By Chad Ingram
The Cox family has been in the Minden area for almost as long as Minden has existed.
Jonathan Cox was born on Sept. 25 1852 in Lincolnshire England. On Dec. 30 1874 he married Jane Thompson and in 1880 the Coxes immigrated to Canada eventually settling near Minden where they worked a farm.
The Coxes help populate the burgeoning community giving birth to 17 children – no that’s not a typo.
One of them was William “Billy” Cox born in 1888. One of Billy’s children was Denzil Cox.
Denzil who recently turned 93 years old moved into Hyland Crest earlier this year.
Denzil was born in 1922 in a farmhouse that still stands on the Scotch Line.
Other members of the family set up farms elsewhere in the area. Think Cox Farm Road.
Denzil’s parents – his mother was Annie Amelia Stamp – started out at a farm “somewhere up the north road” Denzil says and from there moved to the Mountain Lake property that now houses Ogopogo Resort.
“There was a lot of lake shore with that. If my father had known ahead of time what was going to happen [with the lodge boom and value of waterfront property] he would have held on to that.”
Instead the Coxes sold their lakeside farm to the Walker family and moved to the Scotch Line where Denzil was born.
He had six siblings one dying at birth.
“They’re all around here” he says seated by the window in his room at Hyland Crest. “They’re all buried around here.”
As for his many aunts and uncles Denzil is not exactly sure what happened to all of them.
“One girl went to Saskatchewan or some place” he says. “One ended up in Buffalo New York.”
The First World War claimed the lives of Edward and Herbert Cox Herbert killed on May 10 1917 in France. Edward listed as missing was never found.
Their names are engraved on the cenotaph at the Village Green in Minden’s downtown.
Another of Jonathan and Jane’s children Arthur born in 1890 died in infancy. His grave was the first at the Bethel Church cemetery near Horseshoe Lake. His parents are buried next to him.
Denzil himself had what sounds like a near-death experience when he was a boy.
“I was fooling around on the plow” he says “and it flipped on top of me.”
It was the fall he was to begin classes at the nearby schoolhouse and while Denzil can’t recall the exact nature of his injuries he knows they were bad enough to prolong his entry into education until the following year.
Daughter Anne seated in her dad’s room says that’s a story she’s never heard before.
From the Scotch Line Denzil’s family moved to a farm on the Deep Bay Road. He attended school in the schoolhouse on the property that today houses Archie Stouffer Elementary School.
Denzil can recall a Minden few can where the main method of transportation for most people was still horse and buggy.
“We used to come in [to town] on horseback” he says. “Every business had a drive shed to put them in and tie them up.”
Those with automobiles would put them up on blocks during the winter as they were useless the roads passable only by horse and sleigh.
Denzil recalls his father coming to pick up his siblings and him from school.
“He would come up with the team and sleigh to get us” he says with a faraway look and smile. “We used to get a lot of snow.”
The winters Denzil describes are practically unfathomable to those who didn’t witness them.
All of the fences would be buried the crust on the top of the snow sometimes strong enough for horses to walk around on.
This meant when Billy wintered his horses “it’d be two or three weeks at a time he wouldn’t let them out.”
Denzil can also recall the devastating fire of 1942 which destroyed the Minden township side of the downtown strip (Bobcaygeon Road once divided Minden and Anson townships).
“It was a pretty sad-looking outfit” Denzil says noting that some of the businesses moved afterwards.
It was after the 1942 fire that the Minden Echo was moved to the Village of Haliburton changing its name to the Haliburton Echo .
Like many of his generation Denzil started out working in the forests of Haliburton County.
“I started in the bush went to lumber camps the Department of Highways ended up in hydro for 35 years” he says.
Circa 1950 he and brother Ellwood also ran a grocery store in Minden’s downtown where Riverview Furniture is located today.
“The girls run it” Denzil said referring to their wives Denzil having married Dorothy Jean Thompson in 1946 and Ellwood marrying Janet Emily Marie McPhaden in 1944.
Many of the Coxes particularly the boys were given interesting and unusual names – Ellwood Denzil Lyman Loyne.
Denzil says the creative monikers were his mother’s doing.
In his case his name came from someone his mother had known while working in the city.
“I said to her ‘Where in the world did you ever find that name?’ She worked in Toronto and she knew someone with that name.”
The Cox name continues to be a strong one in Minden and Haliburton County with many members of the family the descendants of Jonathan and Jane and their many children living in the area to this day.