Discover Kearney, Ontario: The Biggest Little Town in Ontario
Kearney, Ontario, is a charming town and municipality nestled in the Almaguin Highlands region of Parry Sound District. With a landmass of 528 square kilometres and a year-round population of 974, according to the Canada 2021 Census, Kearney proudly holds the title of the "Biggest Little Town in Ontario."
The Rich History of Kearney, Ontario
The settlement of Kearney began in 1873 when Perry Township was opened. The first two Post Offices were established at Scotia and Emsdale, on the Muskoka Road. In 1879, settlers Arthur J. O'Neil and William Kearney opened a store in the north-east corner of the township, near what is now Cherry Hill Road. The following year, a post office was opened in "Kearney Store," giving the town its name.
Kearney thrived as a logging town with numerous sawmills and lumber camps. Logs were floated down the Magnetawan River, some as far as Byng Inlet. The arrival of the Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway in 1895 shifted the commerce of the village to the east side of the lake, near the railway station. In 1908, Kearney separated from Perry Township and was incorporated as a town.
The Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway was absorbed into the Canada Atlantic Railway, which was sold to the Grand Trunk Railway in 1905. In 1923, the Grand Trunk became part of the Canadian National Railways. The track from Kearney into Algonquin Park was abandoned in 1959, and the rail bed was converted into a road to allow continued access to the now ghost towns of Ryan and Ravensworth, and Rain Lake in Algonquin Park.
In the 1970s, Kearney claimed to be "The Smallest Town in Ontario." However, on December 1, 1979, legislation was passed to amalgamate the town of Kearney with the geographic townships of Proudfoot and Bethune, as well as portions of Butt and McCraney townships in Nipissing District that were not part of Algonquin Provincial Park. In the mid-90s, a town councillor and Kearney Youth Group founder, Dale Louise Germaney, coined the name "Ontario's 'Biggest Little Town'," which is still used to this day.
The Vibrant Community of Kearney, Ontario
Kearney serves as a gateway to Algonquin Park wilderness with three access points - Tim Lake, Magnetawan Lake, and the most popular, Rain Lake. Both canoe and hiking routes can be accessed from these park entry points. Kearney is well known as a tourist centre, boasting a seasonal population of over 2500 people. Its popularity stems not only from its proximity to Algonquin Park but also for its swimming, water sports, camping, and fishing opportunities.
The Kearney Community Centre, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2000, houses the municipal offices, library, seniors room, and banquet facilities. The centre offers indoor activities during the weekdays such as card parties and special interest classes. Kearney also has a number of groups including the Royal Canadian Legion, the Lions Club, and various church and other groups.
Exciting Events in Kearney, Ontario
Kearney hosts a variety of annual events, including the Blackfly Festival, Lions Club Lobsterfest, Creative Changes Art Show, Sand Lake Regatta, Kearney Regatta, Kearney Lions Club Pancake Breakfast, Christmas Fun Fair and Craft Sale, the "Kearney Dog Sled Races", and Sand Lake Thanksgiving Sunday Turkey Shoot. Kearney is also well known for its grand and impressive firework show that is held every July.
Kearney's history of logging also helped create the trails for their dog sled races in the winter. The races, which are organized by the Kearney Dog Sled Race Committee, have grown in popularity with both spectators and racers since its inception in 1995. The mushers can choose from a number of scenic trails used for four, six, and forty mile races, and as of February 2010, a 120-mile overnight race. In addition to the races, the weekend has a full roster of family events, including cross-country skiing and ice fishing.
Demographics of Kearney, Ontario
In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Kearney had a population of 974 living in 460 of its 1,195 total private dwellings, a change of 10.4% from its 2016 population of 882. With a land area of 528.21 km2 (203.94 sq mi), it had a population density of 1.8/km2 (4.8/sq mi) in 2021. The age groups are distributed as follows: 0–14 years: 8.5%, 15–64 years: 62.1%, 65 years and over: 28.2%. The mother tongue of the residents is predominantly English (92.6%), followed by French (2.3%) and other languages (5.1%).
Kearney, Ontario, is located 43 km north of Huntsville, Ontario. From Huntsville, follow Hwy 11 north until exit 244 (Emsdale), then Hwy 518 east to Kearney. The local postal code of Kearney is P0A 1M0. The post office services the town with lock boxes and a rural route.