'Duck Island Club' and the 'Long
The Duck Island Club, leases
hunting rights to approximately 1,500 acres of
marsh north of the Cartwright causeway.
In addition to the marshlands
actually owned by the family, they also control
the "sporting rights" to another 400-500 acres
of land, which is actually owned by private individuals.
This "sporting right" gives them the exclusive
right to hunt or fish on these properties, despite
the property being owned by others.
A second branch of the family,
operates a hunting group known as the 'Long Bog
Club,' which controls about 700 acres of land
north of the Osler property on the east arm of
Lake Scugog. This land, orginally owned by Henry
S. Olser, was given to his younger brother Glen
Osler many years ago, and is now controlled by
members of his family.
One of the more than 20 miles
of man-made channels throughout the marsh
In August 1827,
O.F. Cummins & Wm. H. Robinson, dredging contractors
from Toronto, began digging the channels through
the marsh with a specially constructed steam dredging
machine, mounted on a large wooden barge.
The contract specified, all
channels were to be dug out to a depth of six
feet, with a width of 20' on the top and eight
feet at the bottom. It took four years to complete
amost 20 miles of channel, at a contracted price
of $2,000 per mile.
After the work was completed,
the machinery was removed and the stripped-down
barge was pulled into an isolated spot in the
lake, north of the Cartwright Causeway, where
it still lies today rotting under the water.
The many channels throughout
the marsh were dredged for the private use of
the owner's family and friends, making the most
remote areas of the marshland accessible for hunting
Today, the channels are still
cleared each season, using much the same method
and machinery they have used for decades. An old
steel barge is pulled to sections of the marsh
which need to be cleared, where it is secured
by inserting three heavy wooden poles through
holes in the bow and stern of the craft. The poles
are driven into the mud, to hold it from moving,
and an old wooden, v-shaped plough attached to
300' of cable, is winched back towards the barge.
In the early 1900s, it took six men to turn the
winch by hand, but this method was changed when
Mr. Murray installed a single piston engine on
the barge. As the blade drags along the bottom
of the channel, it pulls the rice, lilly pads
and other plants out by the roots, freeing the
channel for easy navigation throughout the remainder
of the season.
The old dredger powered by
a single piston engine is still used for clearing
Henry Smith Osler was
71 years old when he passed away on Dec. 8, 1933
at his son's residence in Montreal
In June 1939, the name of the
Scugog Game Preserve Co. was changed to the Cartwright
Land & Investment Company and about May 1958,
it was transferrred to Philip F. Osler (son of
Henry Osler) and other members of the Osler family.
Philip Osler controlled the
company until his death in 1992, at the age of
91 years, at which time the shares in the company
transferred into the names of his children and
Present day caretaker Peter
Overgoor patrols the channels for treaspassers
Over the past century,
the Scugog marshlands have been shrouded in mystery,
due to the private nature of the owners. In fact,
the land has been off-limits to all but a few
local people who either know, or have worked for
the Osler family.
Former Port Perry mayor, Howard
Hall, says he remembers delivering groceries and
supplies from McKee's grocery store in town, to
the clubhouse when he was a teenager. On occasion
he was invited inside by the caretakers, Mr. and
Mrs. Murray, and recalls being told that Mr. Osler,
was an avid hunter who travelled around the world
in quest of game. Many of the exotic trophies
from his hunts were mounted on the walls.
In an interview with Mrs. Eve
Hampson, Henry Osler's granddaughter, she said
that Mr. Osler didn't really travel the world
hunting. In fact, he only spent a couple of years
in the Sudan. His hunting consisted mainly of
collecting animals and birds for the Royal Ontario
Museum, which were used for display and research
purposes. She says, that after a couple of years
of hunting, he turned in his gun for a movie camera,
and much of his footage of wild animals he shot
is now stored at the Ontario Archives in Toronto.
