Settlement and Development
The Kawartha Lakes area is the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, Huron-Wendat and more recently, the Haudenosaunee. In 1818, the government of Upper Canada purchased land from the Anishinaabeg. Scottish and Irish settlers arrived soon after. These settlers relied primarily on lumbering and agriculture, but the recreational potential of the area's lakes and rivers was also quickly recognized. Both Susanna Moodie and Catherine Parr Traill described using different area lakes for picnics and excursions. British army officers stationed at Cobourg and other nearby towns organized hunting and fishing parties to the Kawartha Lakes. Later, in the 19th century, a large tourism industry was established, based on railway excursions, steamboats, resort hotels and camping. More recently, this has become one of the main cottage areas in Ontario.
Today, the economy in Kawartha Lakes reflects the mixture of urban and rural communities that amalgamated in 2001. Dairy, cattle and mixed farms are common, especially in the southern portion of the city. A number of manufacturing companies operate in Kawartha Lakes as well, many located in Lindsay. In the northern portion of the city, tourism and recreation dominate. The historic Trent-Severn Waterway, parts of which date from the 1830s, also runs through the area.