Wednesday, 28 December 2011

NIPIGON: 7000 B.C.

This article was written for the Souvenir Edition Nipigon Historical Museum Welcome newspaper June 1982, by Bill Ross, then Regional Archaeologist, now retired, for the Ministry of Culture and Recreation (1982 designation).

Sunset on Lake Nipigon.


Europeans were not the first people to settle in the Nipigon area. Rather, this area was first settled by Amerindians some nine thousand years ago. These people were descendants of the first migrants to the New World who had crossed from Asia several thousand years before. As the ice from the last glacier receded northward, plant and animal populations moved into the area, and in pursuit of these came man.


Corn, rose-hips, wild rice and beans.

Archaeologists working in this area have recorded over 1000 sites belonging to the original inhabitants of Northern Ontario and have so far only scratched the surface. Through the stone tools, broken pottery sherds, food remains and other discarded items, the long forgotten lifeways of these prehistoric peoples are slowly and painstakingly being reconstructed.


What follows is a brief summary or overview of man's past record in Northwestern Ontario. It is of course greatly simplified as even small portions of the total story could fill books, but it will, hopefully, create an interest in this fascinating story and perhaps lead people to libraries, bookshelves and museums in order to flesh out this brief sketch.


Some are tools and some are just leaverite.
(Leave-it-right-there it's not anything but a rock)

Archaeologists call the first people who lived in the Nipigon area Palaeo Indians (Palaeo meaning old) . It would appear that they first entered the area some nine thousand years ago. Little is known of these early people but we believe they were big game hunters and that roaming herds of caribou may have been their main source of food. Most of our evidence for the existence of these people are the distinctive, beautifully made lanceolate spear points that have been left behind, along with large stone knives and scraping tools. Little else remains.


Some two thousand years later, distinctive changes in the tool kit of the local people occurred. The spear points changed shape, became smaller, and a distinctive fishing technology appeared in the form of hooks, gaffs and sinkers. Archaeologists are still unclear as to why these changes occurred but some suggest that it may have been a response to a changing climate which would have affected the local plant and animal communities.[editor note - this is 1982 writing, way before the Inconvenient Truth was made]
Whatever the cause, it is distinct enough that archaeologists call this period the Archaic, and can readily separate this tool kit from the one of the Palaeo-Indian time period.


Copper tools, Reflection Lake, about 20 miles north of Nipigon.

Perhaps the most important development of the Archaic time period (5000 - 500 B.C.), was the appearance of a new industry - the production of tools from native copper. Needles, knives, axes, spear points, as well as less utilitarian items such as bracelets, all hammered from native copper, made there appearances. Although this represents some of the earliest metal working in the world, the Archaic people of Lake Superior were not the earliest metallurgists in the true sense of the word. Their tools were manufactured by heating and hammering the copper into shape, not by casting as was done in other parts of the world. There is evidence that copper tools were being traded widely across eastern North America at this early period.


Laurel  culture made a conical base vessel.
Existing before and after the Birth of Christ.

Approximately 2,500 years ago another change in technology occurs which for the archaeologist marks the end of the Archaic and the beginning of the Woodland period. This cahnge in the tool kit is marked by the sudden appearance of native pottery. The concept of ceramic vessels appears to have diffused into this area from the south and as there is not a radical change in the stone tools that marked the change from Palaeo - Indian to the Archaic, some archaeologists have suggested that the Archaic people simply added ceramics to their tool kit. Whether this is fact or fiction remains a problem to be solved by future scientific research.


The Woodland period in this area lasts until the coming of the European culture and the vast social upheavals associated with it. This is not to imply that the Woodland period remained static through its more than two thousand years of existence. There were distinct differences and cahnges that occur throughout time and space in both the way the ceramics were manufactured and lin the way they were decorated. Some of these changes may have been the result of simple evolution of the ceramic manufacturing techniques while others probably represented whole scale population movements.


Vert Island, Nipigon Bay, April

Throughout time the native people of the Nipigon area remained hunters and gatherers, living in small bands and successfully conquering the harshness of the boreal forest. This indeed was an accomplishment - imagine yourself with no tools except those you had made yourself from stone or wood or bone, and surviving a Nipigon winter. These were talented people indeed.


Although this summary is obviously simplified, it hopefully has shown the diversity of people who lived in the area the length of time that the Nipigon country has been home to man.



Article written for the Souvenir Edition , Nipigon Historical Museum Welcome Newspaper, June 1982 by Bill Ross, Regional Archaeologist [Now Retired] Ontario Ministry of Culture and Recreation (1982 designation).

