In 1832, two years after the area had been surveyed, Thomas Need purchased 3,000 in the Township of Verulam. The Township of Verulam was part of Peterborough County until 1850, when Victoria County was formed. Thomas Need built several mills and a store that serviced the area. The small community became known as Bobcaygeon, an Ojibwe word meaning "at the shallow currents".
In 1833 the first lock of the Trent-Severn Waterway was built at Bobcaygeon connecting Sturgeon and Pigeon Lakes. In 1857 a branch of the Grand Trunk Railway ran from Lindsay to Bobcaygeon, which spurred settlement to the area. A colonization road ran north from Bobcaygeon and lots were quickly taken up.
The village of Bobcaygeon was laid out on the mainland, but many settlers preferred the rocky islands between Sturgeon and Pigeon Lakes. In 1876 Bobcaygeon was incorporated as a village.
Bobcaygeon is a popular tourist destination and is often referred to as the "hub of the Kawarthas". A lift bridge separates the main street as boats along the Trent Severn Waterway pass directly through the village.
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