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The Horse & Buggy Era (1880-1900)

The End of the Century

At the end of the century, agriculture was still the dominant industry, despite the increasing presence of commercial factories and foundries. Farmers still comprised the majority of the population, but industrialists, tradesmen, merchants and professionals were becoming more common.

In 1884, the first train over the newly completed NTQ railway line steamed between Napanee and Tamworth, stopping in communities along the Napanee River Valley. The railway meant that logs, lumber and grain could be shipped cheaply from the hinterland to the mills and factories of larger, more efficient companies such as Deseronto's Rathbun Company, the Thomson Brother's paper mills at Newburgh, Strathcona and Thomsonville, and John Gibbard's furniture works at Napanee.

The railway also meant that mass produced goods were more readily available, displacing the handmade products of family tradesmen. Many families enjoyed comfortable homes and amenities. Successful entrepreneurs, including John Gibbard and John Herring, built solid, substantial brick homes from profits garnered from manufacturing ventures. Homes were still lit by fuel burning lamps but a generator at the Big Mill introduced some Napanee businesses and homes to electric light.

Travel was still mainly by horse and buggy or steamer, but railways and bicycles were new alternatives. The first sidewalks, and the completion of new bridges across the Napanee River, allowed for easier access to Napanee's bustling downtown.

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