History of Brynmorwydd

The sound of the train whistling thru the forest reminds us of the beginnings of this beautiful cottage area, a treasure found along the Severn River.  Boats cruise past the mouth of our Bay, on their way travelling between Big Chute and Swift Rapids Lock, maybe not fully aware of how this area became established.

But how did all these quaint cottages on this quiet Bay come to be?  With the Canadian Pacific Railway, that train whistle you hear through the forest!
This part of the Muskokas was home to many CP Railway worker way back in the 1920s.  The Bay is bounded by tracks of the CP Railway system — the track that runs all across Canada.  (We are a water access only property but not an island)  Many of the workers decided to build cottages along our Bay — Wood Bay — to live and work from.  As you look around, you still find many little remnants from that time not so long ago.  Information has been shared with me now that lumbering was a big operation early in the century and a winter lumber mill operated at the end of the bay.  I really need to research the history of this Bay a bit further, so my facts going forth may not be accurate, and I am sure that I will update often as I learn more.  Input and comments from any of my neighbouring cottagers are welcome!
But the story of the cottage’s original owner is one that has significance to my family and I.
As I mentioned, the cottage was previously owned by my parents.  I didn’t grow up spending my childhood summers here, not until my late teens, but over the years I found true peace and calmness whenever I came to visit.  Unfortunately my visits were not often enough, due to several reasons, but one really was that I lived the furthest away — it was a 3 hour drive to come for the weekend.  So visits were infrequent to say the least.  As my life continued and changed, I remarried and my new husband fell just as much in love with the cottage as I was, we made more efforts to come up and spend time here.
Shortly after that, at a much too young of an age, my Father’s health slowly declined.  The cottage was now fully in my Mother’s hands.  It was left virtually alone for the next several years, with the neighbours checking up on it as they could and a few visits of my family, but no real enjoyment was happening.  Then that call from my Mom “I’m selling the cottage.”  Well that is when we stepped into the picture.  There was so much of my Father’s love and passion built into this cottage that there was no way we could see it falling into someone other than family’s hands.  So we bought the cottage from my Mom, with the intentions of maybe one day expanding on it and making it a more permanent summer home for us.
We have found a lot of enjoyment from the Muskoka cottage life, and after several years, while still in our pretirement age, decided to rebuild — or rather build a newer cottage and keep the one now officially named “Nick’s Place” as our bunkie.
John G. Bolt
Construction begins!  And it has taken us 3 full cottage seasons to get to the end of it all.  And it’s been quite the journey, but worth it in the end!
The first stage of construction, was actually “deconstruction”!  First to go had to be the sunroom on the original cottage.  While removing the windows, doors, walls and ceiling, we came upon the original ceiling planks that had written on them “John G. Bolt”  “Severn Falls”  “CPR”.
A name, a clue to the origins of our lovely little cottage!  We also had heard of a sign — somewhere on this property, with the original name of the cottage, finally after searching, my husband found it — it was named Brynmorwydd.  A Welsh sounding word (my husband is Welsh) so we thought that this John G. Bolt (as we still love to call him) must have been a Welshman!  (Much to my dismay — I was proud to have this as a Dutch cottage :)).
This name really intrigued Terry.  He had to find out more!  Terry passed on this information to his brother Brian, in Wales, who researches ancestry.  Brian came back with the response that the name “Brynmorwydd” doesn’t mean anything itself.  It is likely the name of a place.  After more research Brian said there was no community or settlement in Wales called Brynmorwydd.  Still intrigued himself, Brian then went on to research the name John G. (Gray) Bolt  and found a John G. Bolt Jr. living with his father, John G. Bolt Sr. in Wales (mother had already passed away).  (See the photo of the 1881 Census.)
From that census he found that JGB Srs’ stated occupation was “Head Gameskeeper”.   Brian immediately recognized that a gameskeeper typically worked on a large estate for an Aristocrat.  So he began searching for the names of large estates in Wales at that time.  Up pops the name “Brynmorwydd”, an estate right where the Bolt family lived.  Now we were pretty confident that we had the correct John G. Bolt, but to prove it Brian searched through later census documents until he could see that John G. Bolt Jr. had left the country.
The next interesting part of this story is the 1889 Census which shows John G. Bolt Jr. is now an orphan living with his uncle in “Lea Cottage” in England.  Too much of a coincidence, with our family name being Lee, and this being all about our cottage, even though he didn’t spell our name correctly. (Those English!)
Anyway Brian kept searching and eventually found a shipping manifest in 1911 showing a passenger, one John G. Bolt, after working as a Domestic Butler at Norley Hall until he departed from Glasgow Scotland to Montreal with a stated destination ofFont Hill, Ontario to work as a Butler.
We are now satisfied we have our man!

We have been told that after arriving in Canada John G. Bolt, now commonly known as Johnny moved to Toronto where he took a job with the Canadian Pacific Railroad working in the Express Office (Parcel delivery). While working there he met another Welsh descendent, a Mr. Frank Emsley Lloyd*, who befriended him. Mr. Lloyd had obtained a Crown grant for land on Wood Bay where the cottage now stands. It was Lloyd who introduced Johnny to the area. Eventually he gave a part of that land to Johnny and Johnny then built the cottage.

This information has been passed on to us from a Mrs. Dorothy Ruth Lloyd Zahavich, who is the family that my parents bought the cottage from. Dorothy’s parents actually spent their honeymoon at the cottage in 1928!

Johnny never married and had no relatives, but Dorothy grew up thinking of him as family, and Johnny treated the two Lloyd grandchildren (Dorothy and her sister Ruth) as his own grandkids. Dorothy even remembers Johnny telling stories of growing up in Wales where his father was a games keeper. She remembers him as being “a real softy and very emotional”. In about 1950, Johnny retired from CPR with the intention of spending summers at the cottage and winters at his home in Lansing, north of Toronto, but became sick and died in early 1954 (age 69). Before he died he offered the cottage to Dorothy’s father, Melbourne (Mel and wife Emmy), but he didn’t want it, so Johnny left it to Dorothy. She loved it there and she and her husband spent weekends and eventually summers at the cottage until 1984 when her husband became sick and they were forced to sell it. Dorothy said “I cried all the way down the bay as the boat left for the last time.”

So today, it is our good friend two cottages away David Lloyd**, grandson of the original Lloyd, that first told us about the sign “Brynmorwydd” which we uncovered in a shed and which led us on this journey.

* Frank Emsley Lloyd, Welsh descendent; Born December 1876 in King Township, Ontario.  Married to Eliza Walden.

**David Lloyd’s parents, Seth MacKenzie Lloyd and his wife Jessie built the cottage adjacent to us (now the Dunlop’s cottage) and spent their honeymoon there.  David retains the cottage two next to ours.

John G. Bolt, born in 1886 (sometime between July and Sept) in Llandyrnog, Denbign, North Wales (2 miles from Brynmorwydd),  died in 1954.
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