Saturday, 25 February 2012

Not Perfect

Dear Readers, this new format for Blogger is causing me problems, please excuse the strange set-ups. I can fix some things in HTML but where it gets its spacing ideas from I have no idea.

The Missing View

The Mission to the Nipissing

On a clear day







Friday, 24 February 2012


These are parts of the ski press that survived the fire.

It may be hard to believe, but, tucked into the trees was the home of a ski factory, an extra classroom for school children, a worship place for two different church congregations, and a meeting room for the Red Cross.

Eric Larson built the original house in the late 1920's, and established the Maple Leaf Ski Factory on site. He had learned to make wooden runners in Sweden before immigrating to Canada. He sawed birch logs and soaked the runners in a big vat to put in the bend. The skiis, both downhill and jumping, were sent by rail to the mines. A skier himself, Mr. Larson was instrumental in starting the ski hill on the east side of the Nipigon River in 1938.

An early morning fire in 1946 started in the lumber pile next door and quickly spread, burning down Mr. Larson's home and the ski factory. The basement was left intact. Rather than rebuild it himself, he gave the property to the Canadian Red Cross Society who put up a structure to hold meetings. In 1955, the Immanuel Lutheran Church congregation used the building as a house of worship until their congregation built a new church on Fifth Street. The Nipigon Baptist Church followed, occupying the church from 1967 to 1972. When the new larger church on First Street was built, it was converted once again to a family home.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


  • 1940...1,228
  • 1941...1,119
  • 1942...1,160
  • 1943...1,188
  • 1944...1,414
  • 1945...1,260
  • 1946...1,481
  • 1947...1,550
  • 1948...1,669
  • 1949...1,774
  • 1950...1,897
  • 1951...1,862
  • 1952...1,961
  • 1953...2,166
  • 1954...2,280
  • 1955...2,368
  • 1956...2,488
  • 1957...2,583
  • 1958...2,720
  • 1959...2,796

Monday, 20 February 2012

Present Successors to Father Allouez, continued

Trust me, there is a beautiful view, I just happened to take this in the snowstorm .
This is the historic marker dedicated on June 25, 1967 for the Mission to the Nipissing.

This is the 1967 list continued from the Tercentennial Mass in Nipigon June 25, 1967 POST

Father G. P. Maurice
Father B.A. Mayhew,
Father R.C. McElligott,
Father J.A. McHugh,
Father J.E. O'Flaherty,
Father J.N. O'Neill,
Father J. Popelka,
Father A. Rolland,
Father E. Trainor, and
Brother N. Vandermoor.


The clouds of tragedy in the 1649 -50 Iroquois invasion of Huronia forced the Nipissing, the Amikoue and the Amikouet Indians to flee to the Lake Nipigon region.

It was there that Father Allouez found them in 1667.

Father Allouez kept a journal,
 part of which has been published in the Jesuit Relations for 1666-67.

"On the 6th of May of this year, 1667, I embarked in a Canoe with two Indian to serve me as guides. (This being Chequamegon Bay near Ashland Wisc.)

"Continuing our journey, on the seventeeth as we crossed a portion of our Great Lake, paddling twelve hours without dropping the paddle from the hand. God renered me very sensible aid; for as there were but three of us in our CAnoe, I was obliged to paddle with all my strength, together with the Indians, in order to make the most of the calm, without which we would have been in great danger, utterly spent as we were with toil and lack of food.  Nevertheless we lay down supperless at nightfall, and on the morrow contented ourselves with a frugal meal of Indian corn and water; for the wind and the rain prevented our Indians from casting their nets."

"On the nineteenth, invited by the beautiful weather, we covered eighteen leagues (54 miles), paddling from daybreak till Sunset, without respite and without landing."

"On the twentieth, finding nothing in our nets, we continued on our journey, munching some grains of dried corn. On the following day, God refreshed us with two small fishes, which gave us new life. Heaven's blessings increased on the next day, our Indians catching so many sturgeon that they were obliged to leave part of them at the water's edge."

