Saturday, 29 December 2012


Respectfully submitted by : The Discoverer of THE MILLS FUR-BEARING TROUT,  Edwin W. Mills and reprinted here by permission of his son Ted.

The discoverer of this rare type of trout was made during the course of one of the writer's recent trips into Northern Canada.

Long suspected, the fur-bearing trout was finally verified through an authentic catch which was immediately photographed as shown. ( the photo would not scan ..ed.... but it is a lovely picture)

Some of the circumstances under which the catch was made may be of interest to trout fishermen, viz:

The water in the lake in which these fish are found is very cold, in fact it was below freezing. Nature had therefore taken care of her own by providing the fish with a thick coat of fur.  Before a fish could be taken we had to solve the problem of steel hooks, which had a tendency to break upon hitting the water. Finally, this was overcome by heating a hook and when this made contact with the water, the temperature tempered the hook with the result that one fish was finally landed.

The best bait, of course, is an ice worm, but once hooked the fish make an extraordinary fight due to the fact that they ruffle their fur which creates a resistance in the water, making it practically impossible to land them. Contrariwise the fur also acts as an accelerator and when they really step on the gas with tail and fins and fur acting in unison their speed is beyond comprehension, the fur acting as nature intended it to do, as a body insulator from the extreme heat generated by the friction of rapid passage through the cold, heavy water.

The change in pressure and temperature from the water in this lake to the atmosphere above it is so extreme that this species of trout has a tendency to explode upon being taken from the water, the fur and skin coming off in one piece, making it available for tanning and commercial purposes and leaving the body of the fish for refrigeration or eating as desired.

Tests have shown that the body of this fish placed in an ordinary refrigerator will keep the refrigerator cold for two to three months in mid-summer heat without the addition of ice. It might be added that if the fish itself is required for eating purposes, it will require two or three days' cooking to reduce the temperature to a point where ordinary people can dispose of it.

If the fur is made into a neckpiece, it has been found to be an excellent cure for goiter and tonsillitis, the fur stimulating circulation to such an extent that all impurities are removed.

Several persons have pointed to the forked tail and queried as to whether this could be a true species of trout. The answer is that although the fish has been so recently discovered that information regarding its habits are still very meager, nevertheless it has been definitely established that it is a man-eating type and the supposition is therefore that each time a fish eats a man it puts a notch in its own tail.

Taken from page 64-65 of Paddle Pack and Speckled Trout by Edwin W. Mills Tales of Fishing in Northern Ontario in the 1930's and 1940's
First printing Banff Crag & Canyon 1985
Second printing Cowichan Press 2001

Available from the Nipigon Historical Museum gift shop through a generous donation by son Ted Mills.

Friday, 28 December 2012



Orient Bay, Lake Nipigon, c. 1935
Gus Raita Collection
Nipigon Museum Archives

Vicinity of Abitibi Marine Base
Gus Raita Collection
Nipigon Museum Archives

Construction of Abitibi Marine Base, Orient Bay
Gus Raita Collection
Nipigon Museum Archives

Marine Railway Construction: Abitibi Marine Base, Orient Bay
Gus Raita Collection
Right side boat is OGIMA
Nipigon Museum Archives

Marine Industries operations at Orient Bay, Ontario
Gus Raita Collection
Nipigon Museum Archives

Gus Raita Collection
Abitibi Marine Base, Orient Bay, Ontario
Nipigon Museum Archives

Marine Industries Operations, Orient Bay, Ontario
Gus Raita Collection
Nipigon Museum Archives

Gus Raita Collection
Abitibi Marine Base, Orient Bay, Ontario
Nipigon Museum Archives

Abitibi Marine Base, Orient Bay, Ontario
Gus Raita Collection

Monday, 17 December 2012


Today, December 17, 2012, you have contributed to the passing of the 11,000th PAGEVIEW



Freight-Passenger-Commercial Fishing Vessels of Lake Nipigon

As remembered by Adolph King, Rossport, Ontario  1974

Nipigon Museum Archives

A firm of "Toronto Fish Buyers" purchased a 50 foot tug named "Dack" from Fort William, Ontario.

They shipped the vessel to Lake Nipigon in 1925 to enter the freighting of fish and also for visiting the various Indian Reserves for the purpose of buying "Sturgeon".

The tug "Dack" had trouble with both the engine and the boiler for the first two years.

The writer was hired to go to Lake Nipigon and install a more suitable engine in the vessel as well as re-tube the upright boiler. The writer served as engineer in this vessel which after repair of machinery was able to freight and trade the full length of  Lake Nipigon.

The writer left this vessel at the end of the 1926 season.

The tug "Dack" carried on various work on Lake Nipigon approximately seven or eight years, finally going out of service somewhere in the northerly end of Lake Nipigon. The writer is told that the boiler and the engine are still with the bones of the tug "Dack".

That is the list known to the writer of the old time craft and crews which had to make their way without the aid of modern instruments. Plus vessels of all steel construction which had sturdy, safe and comfortable crew quarters to compare with the old wooden craft and especially the fishing vessels with the odor of fish soaked into their not too solid wood structure, with most craft leaking enough to circulate all the water in Lake Nipigon into their bilge and out again every few days.

Fishing tugs, Lake Nipigon


Freight-Passenger-Commercial Fishing Vessels of Lake Nipigon

As remembered by Adolph King, Rossport, Ontario, 1974

Nipigon Museum Archives

The late Charlie Cox, former mayor of Port Arthur and Fort William, railroaded a gas vessel into Lake Nipigon, named "Onweego" for his wood operations shortly before 1918. The writer is not sure of the length of time the "Onweego" operated, but I do know the "Onweego" was lengthened after going into Lake Nipigon and a new diesel engine of heavier power was installed by C.Cox Co..


Freight-Passenger-Commercial Fishing Vessels of Lake Nipigon

As remembered by Adolph King, Rossport, Ontario, 1974

Nipigon Museum Archives

There were several gas boats that came into the Lake in early First World War days from lake Erie, Lake Huron -Georgian Bay etc.

Very little is known of their end but all came for the fishing industry.


Freight-Passenger-Commercial Fishing Vessels of Lake Nipigon

As remembered by Adolph King, Rossport, Ontario 1974

Nipigon Museum Archives

Also belonging to the Pioneer days was a small open boat, propelled by steam and the owner was of the same type of man as the "Alice".

This little boat's name was the "Flying Pig".

There was nothing known of their finish but both operated in the days when the writer was on Lake Nipigon in 1916-1918.


Freight-Passenger-Commercial Fishing Vessels of Lake Nipigon

As remembered by Adolph King, Rossport, Ontario, 1974

Nipigon Museum Archives

There were several very small steam vessels on Lake Nipigon operated by one or two men.

One, the writer knows, railroaded from Port Arthur, Ontario. It was about 25 feet in length with a small upright fire tube boiler and a very small single high pressure engine.

She was named "Alice" and was operated by one man who traded with the Indians and was also a trapper.


Freight-Passenger-Commercial Fishing Vessels of Lake Nipigon

As remembered by Adolph King, Rossport, Ontario, 1974

Nipigon Museum Archives

The fishing tug "Lilly-Grace", a 50 foot vessel, was built at lake Nipigon for the fishing industry in 1926.

It had a triple expansion engine and a scotch boiler.

It went out of service in Lake Nipigon in 1939 and the machinery went to scrap.


Freight-Passenger-Commercial Fishing Vessels of Lake Nipigon

As remembered by Adolph King, Rossport, Ontario, 1974

Nipigon Museum Archives

The 50 foot steel vessel, "A. B. Sutherland" was railroaded from Rossport to Lake Nipigon.

It had a fore and aft compound engine with jet condenser and a scotch boiler, Fire Tube make.

It came to Lake Nipigon in 1917 and was operated till 1929 when the boat and machinery were sold to scrap dealers.


