Lake of Bays agrees to designate Paint Lake Cemetery and School House
Lake of Bays Council approved the request to publish a Notice of Intention, to Designate the Paint Lake Cemetery and School House under the Ontario Heritage Act, in the November 14, 2023, meeting.
The interest to designate the cemetery and schoolhouse started with the Heritage Advisory Committee (HAC) in September 2015.
In June 2021 the Committee conducted research and a site visit to determine whether the property meets the criteria to be deemed as a cultural heritage facility, under the Ontario Heritage Act.
According to the staff report, the goal of designation “will preserve, protect and promote culturally significant property within the municipality.”
Deputy Clerk, Laura Vaisanen, indicated, “The Paint Lake Cemetery and schoolhouse is of cultural heritage value as the pioneer schoolhouse to operate in the Ridout Ward.” She said the schoolhouse still has signatures in it from students that attended it.
She added, “The municipal cemetery was used between the 1800s to the present day. The gravesite found in the cemetery provided important insight into the lives of the Township of Lake of Bays.”
Councillor, and HAC board member, Nancy Tapley, advised that a booklet is being created for the cemetery.
Councillor, Jacqueline Godard, concurred, “We’re doing as we did in Baysville for the Baysville ‘One Five O.’ It’s a self guided walk-through cemetery. You can look up your families, your decedents, and we’re doing the same for Paint Lake to compliment this.”
Councillor, George Anderson, expressed excitement at the endeavor. “Paint Lake cemetery is really important, and those signatures have been there obviously forever. I looked at them as a kid, and there’s so much history in that. And it was the last operating school in Ridout, and it’s neat that some of the original students of that school are still with us. You can go and chat with them about that - about the school.”
He added that some of the students have inquired about whether they can restore the inside of the school to what it originally looked like.
Tapley advised that they can. She said, “They can bring it up to standards if they want, albeit restoring it or updating it even.”
Councillor, Rick Brooks, advised that in his experience with restoring a heritage facility it requires planning and partnership with the right groups, such as the Conservatory of Ontario. He said, “It can be done but it takes the general public, and it takes a plan… It takes public dollars, and you need to understand that there’s a plan. You don’t just go in and start hammering nails.”
The legal cost to designate the site is $600, to register the By-law on title, and it will be incurred in the 2024 Budget.
Vaisanen advised that the next step will be to issue a Notice of Intent. She said, “People have 30 days to comment.”