"Casting along the northern shore of this great Lake on the twenty-third, we passed from Island to Island, these being very frequent. There is one at least twenty leagues long, where are found pieces of copper, which is held by Frenchmen who have examined it here to be true red copper."

"After accomplishing a good part of our journey on the Lake, we left it on the twenty-fifth of this month of May, and consigned ourselves to a River, so full of rapids and falls that even our Indians could go no farther, and learning that Lake Alimibegong was still frozen over, they gladly took the two days rest imposed by necessity."

"As we drew near our journey's end, we occasionally met Nipissirien Indians, wandering from their homes to seek a livelihood in the woods. Gathering together a considerable number of them for the celebration of Whitsuntide, I prepared them by a long instruction for the hearing of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which I celebrated in a chapel of Foliage. They listened with as much piety and decorum as do our Indians of Quebec in our Chapel at Sillery; and to me it was the sweetest refreshment I had during the Journey, entirely removing all past fatigue."

This is the first record of a Mass being said in all of Ontario north and west of Sault Ste. Marie.

Bishop Edward Q. Jennings said  in 1967, " The observance of the three hundredth anniversary of the first Holy Mass offered in this part of Canada by the great Jesuit Missionary, Father Claude Allouez, is a commemoration that strongly appeals to the faith of all of us."

"It is most appropriate that the event is being recalled in perpetuity by memorals planned by both Church and State....A commemorative plaque commissioned and erected by the Government of Ontario "



On May 29, 1667, beside the Nipigon River, Father Claude Allouez, S.J., celebrated the first Mass west of Sault Ste. Marie, thus re-establishing spiritual contact with the Nipissing Indians who had fled from their home area during the Iroquois onslaught of 1649-50.  After visiting their village on Lake Nipigon he returned to his Mission of the Holy Spirit on Chequamegon Bay (now Ashland Bay, Wisconsin). Father Allouez, born in St. Didier-en-Forenz, France, had entered the Jesuit order in 1642 and come to Quebec in 1658. He established the Chequamegon mission in 1665 and, until his death, ministered to the Indians of an area including much of the present north-central United States.

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario

The "Allouez Mission" plaque was sponsored by the Las Navas - 152 - Caravan of the Alhambra and erected by the Ontario Department of Public Records and Archives with the cooperation of the Ontario Department of Public Works. The Plaque is situated at the Nipigon Lookout on Highways 11 and 17. Special gratitude is owed to Professor K.Dawson of Lakehead Uniersity for his interest and cooperation in the making and erection of the plaque.


Sketched above is the artist's concept of the chalice used in the Mass concelebrated at Nipigon, Ontario, on June 25, 1967, by Most Reverend Edward Q. Jennings, Bishop of Fort William, and the Jesuit Missionaries of Northern Ontario.

The chalice, commissioned by Mr. Hubert Badanai, M.P., of Fort William, was crafted by Rev. H.H. Thyssen of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie. Father Thyssen, a native of Holland, has gained wide recognition at home and in Canada as an artist in many media.

The chalice is constructed of local materials:
  • hammered copper,
  • Lake Superior agate,
  • Lake Superior amethysts,
  • pine,
  • and ceramic on copper and gold.

The Canoe indicates that Father Allouez came across Lake Superior by canoe.

The paddles and headdress form the Greek symbol for Christ.

The flute and the open book, which appear in place of the canoe on the opposite side of the base, remind us that Father Allouez was an accomplished musician who pied-pipered the youth of the village to his catechism classes.

The slab insert of Lake Superior agate in the stem of the chalice was cut, brilled, shaped, and polished by Mr. Ralph Johnson of Michigan, an old friend of Father W. P. Maurice, S.J.

Mr. Johnson also domed and polished the Lake Superior agates mounted on the base and tumbled the amethysts set in the stem.