Freight-Passenger-Commercial Fishing Vessels of Lake Nipigon

As remembered by Adolph King, Rossport, Ontario , 1974

Nipigon Museum Archives

The "Janet B." was railroaded to Lake Nipigon from Fort Francis for Commercial fishing. Originally the "Janet B." arrived at Lake Nipigon, 43 feet in length in 1917.

In the winter of 1917 -1918 it was cut in two and 12 feet was added to her length making her now 55 feet in length. Also the name was changed to "Blink Bonnie" and a larger engine and scotch boiler was installed to handle the now larger vessel. The engines now had the speed of 8 nominal horsepower fore and aft, and a scotch boiler. The engine was from Poulson Iron Works in Toronto and the single screw unit was sold to scrap dealers.

Friday, 7 December 2012


Freight-Passenger-Commercial Fishing Vessels of Lake Nipigon

As remembered by Adolph King, Rossport, Ontario, 1974

From the Nipigon Museum Archives:

The Fishing tug named "Viking" also built in Rossport in 1902, had a length of 50 feet, a fore and aft compound engine and a scotch boiler.

It was shipped to Lake Nipigon in 1917 and was out of service in 1928.

The machinery went to scrap dealers.


Freight-Passenger-Commercial Fishing Vessels of Lake Nipigon

As remembered by Adolph King, Rossport, Ontario, 1974

From Nipigon Museum Archives:

Another Commercial fishing tug built in Rossport, Ontario, and railroaded to Lake Nipigon in 1922 was the "C. Kylander".

This was operated as a fishing tug till 1929.

It had a Scotch boiler and a steeple compound engine giving the 57 foot vessel a speed of 8 nominal horsepower.


Freight-Passenger-Commercial Fishing Vessels of Lake Nipigon

As remembered by Adolph King, Rossport, Ontario, 1974

From Nipigon Museum Archives

An open-deck fishing tug named "Sea Gull" which was railroaded from Lake Erie, Ontario, arrived in 1917 at Lake Nipigon.

It was 53 feet in length, with a steeple compound engine giving 8 nominal horsepower.

This tug went out of service in 1928 and the machinery sold to scrap dealers.

It was operated as a fishing tug while on Lake Nipigon by a Toronto firm, "The White Fish Co.".

Extra Information from Peter Sturdy:  Sea Gull built in Goderich in 1890


Freight-Passenger-Commercial Fishing Vessels of lake Nipigon

As remembered by Adolph King, Rossport, Ontario , 1974

From the Nipigon Museum Archives:

The next was a steam tug named "King Fisher".

This tug was a tow tug operating in  Pulp and Logging. By 1927 it was the most powerful on Lake Nipigon ranging about 70 feet in length.

It was taken from Lake Nipigon and railroaded to the town of Nipigon being now powered by diesel but out of service. It was moored at Nipigon under the present ownership of Domtar wood Industry .( Buzz Lein has a correction here - "Never owned by Domtar. Nipigon Lake Timber was the last owner. Bought from them and towed to Lakehead by a guy called Saxberg...about 1975."


Freight-Passenger-Commercial Fishing Vessels of Lake Nipigon

As remembered by Adolph King, Rossport, Ontario , 1974

From the Nipigon Museum Archives:

There was a small, 40 foot steam tug which was built in Rossport, Ontario, named "Arla".

This was purchased by the Department of Indian Affairs office for the Indians to use in their fishing operations of Lake Nipigon.

"Arla" had a fore and aft high pressure engine and upright Fire tube boiler, with speed of approximately 4 nominal horsepower.

The remains of this craft are not clear but at the north end of Lake Nipigon.

This was built for the fishing industry in Rossport, Ontario, about 1907, and shipped to Lake Nipigon by rail in 1912 or 1913.

The engine was built by Mr. Baker who was chief engineer of the government survey boat "Bayfield" which was operating in the vicinity of Rossport in 1907.


Freight-Passenger-Commercial Fishing Vessels of lake Nipigon

As remembered by Adolph King, Rossport, Ontario, 1974

From Nipigon Museum Archives:

The writer recalls another craft. This was a sailing craft owned and operated in early days by Hudson's Bay Company before construction of the C.N.R. In 1916 and 1917 it was called the "Fisher" and was no longer owned by the Hudson's Bay Company and was converted to gas.

It spent approximately 15 years in the commercial fishing industry.

The "Fisher" is 40 feet in length.

The writer is uncertain whether this craft can still be seen today or not.


Freight-Passenger-Commercial Fishing Vessels of Lake Nipigon

As remembered by Adolph King, Rossport, Ontario , 1974

From the Nipigon Archives:

The writer recalls another vessel of the pioneer construction days. This was a scow or barge, (the Minewa ) but operated for the construction of the C.N.R.

This barge I recall was about 55 feet in length. It had a clean deck with only enough housework to cover the boiler and engines, plus the crew quarters.

The writer can not recall the name of this craft. (Buzz Lein did)

Being flat and shallow draught she was equipped as a twin screw having two steam engines, one on each side giving the vessel very easy manoeuvrability in narrow waters due to the vessel having a propeller on each side.

This vessel was not taken out of water but left in a quiet bay in very shallow water. The boiler is still there but the engines were taken by different outfits for different crafts, especially the fishing industry down through the years.

Each of the twin units were of the same engines as that of the "Pewabic". These engines were also built by the 'Polson Iron Works' of Toronto.

Thursday, 6 December 2012


Freight-Passenger-Commercial fishing Vessels of Lake Nipigon

As remembered by Adolph King of Rossport, Ontario , 1974

Nipigon Museum Archives

The Pewabic

The next major Vessel was a smaller craft of 52 feet in length named the "Pewabic". Also it was housed full length or nearly so.

It was an early construction days vessel and handled both freight and passengers.

"Pewabic" had only one main deck and no upper deck.

It was propelled by a single screw, fore and aft compound with jet condenser engine built by "Polson Iron Works" Toronto, with an 8 nominal horsepower.

When construction days ended "Pewabic" was pulled on the East shore of Lake Nipigon until the early fall of 1916 when the "Pewabic" was stripped of housework to enter the commercial fishing industry.

The writer, who was serving as Engineer for Fort William Fish Co. who purchased the "Pewabic" was called to Lake Nipigon to fit up the machinery of the "Pewabic" thereby outfitting the first commercial fishing vessel on Lake Nipigon.

The "Pewabic" was operated for two months in the fall of 1916 as the only steam Tug on the Lake. Ombabika and others followed in 1917.

The writer operated in 1917 and 1918, especially 1917, when crafts of all description came into Lake Nipigon by rail from all directions. The "Pewabic" had also come in to Lake Nipigon in Sections and was assembled there.

The "Pewabic's" boiler and engine were sold to the scrap dealers in 1933 and remains in shallow water one mile west of Macdiarmid.

construction = CNR north of Lake Nipigon

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


Freight-Passenger-Commercial Fishing Vessels of Lake Nipigon from 1909
Remembered by Adolph King of Rossport, 1974

Nipigon Museum Archives


The largest vessel that sailed the waters of Lake Nipigon in early construction days of the C.N. R. was the vessel "Ombabika" which was shipped into Lake Nipigon via the Town of Nipigon then by the crude short railroad into Lake Nipigon's S.E. end.

The "Ombabika" was shipped as what is known as a "knock-down" unit meaning it had to be put together at the point of destination - in other words the vessel was shipped in sections.

"Ombabika" was 82 feet in length, designed for freight and passenger service having a double deck.

The upper deck consisted of rooms for passengers; also life boats propelled by single screw, staple compound engine and Scotch boiler, horsepower rating of 10 nominal horsepower, giving Ombabika cruising speed of 9 and a half mph.

At the end of construction of the C.N.R. at the North end of Lake Nipigon, "Ombabika" was pulled up on shore on the west side of Lake Nipigon from where she was again put into service for the commercial fishing industry which began in 1917.

