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In summer, boats travelled to Lindsay and Peterborough. Bobcaygeon, with a population of about 1,000, was incorporated as a village by a Victoria County by-law of 1876 A group of local businessmen worked for many years to bring a railway into Bobcaygeon.Sir Sam Hughes sat on the board of the Lindsay, Pontypool & Bobcaygeon Railway.The song is named after Bobcaygeon, Ontario, a town in the Kawartha Lakes region about 160 km (100 mi) northeast of Toronto.Its lyrics also obliquely reference the Christie Pits riot of 1933, which arose from tensions between Toronto's working-class Jewish community and anti-semitic Swastika clubs following a baseball game ("their voices rang with that Aryan twang").Thomas Need, who arrived in 1832 is recognized as one of the earliest settlers of the Township of Verulam and is the founder of Bobcaygeon.With his purchase of 3000 acres (12 km²) of land, Need built a sawmill, gristmill, and the first store.According to Downie, the song was not specifically written about the town itself, but rather he chose the town's name for the lyrics primarily because it was the closest rhyme to "constellation" that he could find among small towns in Ontario.In live performances, Downie has typically explained "Bobcaygeon" as a "cop love song," though the gender and identity of the narrator's beloved change from performance to performance.
There were stages to Lindsay, Peterborough and Minden.Today, Bobcaygeon designates both sides of the Bobcaygeon River, after the post office was established on the island by the first postmaster, Thomas Need.In 1844, Thomas Need sold his profitable business interests to Mossom Boyd, and returned to England.The provincial government had reserved and surveyed a town site on the north bank of Bobcaygeon River between Sturgeon and Pigeon Lakes, which was named Rokeby by visiting Lieutenant Governor Sir John Colborne.Need laid out streets and plotted lots on the island, which was named Bobcaygeon.
Recent concerns have seen him introduce the song as "about a couple of gay cops that fall in love.