The first hunter/gatherers at the lake were aboriginal people of the Algonquin nation. They named the lake Kaijick Manitou after their chief, meaning "Cedar Spirit".
The lake was renamed Loon Lake and then Long Lake, by the white surveyors.
Native families such as Bernard, Lavallee and Baptiste were some of the first settlers. Of these, Algonquin Chief Jean Baptiste and his family are believed to be the earliest resident. Hence the village and lake were named Baptiste.
By 1880 the lumber trade and mining began to attract developers and entrepreneurs to the area. C. J. Pusey bought six miles of rail, and some claims on iron outcroppings. Together with Henry S. Howland, they filed a plan to extend the rail line from north of Kinmount to connect with the Central Ontario Railway in the Ottawa Valley. They called their venture the Irondale, Bancroft & Ottawa Railway(IB&O). The first ten miles were opened in 1887 and reached Baptiste in 1900 and Bancroft in 1910. It never did get to the Ottawa Valley.
It was not as easy route, the length and grade of the slope from Baptiste to Highland Grove is the worst of its kind east of the Rockies. The engine, "Mary Ann" had its own idiosyncrasies and consumed massive amounts of wood and later coal, to keep going. With a heavy load, she would drop half of her cars on a spur siding, take the first half up and return for the remaining cars.
The IB&O had a colourful history and is remembered with fondness. The train regularly derailed, and never ran on time.
The IB&O brought prosperity, jobs, and goods into the area. It ran excursions for Bancroft residents to go berry picking, Sunday school picnics, and brought cottagers from Lindsay and points beyond to Baptiste. For those along the railway, it was a link to the larger world. Although plans were in the works to extend the line to Renfrew in 1908, these plans fell through and the IB&O linked to the Central Ontario Rail in Bancroft instead. The entire railway was closed down in 1960; the rails were lifted and sold to make razor blades.
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