The engine of the "Ombabika" was sold to scrap dealers, the boiler is now in about 3 feet of water and can be seen approximately one mile south of Macdiarmid as well as some of the bones of "Ombabika", her final resting place, which came in the early 1930's.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012


In 1974 L.M. "Buzz" Lein was Chairman of the Nipigon Museum Board.

He was great at drumming up business for the Museum. In March 1974 he came up with this attraction.

"Not long ago, the presence of Arctic Humming birds was reported from White River. I didn't think anything of it at the time because what is so unusual about an Arctic Humming bird in this country? In the latter part of December through the third week in February they simply swarm in this area. What is unusual though, is to have them reported as far south as White River."

"These tiny fragile birds originally got their name in Beardmore, Ontario. Some twenty years ago (1954) they were first observed one night when it was 74 degrees below zero. They were flying up to an overly large outdoor thermometer, clinging briefly to it while they checked the temperature. When it was down in the 70 degree bracket they could be heard giving their slow contented "Hmmm-hmmm-hmmm!" But when the mercury would zoom up to 30 below, the little things would become frantic and the "Hmmm-hmmm-hmmm" would pour forth in a rising crescendo."

"The fragile birds with their tiny bulk, great speed and poor wing control are particularly noticeable in  Beardmore-Jellicoe-Geraldton when the ice fog rolls in, heavy and opaque from Lake Nipigon. Then if you are abroad in the land and feel tiny flicks of cold on your face you have blundered into a flock of Humming birds. Since they are so small they are no threat to your health and well being."

"This has been a good winter for them as the ice worms and snow bugs have been particularly abundant."

"We had a pair in the Nipigon Museum for display in our glass fronted deep freeze but the yo-yo who was looking after them forgot to cover them one night. The temperature bolted up to 40 below and the poor things died of heat exhaustion."

"Visit the Nipigon Museum this summer and we'll show you the place where we kept them, but we won't tell you the Yp-yo's name."

Alas, the fire of 1990 destroyed even that evidence.

Bird feeder for Arctic Humming birds.
 I keep it out every winter.
 They never drink it dry.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


The conclusion of Martin Hunter's Snow-shoes and Snow- shoeing, written around the turn of the century (1900) - from the Nipigon Museum Archives

"There was never any stinting of provisions for these trips by the company, but we, the fellows who "hit the trail", hated like everything to carry an over-abundance. On a journey of 200 or 300 miles, a day's extra grub was taken, but if more was forced on us it was usually cached the first day out, and we abided the consequences."

"It is not generally known that continuous walking on snow-shoes lengthens a man's stride very considerably. I have known men whose usual summer step about the fort would be twenty-nine or thirty inches, to have increased by spring (after considerable tripping on snow-shoes) to thirty-three or thirty-six inches. This lengthening out is imperceptibly acquired and it takes then a month to get back to the short, quick step of the previous year."

"With good footing one gets over distances much quicker and with less fatigue on snow-shoes than he does without them. Men of the North prefer to wear their snow-shoes even on four inches of snow rather than be slipping about with their moccasins only. Four or five inches of snow on a good solid foundation such as ice or frozen muskeg, makes ideal walking, and a young, vigorous man will reel off the miles, three or four an hour and keep it up all day, yes, and for days on end. However, to keep this up one has to eat frequently to have the steam at the right pressure and prevent wear and tear. With trippers on the long trail the custom is to make a fire about every ten miles, or in other words, after walking steadily two and a half or three hours, one wants a little change from putting one foot before the other without ceasing and the body requires refreshment. It is a little bit out of the ordinary to be able to get the inevitable bundle off one's back and potter about boiling tea and frying pork, and then, seated on newly cut boughs before a cheerful blaze, with that relish and gusto one swallows incredible quantities of strong black tea, eats his share (and longs for more) of the fried bacon or pork. And then he and his "pard" alternately dip pieces of galette trans-fixed on the point of their sheath knives into the remaining grease in the frying pan. Grease or sugar is life in the cold woods and is never wasted."

"There is no work so exhausting as tramping on snow-shoes with a pack on one's back. It keeps a man as hard as nails, but in perfect health. A man in our service walked with me for several years. His weight all that time stuck pretty close to 160 pounds while mine varied very little from 145. In due time we both received promotion and our duties no longer required us to leave the posts. As a result he ran his weight up to 225 pounds while mine through the same inactivity has increased to 185."

"Yes, snow-shoes are of the first importance in the North country. Without them thousands would die of starvation and as so much depends on their being good and durable, the best are none too good."

Tying the Snow-Shoe

"I have omitted the tying of the snow-shoe to the feet. There are several ways of doing this and each tribe of Indians thinks its mode the best. The Montagnais Indians use no bridle for the toe, but merely pass one end of the string over the toe and through the post-hole of the other side. If the string's slack they merely loop the whole string over the toe piece and keep rolling until they have it short enough, or slack it if too tight. The Algonquins have a separate piece of leather for the bridle and it is laced in and out of the meshes of the main knitting each side of the toe-hole, and left slack enough where the toe goes in to allow of three fingers on edge being introduced beneath it. The snow-shoe string proper ought to be five feet long and three-quarters of an inch broad. Thick dressed moose hide is what is generally used, as once it is thoroughly stretched it remains so. Dressed caribou skin is used by the interior Indians, but it is not satisfactory, stretching to all lengths when wet and shrinking tight up to the feet with the frost toward evening. The best strings I ever used were strips of well dressed calfskin such as is used for uppers of boots. Once I had them adjusted they remained so for months without altering; frost or mild weather had no effect on them."

"To make the tie, place the toe under the bridle and draw the two long strands of the main string up through the post-holes until the loop sets comfortably on top of the heel under the ankle bone; pass the left side over to the right in front, passing the end under the bridle; take the right-hand side string and pass its end under the left-hand strand and on top of the bridle - this makes them crisscross with the bridle engaging the two. The strands are then looped one on each side of the foot, a little back of the band and the two ends carried and tied behind the foot out of the way."

"It is a great comfort to have one's snow-shoe strings so that one can slip the foot in and out in a moment without using the fingers in bitter cold weather. It is not necessary to tie and untie each time the shoe is put on or taken off. To take off, stand one snow-shoe on the other, bend the knee forward and the toes at the same time. With this action the front part of the foot will readily slip out sideways from the bridle and the whole foot slip from the double loop. The shoe is put on in the same way reversed."

Monday, 19 November 2012



By Martin Hunter, written around the turn of the century (1900), from the Nipigon Museum Archives

"Snow-shoes of commerce, such as one sees in city stores, are knitted out of almost any kind of skin, the skin of the horse, the cow, the pig, and even the dog. As the shoes are intended to be sold cheap the very poorest material and the most slovenly work is put in the construction. The frames are generally of ash, and sometimes sawn at that. At the very first wetting the knitting stretches into a pouch under the heel and the frames twist into the most grotesque shapes. A bushman would not risk his life off a macadamized road with them."

"A bushman takes the greatest care of his shoes. They are his dependence in covering great distances over deep snows and high mountains. If there are dogs with the party the snow-shoes have to be hung up out of their reach at night, as anything of leather or greasy, is not safe within their reach."

"As tramping on the long trail day after day and at times week after week would shorten the life of the shoes were they worn on the same foot, the careful bushman changes both his moccasins and snow-shoes from right to left each morning, thus insuring their even wearing."

"Being obliged to walk on wet snow often brings the netting up as tight as a drum, but when the deerskin netting is good and has been carefully put in the surface dries back into its ordinary flat state and is not left baggy as with a common pair."

