Between Two Rivers prepared by Preston O'Grady
The first profile focusses on people and sites along the Bonnechere and Madawaska rivers.
One way to know an era and its people is to study the historical events that influenced them. Another, used in these profiles, is to look at what the people said about themselves and about one another; in short, their literature.
Roots become tangible through the life lived in small settlements and along the roads that served them. One such road is The Opeongo Line, surveyed in 1852, at first called the Ottawa and Opeongo Road.
A few people think the Opeongo line is a manner of speaking that belongs to a certain type of Ottawa Valley person. "He is not one to spoil a good story with the truth," they say. However, it's not true at all, hardly worth considering, scarcely believable.
The Opeongo Line is the most famous of several local settlement roads. At first considered to be an alternate route to move troops to Toronto in case American forces seized the Rideau and Kingston corridors, it later became a major artery for settlement and accessing the stands of giant pine in and near Algonquin Park. Although the days of squared- timber rafts and log drives are gone, the abundant waters, second and third growth forests, and beautiful scenery are known worldwide for recreation, business and wilderness settings. Opeongo, of Algonkian origin "Ope au wingauk," means "sandy at the narrows," following the practice of naming by conveying a meaning or location. It may refer to the sandy lake bottom at The Narrows between the South and East Arms of the lake that is now identified as Opeongo Lake in Algonquin Park (S. Bernard Shaw, Lake Opeongo). Such a location would be a safe place to cross, a pleasant site to set up camp, a welcoming terrain to be on the lookout for. From such historical origins springs the name - Opeongo High School - a school that is proud of its roots and is forging its own traditions.
Lumbering, hunting and fishing, old-time fiddling and step-dancing, fairs, bazaars, church suppers, soft ball and base ball, hockey, squared- log buildings, mixed farming, stone fences, split rail fences, hiking, cave exploring, alternative life styles, studios for arts and crafts, classical music groups, electrical energy, nuclear energy, resorts, water recreation, construction and transportation businesses, technical and professional skills, snowmobile races, Rural Ramble, celebrating the Flaming Leaf - they are all part of the area within a half hour's drive of the Opeongo Mountains.