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Development of Callander

George Morrison

In 1880, a bookkeeper from Oxford County in Southern Ontario traveled by ox-cart from Muskoka to Lake Nipissing. There he built a raft and floated his family and possessions across the lake to the south-east bay. Logging companies had settled around its shores, taking advantage of the abundant white pine that grew in the area. He was one of its first pioneers and his wife was the first white woman. On June 1st 1881, George Morrison opened a Post Office in his general store and named it after his parent’s birthplace, Callander.

In homage to Mr. Morrison, Callander’s first Reeve, the municipality recently adopted the Ancient Morrison tartan as the official tartan of the community. Besides Scotland, early Callander residents primarily claimed ancestry from England, Ireland and France.

A Historical Event

For the small logging community of Callander, a lot changed on the night of May 28, 1934. Five identical baby girls, the world’s first surviving Quints, were born to the Dionne family, farmers in the neighbouring village of Corbeil. Dr. A.R. Dafoe, Callander’s doctor assisted in the births and cared for the babies afterward.

Thus began the legendary story of the Dionne Quintuplets – an event that at the height of the Depression drew thousands of curious visitors and throngs of international media to this tiny village on the shores of Lake Nipissing. The Quints story is both fairytale and tragedy. They were world famous from birth but later it came to light that they were also horribly exploited and used by many who capitalized on their fame and who pocketed the results for their own greed. Historically, Callander’s identity was forever altered by the event of their births.