Present successors to Father Allouez :1967
At right, Father J.E.McKey, Superior of the Northern Ontario Indian Missions;
below from left to right, Father H.W. Barry, Father G.B. Bazinet,
 Father L.E. Brennan, Father D. Hannin, Brother N. Hinton,
 Father D. J. Hourigan, Father S.A. Hyrchenuk, Father O.H. Labelle, Brother J.J. Mara


(Likely written by Professor Dawson though the program says Historical Resume given by Professor Johnson, McMaster University)

This Whitsunday Mass of May 29th, 1667, was very probably said in the near vicinity of Virgin Falls where the Nipigon River begins to flow southwards. This is shown by a careful consideration of a cross on a map and a few words in Allouez' journal.

The map to which we refer is an early one of Lakes Huron, Superior and Michigan, and the upper Mississippi valley. On this map crosses mark the site of early Jesuit missions as well as places the missionaries visited for apostoic purposes. THe original of this map is in the Bibliotheque de la Marine, Paris, but it has been reproduced in various publications. The map is undated and its author is unknown, but artographers agree that it was drawn not later than 1680. Now one of the crosses on this map is placed near the south-eastern shore of Lake Nipigon. The general shape and contours of the Lake are, unfortunately, too badly drawn to identify the exact spot which the cross indicates. All we can say is that it points to a place somewhere in Kilkenny, Kitto, or Eva townships. But there can be no doubt about its indicating the site of the Nipissing village Allouez visited in 1667. For it is quite certain that no other missionary went to Lake Nipigon before 1726, and it is most improbable that any priest was ever there again till 1852. There is no record of Allouez' or any other Jesuit ever going back, and there and there was no need of their doing so. For, not long after the visit of 1667 the Nipissings and their neighbours the Amikouets returned to their old homes north and east of Gerogian Bay.

We may take it then that the cross on the 1680 map indicates the site of the Nipissing village which Allouez reached on June 3, 1667, and that it is in commemoration of that visit. But how does that help us to locate his celebration of Mass on May 29th? It was certainly not said in the Nipissing village.

The following lines from Allouez' journal , where he tells us what happened between May 29th and June 3rd, next comes to our assistance:

"We spent six days in paddling from Island to Island seeking some outlet; and finally, after many detours we reached the Nipissiriniens on the third of June."

The point under consideration is the place from which the party set out on this six days' journey. For that was the place where they were on May 29th, the day on which the first Mass was celebrated. Now this could only have been somewhere on or near that half mile southern shore of the narrow inlet where the waters of Lake Nipigon enter the river. The bay just north of this inlet is studded with islands, and there are several others just north and east of it in the lake. These are certainly the islands to which Father Allouez refers. It is important to consider that the six days were not consumed wandering indefinitely around Lake Nipigon looking for the Nipissing village. For the Indians who had attended the Mass on Pentecost were Nipissings, and Allouez would most surely have found out from them, if his own guides di not know it, that it was in a general north-easterly direction that he must go to find the village. It was not therefore ignorance of where to find their destination on the lake, nor its great distance from where they were, which caused the six days' delay in reaching the Nipissings. The difficulty was rather that of finding a passage for their frail canoe through the floating and half melted ice which choked the bay and the lower part of the lake between the various islands. This can be the only meaning of the "outlet" they were seeking, and the "many detours" they were obliged to make. We must remember that when the party was at the mouth of the Nipigon River on May 25, news reached them that Lake Nipigon was still frozen over. No doubt the ice was breaking up a few days later.

On the basis of this argument, we may conclude with some semblance of probability that the Mass of May 29 was celebrated at or near the opening of the Nipigon River on the inlet near what is now called Virgin Falls.

The 1967 Program for the Tercentennial Mass also included the Mission Bay Indian Girls' Choir of Fort William Reserve and Nipigon's Village Choristers.