One is usually hesitant to use the word "unique" when describing archaeological artifacts. Because so little is known of the prehistory of North America, artifacts may be considered unique simply because such a small portion of our prehistoric past has been uncovered that similar objects may yet remain to be found.

The Nipigon Museum collection, however, has two copper artifacts that are presently "unique". These two artifacts would appear to have been used as hammers. They are the only two tools of this type known from the Lake Superior drainage basin. Both are cylindrical in shape with a flattened striking head at one end and an open socket at the other. It is thought that a wooden or bone handle was probably inserted in the socket. Both artifacts appear to have been manufactured from native copper, probably recovered from the shores of Lake Superior. In both cases a lump of copper was pounded flat and then folded over to form a cylinder, one end of which was then shaped to form a striking head while the other was left open.

The smaller of the two artifacts is 7.9 cm ( 3 inches) in length, 2.5 cm (1 inch) in diameter and weighs 170 grams (5.5 ounces); while the other is 15.5 cm (6 inches) in length, 3.1 cm (1.25 inches) in diameter and weighs 385 grams (10.4 ounces).

Although not certain, it would appear that these hammers were made by the Archaic peoples, as they are known to archaeologists, and probably date to a time period of five to three thousand years ago. The Archaic Indians of the Lake Superior area were accomplished craftsmen who hammered native copper, which they mined from deposits at the west end of the lake, into knives, harpoons, spear heads and fish hooks.

The exact use of these two copper tools is unknown, but they may have been used to hammer native copper into tools, or perhaps in the manufacturing of stone tools. In all likelihood, like modern hammers, they may have seen a multitude of uses. Whatever their use nothing else like them has ever been reported in the archaeological literature. [Another short one has been found in Nipigon since 1982]

These two artifacts not only show the importance of small museum collections as a source for scientific study, but also the importance of donations by people to their local museum. Both artifacts were found in the Nipigon area by local people who kindly donated them to the museum. This has allowed scientific study of the pieces and added an additional tool type that was previously unknown to the tool kit of the prehistoric population.

Bottom right is native copper tools, a pike and spear points.
Iron fish spears are more modern creations.
Right centre are the two artifacts of the write up.


Monday, 26 December 2011


Composed by E. C. Everett,
Nipigon, Ontario

Published in the Souvenir Edition Nipigon Historical Museum Welcome newspaper, June 1982

Ours is a Town on the River's bend,
Where Highway eleven and seventeen blend,
At the most Northerly point on the 'Circle Route',
A place for a King or a roustabout.

The Canadian National Railway ,
 looking north to Lake Helen on the Nipigon River.

Our Town was known in the early day,
As a Trading Post of the Hudson's Bay,
Where the white men came to meet the Red,
And sold their goods for fur instead.

For years and years it went that way,
Until at last there came a day,
When a need for pulpwood, fish and ore,
Brought new prosperity to this shore.

The Tourist trade was at its height,
And all the future looked so bright,
For there were Trout and Big ones too,
And Moose to hunt and Caribou.

Two Railroads came when times seemed best,
To this Northern point to meet the West,
Where a mighty River and the Largest Lake,
Are North and South of the place I spake.

Alexander Dam, downstream from Cameron Falls Dam.

A call for power to fill industry's needs,
Brought the best engineers with all their deeds,
To find a place to build a Dam,
And where do you think? - Twas the Falls at Cam.

Ogoki Diversion Dam north of Lake Nipigon.
Spills water south.

Of power plants we've yet but three,
They serve every surrounding Community,
And they serve well their timely need,
Great Pulpmills, elevators and cities they feed.

With rocks and hills along the River's shore,
Till rain and snow will fall no more,
Our Town will grow till time is done,
You'll know this place is Nipigon.

Paddle-to-the-Sea Park


From the Nipigon Historical Museum Souvenir Edition, Welcome newspaper June 1982

Written by L.M. "Buzz" Lein

From the Times Journal of 1965, we find a record of a special dinner, held in a special place for a special group of people. And the special guest was Nipigon's Jack McKirdy.

The cover menu for this particular dinner displayed photographs of the world-renowned people who qualified to attend this unusual affair. Unfortunately, it is not possible to read the names under the not-quite-clear pictures.

The whole thing was the twentieth anniversary of the Canadian Camp. It was held yearly and only for people who had "camped" in Canada and could prove it. In 1922, this dinner was held on March 3, in the famous Hotel Astor in New York City. Back in those days, according to Jack, camping in Canada was an adventure that set the rugged few apart from the general run of outdoorsmen.

