History of Olde East Barrie
During the early 19th century, the British Crown surveyed the land in the province then known as Upper Canada for expansion purposes. To encourage settlement, free lots were made available through incentive programs. Early on, the general public could petition for these free tracts of land, but eventually these grants were exclusive to privileged Loyalists, retired military officers, or select parties who held influence with the Crown. As such, most individuals had to lease or pay by the acre for Crown land. By 1824, the Canada Land Company was created to purchase land property for resale.
One of the oldest roads in Ontario, Penetanguishene Road is a distinguished example of the incentive programs offered by the Upper Canada government. Surveyed by Samuel Wilmot, planning for the road began in tandem with the War of 1812, starting from Kempenfelt Bay and heading northwest to Georgian Bay. In the fall of 1814 , construction of the road began under the supervision of Dr. William "Tiger" Dunlop. At the south end of this route was Kempenfelt Village, located at 285 Shanty Bay Road. 300 acres were reserved for the village named after the bay, which sat just to its south.
Penetanguishene Road was more than simply a continuation of Younge Street, which ended along Kempenfelt Bay's southern rim. With the exception of extremely heavy loads, it was also used as a supply route to reach British troops stationed at Georgian Bay. This strategic manoeuvre enabled supply transports to bypass the Great Lakes and its associated risk of an American offensive. Settlement along the road officially began in 1819 and soon had all the basic amenities when stores and industry opened for business, which in turn stimulated further population growth.
From 1819 to 1830, settlement of the village was well underway. The majority of lots immediately bordering the Penetanguishene route were settled during this period. Given the success of the initiative, a petition was sent to Lieutenant-Governor Sir John Colborne in 1831 requesting county status for Kempenfelt. This application was denied, however, when the Upper Canada government purchased the land now recognized as the site of Barrie. Kempenfelt Village was assimilated into this larger territory of Barrie, which became the official county town in 1837. Two centuries later after its conception, Penetanguishene Road is now known as Highway 93 after it leaves Barrie and heads through Crown Hill to the naval base established at Pentanguishene. Efforts are currently being dedicated to raising awareness of the historical significance of Kempenfelt Village as part of the War of 1812 legacy.
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