"Men going far afield in the North Country, as a precaution in case of a break or a cut from an ax (which sometimes happens to the most expert axmen), carry with them a gimlet, crooked knife and a few fathoms of babiche, just as the same men traveling in summer, by bark canoe, would carry a small piece of birch bark, some prepared gum and wattap (roots). If a break occurs in their craft they have at hand the requirements to make at least temporary repairs."

Each tribe of Indians has different shaped snow-shoes, each kind being the best adapted for the country in which they are used. I have used during my winters in the wild, Montagnais, Chippewa, Ojibwa and Algonquin, and while each is best adapted to its own particular contour of country, yet for all-round handiness and comfort I prefer the Algonquin. Probably my choice in a great measure is accounted for by having used this make of shoe for fifteen years and thereby becoming more accustomed to it than the others mentioned."

"The Montagnais snow-shoe would be quite out of place in a wooded country from its broad and unwieldy shape. Walking on a clear, flat surface or climbing rocky mountains such as in the case of Labrador it is the best that could be used. It has some exasperating surprises for a beginner, by its bumping his ankles. To walk with this shoe requires practice. Each foot as it is advanced requires to be swung in a half circle to clear the foot that is stationary. This swinging of the leg in walking becomes so firmly fixed as one's mode of locomotion that even in the summer the same parenthetical way of moving the legs is continued. One can pick out an inhabitant of the Labrador by his walk, just as one can a sailor."

"For skimming over the hard, windbeaten, barren grounds of the far North the Chippewa snow-shoe is the best that could be used. Take such a make ( 7 or 8 feet long ) and try to get through a thick bush country or climb mountains, and the result would be a failure."

"The Ojibwa snow-shoe when in a modified form answers well, but the tendency of the young men is to have abnormally long toes (from the front bar to the end). As a result, to the novice, the shoe in a most unexpected moment will dive under the surface and the user takes an undignified cropper. This is practised out of all reason by the young men of the Montagnais tribe. They try to outvie each other by the breadth of their shoes. I knew one strapping fellow that broke the record by having his front bar 36 inches long, thus making his shoes 39 inches clear. He walked on them, it is true, but he was not a thing of beauty to behold."

'The Algonquins inhabit a mixed country of swamp, mountains and thick bush and a better snow-shoe than they use could not be manufactured. They are not too broad and yet have a good surface to resist the weight; neither are they too long, but can be snaked in and out through the thick trees with utmost ease."

When snow-shoes become wet through walking during a thaw or in the spring, they should never be dried near the fire, but by the night's frost or wind. The heat of the fire burns the babiche and the shoe will give out all over, thus necessitating the frames being newly webbed."

"The old trailer will always school the novice about the care of his snow-shoes. The giving out of a snow-shoe in the middle of a long journey is a calamity that affects the whole party, as a man cannot be left behind. Blistered feet and mal de raquette are two terrible afflictions to be visited with on the long trail. Ah! and yet another -  snow-blindness. Each of these can , by proper precautions be avoided, but generally the new arrival in the North has to learn by experience."

"The principal reason for blistered feet is having irritant socks and keeping the feet too warm. Properly tying the snow-shoe strings and bridle is a great help in preventing toe cutting. Some make the mistake of adjusting the foot so rigidly to the snow-shoe that the toes are bound to cut and blister. The great secret is play of the foot in the sock, with a loose moccasin over the sock. Play of the feet in the snow-shoe strings and freedom of movement under the bridle, this with ventilation about the ankle, i.e. only the leather shoe upper about it, and my word you can walk day after day without any discomfort."

"Mal de raquette is a terrible affliction to be visited with. It generally overtakes one when the snow is deep and heavy on the snow-shoe, which causes an unusual strain on the muscles of the lower leg. The veins become clotted by overheating and the blood being kept in the lower extremities. In a very bad case of neglect from the knee down (sometimes in one leg but more frequently in both) the limbs swell to two or three times their normal size and turn black; when the foot is moved an audible rasping sound is plainly heard at a distance of ten or twenty feet and the sufferer endures great agony."

Once, an Indian, my companion, got a heavy dose of the mal. We were 75 miles from our destination with no help nearer. He had to walk, but how? The pain was so great he positively could not lift his snow-shoes. We faced the problem in all its phases and decided we must go on. To remain by him till he recovered was for both to starve. I tied an end of my l'assumption belt to each snowshoe and passed the middle over his neck, and by holding the belt strand in each hand and lifting one shoe after the other he managed to follow. Of course this was all he could do; his back load was added to mine, but I was thankful he could even lift his feet. It took us three days to do 60 miles and there I left him with a good supply of firewood and the remains of our provisions, except a biscuit that I kept to eat at the middle of the intervening distance to the post, 15 miles."

"Once there I sent a man and a dog team back on my trail to haul him to the post. This young Indian was neglectful and careless; otherwise he would not have had the malady, because those used to walking long distances never take any risks of it overtaking them."

"The prelude to this disease is a numbness and tired feeling. When this is noticed the person should, after the camp-fire is made, bare his legs to his thighs and jump into the snow and stay there until it becomes unbearable, then come in front of the blaze and rub each leg vigorously with a coarse towel or an empty bag until thorough upward flow of the blood sets in. Next day he will be as fresh as if he had never walked on the previous day. Some men when the symptoms are but slight content themselves by suspending their feet on a strap or a pole and lie and smoke the after supper pipe while the blood flows back tot he body, but the former way is the more reliable and quicker."

"Each ill is the worst while one has it, just as each kind of fly is the most tormenting until the next breed comes on deck. So it is with the miseries of the tramp, but for downright agony  I think snow-blindness is the worst. This is caused and brought on by long traveling over open swamps, or ice-walking. The glare of the sun on the bright surface reflects on and inflames the eye. When this happens blinding hot tears run continuously from the eyes of the sufferer. Once at this stage the cure is rest in a darkened room or camp. A ray of sunlight or firelight striking the eye is like a stab from a needle. Of course, snow-blindness only happens during the long spring days when the sun's power has increased. Not only do these scalding tears flow, but the patient is actually blind; a foot from his face everything is a blur. We had one unfortunate once in our party who had to walk for two days between traces leading from the first tot he third man and the one behind had to tell him when to lift his foot to avoid a lump or to be prepared for a hollow. It was tiresome traveling for the others as well as the sufferer, but like other drawbacks and unlooked-for misfortunes, go we must, or starve."

To be concluded...


Another article by Martin Hunter from the Nipigon Museum Archives

"How the Indians of the North Make and Wear the Webbed Footgear which Makes Existence Possible in the Stern Country They Inhabit"

"Nothing is too good for the bush-dweller, be it the food he imports, the clothes he wears or the equipment which he requires for his daily calling. Cheap or shoddy goods such as can be made to answer the every-day purpose in civilization have no place with the people who inhabit, or pass into, the wilderness. Everything must be of the best; their very lives demand it. Imagine the consequence that would result to a lone hunter in the Northern wilderness, miles away from any human aid, should his axe break, his gun explode, his snow-shoes give out or his canoe buckle through bad material or faulty construction. His welfare, aye, his very life, depends on having things of the very best."

"This rule holds good right through every requirement where men have to transport their necessaries over long distances, on lakes, rivers and portages, or in the winter season by hauling them on toboggans, or packing on their backs. It is with the latter condition, and particularly the only means of travel, that this article has to deal."

"Let us begin with the first requisite in the construction of the snow-shoe, the frame. The Indian sallies forth into the forest and selects a straight-grained yellow or black birch - a young tree, even of sufficient size to give the required wood, is not chosen, because when worked up into shape the wood is not as durable and strong as from an older tree. The tree in demand is one of from eight to ten inches in diameter."

" The proper tree being found, the Indian cuts it down. Next he chops off a cut sufficiently long to give him the required length for his frames. This done, he inserts and drives in a the small end of the log a hardwood wedge. This opens the stick so it will split into equal parts. The same process is then gone through with halves and again with the quaters, if he desires a number of pairs. Splitting at the heart and at the small end always insures the pieces separating in even thicknesses."

