A small village in a vast and rugged land with dense forests of white pine, many lakes and rivers and bold rock outcroppings, Havelock was named after the famous British general Henry Havelock (1795-1857). The original village was started with the surveying of Belmont Township in 1823. The current village of about thirteen-hundred people was later moved a short distance south, closer to the railroad and incorporated in 1892. This was one of few villages that owed its beginnings to a railroad. In the later 1900’s mining became the dominant industry. The attractive village was well served with a school, churches, a millinery, post office, store and a blacksmith shop. Fishing, logging and farming were the early industries. The small settlement developed at the “Old Havelock Road” a former corner site, the current site of the “Old Norwood Road” and County Road #30. A road led south from the intersection to the Trent River, another to the east to Preneveau and Marmara. Another road led north to Feddick’s farm and a winding road from the west to Norwood.
Havelock’s most prominent feature today is the large, attractive Canadian Pacific Railroad Station located at 30 Ottawa Street (Trans Canada Hwy #7) in the centre of the town. Built in 1929 it was designated as a Heritage Railway Station in 2004 by the Historic Sights and Monument Board & Parks Canada. The exterior of the building was restored, the interior was renovated by private interest as the Station Restaurant. The CP rail caboose #434700 can be seen in the railyard, on retirement it was donated to the Havelock Lions Club, who converted it into a mini museum/tourist centre located north of the CPR Havelock rail yard. It now sports the famous “CP Rail” logo as well as the Lions Club Internationals. Today Havelock is internationally known for its Country Music Festival, a Thursday through Sunday schedule on the third weekend in August. For over thirty years this festival has featured an impressive list of county music entertainers.
In 1881, the newly developing Canadian Pacific Railroad surveyed a right-of-way through the area north of Havelock. A year later much swampy land was filled for the new railroad. The current Havelock village was located on this re-claimed swamp land. Havelock was established as the first divisional point east of Toronto of the the Ottawa & Quebec Railway serving as the primary line for CPR in Ontario between 1884-1914 because of its location half way between Toronto and Smiths Falls with later connections to Perth and Ottawa, plenty of cheap flat land its location near large water sources. By 1892, the first full passenger train stopped at Havelock on its way from Toronto to Smiths Falls.
Havelock was an important freight depot from the early days of CPR to the 1960’s. When the Canadian Pacific constructed a new rail connection to Port McNichol for wheat shipments from the Canadian Western provinces to Lake Ontario in 1912, Havelock gained a more important role in the rail network. CPR started construction of a new station in 1914 near the site of the original structure. World War 1 halted construction and the station wasn’t completed until 1929. By this time a new lakeshore route diverted most of the Toronto traffic to this east-west corridor. Because of this change Havelock started a slow decline. VIA passenger service was terminated in 1965 and freight service east shortly after.
Today Havelock is still an active railway town. The railway yard which is operated by CP subsidiary, the Kawartha Lakes Railway still serves as a steady railway presence for the area which is on the edge of both Eastern and Central Ontario. Regular activity is still seen as Havelock is the junction between the Havelock Subdivision and the Kawartha Lakes Nephton Sub.
Since 1996, the Canadian Pacific Rail Road has been operated as Kawartha Lakes Rail Road and consists of transporting nepheline and crushed basalt rock from sites operated by Unimin located two miles north of the village. Nepheline syenite is a white to light gray, medium-grained Igneous Rock consisting mostly of feldspar, nepheline and potash feldspar, accessory magnesium and iron-rich minerals. Its production began in the 1930’s at claims staked on Blue Mountain. Crushed basalt rock is a mafic extrusive rock formed from the rapid cooling of magnesium and iron-rich lava exposed at or near the surface of a terrestrial planet or moon. More than 90%of all volcanic rock on Earth is basalt. Unimin (Covis today) Canada Ltd. operates two facilities in Peterborough County, Nephton and Blue Mountain producing high quality nepheline syenite in its quarries, a preferred source material for glass manufacturing. The industrial mineral called nepheline used in glass, ceramics and polymers was mined at Havelock for about eighty years. Nepheline ore was discovered in the 1890’s with the Nephton mine beginning production 1935.
Unimin Canada Ltd. purchased the site in 1989 with its deposit site encompassing 3,500 hundred acres of land making it one of North America’s largest supplier of non-metallic industrial mineral products according to Earth Sciences Museum. Canadian Nepheline, prized since its discovery in Ontario, it is an inert igneous rock formed out of molten magma. Similar to granite it consists of three types on minerals; the microline form of feldspar, the albite form of feldspar and nepheline. In glass and ceramics, Canadian Nepheline powder provides the alkali that acts as a flux lowering the melting temperature of ceramic mixture of glass promoting faster melting and fuel savings and thus reducing emissions associated with climate change.
Nepheline is also used in the production of ceramics, porcelain, hygiene products, abrasives, plastic & filters, paints and insulation. Beer, pop and wine bottles the world over all feature Canadian Nepheline. Leading Canadian paints like Home Hardware Beauty-tone and other paints around the world owe their sheen to Canadian Nepheline. Unfortunately the Nephton mine in the Town of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen is scheduled for a possible closure in the next few years with the loss of 100 employees, but the Blue Mountain plant will be expanded and modernized for profitable operation well into the future.