The story of Mossom Boyd, a 19 year old pioneer who arrived in the 'back lakes' of Upper Canada in 1833 and became the Lumber King of the Trent Valley, as well as two generations of the Boyd family, is explained throughout the museum. Exhibits display tools and log shanties that were used to create exquisite textiles and lavish homes. The museum also features the Boyd Gallery which displays the work of local artists.
Mossom Boyd was born in India in 1815, his father was Captain Gardiner Boyd who was serving with the British military. In 1829 both parents died of cholera leaving Mossom and younger sister Anne orphaned. They were sent on to guardians in London. The guardians felt the children were too high spirited and were moved to Londonderry in Ireland to an aunt. As Mossom’s prospects improved in Upper Canada he sent money back to this aunt to allow her comfort in her old age.
As a young man Mossom’s prospect in Ireland was waiting to be called up to military service. It sounded as though emigrating to Upper Canada to start a new life was the answer. In 1834 at the young age of 19, Mossom arrived in the ‘back lakes’ of Upper Canada, now known as the Kawartha Lakes. He purchased 100 acres on the north side of Sturgeon Lake at what is now known as Kelly’s Bay.
In 1832 Thomas Need had purchased Lot 15 Concession 10 from George Boulton. He then purchased an additional 300 acres that would become known as Bobcaygeon. Need set up a saw mill and a grist mill at the east end of Sturgeon Lake. He began cutting timber for the small number of immigrants. Boyd floated a number of logs down to Need’s mill. Boyd cleared his own land and built his log shanty. He also saw the top soil flow down into Sturgeon Lake in the spring and after rainfalls. He could see rocks were not suitable to farm and suggested to Need that he could look after the mills while Need socialized in the area.
In 1837 Need returned to England and left his holdings in the capable hands of Mossom Boyd his ‘trusty agent’. Four miles west of Boyd’s land was the Langton family. Anne Langton’s journal ‘A Gentlewoman in Upper Canada’ tells of the hardships these gentry immigrants overcame. Another family soon to arrive was the Reverend Hartley Dunsford, with five beautiful daughters. His sons Hartley and James and coachman George Bick immigrated earlier and built the ‘Beehive’ for the Dunsford family. Anne wrote she hoped that their own coachman and elegant coach would bring a road as well. Mossom still a bachelor chose and won Caroline as his bride. John Langton also married one of the daughters. In 1844 Mossom and Caroline set up housekeeping at 269 Edinburgh St. in Peterborough.
In 1857, Mossom and Caroline had 6 children when Caroline died suddenly at the age of 37. Mossom remembered a young girl back in Ireland, Letitia Cust, and wrote to her saying if she were still available he could look after her and she could look after his six unruly children. Letitia came to Upper Canada, married Mossom, and took over the family moving them to a stone house Thomas Need had built on Canal St. in Bobcaygeon and Mossom was to build onto this structure (which became the entrance to the ‘big house’). Thomas Need had returned to England to marry and collect his inheritance. Mossom purchased Need’s interests in Upper Canada taking him 28 years to accomplish this purchase. Mossom and Letitia had two more children and it was the son of Mossom and Caroline, Mossom Martin, and Willy (William Thornton Cust) Boyd, Letitia and Mossom’s son that took over the lumbering business and Mossom Martin and Willy adding steamboats, the railway, the farming interests and finally the Cowichan Lumber Company out on Vancouver Island. They had become a national company.
Mossom Boyd became ‘the Lumber King of the Trent’, third largest lumbering operation in Upper Canada then Ontario.
From humble beginnings to national and international importance the Boyd family influenced the social, political, business and economic future of the Village of Bobcaygeon.
The estate was founded by Mossom Boyd and was built in stages around the cottages of Thomas Need, founder of Bobcaygeon.