"The Indians also make snow-shoe frames of tamarack, ash and white birch, but only when yellow or black birch is not obtainable. Tamarack, while a strong wood, is very heavy; ash frays easily on a crust and loses its shape in wet weather, while white birch though making a nice, light snow-shoe frame, is worn away very quickly when crust walking."

The wood obtained, the Indian right there at the stump axes each piece to almost the dimentions he requires, and, if his wood yard is far from his camp, may light a fire to thaw out the wood and there use his crooked knife till he gets that exact size and shape he wants. This lightens his burden in carrying the wood to camp - something his white brother would not think about."

"The bending of the frames is generally done at night. One reason for this is the man's time is too much taken up during the daytime procuring food for his family, and secondly, it helps him pass the long winter evenings."

"The frame having been knifed to the proper thickness, the heaviest part in the middle tapering off toward the tail ends, all is ready for the bending. A large kettle of scalding water is kept over or alongside the fire and with a rag mop the maker thoroughly soaks the whole length of each stick, every now and then slightly bending the wood over his knee toward the desired shape. This is done to gradually stretch the fiber of the wood, and this alternate immersion and bending is kept up without haste until the frame is quite supple. One piece of flat wood the length of the proposed breadth of the shoe is then prepared. This engages and extends the two frames at the middle. The maker now ties the pair of frames securely together, once at the tail end, once each side of the middle, and again at each side of the toe. When this is completed the frames are hung up to dry in the camp, but care is taken not to have them too near the fire. It is marvelous how uniform the two separate frames are when complete. The only tools used are the hunter's ax and his crooked knife to finish off with."

"In the complete snow-shoe the woman's work also enters. Preparing the deerskin is her province and it is done in this manner:
  • The green skin is put to soak overnight.
  • Her husband has shaped for her and planted outside the camp door a log of peeled wood having two legs, after the fashion of a tanner's "horse."
  • Upon this in the morning the woman places the skin in its wet state, hair-side up
  • With a shin-bone of the animal she scrapes down the hair, stubbles and impuries, going over a small section at a time until the whole skin is free and clean.
  • It is then turned over and the flesh-side gone over in a like manner.
  • The skin is then thoroughly washed in the clean water
  • Then examined once more over the "horse" for any place that may have been overlooked.
  • When perfectly clean of all fat and other impurities it is wrung out and put away in a damp state.
  • If in the cold weather it is stretched on a frame to freeze flat.
"The next process is the cutting of the skin into lacing , or babiche, for the netting of the snow-shoes. Most of the Indian women are very dexterous at this work. I say dexterous, because cutting the thongs up into strands of a uniform thickness and breadth, since the skin is thicker in some places than others, is only done by those with a sensitive touch and a quick eye. Some women cut the skin up beginning at the edge and working towards the middle, while others cut the skin intwo halves and work one side at a time into netting, and agian others divide the whole skin into quarters, finding the smaller piece of skin much more convenient to handle."

"The cutting of the babiche is done on a small flat board placed on the woman's knees. With a very sharp knife she severs the strand from the main piece of skin with great uniformity and quickness. With the knife held securely in one hand she revolves the skin with the other, finishing off with a residue of the size of dollar bill. If a frozen skin is to be cut up the work is done out of doors, where the heat of the hands just keeps it pliable enough for good handling."

"The toe and the heel of the snowshoe requiring finer strands than the foot or middle part, fawn skins are used for these parts. If the Indian has none, the flank or thin part of the heavier skins are utilized for the fine netting."

"After the strands are cut up the woman winds them into balls, stretching with her teeth and hands a length of a yard or so as she rolls the babiche. This is to prevent it shrinking and consequently slacking when worked into the shoe. The balls are then tied up in a piece of cotton or cloth and put in a damp place till required."

"Along with the frames which the man had put to dry in shape, are the four bars, knifed to the proper curve and size. These being ready, he marks off the places for the bars, makes his mortises and engages the bars. The frames are always dried an inch or two narrower than the shoes are intended to be when finished, therefore when placing the bars the spring is so that they go in with a click and remain firmly in place. The tails are, of course, sewed or screwed together before the bars are inserted."

"His next work is to bore gimlet holes about an inch apart, from one side of the front bar around the frame down to the end of the same bar at the other side. At each place the holes are two in number, about one eighth of an inch apart. The same is done each side of the tail part, back of the heel bar."

"Some tribes of Indians, especially for spring walking, bore down each side of the middle or foot part, but as a general rule the main netting is over the frame."

"When all the loles are finished the man (for it is considered his part of the work), taking a strand of uniform and selected babiche and starting from the end of one bar, going along the inside of the frames, laces his babiche out and in the holes as he comes to them, knotting his lace at each set of holes. This is the mounting or stay for the actual knitting to engage over. The frames now being ready in every particular they are handed over to the women."

"Among the interior tribes where the men are lords and masters and do nothing that could be considered a woman's work, they would not think of knitting a snow-shoe, but among those Indians near the frontier who are in the habit of seeing their white brothers assist at woman's work, some very expert snow-shoe knitters are found, doing work quite quickly and neatly as the women."

"Two needles are required, which are generally made of ivory and sometimes pass through two or three generations, from mother to daughter. The needles are of the same pattern, only one is somewhat smaller than the other, being used for the finer strands of babiche in the toes and heels."

"Putting good, careful work into the knitting of an ordinary size, general use snow-shoe requires a full day's work, but as the woman always does the small knitting of both shoes first, the pair takes two days' or four long evenings' work."

"Did I foresee a remote probability of any reader of this article requiring the knowledge to knit his own snow-shoe I would give it from start to finish. To a dweller in the far North country to "know how", in many things, is good medicine. The writer, years ago, through an accident, had to knit one  snow-shoe on Christmas Day, and that with a tight belt, but he wishes no such calamity to the reader."

Walking in Snow-shoes will be the next part of this article by Martin Hunter.

Sunday, 18 November 2012


One year, 4 months less 12 days and a couple hours to do it.



9999 PAGEVIEWS AT 10:10 pm



Please introduce one of your friends the the exciting history of Nipigon and let's make this an historic night!


ece 19-11
Sometime around 1944
Site for the proposed Red Cross Hospital in Nipigon.
John Salo contributed three building lots  and  a large monetary donation.

Laying the cornerstone.
ece 25-12

Quote enclosed in cornerstone: "We fervently pray that in the years between February 15, 1948 and the time when this script comes to light again, the hospital for which the committee and the people as a whole have struggled will have eased the suffering and brought comfort to all those of Nipigon and the district and their descendants who made it possible."
John Salo, standing, 1948
ece 143-4

The Nipigon Red Cross Hospital opened in 1949 .
Thanks to the Building Committee of 1944:
 Henry Swain, Chairman
Mrs. E.C. Everett
Mrs. H. Minnie
Mr. B. Manson
Mr. E. Corner
ece 25-10

Nipigon Memorial Red Cross Hospital, 1950
ece 25-9
In 1955 the Red Cross transfer of the Outpost Hospital to a Corporation was the topic of the day.

Application was made to incorporate the Nipigon District Hospital.

January 9, 1956 - 7:00 o'clock in the evening:

"The Chairman advised the meeting that the Corporation had been incorporated with a view to acquiring all of the assets of the Nipigon Memorial Hospital presently being operated by the Canadian Red Cross Society in the Township of Nipigon. He stated that the Canadian Red Cross Society has now prepared to transfer all of the undertaking known as the Nipigon Memorial Hospital to the Corporation."

Original members represented : Red Rock, Nipigon, Cameron Falls and Rossport

Wednesday, 14 November 2012



HERE in the midnight, where the dark mainland and island
SHADOWS mingle in shadow deeper, profounder,
SING we the hymns of the churches, while the dead water
Whispers before us.