Over the years, the Canadian Camp gathering was attended by many famous and distinguished world figures.Among them were former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, Lord Kitchener, Rear Admiral Robert Perry, Luther Burbank, Ernest Thompson Seton and others. Many of these people who attended would have been on the Nipigon River at some time or another. There is no available record that most of the chaps mentioned above were there but they had to camp in Canada to qualify.

The 1922 dinner was exclusively Canadian. It went like this -
  • Northumberland Oysters
  • Bisque of Ptarmigan Yukon
  • Hudson's Bay Ice Fish saute Penelope
  • Loin of Buffalo
  • Flapjacks Labrador
  • Pate of Beaver, Huron Fashion
There were more than 900 guests paying $15 per plate. Jack was asked to round up 500 pounds of beaver meat as a contribution from the Canadian National Railways. At this time, Jack was in charge of outfitting at the Royal Windsor Lodge that was being operated on Lake Nipigon by the CNR. Neil McDougal, father of Gordon F. McDougal of the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Co., was also at this dinner as a tourist rep for the C.N.R. McDougal was one of the guest speakers - his topic - The Nipigon Trail.

Sunday, 25 December 2011


The Prince on the River

This article written by Ava Larson of Nipigon, appeared in our Souvenir Edition, Nipigon Historical Museum , Welcome newspaper June 1982.

Lake Nipigon and its watershed will surely never see its like again. The atmosphere of a royal court permeated the reaches of its lonely shores when, in September of 1919, Edward Prince of Wales, took to a birch bark canoe to ply the waters of the mighty Nipigon River. These waters had become widely renowned as a "fisherman's paradise".  Its reputation was clinched as word of the catching of the world record-breaking speckled trout of almost fifteen pounds spread, attracting wealthy sportsmen to this area.

...a few people who recall the visit are taking a nostalgic look back. Joe Gagnon, Arvi Kuusisto and Sam Morceau (Morrisseau ?)peer back sixty years through a web of memories to recall their parts in the famous river excursion.

Reaction of the public to the Prince
This tour of Canada from sea to sea was the first of the twenty-five year old Prince's Empire Tours which were motivated by close contacts he made with regiments from the colonies and empire with whom he rotated service in World War I. He was attached to the Canadian Corps in France at the time of the Armistice rendering him a cherished spot in the hearts of all Canadians. As the Prince moved across the country, emotionally charged crowds amassed to greet him. The near-hysterical enthusiasm reflected, in part, the surge of fresh hope in a generation lately devastated over the stunning cost of the long war. As well, this Prince was truly worthy of adulation as he personified the hopes and excitement of the new era. The adoration of the throngs of young women knew no bounds, and their response to a glimpse of him often reduced them to swooning, weeping or fainting.

A little about the Prince's lifestyle
At a point about midway across the country, elaborate plans had been completed to provide this special traveller several days of wilderness retreat away from the madding crowds. It is highly probable, given the Prince's determined nature and athletic interests, that he was the prime mover in choosing a respite involving strenuous outdoor activity. He exemplified the typical English devotion to sport and hard exercise for its own sake and for the sake of keeping physically fit. At one time, he used to run for an hour before breakfast in the Palace Grounds. At a later date he started the day with an exhaustive programme of exercise in his private gymnasium.

The Prince is coming to the Nipigon
It was nearing the end of August when the Royal train reached Nipigon and swung Northward on the CNR branch line en-route to a wilderness lodge at Orient Bay on Lake Nipigon. This rustic but luxurious CNR Lodge, later named the Royal Windsor, sat in the isolated splendour of the untouched primeval forest. It provided its patrons with tours of the lake on a large gas launch and canoe trips which could entail over a week's travel to the mouth of the Nipigon River. This trip offered a unique white water experience. It involved a twenty-four mile boat trip from Orient Bay to Virgin Falls near the source of the Nipigon River. After shooting the Minor and Devi's Rapids, one usually portaged Victoria Rapids, the next in line, because a cross-current made them difficult to negotiate. After paddling Lake Emma, a widening of the river, came a mile and a half portage at Pine Portage where the White Shoots defied contesting. Next, one encountered Split Rock Rapids making for another portage before entering Lake Jessie, another river widening. Again it was portage at Cameron Falls and about a mile and a half of the same at Alexander Falls before encountering straight sailing down-river and across Lake Helen , another  widening, before taking the final leap into Lake Superior.

