Saturday, 6 August 2011

Railroad Construction Work 1908 Causes Boom

In October 1908, The Daily Times Journal of Fort William sent a reporter to Nipigon.

This is what he must have seen around Nipigon:(photos from the Nipigon Museum Archives)

  This is what he wrote: 

Up above Nipigon work has been going along for some time on the Transcontinental and the little Village is now feeling the benefits of a supply center for this big undertaking. Already fifteen store have been erected, and houses are springing up all around for the people who make their headquarters at the contractor's headquarters.

The Nipigon Construction Company are the people who have the contract. Members of this firm are Messrs. McCaffrey, Russell, Chambers and McQuaig all of whom worked on contracts around Kenora.

Cameron and Heap Wholesale Grocers and Fyfe Bros. Hardware merchants are amongst the firms that have followed the contractors to Nipigon, and both firms have erected larger and permanent headquarters at their new place of business.

The Bank of Ottawa conducts the financial business of the construction company and has opened a branch at Nipigon to handle their business.


The construction company has built a large wharf and warehouse, just under the CPR Bridge on the Nipigon River, and from this port all supplies are loaded for the trip up Lake Helen and the Nipigon River to Alexander Point. (The goods are all loaded on the cars of the narrow gauge railway and transferred on a scow.) At Alexander Point they are run off the scow onto the railroad track and hauled 18 miles to South Bay, at the southerly end of Lake Nipigon, where they are unloaded and stored in large warehouses until they are again loaded on a steamer for the 80 mile trip across Lake Nipigon.


Another jaunt around Nipigon shows more signs of progress. Out in the Bay a large dredge is busily engaged in deepening the channel into the Bat so as to allow the big steel boats to come in with the rails for the transcontinental. The harbour is practically a natural one, and the big boats will come right up close to the CPR Bridge where their cargoes will be trans-shipped into the narrow gauge cars for shipment up the lakes.

At Nipigon two old rival Fur Trade Companies, the Hudson's Bay Company and Revillon Bros., are located side by side.

A little further up the main street is the store of Mr. McKirdy, competing with his two powerful rivals with good success.

The Nipigon Trading Company is another store that just opened up, and in another new store can be found Mr. Marrom who last year did business on Victoria Avenue, Fort William.

A barber shop and two restaurants are still further signs of the times, which show the growth of the little Village.

The International Hotel does a thriving business, and under Mr. Keenan's guidance, a first class house is being constructed.

The Nipigon Hotel is the name of a new restaurant which is conducted by Mr. Brownlee and he has already built up a good trade.

Dr. Bryan is the only Doctor in the District, and he has a very large practice amongst the railroad camps.

nmp 4222
Alexander Portage Camp Alexander Alexander Point they are all the same place.

Four years is the time estimated by the men at the front, to complete the work, and, during this time, Nipigon is bound to be a supply centre. Some say, down here, that it will in time be a rival of Fort William and Port Arthur as a lake port, but with the railroad built over a hundred miles in the north, and the construction headquarters gone, Nipigon will settle back to what it has been so long - a fishers' paradise, with nooks and corners in all directions for the tourists and anglers to explore and fish.

We have no name for this reporter but we are ever in his debt for visiting Nipigon in 1908.

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