Thursday, 16 February 2012


Missionaries who have served the Nipigon Indian Mission from 1848 to 1963

  • 1848 Father J. Chone, S.J.
  • 1852 Father Nicholas Fremiot, S.J.
  • 1853 Father D.Du Ranquet, S.J.
  • 1878 Father J. Hebert, S.J.
  • 1880 Father J.F. Chanibon, S.J.
  • 1880 Father Joseph Specht, S. J.
  •  1881 Father T. Gagnon, S.J.
  • 1882 Father A. Baudin, S.J.
  • 1898 Father L. Dugas, S. J.
  • 1907 Father P. E. Lamarche, S. J.
  • 1912 Father Charles Belanger, S. J.
  • 1924 Father Joseph Couture, S. J.
  • 1928 Father T. A. Desautels, S. J.
  • 1931 Father L. Desjardins, S. J.
  • 1932 Father J. Howitt, S. J.
  • 1937 Father Alex Rolland, S. J.
  • 1942 Father Oscar Labelle, S. J.
  • 1950 Father J. Edward O'Flaherty, S. J.
  • 1954 Father John McKay, S. J.
  • 1958 Father Peter Brown, S. J.
  • 1963 Father William Maurice, S. J.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

CANOES In "The Art Of William Armstrong "

William Armstrong was a civil engineer and artist that accompanied the surveyors on their explorations of the Great Lakes.

William Armstrong came to Nipigon as a member of a government survey party in1867 and in 1869.

These are his Nipigon area paintings  from: Henry C. Campbell's Early Days on the Great Lakes: the Art of William Armstrong  published by McClelland and Stewart Ltd., Toronto 1971 pp. 128

This is the usual shape of our canoes.
 I am still trying to figure how the artist that illustrated Elizabeth Taylor's 1889 trip
got his canoe to have oar-locks.

Portaging the canoe along the Nipigon River

Miss De La Ronde, daughter of the post superintendent
with Ojibway canoes at the Hudson's Bay Company Post
 on Lake Nipigon.

Hudson's Bay Company Post Lake Nipigon.  Note the teepees's shape.

An Indian encampment at the mouth of the Black Sturgeon River.
Note the shape of these homes on the far side.

Now we are back at the Nipigon  "Harbour" view in 1867 -69.

This shows the "Side-wheeler" steamboat docked at Red Rock Post.
 The present Nipigon Dock area that is getting a face lift in 2012.
When the Canadian National Railway
put a causeway across the bend in the river (circa 1910)
 (not shown here)
 it gave us a whole new Harbour area.

The camera may have been invented in 1839 but very few made it into the wilds until almost 1900.
The artist was the primary source of our live-style records.


Mrs. M. Johnson Tracy...letter to L.M.Lein 1976

"Another memory I have is of a Valentine costume party given by Mrs. Barker for the children. I remember my father wanted me to go as "Queen of Hearts."

"I was born in Nova Scotia. At the time my father was a window dresser in Boston. My mother didn't want me born in the U.S.A. so they came home to Nova Scotia and that is where I she died. My Step-mother, a very wonderful mother, is the mother of the Nepigon days" .(1906 -08)

"My mother made me a white silk dress, very nicely done, and my father cut out red velvet hearts for around the bottom etc. He bought me a lovely pair of red slippers and made me a beautiful gold crown, with a red velvet top with hearts around it."

The invitation read (partly) "...  in the drawing room".

"Of course in those days you had "parlors", so I was intrigued by this. All the way to the party I kept thinking of all the drawing I would be able to do on the walls with a piece of chalk."

"I didn't tell this story of my disappointment to my mother until I was a young woman."

Monday, 13 February 2012

2000 page-views

Today, February 13, 2012 we celebrate your 2,000th page-viewing
 for the Nipigon Museum Blog


Saturday, 11 February 2012


At 2:30 A.M. Sunday, February 11, 1990, Roland Choiselat, the curator, telephoned me to report the ultimate had happened, the Museum was burning. We didn't talk long.  We couldn't talk long.

It was no use going back to bed, too many things were running around in my head. My mother put on a pot of coffiee and I sat and wrote note to myself for two hours.

As stated in this article, it was cold. This will melt out to be "something".
We had a lot of somethings brought in to the arena.
The CCI and MMC girls thawed them out as we kept bringing them over from the Museum site.

Note number one said, "Save the pieces."

Sad iron in Kitchen Room.

Note number two was, "Call Gerry Noble." (curator of Thunder Bay Museum). That was a good note because he too came to realize how hard it was to get anybody on a weekend.