Preparations for this momentous royal fishing trip had been running apace and now two camp cities at Virgin Falls and Pine Portage were in magnificent readiness.

Nipigon resident Arvi Kuusisto who was an employee of the CNR at Orient Bay at the time, recalls the Prince's moment of arrival there. This incident characterizes Edward's predilection for doing the unexpected.   Kuusisto said the railway workers had spent hours getting the rough road from the small depot to the Lodge in top condition by smoothing it and even watering it down to minimize the dust. As the entourage headed down the well-groomed road, to everyone's surprise the Prince, noticing a nearly obscured rugged trail, chose that route. He made his way through the woods to the Lodge alone with his anxious security guards in harried pursuit.

A lot of people in the Party
The Prince's party was, of necessity, large.  As heir to the throne no risks were permitted, so accompanying him were physicians, secret police, secretaries, valets and photographers, etc. This group travelled to Virgin Falls in the gas launch where a complement of about twenty Indian guides selected by Nipigon businessman, Jack McKirdy, waited. E.C. Everett says that Jack McKirdy told him the Prince was unhappy about having such an abundance of guides but, as Gagnon and Morceau agree, each one seemed to fill a required function. Chief Andrew Lexie of the Nipigon Ojibway Band was designated head guide accompanying Prince Edward in a birch bark canoe made at Nipigon House on Lake Nipigon.

The Prince recognizes Joe Gagnon
Incidentally, Lexie had been the guide for Dr. E. Cook, the man who caught the famous big fish. Joe said that most of the guides were war veterans and that he was designated as a head waiter. All the cooks and kitchen help wore the conventional white aprons, suits and chef-type hats. Joe tells of an incident that in his words, made the whole experience that much more wonderful to him. He said when first taking dining orders from those in the royal tent, the prince was seated at the far end of the table. During the encounter, the prince looked intently at Joe and said, "Haven't I seen you somewhere before?"

"Yes, Your Highness", said Joe "You shook hands with me after I held your horse at E'Qualte Ste. Quintne, France when you inspected our battalion on the field before we went to the battle of Cranbri."

The Prince smiled in agreement.

Sam Morceau of the Lake Helen Reserve says he was one of two men selected to be canoe couriers linking the fishing party to the outside world in Nipigon. Sam said both he and his partner were young, agile and quick. They used a light Peterborough canoe to accelerate their daily task of bringing the mail, messages and any overlooked necessities usually picked up at McKirdy's store.

Sam put the magnitude of the Princely sojourn into a nutshell with his sentimental comment, "I remember, it was a big time on the Nipigon River that time, when the Prince came down to see everybody."

The set-up at the camps was complete with wood burning stoves and every culinary requirement in a tent kitchen adjacent to the large dining tent. Live poultry cackled in pens and there was fresh milk brought daily for the royal cup of tea. The lamps lit up the forest "like the city of Port Arthur" glowing all night, said Sam. Extra stores of food were on a flat-car at the Cameron Falls siding and were brought in as needed.

Morceau felt well compensated at four dollars a day although the arduous work often involved an over fifty mile round trip daily. Asked if he thought the Prince enjoyed himself, Sam said his two brothers who also guided, said the Prince was elated at catching a speckled trout about fifteen inches long in Robinson Pool below Pine Portage. Sam told of an incident that completely broke up all the spectators because , although funny in itself, the Prince's reaction to it made it doubly humourous. One morning as the guides were busy breaking camp, the Prince indicated he wanted to snap a picture of some of the canoe packers leaving. At that point, two of the cooks went by, namely Long Tail Charlie Grevease, who was well over six feet, carrying the canoe's bow and extremely short Joe Eskamo under the stern. The contrast in the stature of the two men packing the tilted canoe convulsed the Prince into such a laughing siege, he was unable to take the snapshot.

A strict pecking order existed amongst the guides with three main guides next in command to Lexie with hat-type denoting their status. This minimized any personal exchanges between lesser guides and the Prince but at the end of the trip the King-to-be warmly shook each guide's hand as a parting gesture of gratitude, Sam fondly recalled. "It was a big time on the Nipigon River that time." and the Prince was among the last visitors to experience it's pristine state of natural beauty.

Progress was coming

Progress was on the march heralding the modern era of electrical dependence. Man's inevitable encroachment into the area would bring with it irreversible changes as preparations for the first power dams on the river were already well advanced.

Indeed it was, "a big time on the Nipigon River that time", with Mother Nature providing a setting truly befitting a King.


