Jim Bokern conducted an interview with Calvin LaPorte in July of 1993 on the history of Manitowish Waters. Below is a summary of LaPorte's observations regarding the Southgate property and canal system. As a young man, Calvin LaPorte would frequently visit the Southgate property on Little Trout Lake with his father George LaPorte, who acted as a part-time caretaker of the property. The excerpt below is from Report of the 1993-94 Shoreline Survey Manitowish Waters Chain of Lakes,for which Bokern was the project historian.
Excerpt from Southgate Canal Site report:
Local informant, Cal LaPorte, gave the crew an oral account of the history of the canal. A Mr. Southgate, a wealthy man from Chicago, had the canal excavated by hand between 1890 and 1900. Wooden planks lined the bottom and the sides of the canal system. Boats with transoms on each end were used to carry goods and passengers to Southgate's vacation residence on Little Trout Lake. Other resorts benefited from this system since people could travel on the Northwestern Railroad to Lac du Flambeau and then by boat to the resort without having to portage. Construction materials and amenities of civilization could reach the Manitowish Waters chain with greater ease. (The canal system was apparently extended north to the Manitowish chain from Little Trout Lake to Alder Lake at around the same time.)
Southgate himself would travel in his private railroad car from Chicago to Lac du Flambeau. He would then board his boat and travel to his growing property on Little Trout Lake via canal system. On the lake, Southgate had a small farm with two barns, an icehouse, an electric power generator, a main house, a maids' house and a caretaker's house.
When Southgate died, his widow remarried a Swedish man named Hinnes, and they continued to operate the Little Trout property. The canal system and Southgate's properties continued to prosper until 1928-29. The Chippewa built a road to Little Trout Lake in the 1930's. A big fire that burned continuously for two years in the Powell Marsh area destroyed the Southgate buildings. The canals have not been maintained since.
Hinnes was a millionaire who later lost his fortune in a Denver, Colorado oil shale deal. He finished his years as a bellhop at the Congress Hotel in Chicago.