Not knowing how much would be destroyed I listed priority items to look for. Then I listed items I knew wouldn't burn up, or so I thought. One of our curling rocks split in half when it thawed. It will now be a new display showing what inside of an old curling stone looks like.

By 11 A.M. Roland had been in the Museum with the firemen and rescued eight boxes of bottles and our trade axes. Fish-line was used to fasten them to their display plywood. The glass panels shattered and they fell out of their cabinet. In other displays the fish-line withstood the heat.  In this room the backing material burnt in all cabinets.

This was in the logging display area,
also had the Beardmore Relics Display case
about where I am standing to take this photo.

After 11 A.M. I started my phone calls, the first being to Gerry Noble asking for addresses of the Canadian Conservation Institute and Bill Ross (Regional Archaeologist, Thunder Bay). Well, good fellow that he is, Gerry called them up for me and had them call me back.

Tom Stone of CCI called and gave me some general instructions: freezing temperatures were the best for us  (that day the temperature was like -30F so that was good?); find temporary storage areas and stabilize contents; find freezing compartments (our arena had been condemned so it was freezing in the rink part); find milk cases for carrying wet things (they are open plastic grid); pump out the basement to make quicker access (the fire department flooded the basement to drown that part of the fire); wall hangings dry out quicker with fans if needed; freeze photos (personal freezers were put to use at local homes); use hair dryer on metal but not wood.  He promised to call Monday at 10:15 A.M. with information on who would be coming to Nipigon to help us.

The plastic milk carton holders from Zachner's store.

Befor I went in town to see the remains for myself I phoned Buzz Lein in Midland. Buzz had gathered us all together twenty years ago to create a museum in Nipigon. By 1973 we opened  our doors.  Now they were closing, temorarily (until 2004). I had to tell him that his pride and joy, an original Hudson's Bay Company flag, had burnt.

Portable heater blowing in to raise the temperature for workers.

At 3:30 P.M. the Museum started smoking again and the firemen were there with their hoses. As soon as it was deemed safe they let Roland and myself in to clear the Archaeological Room and the Nipigon/Nepigon Room, with firemen at our sides and helmets on our heads. Most of the glass panels on the cabinets shattered when they were moved, but they had stayed intact through the blaze. Items inside were sooted on the up-side but not burned in any way. We then went into the Gun Room and took out the three guns and the Snake-side-plate.

The Gun Room. We also had our wahing machines in here,
and the Cradleboard.

We were not allowed back in for rescue proper until the fire marshal had been through the building. As he had to see the basement it had to be pumped out in the following two days by the Town Works Department.

Sunday night I telephoned our member of Provincial Parliament, Giles Pouliot, to inform him of our disaster. Then I phoned our retired former MPP Jack Stokes who had helped us get established back in the early '70's.

Black and white photography took on a whole new meaning.
It still had a beauty about it.

Monday morning we woke up to the reality and I discovered that I couldn't talk to anyone about the Museum. I left all the interviews and explanations to Roland. By late afternoon ROland was running down and I was all together again. That's the way it went for the first week. By evening I would have my spirit up but the mornings were terrifically hard because I liked to sit with my coffee and think. Now my thinking always ended up with our losses in the fire. By evening I would have dreams of new displays or possible ways we could save something.

This high-chair scrubbed up fairly well in 2004.

The nightmares stopped after I sat up till 1 A.M. Tuesday night and drew out the floor plan of the Museum as it had been and listed everything that was in each room and where to look for it.

Upstairs is an unknown disaster as we have only been able to reach the Curator's Room where we saved our Donor file, a pile of wet frozen papers in which we found a photograph in a Mylar sleeve, only burnt on one end, and two carousels for the slide projector, now burnt.

Stairway to Hell.
The Curator's Room is at the top.

On Wednesday, Janet Mason, CCI and Sandra Lougheed, of MCC, arrived to help us in our rescue. They were with us until Friday night. They dried out a huge photograph album (E.C. Everett's), and all our wood planes and many more of our recued items in that time. They said they'd come back later with wood experts and show us what to do once things were dry. Also treatment of metal was a high priority for us as all our logging tools and chains were in the fire or flooded basement.

