McGregor Bay is named for Captain Alexander MacGregor, a
Scotsman who settled in the McGregor Bay area about 1850.
He was the first fisherman to develop commercial fishing
in Lake Huron. Captain
MacGregor settled near McGregor Bay and is buried near the mouth
of the Whitefish River in the village of Whitefish Falls.
He married a native woman and raised a large family.
Many of the Indians in the area are descendants of his,
and bear his last name, which in the passage of time changed
from MacGregor to McGregor.
One son, Duncan, and his wife, Mollie, had a son Gregor,
who was chief in 1910 at the time when non-natives began
visiting the Bay to vacation.
One of Gregorís sons, Joe, was chief until 1973, when
his son Jim, who now runs J&G Marina with his family,
by boat from Little Current was the only way to get to the Bay
until the railway was put through in 1914.
The road from Espanola was built southward in stages and
reached Birch Island about 1925.
The original road was unpaved, single lane, hilly and
Jenkins was among the first permanent settlers in the Bay.
Before coming to the Bay, he ran the Little Current
newspaper, The Expositor, and the Sudbury Star in
Sudbury. He first
came to the Bay about 1910 for a summer vacation.
He and his wife, Nelly, stayed that summer in a tent on a
wooden platform near the blasted channel at the west end of
McGregor Island, on land rented from the Canadian government.
Soon after that, he built a log house on the site now
occupied by the Stierís cottage, near the former general
store. The first
logs for this house were laid on Oct. 11, 1911, by Norman
Campbell and his brother-in-law, Norman Steep.
(The cabin was moved in 1927 to Garden Island, where
George Eaton owned it from 1928 to 1950.
The cabin is currently owned by the Hunts of Pittsburgh,
Jenkins acted as game warden and fire ranger for McGregor Bay
and helped to develop the Bay in any way that was needed.
He, more than any other person, was responsible for
promoting McGregor Bay as a vacation resort.
Stuart Jenkins died Nov. 4, 1945.
His wife, Eleanor Aubrey Jenkins, died Aug. 3, 1943.
Both are buried in what is now the St. Christopherís
Jenkinsí daughter, Ethel, was the first to operate a general
store. This was
about 1917, when her husband, Ronald Kingsley, was overseas in
the First World War. Before
that, there was no place in the Bay to buy food and supplies.
She started it first as a small operation.
In about 1920, a post office was started at the store,
with Stuart Jenkins as postmaster and Ethel Kingsley operating
the store. After a
few years, she also started a camp, renting cottages to
brother, Robert Stuart Jenkins, was killed in a hunting accident
in 1927, at age 26. Thereafter,
she operated the store, post office, camp and family farm.
Next to her father, Ethel Kingsley was the person who
most advanced the development of vacationing in McGregor Bay.
She died on Oct. 1, 1973.
Kingsley was wounded in the arm in the war.
After he returned from the war, he kept account books for
a time at the lumber camp in the bay.
He later left for employment elsewhere.
Mrs. Kingsley married Henry J. Silva around 1932.
He came from Pictou, N.S.
Silvaís kept horses at the store to haul ice to the icehouse
in the winter and to haul heavy boats in and out of the water in
pastured the horses on Garden Island, even in the winter, during
some years. At one
time they had 25 to 30 cows and a barn for them behind the
top of the hill behind the church is the only cemetery in
McGregor Bay. The first to be buried in it were: Stuart Jenkins (1853-1945); his wife, Eleanor (Nelly) Aubrey
Jenkins (1862-1943); their son, Robert Stuart Jenkins
(1891-1917); their daughter Ethel Silva (1884-1973) and her
first husband, Ronald Kingsley.
Mrs. Silva bought the cemetery property and donated it to
the Anglican Church. The
cemetery was consecrated on July 4, 1951.
Before that date, it was only a family cemetery.
ground for St. Christopherís Church was also dedicated on July
4, 1951, by the Anglican bishop of Algoma, the Right Rev. R.F.
Palmer, with 80 people attending.
Since then summer services have been held regularly and
the church has been enlarged.
The original pews were first used in the oldest church on
Manitoulin Island, St. Paulís in Manitowaning, and were later
used in the Catholic Church at Birch Island.
power was brought to the Bay in 1954.
Before that time, cottages had only kerosene or propane
lamps, except for a few larger camps that had their own power
generating equipment operated by gasoline engines.
The store was one of the first buildings to get power.