A few photos of the Highway Bridge construction
over the Nipigon River, completed in 1937.

You can see the right-of-way cleared beside the CPR tracks.

Work on the footings in mid-river.

This is May 1937 and the bridge opened to traffic in September 1937.

Gapen's Pool just above the bridges, a protected no-fishing zone.
 Lake Helen with the log-boom storage. The Nipigon River flows into Lake Helen
just north of the storage on the left.
The C.N.R tracks are seen under the bridges.
The CNR was built through here in around 1910 and terminated in 2010.
This is a post card from the 1960's, Nipigon Museum Archives.
The logs no longer have the run of the rivers.



Rev. Robert Renison, born 1854 in Tipperary Ireland, had a Mission on Lake Nipigon. Every summer he left the Mission for a few months and he and his family came to the village of Nepigon.

"One reason for this was the tremendous construction work being done by the Canadian Pacific Railroad."
writes his daughter Julia Charlotte Renison in 1928-29... after his death in California.

" A bridge which comprised a feat of engineering almost as wonderful as that of the Brooklyn Bridge, was being constructed there." JCR

"Thousands of men were employed every summer. The work on that bridge, which crossed the Nepigon River, the whirlpool and rapids hundreds of feet below, had to be suspended during the winter months, because outdoor work was impossible in that tremendously cold climate." JCR

"At night my father went out into the camps and held services. There were as yet no churches in the small village. I can remember the big bon fires and the hearty singing. Father played the hymns on his violin and led the great throngs in singing." JCR

Wednesday, 21 December 2011


From Dr. Bryan's daughter to the Nipigon Historical Museum.

Letter to District Manager
August 6th, 1905

Mr. C. E. Perry
District Engineer.

Dear Sir:

Enclosed find Medical Report of Caches and Camps of Party 4.

Wabinosh Cache
Cache Keepers: Hamilton & Lynch.
Provisions on whole in good shape.  Some mouldy smoked meat.  Bad butter, musty oats and curdled cream.
I find the grounds about the cache where huts have been erected, giving a foul odor, especially near the water at left cache.  This should be cleaned up and care taken to burn refuse, etc. from subsequent camps.

Rocky Island Cache
Cache Keepers: McLeod & Sanderson.
Find Mr. Sanderson has itch.  Gave him lotion and ordered necessary precautions for prevention of spread and care.
Cache grounds were clean and cache goods in fairly good shape.  A few cans of bad butter and some curdled milk.

Mr. Lunquist(?)
Camping ground clean.  Here I found that some parties suffered with scabies.  Gave treatment & precautions.

Separd Cache
Cache Keepers: Joe Gaudrault & Geddes.
Geddes has a weak heart and should be out of here.  The provisions are in good shape.  A good cook and good provisions.  All men in excellent health.

Herman Bryan
M. H. O.   T. C. Railway

Diary No. 1    Dr. Herman Bryan ( provided by his daughter to the Nipigon Historical Museum)

Nipigon , Ontario

July 24th, 1905

The day was clear and bright, but so strong a north wind that we could not cross Lake Helen. At 8:00 P.M. canoe loaded- Thompson in bow and McDonald in stern. Deforest & I walked to Lake Helen  Landing. Left at 8:15 P.M.  McDonald & Thompson (Joe) wanted to camp on Lake Helen, but we objected.  McDonald wanted to go back and stop with his new bride.  At9:15 P.M. we got two Indians to take us to the Courts and Thompson and McDonald went back.  I took stroll. Arrived at Courts at 10:20 P.M., unloaded and rolled in at 10:30 P.M.

July 25th, 1905

Got up at 6:20 A.M.  Breakfast at 7:00  Thompson and McDonald  arrive at 10:00 A.M.  Left Courts at 10:30 .  Camp for dinner about one mile up.  Left around Noon.
Bass Creek at 1:30 P.M.
Alexander at 1:45 P.M.
Portage. DeForest and I fish.
Left Portage Alexander at 3:25.
Saw Mill at 3:45.
Lake Jessie passed at 4:20.
Lake Maria at 4:50. Had something to eat here.  A very pretty place.  Leave at 6:30 P.M.
Split Rock at 7:30.  Leave at 7:50.
Rock Island at 8:30.  Leave at 8:40.
Pine Portage at 9:00 P.M.  Put up for the night.