This was originally a wallpaper sample album.
Converted by E.C. Everett into a photo album.
We have since removed the photos, scanned them
and put them in  new album pages.

As of March 6th we estimate about 4000 items have been rescued from the main floor and basement. Over half the main floor can not be reached until the outer walls are pulled away and the roof lifted off the floor. The up-stairs storage still has a floor but the roof has fallen in there too. The research room fell through to the main floor but the rug seems to have kept the flames from some parts until the floor burnt out from under it.

Some plastic grocery bags fell through the mess of timbers and didn't burn so I could thaw out the odd items with only the edge of the paper scorched. Acid free folders seem almost fire-resistant, the same as acid free tissue paper seemed to stop the fire from burning through to the backside of the felt leggings (of course all the bead work was in the front part) and leather gauntlets. It charred a bit but stayed put.

Our museum has always had a reputation for its sense of humour. It has lived up to that even in tragedy. The wall behind the toilet burnt to ashes as well as the display case that was on it. The toilet tank is leaning back at an awkward angle and the toilet seat has burnt up but, there on the wall beside it, pretty as you please, is a full roll of toilet paper ready to use. It has the be the most photographed roll of toilet paper in history. The brilliant orange, plastic waste basket is full of ice in the corner two feet away.

We could only laugh.

Then there are the Beardmore Relic replicas that the R.O.M. made for us back in 1980. Their case burnt right to a frazzle and they showed nary a blister. The same goes for the McCollum replicas made by the then Museum of Man in the early '70's. They didn't get into the fire but they were in the Archaeology Room where it was hot enough to warp 1/4 inch glass.

We have heavy equipment coming in on the 10th of March to pull out some walls. That's when we'll know if 20 years of research went up in smoke and if 4000 photographs in Mylar sleeves packed into metal drawers can withstand a four hour bonfire and 8 hours of slow-cooking.

Community volunteer.

Community support has been with us from the first hour of our need.  Than You all.

Written by Betty Brill, February 1990
published in OMA Currently 1990
published in The Nipigon Gazette 1990
published in "Betty Brill's Cry at the Edge of Forever" 2005

Nipigon Museum Fire , 1990

22 years ago today:

At 2:30 A.M., Sunday, February 11, 1990, Roland Choiselat, the Curator, telephoned me to report the ultimate had happened, the Museum was burning. We didn't talk long. We couldn't talk long.

Full story and photos to come later today. Feb 11, 2012 .

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Voices from the Earth: The Archaeology of West Patricia

The Archaeology of West Patricia ; Voices from the Earth: a 7,000 year outline is now a post on

As part of Land Use Planning in 1978 for that area of Northwestern Ontario.

Monday, 6 February 2012



Though most of the mounds are over by Lake of The Woods -
 Rainy River area of Northwestern Ontario
the Laurel Culture spread right around the lake Superior

From: The Archaeology of Northwestern Ontario : The Prehistoric and Fur Trade Periods  Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport  Historical Planning and Research Branch 1980

About 100 BC, a flourishing culture that rivalled the Mayan Civilization of Mexico in splendour developed in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. The Hopewell culture produced huge geometric earthworks, gigantic burial mounds, ceremonial centres, and opulent art work made of freshwater pearls, mica, shell, copper, and stone. It influenced the Indian groups surrounding it, who traded goods with the Hopewellian people and imitated their ceremonies. The northernmost group in this "Hopewellian Interaction Sphere" was the Laurel Culture that flourished in Northwestern Ontario and Northern Manitoba from about 200 BC to about AD 900.

The most visible "Hopewellian" trait in our region is the series of huge burial mounds along the shores of the Rainy River. The Grand Mound in Minnesota is the largest, 14 metres high and 30 metres in diameter. The Manitou Mounds on the Ontario side of the river are the largest group of burial mounds in Canada with 17 known structures, the largest seven metres high and 35 metres in diameter. The large mound may contain several burials, placed there over a number of years.

