The Municipality of Trent Lakes adopted its new name by By-law B2013-017 on February 19, 2013. The name was in recognition of the Trent Severn Waterway that has played a major role in the cottage history and tourism economy of the area, and encompasses the various tributary lakes, rivers and creeks that contribute water levels to support the designated nationally historic Trent Severn Waterway system.
Trent Lakes still identifies three Wards within the municipality, Harvey Ward, Galway Ward and Cavendish Ward which are based on the traditional geographic boundaries of each. For election purposes there is still a Council representative for Harvey and a representative for Galway-Cavendish.
Prior to the name change, Trent Lakes had the rather lengthy name: the Township of Galway-Cavendish and Harvey. Galway-Cavendish and Harvey was based on the combined 1998 amalgamation of two townships. In its bid to do local government better and more efficiently, the Provincial Government ordered the reduction of the number of individual municipalities by a process of amalgamation. Galway-Cavendish and Harvey were both situated in the furthest northwest corner of Peterborough County and as such the Township of Harvey and the Township of Galway-Cavendish thought that they had more in common economically, topographically, and historically than they had differences. The amalgamated Township identified three Wards in recognition of the historical geographic boundaries for the area, Harvey Ward, Cavendish Ward and Galway Ward.
In 2011, the Council passed a by-law to change the rural-based titles of Reeve and Deputy Reeve to the more urban and modern common use of Mayor and Deputy Mayor, respectively.
Agriculture had been a successful trade for limited areas within the Municipality of Trent Lakes. Where the soil was suitable there were cattle and mixed farming (orchards, cattle, horses, sheep, grains, vegetables, chickens and turkeys) businesses, and quite a few still operate, but not at the scale or with the prosperity that agricultural farming once experienced in the Province as a whole.
The most important history of the municipality is based on the once very lucrative lumber industry. All three Wards have histories unique to them, but it’s the history of the lumber trade that unites them solidly together. The municipality as a whole was abundant, not only with standing timber lumber camps, but also the resource of waterways permitting numerous and valuable lumber production and processing mills that in turn contributed to many settlements developed around and because of the lumbermen and their families. It was hard, dangerous work, and made many non-resident lumber barons rich. When the lumber markets and the forests began to fade, so did many of the settlements. French Canadian, Irish immigrant and other lumber labourers pulled out to try their hand at work to support their families elsewhere. Handfuls remained. Galway, Cavendish and Harvey all have remnant ghost settlements and stories of communities near forgotten. Some names remain but the once thriving communities complete with schools and post offices are gone; hamlets with the names of Silver Lake, Rockcroft, Scotts Mills, Fortesque are a few. Other communities were able to continue to various degrees of success such as Buckhorn, Burleigh Falls, Lakehurst, Nogies Creek, Catchacoma and Kinmount.
After World War II there was a greater focus on family-based leisure and activities such as camping, and privately-owned cottages became very popular. The beautiful secluded lakes, rivers and other water courses prevalent to the region that had once supported logging and milling industries gave way to recreational pursuits and long-standing family cottage traditions. It’s not unusual for cottages in Trent Lakes to have been in families and enjoyed from one generation to the next since the 1920s. The lakes once choked with log boons and rafts were now open to water skiing, boating and canoeing for relaxation, and campfires that were once necessary for cooking and survival, were more for toasting marshmallows and the making of sleepy summer memories from one generation to the next.
Today the municipality continues to have a strong cottage and tourist industry and much of the economy is dependent upon this commerce.
The vicinity has also experienced a recent increase of urban growth with several subdivisions enjoying expansion and increased development. More people are coming to Trent Lakes to enjoy all it has to offer on a year-round basis and not merely a summer, seasonal basis.
The Municipality of Trent Lakes is a promising and largely untapped area for future economic and entrepreneurial development.