Discover Omemee, Ontario: A Blend of History and Charm
Omemee, Ontario, a community within the city of Kawartha Lakes, is a hidden gem nestled between the city of Peterborough and the community of Lindsay. This quaint town, located on the Trans-Canada Highway, Ontario Highway 7, is a part of the proclaimed "city" of Kawartha Lakes. Despite its rural setting, Omemee is a significant population centre with a population of 1,247 according to the Canada 2011 Census.
Omemee, Ontario: Home to Renowned Personalities
Omemee's claim to fame is its connection to musician Neil Young and his father, author and sportswriter Scott Young, who spent their early childhood here. The town's Youngtown museum, which closed in 2014, was a testament to this legacy, with its contents now displayed in the neighbouring town of Lindsay. Omemee also caught the attention of Canadian comedian Jonny Harris, who featured the town in his CBC Still Standing program in August 2016.
The Rich History of Omemee, Ontario
Omemee, originally known as Williamstown and then Metcalfe, grew around William Cottingham's mills on the Pigeon River. The community was renamed Omemee in 1857, after the Omemee tribe that once hunted in the area. The word "Omemee" means pigeon in the Mississauga language and is traditionally spelled "omimi".
The construction of the Port Hope, Lindsay and Beaverton Railway in 1857 fostered the growth of the community, turning it into a thriving shipping point for timber and grain. At its zenith in the late 1800s, Omemee boasted a grist mill, two sawmills, a tannery, a foundry, a shingle mill, a cloth mill, three churches, four hotels, an elementary and secondary school, and a newspaper.
Omemee, Ontario: A Legacy Beyond Borders
The legacy of Omemee, Ontario extends beyond its borders. The ghost town of Omemee, North Dakota, was named after the Ontario Omemee, as the former's first postmaster hailed from the latter. In 1970, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released Déjà Vu with a recording of the song "Helpless" which was based on Neil Young's hometown Omemee, referring to the town in the first verse as, “There is a town in north Ontario...All my changes were there”, although Omemee is in fact in Central Ontario and not Northern Ontario.
Today, Omemee's economy is supported by the town’s population as well as seasonal residents and retirement communities in the surrounding area. Despite the shift in Ontario’s economy away from agriculture and the growth of surrounding towns, Omemee, Ontario continues to charm with its rich history and rural appeal.