Mr. Hall also remembers, when
he was 12 or 13 years old, his great-uncle, Adolphus
Wheler owned about 40 acres of land on the south-west
side of the causeway, where Cashway Lumber is
today. The property was partially submerged, so
they often went out fishing for mudcat at night,
and on more than one occassion witnessed a large
spot light, located in the tower of the clubhouse,
sweeping over the marshlands to keep poachers
out. He said he remembers, when the light fell
upon anyone who had strayed into the marsh, the
trespassers would receive a stern warning they
were on private property and told to get out.
Ian Beare, a grandson of John
Murray, remembers the house had clubroom, which
overlooked the marshland, and a large dining room
on the main floor where Mr. Osler and his guests
would enjoy great feasts at the end of a day,
often with duck on the menu. There was also other
smaller storage rooms, and a kitchen with a wood
stove, from which dinners were cooked. Upstairs
there were a number of rooms for their guests.
Mr. Murray and his wife Lorena,
lived in an apartment connected to the north side
of the original clubhouse. This was their home
for about 40 years before they purchasing a house
at 279 Queen St., and moved into town, after retiring
as estate managers in 1961.
John and Lorena Murray outside
During the 1930s
and 1940s many of Philip Osler's business friends,
from Toronto and Montreal, would travel to the
marsh for a weekend of hunting and fishing. Following
a hearty breakfast, they were taken out in punts
to the duck blinds set up in the marsh for the
morning hunt. The blinds consisted of large boxes
with marsh grass woven into the treated canvas
sides, which could be easily lowered or raised
for shooting or camouflage. When the sides were
raised the blind looked like a clump of marsh
grass. They also had single person boats called
"pups," in which a hunter would stand in a small
square metal box, about two feet deep. A similar
woven grass camouflaged was used on these small
Also taken along to the blind
would be the decoys, a lunch and sometimes they
even took their dogs to retrieve the ducks. But
most often, the gameskeeper or his helpers would
collect the ducks at the end of the day with the
help of their retreiver dogs. Often, Mrs. Murray
would prepare a dinner of roast duck for them
that evening, served in the diningroom.
During the early part of the
century, the marshland would be invaded by thousands
of carp each spring, which rooted in the mud and
ate the roots of the wild rice growing in the
water. The carp destroyed so many rice plants,
there was concern for the future of the duck population,
which relied on the rice for feed. John Murray
constructed a carp barrier, by driving wooden
poles side-by-side across some the channels to
keep the carp out. About 1950, Ministry officials
placed a heavy steel grill in the culverts under
the Port Perry causeway, which effectively kept
the carp out for many years, although these no
Mrs. Eve Hampson, one of the
grandchildren of Henry Olser says, that until
about 15 or 20 years ago the family used to lease
out trapping rights for both beaver and muskrat
in the marsh. But when the price of pelts plummeted,
trapping was no longer viable, and the practice
Tony and Nera Bloemen, caretakers
from 1961 to 1996
A number of local
men have held the position of gameskeeper, or
estate manager as they are called today, over
the past century. John S. McKenzie was the first
to hold the position for the Lake Scugog Game
Preserve Co. in 1891, and the following year,
Martin Luther Crandell took over the the job,
for which he was responsible for keeping poachers
off the property and ensuring the channels were
kept open for hunting. It is
believed Mr. Crandell managed the property until
John Murray assumed the roll of gameskeeper about
1911. Mr. Murray held the job for approximatly
50 years. When he retired from the duties at the
Osler property in 1961, the job was taken over
by Tony Bloemen and his wife Nera, who lived on
the property and tended to the needs of the entire
estate until Oct. 1996. Although the Bloemens
no longer live on the property, Mr. Bloemen continues
to oversee the management of the Osler's extensive
Peter Overgoor and Ann Julia
Bajema the current cartakers
When Mr. Bloemen retired
as the full-time caretaker in the fall of 1996,
the duties pertaining to the marshlands was turned
over to his apprentice, Peter Overgoor and Ann
Julia Bajema, who continue the traditions of the
caretakers of the past century.
The Scugog Marsh, or more accurately,
the Cartwright Land and Investment Company lands
are currently owned by Mrs. Eve Hampson, Ottawa,
who is the daughter of the late Philip F. Osler,
her son Philip of Toronto, and other members of
the Osler family.
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