Most Laurel sites in the region are small encampments with the remains of probably no more than two lodges for one or two extended families - about 25 people. our excavations have brought to light the remains of these Laurel structures - oval lines of stones surrounding the remnants of cooking hearths. These stones may have weighed down the lodge coverings against on-shore winds.

The Laurel people probably spent much of the year in small family groups relying on large and small game and fish for subsistence. However, the huge burial mounds indicate that they also came together in larger groups of 200 - 400 people for communal events such as a ceremony for the dead. It is possible that the family groups brought their deceased relatives with them to the ceremonial centres after ice-break up in the spring to inter them with others of the same band in the mounds.

It is illegal under the Ontario Cemeteries Act to excavate a burial in Ontario.

Excavations of the mounds in Minnesota revealed the majority of the remains are "bundle" burials, remains that were dismembered and decomposed elsewhere before interment in the mounds. A few of the skulls show intentional breakage before burial presumably for removal of the brain for some ritualistic purpose. Many of the burials are covered with red ochre (the mineral haemetite) possibly to indicate the blood of life.

Archaeologists continue to debate the origin of the Laurel people. Their continued use of some Archaic spear point shapes may imply the Laurel people descended from the local Archaic population and adopted the use of mounds, pottery vessels, and possibly the bark-covered lodges, as they received influences from the Hopewell culture to the south. In any case they likely spoke a proto-Algonkian language, a forerunner of modern Cree, Ojibway, Algonkin , etc.

page 8 - 11

Palaeo point

Very easy to tell the difference between the Palaeo and Laurel points.

Sunday, 5 February 2012



From: The Archaeology of North Central Ontario : Prehistoric Cultures North of Superior 1979, Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport (name of ministry 2012)

Two indigenous cultures, both of which appear to have developed from a Laurel cultural base and carried on similar ways of like, were present in the Terminal Woodland Period. In the vicinity of Lake Superior are sites of the Blackduck Culture. The Blackduck Culture is characterized by globular pottery vessels, textured with a cord-wrapped paddle. To the north is the Selkirk Culture, distinguished archaeologically by its fabric-impressed globular vessels.

The Selkirk culture is believed to be that of the pre-historic Cree. There is, however, considerable controversy over the ethnic identity of the Blackduck culture: some researchers believe Blackduck is pre-historic Assiniboine, due to the strong similarities in material culture with the the historic Siouan groups to the south: others have suggested that Algonkian - speaking people, historically identified as the Ojibway, produced the Blackduck culture; still others are of the opinion that, given our present state of knowledge, no direct correlation can be drawn between archaeological cultures and historically identified linguistic groups.

Iroquoian pottery from Southern Ontario and Plains and Michigan - derived ceramics are occasionally found on the late pre-historic sites in the North Central area. Whether these represent objects of trade, or the presence of small groups of non-local people in the area, has yet to be determined.

On sites dating to the latter part of the 17th century, glass beads, scraps of metal, thimbles, and other articles provide evidence of contact with another culture - that of the European fur traders. The influx of European trade goods in the late 1600's signals the beginning of the adoption of, and adaptation to, Western culture by the native peoples of North Central Ontario.

This booklet quoted, was created by the North Central Region Historical Planning and Research Branch
David W. Arthurs was the field Archaeologist in 1979 and William Ross was the Regional Archaeologist.



From: The Archaeology of North Central Ontario : Prehistoric Cultures North of Superior 1979, Ministry of Culture, Tourisma nd Sport (name of ministry 2012)

Evidence for Prehistoric Exchange Networks in North Central Ontario.

Ceramics first appear in the North Central region of Ontario about 500 BC. The earliest vessels were small pottery jars manufactured by the coil method. They had conical bases and distinctive impressed decoration executed with a toothed or sinuous - edged implement.
These conical-shaped vessels are the identifying characteristic of the Laurel culture. The Laurel people practised a way of life similar to that of the Archaic people in the region: fishing, hunting, and collecting wild plants on the major waterways north of Superior.

