Charles Cooper

Charles Cooper at Beeton, ON end-of-steel 1999. Photo: Andrea Percy from author’s website.

Charles Louis Cooper (1933-2023) was born on 2 July 1933 in Berlin to a German father and English mother. His family hid in the Germany countryside during the Second World War. After the war, Cooper moved to England and studied at Cambridge. He moved to Canada in 1957.

He got his love for trains when lived in Europe and always wanted to work on the railway. He ended up working in insurance and trains became his pastime. He was an honorary member of the Lindsay & District Model Railroaders and had a large model train set-up in his basement.

Cooper also spent his time researching railroad history and writing books. Rails to the Lake was published by Boston Mills Press in 1980. Hamilton’s Other Railway expanded on the first book and was published in 2001.

Narrow Gauge for Us recounts the history of the Toronto-Nippissing line that partly ran through Kawartha Lakes. It was published in 1982.

After Omer Lavalleee passed away, leaving his manuscript incomplete, Cooper took on the role of seeing the book to completion, and Canadian Pacific to the East – the International of Maine Division was published in 2007. That year the book won the Canadian Railroad Historical Association’s book award.

Cooper also kept a lively website at Charles Cooper’s Railway Pages.

Cooper passed away on 13 February 2023 at the Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay.


Rails to the Lake (1980)

Narrow Gauge for Us (1982)

Hamilton’s Other Railway (2001)

Canadian Pacific to the East – the International of Main Division (2007)


Charles Cooper’s Railway Pages.

Nolan, Daniel. “Obituary: Historian Charles Cooper was fascinated by Hamilton railways”. Toronto Star. 13 March 2023.

Honorary L&DMR member and renowned author Charles Cooper“. Lindsay & District Model Railroaders. 14 February 2023.

Harry van Oudenaren

Born on November 4, 1924, Hendrikus van Oudenaren (1924-2020) emigrated to Canada from the Netherlands in October 1950 after serving for two years in a forced labour camp in Stettin, where he worked as a tool and die maker and built boats. For 17 years Harry worked at Pogues Garage on Boyd Street, learning the auto-repair trade. He returned briefly to the Netherlands, long enough to get married, and came back to Canada. The family settled in Bobcaygeon where Harry set up an auto repair garage in an old schoolhouse, while establishing his home with his wife Johanna and six children across the street. For a while, his son Pieter ran the garage until he decided to take up cheesemaking.

The former Rokeby School at 35 North Street in Bobcaygeon. Image from Kawartha Settlers’ Village.
Google image captured May 2018.

Harry began to collect archival and historic information and images about Bobcaygeon. His family formed a friendship with another Bobcaygeon historian and author, Dorothe Comber. She and Harry shared information and upon her death, she left her collection to Harry.

The school that housed the garage business was the former Rokeby School, or Verulam School Section (S.S.) No. 6 at 35 North Street in Bobcaygeon. The northern section of Bobcaygeon was originally called Rokeby when it was first founded, but when it joined with the southern neighbouring areas to form a town, the name Rokeby was lost in favour of Bobcaygeon.

Harry also collected objects of historical interest, which can be found in the Harry van Oudenaren Museum at Kawartha Settlers’ Village, established in 2018. Harry’s son, Pieter, gives a tour of the museum on YouTube. When his collection became too great to stay in his basement, Harry had a building constructed and moved to the Village property.

In 1992, Harry published some of his collection in a book, Bobcaygeon: a picture book of memories.

Harry passed away at his home in 2020 with his family by his side. His collection of items relating to the Boyd family went to the Boyd Museum and his items went to Kawartha Settlers’ Village.


Bobcaygeon: a picture book of memories (1992)

Anne M. Barbour

Coboconk resident and graduate of University of Windsor, Barbour is the co-author of The Flora of Kawartha Lakes.

Anne is a retired professional librarian and earned her botanical skills with the Essex County Field Naturalists, and later the Kawartha and Carden Field Naturalists. She has a long history of volunteer positions with KFN and is currently assisting Kawartha Conservation in monitoring new invasive aquatic species.

