Hemlock and Railroads
Two years later, 1855, the prominent citizens of the Outlet, led by Mr. Moore, decided that the settlement was deserving of greater recognition and a more dignified status, the settlement having gained a total of 200 souls. At a meeting in the schoolhouse, presided over by the eloguent Mr. Moore, an unanimous resolution was passed that the Municipality of Magog should be formed. The new name, Magog, was adopted – and another milestone reached.
Where the name came from is obscure. Perhaps it was taken from a local Indian dialect as is popularly believed. Perhaps it was from the Biblical reference to Gog and Magog, a king and his nation, referred to in the book of Ezekiel. Magog also appears in British folklore as the name of a mythical giant captured by the first king of the Britons. It is possible that some influential citizen of the Outlet may have persuaded the townsfolk to transer a memory of this fascinating legend to the New World.
Time moved on. Moore was now wealthy, but past successes only whetted the appetite of the redoubtable leading citizen of Magog for greater accomplishments, including a greater Magog. The stage coach line, now regular and soon to be daily, and a new steamer on the Lake, had helped the municipality immensely. But Moore’s civic pride was constantly irked that Magog should be in such a distant third place to Sherbrooke and Waterloo. He had known the basic reason ever since 1852 – their rail connections with Montreal.
Hemlock bark, of all things, was what brought Magog its railway. For some time the Canadian tanning industry had been rapidly growing, and calling for larger and larger supplies of hemlock bark, used in processing hides into leather. There were great limits of hemlock in the district and Moore had to stand by and watch them being cut, the logs barked, and the bark carted to Waterloo or Sherbrooke, where the settlers were spending the cash received from the tanneries. That meant direct loss of business from customers whom Moore had long considered his own. A railroad would not only be good for Magog, but also for his business.
The hemlock development fascinated Moore. He had long been convinced that what Magog needed most was a railroad. Now, with his own business, the lumber shipments, hemlock and the growing wealth of the community, he felt sure the time was ripe. Moore’s influence in the surrounding country was widespread. Although he had not yet attained political office, it was conceded that the controlled votes of Magog and the Hatleys, and so he approached his good friend, the sitting Member, Hon. C.C. Colby, with the railroad proposition.
Together they formed a company, and in 1878 built the Magog and Waterloo Railroad. Stockholders were invited to a free trip to Waterloo, and a banquet, which was all they ever did receive for the money invested.