There are two major theories concerning the origin of the Laurel culture in the area. One is that Laurel arose out  of an Archaic base, and a differed from it only in that pottery had been adopted. The other suggests that Laurel people moved into the area from the south and east, following the expansion of wild rice into the Upper Great Lakes area about 500 BC.

By the Initial Woodland Period, extensive exchange networks had been established which stretched from the eastern seaboard to the Rocky Mountains. The Laurel people appear to have participated actively in this network. Artifacts made from Lake Superior copper have been found on sites throughout eastern North America, while such exotic items as marine shell beads from the Atlantic coast, stone tools of Knife River chalcedony from North Dakota, and obsidian from Yellowstone Park, Wyoming, have been found on Laurel sites in the Lake Superior region. Long distance trade was facilitated by the extensive system of waterways linking Lake Superior with the east, west, north and south - the same transportation network which would be utilized by the fur traders over a thousand years later.



From: The Archaeology of North Central Ontario, Prehistoric Cultures North of Superior , 1979, Ont. Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport (name of current ministry 2012)

Warmer, drier climatic conditions and changes in the distribution of large game and plant communities beginning about 5000 BC stimulated a shift in subsistence orientation to exploitation of small game and plant resources. Corresponding changes in the artifact assemblage included a reduction in the size of projectile points and the appearance of a fishing technology.

Two Archaic cultures have been recognized in Northern Ontario. The people of the Shield Archaic culture appear to be descended from the Plano people, and were indigenous to the boreal forest zone, north of Lake Superior. To the west, in the Lake of the Woods - Quetico area, there is  evidence of a different culture more closely related to the Archaic cultures of the Plains. These Plains Archaic peoples appear to have entered the area in conjunction with an eastward movement of prairie-grasslands out of Manitoba and Minnesota.

Perhaps the most important development of the Archaic in the Lake Superior region was the appearance of a new industry: the production of tools from native copper found on the shores of Lake Superior. Although this represents some of the earliest metal-working in the world, the Archaic peoples of Lake Superior were not the earliest metallurgists int eh true sense of the word.  Their tools were manufactured by heating and hammering 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.

Friday, 3 February 2012


"Getting your hair done was worse than anything." - A.M.

Hair curler

From interview with A.M. 2006:

"I don't remember when I got my first perm, but I remember being strung to the ceiling at the hairdresser's place. The hairdresser lived on the street further down. I don't remember what the cost was. Ellie put these curlers in and then she put a clamp on top of these rods and they were pretty heavy. Then she had this machine up there and she would pull it down with cords on it and she would attach the cords to the clamps and then she would turn on the power."

"Everyone would want a perm bad enough, that's all there was.  And then it would get hot on your head!  It was burning hot. She would then fan or blow on it...something to cool down where it was burning. You were under these for so long, I don't remember definitely. And then she would take off the clamps and actually you would have burns in the scalp but not deep ones but enough that they were there and they were sore."

"So that's how we got our perms."

"Ellie's was the first one with that machine in Nipigon.  If you wanted a perm that's what you went through."

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Nipigon Inn

This is one of the oldest photos we have in our archive of The Nipigon Inn.

This is from a post card in Mr. Everette's Album.
The large building at the bottom right is The Nipigon Inn,
likely in the early 1960's. Note the hedge that runs along front street

Nipigon Inn, looking down Second Street.

The Nipigon Inn was a three storey hotel.
In later years it was reduced to a two storey hotel.

This is what it looked like 2011.
The beginning of December 2011 it was demolished. The last of the big hotels.

The Ovilio, The International and far right The Nipigon Inn.
All three were taken down in the past decade.


The Nipigon Inn has been a landmrk on the main street for more years than anyone can remember. It is unclear in what year the hotel was constructed. With a large transient population of bush and railroad workers in the early days of Nipigon, the hotel business was lucrative and the tavern was hopping.

On July 1, 1954 the Aboriginal people were first permitted to purchase alcoholic beverages and drink them in licensed outlets.

B. Satten "A Historical Walk Through Nipigon", 2003