THUNDER is travelling slow on the path of the lightning;
ONE after one the stars and beaming planets
LOOK serene in the lake from the edge of the storm-cloud,
Then they have vanished.

WHILE our canoe, that floats dumb in the bursting thunder,
GATHERS her voice in the quiet and thrills and whispers,
PRESSES her prow inn the star-gleam, and all her ripple
Lapses in blackness.

SING we the sacred ancient hymns of the churches,
CHANTED first in old-world nooks of the desert,
WHILE in the wild, pellucid Nipigon reaches
Hunted the savage.

NOW have the ages met in the Northern night,
AND on the lonely, loon-haunted Nipigon reaches
RISES the hymn of triumph and courage and comfort,
Adeste Fideles

TONES that were fashioned when the faith brooded in darkness,
JOINED with sonorous vowels in the noble Latin,
NOW are married with the long-drawn Ojibwa,
Uncouth and mournful.

SOFT with the silver drip of the regular paddles
FALLING in rhythm, timed with the liquid, plangent
SOUNDS from the blades where the whirlpools break and are carried
Down into darkness;

EACH long cadence, flying like a dove from her shelter
DEEP into the shadow, wheels for a throbbing moment,
POISES in utterance, returning in circles of silver
To nest in the silence.

ALL wild nature stirs with the infinite, tender
PLAINT of a bygone age whose soul is eternal,
BOUND in the lonely phrases that thrill and falter
Back into quiet.

BACK they falter as the deep storm overtakes them,
WHELMS them in splendid hollows of booming thunder,
WRAPS them in rain, that, sweeping, breaks and onrushes
Ringing like cymbals.

Duncan Campbell Scott  1862-1947

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


Written by Martin Hunter who lived and worked in the Nipigon area over a hundred years ago, and wrote about it.
From the Nipigon Historical Museum Archives

" I think from my personal care and supervision of Birch Bark canoes for thirty years that I am qualified to give advice as to wintering them successfully."

"I may say at the outset that the larger the canoe the more danger there is of the bark splitting by contraction from frost. A canoe of 12 or 15 feet, providing it has been in use a season and pretty well loaded at times requires no further precaution than to see it is thoroughly dry at the end of service and placed under cover mouth down, over a couple of beams in a hay loft is as good a place as can be got."

"A new canoe, however, of this size or one that has been little used, should have all the timbers well slacked back except the first three or four in the ends which are not necessary to touch. The ribs should be so slack that they almost tumble out. The best way to loosen them is with a piece of three-quarter inch board, four inches broad, and a couple feet long. The upper part can be edged off to accommodate the hand and the lower end left perfectly square and flat. This you guide along the edge of the rib and strike with a hammer or wooden mallet, being careful not to knock too hard or too frequently in one place."

"Commence by the timber in the middle immediately aft, or forward, of the middle bar, and work towards both ends of the craft doing two or three at each side of the centre as you go along."

"Begin your first blow where the timber bulges first from the almost flat bottom and slacken up to within six inches of the gunwale and the same at the other side."

"It may not be out of place while on the question of Birch Bark canoes to instruct the reader as to the proper way to bind or tighten his craft, as any violent treatment of the bark in the spring after its remaining in a dead, unelastic state all winter would surely lead to regrettable damage."

"First, don't be in too much of a hurry to put the canoe into commission in the spring unless you are to give it immediate use. Often in the month of April we have some very cold nights and a canoe newly bound tight and not used would surely rend."

"A favourable day in May might be chosen, preferably a day with warm showers and intermittent hot sunshine. Put the canoe out of doors, bottom up and let it undergo this wetting and drying process for half a day. The bark will then be soft and elastic. Now place her on a soft level sward or a couple of horse blankets on the barn floor, and reverse the order of knocking the timbers from what was done last autumn, i.e., commence at each END  working towards the middle and try not to hurry matters. Time taken in the hammering process is time well spent."

"The gum on the seams may have become cracked either from the frost or during the binding and extension of the bark. In such a case when your canoe is finished and tight-bound from end to end, turn her over and with a hot poker, or some other piece of heated iron, pass gently over the gum, rubbing the softened pitch with a wet hand behind the iron's passage."

"Here again two can do better work than one, one man manipulating the hot iron while the other follows smoothing the soft gum into the cracks."

"At some of the inland posts where canoe transport is carried on, as many as twenty or thirty canoes of different sizes at in use from a single man's hunting canoe of twelve feet long, up to bi transport ones of thirty feet long, the latter carrying a load of fifty-five hundred pound dead weight, a crew of seven men and provisions for the same for a couple of weeks, besides tent poles, cooking utensils and the personal dunnage of the men. And the large and useful vessel is made of Birch Bark, cedar lining and ribs, the only tools required in the construction are a crooked knife, awl and axe."

"The safest way we found to winter all canoes longer than eighteen feet, was to slacken the timbers moderately and winter them mouth up on a prepared sandy or soil bed, with a gradient of a few inches in forty."

"Each canoe as it was placed in position and the ribs slackened had some of the gum knocked off the lower end...this provided a leak or outflow for the melting snow in spring. Opposite each bar of the canoe on both sides, stakes were driven into the ground at such an angle that the end would just catch and engage itself under the gunwale. This kept the canoe in true shape and prevented her opening out from the pressure of winter snows for be it understood where they were placed at the end of the season of navigation, they remained until the next May, open to wind, snow and rain, and a better or safer way could not be found after years of trying different modes."

"It must further be explained that at each post there was a commodious building especially for the storage of canoes, but this was only used in summer after the canoes were taken from their winter quarters."

"We always had two or three new transport canoes on hand in case of loss in a rapid or some other accident, these were put into the canoe barn fresh from the builder's hands, without gum and the ribs only partially driven, and they remained there over winter suspended on poles, or beams, until required for use."

"Before the final binding and gumming the bark was subjected to liberal doses of hot water to soften it up, thus imparting a safe elasticity to ensure it from breaking."

"The first year a transport canoe was put into commission her work was to carry out to the frontier the valuable packs of pelteries, and return laden with dry goods, guns, ammunition, etc., thereby insuring their safety from the newness and staunchness of the vessel that carried them."

"Following this she transported for a couple of years flour, pork, lard, shot, hardware and other coarse portions of the trading outfit. The rest of her life was local trips or use about the post loading hay or wood to the establishment."

"Each canoe had a name or number and record of when first used, thus we knew the age of each craft and the work it had done."

"As one of the secrets of having a water tight canoe is in the gumming thereof and properly prepared gum, I would refer the reader to an article in "Recreation" published in New York, January, 1906, entitled "Canoe Gum" in which he will find valuable information regarding the kind of gum to use and the process of preparation."

End of article

Monday, 12 November 2012


NMP 6689
Abitibi Drive Crew late 30's
Somewhere on the Nipigon River


You had two girls - Baptiste -
One is Virginie -
Hold hard - Baptiste!
Listen to me.
The whole drive was jammed
In that bend at the Cedars,
The rapids were dammed
With the logs tight rammed
And crammed; you might know
The Devil had clinched them below.

We worked three days - not a budge,
"She's as tight as a wedge, on the ledge,"
Says our foreman;
"Mon Dieu! boys, look here,
We must get this thing clear."

He cursed at the men
And we went for it then;
With our cant-dogs arow,
We just gave he-yo-ho;
When she gave a big shove
From above.

The gang yelled and tore
For the shore,
The logs gave a grind
Like a wolf's jaws behind,
And as quick as a flash,
With a shove and a crash,
They were down in a mash,
But i and ten more,
All but Issac Dufour,
Were ashore.

He leaped on a log in the front of the rush,
And shot out from the bind
While the jam roared behind;
As he floated along
He balanced his pole
And tossed us a song.
But just as we cheered,
Up darted a log from the bottom,
Leaped thirty feet square and fair,
And came down on his own.

