Bay Hill, circa 1880

by Brent Eades

I find this photo of the Bay Hill area, from the collection Michael Dunn shares with me on, intriguing for various reasons.

I’m putting a rough date of around 1880 on it, given there are no hydro poles visible — the first power lines were raised in town around 1889. But the Rosamond mill is visible along the skyline at left, and the Victoria Woollen mill farther to the right.

Malcolm Street is visible in the middle, with one slightly ramshackle building on it.

The time of year appears to be late winter or early spring, with melting snow and ice throughout. The roads, as they were back then, are basically mud, but a raised board sidewalk leads to downtown.

Especially interesting — hard to make out here — is the pool of cut logs floating at centre-right by the sharp bend in the sidewalk. These and the ice below seem to lie directly on the site of the current Metcalfe Park, which leaves me wondering how that stretch of riverbank came to be dry land.

(I’ve seen various maps that indicate ‘timber slides’ along the river through the middle of town in the 19th century, suggesting that the river was used for logging then, but I know little more than that.)

Still and all, our town is quite recognizable in its essentials, some 140 years or so later.