July 26th, 1905

Up at 6:30 A.M.  Left at 9:00 A.M.  Dinner at 12:15. Cut to South Bay.  Join “Bow”. Leave at 1:30.  From the bay up to the narrow , stony channel full of jackfish and clams, across Lake Hannah through the long, hot portage to South Bay and Lake Nipigon. Hot day – bare rocks.  I lay under the canoe.  Supper and leave.  The launch goes to South Bay.  We camp in an ideal spot on Island. (Battery Rock ?)

July 27th, 1905

We break camp.  Leave at 11:30.  Lunch at 4:15.  Arrange sail for long crossing.  Reach the landing and camp at 9:15 P.M.

July 28th, 1905

Leave camp at 9:30 A.M.  Dinner at 11:15 and leave at 12:25.  Sight Nipigon House (Jackfish Point) – Inner Barn Island, behind the House Outer Barn.  Lay up for winds 12:25 – 3:00 P.M. 
4:45 – Nipigon House.  A very beautiful spot.  The old post.
6:00 P.M. around point.  Camp on Island about 7:30 P.M.

July 29th, 1905

Fishing in the morning at 7:30.  While I get my line, canoe drifts off and DeForest shouts, “Doc, look at canoe!”  I looked and the canoe was out about twenty feet. All there was to do was jump in a swim for it.  I got the canoe and we were ready to start.   I got undressed on the shore, got in the canoe and spread my clothes out to dry as we paddled toward Wabinosh at 9:00 A. M.
Arrive at Cache Wabinosh at 11:30 A.M. Hamilton and Lynch.
Goods in fairly good shape.  No juices or tartaric acid. Plenty of fruits – apples etc.  Smoked meat mouldy. Butter poor ration. Rolled oats – musty. Cream – curdled.  Leave at 2 :00 P.M.
It was a sad sight to visit the grave of Mr. Laidlaw.  Thompson stood looking at it for a few moments after the rest of us had left, then, still keeping his eyes fixed on the grave after he started away , he said, “ It’s too bad, Laidlaw.”  What thoughts surge up in our minds as we stand by such graves and recognize the fact that our only association with such men has been when we were drinking and joking with them.  What a great abyss now separates us from them, yet we know not, for God willith and we cannot tell. (Written at first portage on Wabinosh.)
Second portage. – very long.
Third portage 1/7 mile – Joe portages canoe.
Fourth portage ¼ mile – Double trip.
Camp on Round Lake on rocky island.

July 30th, 1905

Slept in.  It was 11:30 when I got up.  Had dinner.   Weather was rainy and windy.  Picked  blueberries.  DeForest and Joe read prayers.  Thompson tells stories.  Supper at 7:30.  Air is cold, weather cleared and wind fallen.

July 31st, 1905

Leave at 8:30 A.M.  Made 10 portages and one double portage. Rocky Mountain Portage.  Saw mink. Clearwater Lake.  Hellmuth and men at Portage west of Clearwater Lake. Arrived at Stony Island Cache.  McLeod & Sanderson at Cache.  Bad butter & milk.

August 1st, 1905

Left Cache 15 at Stony Island at 8:25 A.M.  We are now on the height and across it the slope is now toward the North into James  and Hudson Bays.  The air is fresh and cool – timber abundant but small.  Tamarac Lake at 11:00 o’clock. Had dinner on Tamarac Lake Portages.  Got some birch bark.  Reached Trout Lake but got into wrong bay.  Found  blazed trail and old camp.  Joe climbs a tree and looks up trail.    Moved to Rush Bay Lake.  Had supper.  The long portage – Thompson and I stop.  Joe fires and finds camp, brings two men and another man meets us and we reach camp at 8:00 P.M.

August 2nd, 1905

Joe and I go to Mattice.  Oraniakawash(?) Lake (  Onamokawash?).  Cache 16 a.  Had a great dinner.  Pick up supplies: carbolic, Bichloride, cathartic, vasoline, bismuth, adhesive plaster, phenocitrin, instruments (McIntosh’s tooth), tobacco pouch for Allen.

August 3rd, 1905

Left Mattice and go to Loon Lake.  Shot partridge.  Met Dr. Varden from Galt – friend of transit man.  Lay in at Tempest’s  camp.

August 4th, 1905

Remain at Tempest’s camp.  Sleep, read, etc.  Rain in the afternoon.

August 8th, 1905

Tempest Bay.  Moring is very foggy.  At Alexander met Dr. Myers and Party.  Leave at 4:00 P.M.

August 16th, 1905

Nipigon.  Arrive at Courts at 5:30.  Alexander Portage at 8:00 P.M.  Met Dr. Derby and son and Dr. Varden and Party.