He went up like a block
With a shock,
And when he was there
In the air,
Kissed his hand to the land;
When he dropped
My heart stopped,
For the first logs had caught him
And crushed him;
When he rose in his place
There was blood on his face.

There were some girls, Baptiste,
Picking berries on the hillside,
Where the river curls, Baptiste,
You know - on the still side.
One was down by the water,
She saw Issac
Fall back.

She did not scream, Baptiste,
She launched her canoe;
It did seem, Baptiste,
That she wanted to die too,
For before you could think
The birch cracked like a shell
In that rush of hell,
And I saw them both sink -

Baptiste! -
He had two girls,
One is Virginie,
What God calls the other
Is not known to me.

Duncan Campbell Scott

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Saturday, 10 November 2012



This Sperry Rail Car ran the rails looking for problems.
 A big attraction to the children of Nipigon.
Now-a-days they have a truck on wheels.
CPR Station behind.

You can just make out the little ones sitting on the sidewalk.





Nipigon Historical Museum Archives
Interview with Joyce Gidding, 2006

"I came to Nipigon in 1938."

"I used to work at the Little Mill."

"I worked around here in Nipigon. I was working at the Nipigon Cafe. Then the Unemployment Insurance in those days rounded up everyone who was doing non-essential war work and , of course, my name was on the list. They never called me for a long while so I ended up working in the bush camps way out past Orient Bay."

"I worked there for two or three months doing non-essential war work in the Nipigon Lake Timber bush camp cutting logs when they called me. I walked from camp into Orient Bay on a road that goes where you can pick blueberries, which was near Macdiarmid. So I walked about two miles out and then flagged a company truck that had been going by and I got a ride into town."

"After, when I found out what they wanted, I went to town and joined the Armed Forces and was in the Navy. That was in 1943. I was only 23 years old when I joined. I was just a young chick."

"I was in the Navy for 26 month and then the war ended and so I was discharged at Port Arthur and came back this way for work. I went to the bush camp for two or three months at a time and then I'd come in and work at the restaurant for a while and then go back to the bush camps. I was moving all the time and I wasn't permanent anywhere but my address was Nipigon. When i didn't do restaurant work I did housework. Moving around and working doing that. There were a lot of people who wanted house cleaning and it was quite the town back then for that kind of work. I didn't mind it because I had money and meals so that was the way it went. So I stayed here and never went anywhere else to work except to the Wood office and see if they wanted any cooking at the camps."

"So that's how I come to stay here and you know there's lots of work in this town if they want to work. Right now I find it hard to get anyone to come and cut the grass and I got all the equipment and everything."

"I was always busy working so I never had time to really make friends. I knew pretty near everybody in town, but not now. I was always so busy doing housework and I was always too tired at night. I was never one to go out dancing or to go to the beer parlor or anything other than go out with a group or something like that."

"Canada Post was a lot different back then than it is now. When I worked there Mr. Dampier was the boss and Helen L. worked there and Lorraine W. and myself. They had an extra girl come in once in a while when we were on holidays."

"I didn't realize it was a night job. I used to pick the mail up off the train which was the CP rail. The mail came at night and in the morning. At night it wasn't dark yet and it came on the East-bound passenger train and the West. They brought the mail in bags and I picked them up off the train with my wagon and delivered it to the Post Office. It was quite a job especially in the winter. I had to shovel from the station to the road to get to the road with my wagon. Of course some smart-alecs in town would park right in the middle so I couldn't get out. It was quite a system there but i enjoyed it."

"I built this house in 1963. I bought this lot but the house wasn't here...just an old shack and I gave it to the neighbour. Frank Ruoho and Sam Barden built my house."

"I've been a Legion member since 1951 because they didn't have girls in the Legion before that. "

"When I was in the Navy I took my basic training in Gault and it was something like a jail but it was for girls that got in trouble and were hard to manage. There were lots of buildings there. Then I went down to Halifax which was where I stayed and I was in three different camps down there because I was an Officer Steward."

"I was involved with the Navy League Cadets here and I belonged to that for quite a few years."

Friday, 9 November 2012


LOG BOOK January 1950


"A demonstration model, built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors Corporation at La Grange, Ill, the 4,500 horse-power, 3-unit locomotive will be put through her paces, both passenger and freight service, under winter conditions in the rugged territory of the Algoma District and the heavy grades of the Canadian Rockies during the next three months."

"For the first six weeks, the power-packed giant will operate between Fort William and Cartier, Ontario, on freight service, with occasional passenger duty trips between Toronto and Fort William."

"Their high speed, heavy hauling characteristics, and on-time dependability as well as the inherent advantages of the diesel, to take curves faster due to centre of gravity, the reliability of power plants and a balanced design for maximum service availability marked by low maintenance costs are features of the diesel locomotive."

"The introduction of the Diesel Engine eventually will take over the tasks that have for so long been performed by steam power and will make a change for the men of the woods in camps along the railways and in stations. The cloud of smoke disappearing over the horizon and the steam whistle will be missed by all."

LOG BOOK  was a magazine of the Thunder Bay Timber Operators Association
The voice of the Timber Industry in Northern Ontario
This article was in their January 1950 edition
From the Nipigon Historical Museum Archives

Saturday, 3 November 2012


In 1949 the tug "Red Rock" sank in 75 feet of water in Lake Nipigon.

Diver 'Doc" Fowler was called in to raise it.

" This was a tricky job  as there was no equipment with which to lift the tug and so it had to be dragged a half mile along the bottom of the lake to shore. This was done by using the winch of a tractor and two alligators hooked to the shore with their winch cables hooked to the tug. The tug was pulled onto the shore, water pumped out and then towed to Orient Bay for repairs."

Source: Log Book, January 1950, page 7

Saturday, 20 October 2012


MISTASSINI Indian  Robert Peetawabano, his wife and 12 year old son, his married son, Edward and his wife and infant were resident on their trapping lands for the winters of 1912-1913 and 1913 to 1914.

October 1, 1912 to May 31, 1913 Hunt Tally
  • 430 pounds of moose meat
  • 6,022 rabbits
  • 7,300 fish
  • 100 ptarmigan
  • 59 beaver
  • 53 marten
  • 9 otters
  • 26 muskrats
  • 9 mink
  • 10 ermine
  • 40 ducks
  • 3 black bear
  • 18 loons
October 1, 1913 to May 31, 1914  Hunt Tally
  • 3,306 fish
  • 1,642 rabbits
  • 67 beaver
  • 8 otter
  • 21 marten
  • 4 mink
  • 3 ermine
  • 66 ptarmigan
  • 140 ducks
  • 3 owls
  • 2 hawks
  • 2 weenisk
  • 1 red fox
  • 2 yellowlegs
  • 1 gull
  • 2 caribou
  • 3 black bear
  • 55 muskrats
"Apart from marten, mink, ermine, and fox... everything else was eaten."

Fur Trader's Story, by J.W. Anderson, The Ryerson Press, Toronto 1961 page 102

RABBIT - SKIN BLANKETS Construction and Use

RABBIT - SKIN BLANKETS  By Martin Hunter "Wa-bo-se-kon" (T. A. Reynolds)

Taken from the Hunter-Trader-Trapper, Vol. XVII Nov. 1908 # 2

"In reply to a question asked by Emerson Carney in September number of Hunter-Trader-Trapper about rabbit-skin blankets, I have the following information to impart:"

"Some thirty years ago ( he is talking1908 minus 30 years) many of the Indians along the north shore of Huron and Superior, Lake of the Woods and on to Red River and away up in the far North, not only used rabbit-skin blankets or robes, but also coats, skirts, caps, etc., made from the skins of those little animals. Young children being clothed from head to foot, cap, coat, pants, mitts and socks all being made from rabbit-skin, and thus dressed they could stay outdoors and face the most extreme cold with impunity."

