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Village of Shallow Lake History

Updated: May 31, 2018

Shallow Lake
The Village of Shallow Lake sign

The Village of Shallow Lake dates its history back to the year 1862.  Its first settlers were Mr. & Mrs. Butterworth, and Mrs. Butterworth’s eldest son, John Spencer and his bride of six months.  They came here from Whitby where they had first settled on their arrival from Ireland, a few years before.

At that time Shallow Lake was a dense forest, blazes on the trees being the only means of knowing how to get around.   These pioneers set to work to build a home and before the winter set in they had a fine log house and barn on the property now occupied by Mr. & Mrs. A. Dymott.  The house was torn down many years ago to make room for the present building.  The barn was torn down just a few years ago and the logs were used to build a cottage at Sauble Beach.

Mr. & Mrs. John Spencer’s daughter, Lucy, was the first white child born here.

The only settlers at that time, according to records, were the Lennox’s, on the east and the Boyd’s and Kelsons on the west.  

In eight years the Spencer’s had fifteen acres cleared.  They had worked long hours and prospects looked good for them but the father passed away quite suddenly leaving his wife and six small children.  

In 1870, the South Diagonal Road was being opened.  This road led from Owen Sound through Shallow Lake and Hepworth and on through to the Peninsula, which was being surveyed at that time.

Mrs. Spencer opened an Inn, calling it, Butter Milk Tavern.  Soon teams were passing through with groceries for Wiarton and Lion’s Head and would stop at the tavern.

The Village gets its name from a small body of water which dries up in the summer and the bottom is chalky, and full of boulders and rocks. 

Mr. H. Robertson opened the first post office and store in 1887.

Four years later Thompson and Son from Woodford built the first saw mill which was later taken over by a company and used as a woodworking plant.

The first blacksmith shop was operated by George Kearns.  A few years later it was bought by Mr. Brookbank and in 1901 Mr. Ralph Noble, still a resident here, bought the shop, and continued to operate it until a few years ago when he sold it to his son, Burnie, who operates a sleigh and truck rack business.

Another industry of pioneer days was the saw mill operated by Mr. C. H. Witthun, just east of the railway tracks until1892.  Reeve Howard Casemore and son are operating a saw mill in the same place at the present time (as of 1952).

The first church was built in 1894, it being a Presbyterian Church.  It has been closed since union and used as a Church Hall.  The former Methodist Church, which was built later, was used for the United Church services.

The first school was two miles from the Village, but in the early nineties a two room brick school was built just west of the Village.

The cement works brought much prominence to Shallow Lake.  Mr. R. J. Doyle owned the land on which the lake is and found it contained valuable substance for the making of cement.  So a company was formed and in 1884 a plant was started and the outline of the Village made.  This plant brought families to the Village.

The railway line from Park Head to Owen Sound was started about the same time which meant better transportation.  

Shallow Lake was incorporated as a Village in 1911.   Its first Council meeting was held in April of that year with A. E. Cordingley as Reeve.  He was Warden for the County of Grey in 1916. 

Percy Noble, a former Reeve, is known throughout the States and Canada for his fur ranching.

Officials for the year 1952 were:  Reeve:  Howard O. Casemore; Clerk-Treasurer:  Arthur C. Dymott; Assessor:  Thomas Blyth.  Population is 393 and assessment $2,451,695.

1977 Council:  Reeve:  Ernest Shipley, Robert Dekker, Hugh Henderson, Mel. Kellar, Jim Copp; Clerk-Treasurer:  Mrs. Betty Brough.

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