August 18th, 1905

Mr. Vivian and party.  Head.   Camp – Flat Rock.

August 19th, 1905

Last night we were pleased to land even on this rock-bound coast.  The waves were washing our canoe and it took two men standing in the water to keep her from floundering on the rocks.  The sea was angry and it was with thankful and glad hearts, though forlorn looking and drenched bodies that we once again stepped over to the terra firma.  Which one of us would have thought a week ago that we would have been caught

in a storm here on Nipigon again on this same western shore.  We watch the lowering sky, the white caps, the storm and squall.  “Turn back, Indians no like camp.”  Joe and Jack come back.  Jack empties water out of our shoe packs.  Lunch.

August 20th, 1905

Reached Nipigon House at 11:00 A.M.  Found our boys on the dock and clothes,  etc., out on fence drying.  Thankful for safety.  Dinner.  Left on sailboat and arrived at Wabinosh at 5:00 P.M.  Crew in good shape.  Have supper and bunk for the night.

August 21st, 1905

Boys leave.  Do washing.  Take pictures of Laidaw’s grave.   Take pictures of rapids where he was drowned.  Leave Wabinosh at 7:00 P.M.

August 22nd, 1905

Had lodging and breakfast at Nipigon House.  Left Nipigon House at 9:00 A.M.
Arrived at Mud River Cache at 6:30 P.M.  Ernie Eagles – Cache Keeper.
Goods in excellent condition, except some peaches.   Best cache – very sanitary condition.

August 23rd, 1905

Left Mud River Cache at 8:00 A.M. for Ombabika.  Heavy wind.  Paddle McGuire was here.  He tells of farming land on Mud River.  Arrive at Ombabika at 2:40 P.M.
George Summer – Cache Keeper.
Cache goods: 20 cases curdled cream
                       Pickles frozen for two winters – vinegar gone
Mr. Summer is alone – he wants a companion – also wants a holiday.
Northern Lights are beautiful.

August 24th, 1905

Left Ombabika at 7:40 A.M.  Reached mouth of Red Paint (Buzz thinks Onoman) at 3:00 P.M.  Camped at second portage – beautiful rapids and falls.

August 25th, 1905

Left second portage at 7:00 a.M.  Had dinner on seventh portage.  Met Alex DeLaronde and packers on 8th portage – at the long Snake Creek – source of the Red Paint Indians.  I tell them to come over.  We camp on old camping ground.

August 26th, 1905

Leave camp at 7:00 A.M. and arrive at Cache 12a at 1:30 P.M.
W. John Hymers and John Turriff Cache Keepers.
No supplies except blueberries.
Here we are on the height  and cross over to where the land slopes towards Hudson Bay. Tillable land.  Jackpine and iron.

Location looks as if the prospects of this part of the country is good.
 Supplies needed at cache: Vasoline, Dusting Powder, Absorbent cotton and Linament.
This afternoon we crossed the portage.  Saw iron rock, jackpine, blueberries – then on the slope and the creek.  On the west of this portage the water runs south.  These are the headwaters of the St. Lawrence to the coast – these waters flow into Kowaposhgagami (?) and into Hudson Bay. ( Buzz thinks Kowashgagama?)

August 27th, 1905

A beautiful morning – we go to Allyn Lake.  This is the South Allyn Lake.  Clear blue, sprinkled with blue violets. A beautiful clear lake full of scenery and purity.   On our way we find many tracks of bear, moose, caribou and deer. All around the lake are the tracks of these animals. In the afternoon we pick blueberries – sleep – and in the evening we read.

August 28th, 1905
Breakfast and leave Cache. The long Snake Creek.   Come out on a pond. Hill to right with cabin and flag. Miss the trail as we took the wrong route.  Find River and old portage.  Turn back.  Camp at 6:45 P.M.

August 29th, 1905

Leave camp.  When we return we find Alex’s men there at the cache.

August 30th, 1905

Wait at the Cache.  I go to see Alex but he is not there yet. Return to Cache – Old Log River.
 Cache goods: Beans are mouldy.
                       Two cases of ham are spoiled.
                       Cornmeal and Oatmeal O.K.

August 31, Sep. 1, 2, 3,rd, 1905

Remain at Cache.  On 3rd of Sept. the mail arrives.

September 4th, 1905

Leave cache.  Kawakoshoshgogama (?) River (Glittering Waters).  Take pictures of my men pulling up the first rapids and also pictures of the first falls and first portage.  I tell the Englishman to jump.  He does so but bunts Halliday on the head and nearly upsets the canoe.