" In the olden days a blanket made out of rabbit-skins was traded at our shops for one of equal size of imported wool. The young generation, however, are above either making or using the home-made blanket, the construction of which is fast becoming one of the lost arts."

"A blanket of the size of a H.B. blanket, 3 and a half point, i.e. five feet six inches long by five feet broad, required the skins of sixty rabbits, and a blanket of the 4 point size, i.e. 6 and a half feet long by 6 feet broad, requires seventy-five skins."

" Winter skins only are used and as skinned from day to day. They are kept out in the frost until such time as the good wife or the tepee decides to cut them up in strips."

"The skins are first opened up the belly and are flattened out like coon skins. When the required number are at this stage, the woman or young girl begins cutting. She varies the breadth of the strips according to the part of the skins she is at that time cutting. The belly or thin portion in breadths of an inch and the back or thick part of the hide one-half inch wide. Back skin properly cut should give a length of from fifteen to eighteen feet long."

"As each skin is cut the strip is either baled or folded in a short coil, squeezed close together and placed in a cool, damp place, and so on till the required number of skins is finished."

"A frame is made of four dry peeled poles crossed at the four corners and tied securely. The size of the square is from four to six inches larger at the top and sides that the proposed blanket is to be. It is then propped up against the shack or a tree at an angle and a backing of number nine twine is secured around the inside of the frame about four inches from the poles. The backing or cord is kept in place by being laced to the poles with smaller twine and then it is ready to take on the skins."

"Probably a rough sketch of this frame work with a sample lacing of the first row of rabbit-skin will convey a clearer idea as to how the work is begun than I can describe in words." (note - no sketch with this article)

"The looping of the strips is worked from side to side. A slight twist is given to the strips as the work goes on. The smaller the loop or mesh the heavier the blanket, and consequently a greater number of skins are required."

"When these blankets were in general use the Indians had light weight ones for spring and heavy ones for the winter."

"Some of the women used long, narrow wood needles such as net-needles to carry the strands when weaving, but the majority simply worked up the strips by hand, giving as I have said a slight twist to the strand as each loop or mesh is made. This gives it a ropey appearance, which makes the hair stand out all round. Each time the edge is arrived at, the strip is passed over twice. This gives strength, and makes with the twine a strong border to the rug."

"After the blanket is completed, allow it to remain in the frame for a day or two to dry, then unlace the small twine you had to keep it in place and the blanket falls out, ready to use."

"Notwithstanding you can shove your thumb or two or three fingers through the loops or meshes, it alone is warmer than several woollen blankets. The three objections to a rabbit-skin blanket are: it is bulky, heavy, and the hairs come out continually - but when one is in the bush they generally wear old greasy clothes, and don't worry about their being covered with hairs so long as they sleep warm."

"It is hardly to be credited the degree of cold one can withstand when using one of these blankets or sleeping bags... Where one travels with dog  teams, the weight and bulk of the blanket is not of so much consequence, but when one has to back-pack their requirements, a bush man prefers to freeze a little nights rather than to be over-loaded."

"Sleeping bags are made of rabbit - skins for the company's employees who travel long distances by dog-team in the far North. From the feet up to the chest it is sewed all the way. The man slips his legs into this, resumes a recumbent position and laces it up to his chin. Attached to the back is a hood. This he adjusts on his head before lacing up, and there he is with only a very small portion of the face exposed."

"My first enlightenment as to the warmth of a rabbit-skin bag was on Lake Nepigon. I was travelling in February with two Indians from the shore of Lake Superior. It was bitterly cold one of the days we were on Nepigon. Night coming on apace we had to reluctantly camp in the lea of Gros Cap, a wind-swept point in the body of the Lake. Amongst the debris of rocks which had fallen down from the side we managed to find a space sufficiently large to make our fire and spread a few branches for our bed."

"Charles de La Ronde, one of my men, said he was not going to sleep in a hole like that but would take his bag, after supper, and sleep on the ice. I looked at him in amazement and said he would certainly freeze. It was a clear moonlight and I saw him walk out fifty yards from the shore, get into his bag, drop onto the ice, whistle his dogs about him, and that was the last of Charlie until next morning when he arose, walked ashore, came into the fire circle and smiled quite serenely."

"Though I had a pair of heavy H.B. blankets and a fire was kept up all night, sleep for me was only by short intervals at a time. At daylight I took a reading of my thermometer and found it registered 38 below zero, which was a pretty severe test to the rabbit-skin bag. Although Charles had passed ten hours out on the ice he assured me he never felt cold. On reaching Nepigon post I secured a rabbit-skin bag for myself and on the balance of the trip north found its value."

"Some of the post people use rabbit-skin blankets in the houses as quilts or bed-spreads, but they cover them with some fancy print to prevent the hairs spreading about."

Friday, 19 October 2012


This is the box that a Japanese family from British Columbia made
 and used to bring their possessions first to their place of Internment at NEYS
 and then to NIPIGON where they lived for many years.

It survived the  museum fire of 1990
 because it was in the basement at that time.

The family's son visited the Museum
 during the celebration of
Nipigon's One Hundredth Year of Incorporation in 2009

The paper is 11 inches.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012




Tak: Interview for Nipigon Historical Museum 2006:

"The Second World War began in 1938 and in 1942, while pregnant with me, our family was interned under the War Measures Act at Hastings Park."

"My mother was sent to Vancouver to give birth to me, and was only there for 3 days and was then sent back to Hastings. The Camp at Hastings was originally a horse ranch, so people were given blankets and the horse's stalls became the sleeping quarters for us."

"The Internment Camps included : New Denver, Lemon Creek, and Tashmee ( to which my parents were sent for a short time)."

"Later we were Interned at Angler and then at Neyes (near Marathon, Ontario)."

"Pigeon Timber was logging that way and so some of the men went to work in the bush camps. Some of the families were at different logging camps that were numbered: Camp 56 and Camp 72."

"My father worked in the camp for three months and then would come out for three months."

"Before my parents had been Interned, they owned a large farm situated in the Fraser Valley (Delta). The farm produced fruits such as strawberries, vegetables and also had chickens and cows for further food production."

"We moved to Nipigon where my father lived until three months short of his 110th birthday."

2006  Nipigon Historical Museum Interview with Mike:

"There were 50 Japanese families at Neyes Park. We stayed for a couple months and then my father and my older brother got jobs cutting pulp and on the river drives. So that's when we parted from the government. We were under the B.C. Security Commission, and that was just after the war, in 1945, so I would say we left in 1946 or 47."

"All those big families had an average of six or eight children and they couldn't afford to go to the city. The government gave every family $500 to part with them. That's what we started with, that $500 and we were to move to Nipigon but we didn't have the money to buy a house or anything so we decided to work in the bush for a couple years, which we did, for about two and a half years I think it was. Then we moved to Nipigon in 1948. "

"There were seven in the family and my younger brother and sister went to Public School here and High School in Red Rock and then went to University after.. And my father worked in the old Brompton Mill."

Thursday, 13 September 2012


Today I had a phone request from Marathon Museum, someone is coming to do a documentary on the P.O.W. Camp at Neys. The Marathon person knew our Nipigon Museum photo archive had photos. They were taken by Mr. Everett in 1942 and 1943.

Most of the P.O.W.'s at the Neys Camp

P.O.W. Neys Camp Athletic Group

P.O.W. Camp Neys, Ontario
Athletic Group

The Navy with Officers
1942 Neys P.O.W. Camp

P.O.W. Band
Neys, Ontario 1942

P.O.W. 's of Neys with their pets, 1942.

The Leader of the P.O.W. Camp at Neys, Ontario, with bear Mascot.
The Leader would sometimes wrestle with this bear.
Mr. Everett was not too sure if this was 1942 or 1943 when he took this photo.