MacGregor Point Provincial Park is filled with natural and cultural history, and a discussion of the history of the park could focus on topics too numerous to name. I’m sure there are countless stories that have occurred in this area, from those of ancient tropical seas to the families creating their own memories camping in the park. One notable story that I would like to discuss is that of the namesake of the park; Captain Alexander MacGregor of Goderich
According to The History of the County of Bruce (1908), it was Alexander MacGregor who was the first to strive to develop the natural resources of Bruce County. In 1831, Captain MacGregor found an area brimming with fish while sailing through what we now refer to as the Fishing Islands near Oliphant. Captain MacGregor took this discovery as a business opportunity and in 1834 he struck a deal with an American company, which would buy his fish. He would be given a dollar per barrel for his catches consisting mainly of white fish and herring. Soon after this deal, Captain MacGregor built some of the first permanent buildings in Bruce County in order to service his growing enterprise.
While this sounds very similar to a deal that could be made today, the process of finding and catching these fish was very different considering the lack of technology during MacGregor’s time as a fisherman. In order to take in a large amount of fish, one man would be stationed in a tree to watch for the approach of a shoal, or large group of fish. When the fish were spotted, the rest of the crew would spring into action, clambering into a large rowboat.
The large rowboat would hold a large seine, or net, and the fishermen would quickly row out into the water while taking instructions from the man in the lookout. The net was dropped to surround the fish, then hauled in to shore. There, another fisherman stood waiting barefoot with a scoop to toss the fish on to the shore. Sometimes this landing process took over three days!
Alexander MacGregor and his business were eventually pushed out of the area due to conflicts and envy among his fellow townsmen. Nevertheless, he made enough of an impression to have a point of land named after him. Coincidentally, the true point of land called MacGregor Point is not officially part of MacGregor Point Provincial Park at all!