September 5th, 1905

Kawakoshgogama (?) – 8 A.M. – met Indians.  Meet packers up Fleming (?) River at first portage.  We come back to cache and find party has gone in over portage.  Cache 12 – Cache Keepers: C.L. Leachman and P.S. Quinn.  The portage from Kawakoshgogama to hill is all muskeg.

September 6th, 1905

The long portage (15 miles).  A bear crosses the trail.  We reach McKay’s camp.  Men in good shape. Sanitary conditions are good.  Went out shooting – met Mr. Hannington and transit man.  Camp is short of food.

September 7th, 1905

McKays headquaters. Went out shooting in the morning.  In the afternoon we came to Cache 11A – Twin Lakes – Stewart and McKay building.  Cache in very good shape.   Required: Yeast cakes, butter, mail, papers, etc.

September 8th, 1905

Back to McKay’s .  In the afternoon back to Kawakokshgogama (?). Meet Mr. Campbell.  Provisions needed are: ointment and bandages. Leave bacon etc. at 704

September 9th, 1905

Leave camp on line 1 mile from Lake Kawakashgama.  The long wet portage.  Arrive at Chace 12 at 7:20 A.M.  Get bacon, cream and pickles. Leave. Raining. Dinner on portage. More rain. Pass packers at 5:15.  Arrive at H. of L. (height of land) at 7:45 and find Hannington camped. Cross portage and stop with boys.  It’s been a long day.

September 10th, 1905

H.of L.  Mr. Hannington leaves.  Wash and shave.  Packers pass through.  Shoot partridge.   Boys write letters.

September 11, 1905

Leave 12 A.  Boys want snare wire.  Overcast.  Rain about 4:30. Stop for supper at 4:45.  Camp.  First portage. Get Mr. Hannington’s wire.

September  12th, 1905

Beautiful morning.  Typical fall – the sun is bright, clear, weather cool, while all about are the variegated colours of autumn foliage.  Meet packers at old cache.

September 14th, 1905

Leave Poplar Lodge.  Arrive at Virginia Falls at 2:30 P.M.  Stop at Little Flat Rock.  Speak to Bob McDonald regarding supplies as teams are leaving portage.

Sunday, 18 December 2011



Slides from the Nipigon Historical Museum Archives

Photo taken before 1972. Note the pulpwood storage.
The small, bare-rock area  bottom left on cliff  is a rock painting area.

Paintings in Red Ochre (haemetite)
mixed with possibly Sturgeon fish "glue".

At the time the Magna Carta was signed the peoples of this area
 were living in what the archeaolgists term as
 The Terminal Woodland Cultural Period.

The "glue" bonded to the rock so well
that over 500 years later the paintings are still visible.

As you can see some of them were fading out.
Since this photo...
Over 40 years have passed for man's air pollution
and nature's lichen to work against them.

The Blackduck and Selkirk Indians
of the Terminal Woodland Period
are either descendants of the Laurel people
or a people who moved into this region from the south.
They could be a bit of both.

Cast shadows are likely from the boat used by the photographer.
The afternoon sun was a great light source.

The Maymayguishy
This is the most famous of our 'Picture Rock Paintings"

Besides the cliffs some other places the paintings were found.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Bridges

Postcards came from Saskatchewan.

The lady's grandfather was a member of the Veteran's Guard in WWII and escorted prisoner's of war from Eastern Canada to the mountain areas in British Columbia.

Our guess is he stopped in Nipigon and purchased these photos as a memento.

The first streamline train to cross the bridge.
Note only the railway bridge existed so this is before 1937.

These are the two bridges spanning the Nipigon River,
dated September 1937.

E.C. Everette was the photographer ,
 and likely the seller from his store on Front Street.

Both these photos show the small dock that is up-stream from the bridges. This dock was where the tram cars and supplies were loaded on barges to go up the Nipigon River( circa 1905 to 1910) to Alexander Landing , then off-loaded to the Tramway line that went on to South Bay on Lake Nipigon. From South Bay the Tramway cars and supplies were barged across almost 90 miles of Lake Nipigon to Ombabika Bay and the Little Jackfish River mouth. There a short Tramline went north to the construction site of the Northern Transcontinental Railway.

In later years pulpwood was dumped into the Nipigon River from Canadian National (CN) flatcars.

This particular stretch of CN line (from Long Lac to Thunder Bay) was removed in 2010 - almost one hundred years from the time it was built under the Canadian Pacific Bridge (CPR).