You’ve probably heard of the poem, “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert W. Service. If not, enjoy this version read by Johnny Cash with paintings by Ted Harrison:
Here’s what you might not know: the titular character, “Sam McGee” was from Kawartha Lakes.
Robert Service was a clerk for CIBC in Whitehorse, when a form crossed his desk with Sam McGee’s name on it. The rhythm of the name captured Service, and he knew it would fit a ballad. So he wrote to Sam McGee, a prosperous builder of roads in the Klondike, to ask about using his name. McGee said yes, and the rest is poetry. (https://archiveofourown.org/works/139140)
Now here’s the history.
“Sam McGee” was born William Samuel McGee on August 28, 1868 on a farm just outside Lindsay. In fact, that farm was in (at the time) Fenelon Township, just up the road from Cameron, and registered in his mother’s name, Ellen McGee. (http://www.ancestry.ca/genealogy/records/william-samuel-mcgee_168378630; http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/countyatlas/vic-m-fenelon.htm)
William Samuel McGee married in Peterborough in 1901:
William Samuel McGEE, 32, miner, Cameron – Victoria Co., Whitehorse Yukon, s/o Joseph McGEE & Ellen McCULLOUGH, married Ruth WARNER, 20, Liverpool England, Harvey twp., d/o James WARNER & Betsy JENKINSON, witn: George WARNER & Mrs. Annie EARL, both of Harvey twp., 5 June 1901 at Peterborough (http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~maryc/peter01.htm)
More about Sam McGee (with photo): http://virtualwalk.ca/index.php/Lindsay-Ontario/Famous-Residents-Lindsay.html
Borrow The Cremation of Sam McGee from the library.