This is what fields off Highway 26 looked like in 1923 (see the horse-drawn cart at right?).
The Pioneer History of Midhurst says:
Dr. Zavitz, whose responsibility it was to make the inspection of the Midhurst site, came up from Toronto and his mode of transportation was bicycle. He has described the inspection as follows:
“We walked across the field south of what is now the Station headquarters on highway #26 and came on a spring of fresh clean water bubbling out of a sandy bank. The stream wasn’t very wide but it seemed o have a good strong flow. We knew there was much sandy land in Simcoe County which could be planted and with the railway nearby this seemed to be the best location.”
The spring referred to, along with other springs in the same location, were developed into water storage ponds for the irrigation and drinking water needs of the Forest Station. Later on additional ponds were constructed for producing game fish to supply the stream-stocking programme of the Department of Lands and Forests. And in this area of natural woodland, interlaced with fresh water streams and ponds, a park was established.
Its natural beauty proved them right.
Such an attractive setting resulted in increased numbers of visitors every year to the park which had been suitably named Springwater Park. In 1957 the Parks Branch of the Department of Lands and Forests assumed responsibility for its operation and has since developed it into a modern Provincial Park with facilities to handle the many thousands of visitors who come there.
The forest station gave back in terms of improved environment and in cold hard dollars into the community.
By 1975, almost 150 people were employed each year at the nursery.
Over the years full time and seasonal requirements have seen changes as a result of the introduction of new equipment and techniques in modern nursery procedures. The present personnel establishment provides for 22 full time positions. Seasonal staff requirements, particularly in the spring period when lifting and shipping operations are in progress, average 125 employees.
For a comparison, note the change from 1923 to 1975 in the superintendent’s house (right across from the park’s entrance) in these black and white 1923 and 1975 photographs…
…to what you see today: a cathedral of trees that continues to draw people to the land picked out 107 years ago.
For a copy of the complete 4 page excerpt of the Midhurst Forest Station section in Pioneer History of Midhurst, click on pdf.