Her co-author, Dale Leadbeater, describes how the book came together:

My contributions started when we collected field data for 10 years including pressing, drying, mounting, photographing, labelling and entering data into a custom database thanks to funding from the Stewardship Council and the ROM. Over 100 volunteers from all walks of life including students from Fleming College and almost as many landowners who often provided lunch. My co-author, Anne Barbour, hosted so many mounting days and her husband, Brian, made endless gallons of soup! We could publish a cookbook with all the great meals we ate!

Then Anne and I spent countless hours combing through other published lists for CKL to update names and to determine whether they were real or errors, tracking down specimens from colleagues and those filed by historical figures such as John Macoun, the first Canadian Botanist who accompanied the Sir Sanford Fleming expedition across Canada in 1872. It was a trip not only through space but also time. Truly amazing.


The Flora of Kawartha Lakes (2022)

Dale A. Leadbeater

Retired from consulting, Leadbeater continues to volunteer for favourite projects, including the Couchiching Conservancy Land Trust as well as Harcourt Park Incorporated. A graduate of the University of Toronto, her focus has been on mitigation of climate change effects through land acquisition and management.

Along with Anne M. Barbour, she is the co-author of The Flora of the Kawarthas: An Illustrated Checklist of the Flora of the City if Kawartha Lakes, which includes reflections on historical ecology, occupation and how the current vegetation patterns were formed. The book is comprised of 14 years of research.

Any paddler will tell you that it’s not a good idea to stand up in a canoe or kayak. But that is exactly what Dale Leadbeater did when she noticed the distinctive bladders of American Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia) growing on the bank of the Black River where she was paddling with two friends. “It couldn’t be, could it? Have to get a specimen to be sure!” She very carefully stood up in the kayak, while her friends exclaimed “Are you crazy?” Dale had to reach over her head to clip off a fruit-bearing twig. Then she had to sit down again… nearly as risky as standing up. But with the help of sturdy Red-osier Dogwoods for balance, she did not get wet. It turned out to be the only location in the entire City for this large shrub.


The Flora of Kawartha Lakes (2022)

Magahay, Lois (1928-2022)

Author of:

Assets in Ashes

Mayors of the Town of Lindsay

Directory of marriage notices appearing in the Ontario Gleaner, Cannington, ON, 1888-1925 by Lois B Magahay

Directory of birth and death notices appearing in the Ontario Gleaner, Cannington, ON : births, 1888-1925, deaths, 1888-1935

Dunsford Cemetery : Lot 6, Con 3, Verulam Township, Victoria County

Directory of birth, marriage, death notices appearing in Fenelon Falls & Bobcaygeon ON newspapers : births, 1880-1905, marriages, 1880-1920, deaths, 1880-1930

Directory of birth notices appearing in Lindsay, Ontario, newspapers, 1883-1899

Directory of marriage notices appearing in Lindsay Ontario newspapers, including parental information, 1900-1925

Directory of marriage notices appearing in the Woodville advocate & Beaverton express, 1878-1925

Directory of death notices appearing in Lindsay, Ontario, newspapers, 1883-1899

Directory of birth and death notices appearing in the Woodville advocate & Beaverton express : births, 1878-1910, deaths, 1878-1935

Directory of death notices appearing in Lindsay, Ontario, newspapers, 1900-1919

St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Cemetery : Lot 23, Con 3, Verulam Township, Victoria County by Marlene Clancy Diamond

Tidbits from our past : “little bits of this and that”

Directory of marriages appearing in Lindsay Ontario newspapers, 1920-1929

Directory of marriage notices appearing in Lindsay, Ontario, newspapers, 1900-1919

Lakeview Cemetery : Kirkfield, lot 43 con 8, Eldon Township, Victoria County

Directory of birth notices appearing in Lindsay Ontario newspapers, 1900-1919

Directory of death notices appearing in Lindsay, Ontario newspapers, 1920-1929

Directory of marriage notices appearing in Lindsay, Ontario, newspapers, 1920-1929

Directory of marriage notices appearing in Lindsay, Ontario, newspapers, 1883-1899

Obituary for Lois Magahay

Lois Blanche Magahay (

August 6th, 1928 – September 14th, 2022

Lois Blanche Magahay passed away at the age of 94 in Kingsville, Ontario on September 14th, 2022. Lois was born on August 6th, 1928 to Marshall Stephens and Blanche Stephens (nee Sisson) in Lindsay, Ontario where she grew up and went to school. On December 26th, 1946 she married Joseph Edwin (Ted) Magahay, also of Lindsay. Together they had three daughters, Sharon Jane, Stephanie Sue and Deborah Joy. Ted’s employment took the family to Parry Sound and then on to Sudbury where Lois was employed by the CIBC, working in Garson and Capreol as a Branch Manager. When Ted retired they moved back to their home town of Lindsay. Ted predeceased her in January 2002. Lois was active in genealogy as a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and held the Professional Learning Certificate from the National Institute of Genealogical Studies and the University of Toronto. She was a founding member of the Friends of the Lindsay Branch Library serving as Fund Raising Coordinator, Speaker Coordinator and Chair (for four years). In 2007 she was designated as a Life Member. She published several books and articles on local and provincial history and her research archives now reside at the Lindsay Branch Library. She will be sadly missed by daughters Sharon Gauthier (Raymond, predeceased), Stephanie Wright (Clifford, predeceased) and Deborah Ethier (Michael), five grandchildren, several great-grandchildren and many friends and relatives. Lois’ family would like to thank the wonderful and caring staff at Chartwell Royal Oak in Kingsville. A Celebration of Life will be held at Mackey Funeral Home, 33 Peel Street, Lindsay on Thursday, October 13th at 6pm. Memorial donations may be given in Lois’ name to a charity of your choice.

Dorothe Comber

Born Dorothe Mary St. George Comber on November 4, 1902 in Bobcaygeon, she was the only child of Walter Thomas Comber and Georgina Amelia St. George.

Dorothe attended school at her father’s private primary school, Hill Croft School in Bobcaygeon. She attended school in Lindsay and then progressed to the University of Toronto. She graduated in 1939 and became a teacher in Arnprior and Wingham (Heron County.)

When she retired, she returned to Bobcaygeon, where she lived next door to another Kawartha Lakes writer, Harry van Oudenaren.

Around the time of the country’s centennial celebrations, Comber, with a committee, captured Bobcaygeon’s history in the booklet, Bobcaygeon History: Amy Ellen Cosh Memorial. The book was dedicated in rememberance of Amy Cosh, beloved librarian to Bobcaygeon and friend to Comber.

In 1977, Comber recorded an interview with Doug Tangney, discussing some of Bobcaygeon’s history.

The Hill Croft School was started by Walter and Georgina Comber as a private school for the boy children of the Boyd family. Then, it was a “school for small boys.” When the boys aged, it became a high school, operated by the Combers until 1918. In 1929 the building was reopened and operated as Bobcaygeon Continuation School until 1956. From 1958 to 1976 the building was Hillcroft Private Hospital, owned and operated by Lorne and Orlie Stewart. Then in 1976 the building became Hillcroft Haven retirement home until the 1990s and then it became a medical centre, i.e. a cluster of offices for doctors. Now it stands abandoned.

After the school ceased at Hill Croft, Walter Comber went to teach at Ashbury College and then at the Lower School of Ridley College in Toronto. Walter was born in England in 1874 and had been educated at King’s School, St. Bury Edmond’s and Wadham College, Oxford. He joined the staff at Ridley in 1919 and was considered one of “Ontario’s finest history teachers. The Lower School loved him and would miss him greatly.” (Ridley: a Canadian School, Richard A. Bradley and Paul E. Lewis, 2000.)

Georgina was born in 1870 in Ireland and emigrated to Canada when she was seven. She married Walter Comber in 1900.

Dorothe Comber passed away on November 1, 1982. She left her collection of history about her family, the Boyd family and Bobcaygeon to her friend Harry van Oudenaren.


Bobcaygeon History: Amy Ellen Cosh Memorial, 1972.


Bobcaygeon: a picture book of memories, Harry van Oudenaren (1992).