Monday, 30 April 2012


We've had a request to see what Nipigon looked like in the 1950's.

Centre store is Alex's Radio and TV and right is the Liberty Cafe.
Today the far left is the Nipigon Historical Museum;
 the centre store is the Thrift Shop run by the local Churches; the far right is vacant.

This looks over the Canadian Pacific Railway.
 The above photo is centre of this street.

This is 4th Street 1948. Partly business and partly residential.

Front Street looking farther to the left of the first photo.

Showing Plaza Theatre, right; Hotel Normandie left;
 centre was assorted, restaurant and ?
Plaza left, Eatons next.

Car dealership, 1957; today Mac's Mart

Photo by Brompton Pulp and Paper.
Makes Nipigon look flat when most of this is up-hill.
The Nipigon Cafe on the bend of Railway Street is still operating today
.All the buildings to the left are gone. All the buildings to the right are gone.
Photos from E.C. Everett album. Nipigon Historical Museum Archives.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Saturday, 14 April 2012



The Nipigon River floods into this stream
on the backside of Alexander Dam.

The flooding extends a fair piece up the stream.
This is the portage route access stream to reach
the Long Portage to get around Cameron Falls

Friday, 13 April 2012





Friday, 6 April 2012


Photo taken before cabinets were built(2008) sits on the blue floor of the museum.
Cedar strip canoe with narrow ribbing to increase strength.
Used in turn - of- the -last - century tourism industry of North-East Lake Nipigon watershed.
This one didn't get away... it spent its declining years in a shed.
Others like it are returning to the forest floor.
This one was likely built after 1914, by Quebec canoe company for Sears.
Built on a metal can see how the nails crimped as the cedar strips were nailed on.
The up-turn ends point to the use in white water.
The narrow stripping shows intended use for heavy cargo, not a quiet life of leisure paddling.
Canoe donated by Len Clarke , Beardmore, formerly of Auden.
This canoe is one of a number of canoes owned/used by Colonel Deeds (see Deeds Lake north of Geraldton). The canoes were left on individual lakes in a series of lakes, ending at Auden (1920's -30's)
Deeds required fresh supplies daily/weekly from HBC and CN train. Orders and Native employees were sent on this route. The canoe was used for many years then stored until being donated to the Museum in 2000.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012


Nipigon Historical Museum Archives
The Fenwick "papers"
continued The News-Chronicle of October 7, 1938

As the strange story of Dodd's find involves John Bloch a good deal it is well to relate what is known of him.

Mr. Sorensen says that he first met Bloch in Winnipeg in the Winter of 1922-1923, and Bloch went to Fort Frances from there, but couldn't get work there. Later he came to Port Arthur and stayed in Port Arthur six or seven years.

"He would be living in Port Arthur in 1928, I met him in Winnipeg," says Sorensen, " I think in 1923 and he told me he was going to Fort Frances. I had been out west when I came back to Port Arthur in November, 1926 he was there. He told me he had been out in the bush for a couple of years working for contractors. I met him around Christmas in 1926 in Port Arthur. He was clerking at the Mariaggi Hotel about 1930, and that was the last job he had. He was rooming in the Ruttan Block a year or two before he left Port Arthur. He was just a short time at the Mariaggi Hotel. Then he went to Winnipeg and was there a year or two and got married. He then went to Vancouver. He was there a year or two and died there. He used to come up to my rooms.
There were five or six young Norwegian engineers working for C.D.Howe and Co. who used to meet in Bloch's rooms in the Ruttan Block, Port Arthur, and I would go there often too. He used to visit me in my rooms in Fort William quite frequently. I never heard of his having any relics whilst he was here, and no one else ever heard that he had any."

Mr. Sorensen said that Lieut. Bloch was about 27 years old when he came to Canada from Norway, after attending the military school there for about a year. The young man was well educated and became acquainted with the few Norwegians at the Head of the Lakes. He had little money and took a room in Port Arthur. Mr. Sorensen knew him during his whole residence there until his departure.

"L was frequently in his rooms and he visited me often. We talked over everything imaginable, including his own experience and prospects. He was of the student type - a very nice man."

"It is possible that he had brought any Norse relics in his possession at any time during his stay in Canada?" the writer asked.

"I can hardly believe it," said Mr. Sorensen, "I can't believe that he would not have mentioned it to me if he had. No, I don't believe any of the stories now told about that. Some of Lieut. Bloch's other friends and myself have discussed these reports and we all think them utterly without foundation."

Mr. Sorensen said that Lieut. Bloch, being very hard up may have helped Mr. Hansen, a small building contractor, who came from the north of Norway, to excavate a cellar for a home on Machar Street. One story current was to the effect, said Mr. Sorensen, that Bloch had found Norse relics while digging this cellar. Another was that he had brought them from Norway. Mr. Sorensen very firmly believed neither of these stories was true, as did other friends of Bloch's whose names were given by the vice consul.

"Lieut. Bloch certainly had nothing of value in his possession. He had been compelled to sell some little personal possessions to live," said Mr. Sorensen. "No relics at all. All he possessed was a college cap and a belt outside of his few necessities."

The Lieut. was quite well known and esteemed by the few friends he made which included Lt.Col. L.S. Deer, Mr G.A.Simonsen, grocer, of 318 Algoma Street, and some Norwegian engineers who worked for the C.D. Howe Company.

"Neither myself nor any other of Bloch's friends ever heard of him having Norse relics till after his death."

Mr. Sorensen produced a photograph of a Viking ship which he and some other Norwegians had built as a float in a local street parade. Bloch had taken a leading part in its construction as he was intensely interested in old Viking days, ships and history. The float conformed to accepted pictures of these old ships, with a number of shields hung along the sides. "We got some tall Norwegian lads to stand behind the shields," said Mr. Sorensen and the photo showed all the features he spoke of as well as the committee which had carried out the scheme. In the group were Mr. Sorensen himself and Lieut. Bloch.

According to J.M. Hansen as reported in The Port Arthur News-Chronicle in January, 1938, John Bloch had brought "similar articles" to the relics found by Dodd from Norway.

It was the Hansen statement which has clouded the situation and caused the newspapers to take Dodd's story with a grain of salt.


Their unbelief was help by a story in the Winnipeg papers about January 25 of this year that a fellow C.N.R. employee of Dodd's named Eli Ragoote who had at one time boarded with him on Machar Avenue was said to have claimed that it wasn't Dodd but he himself who had found the "sword" on a "pile of cinders" in Dodd's cellar while the two were cleaning up the place.

I saw Mr. Ragotte in Winnipeg on Sept. 20 and asked him about the story.

"I only said it as a joke," he said.

"Then you looked on the report in the newspaper as a joke?"

"Yes, of course. As a matter of fact I had seen what looked like a sword or just an old piece of ruined iron in his cellar - I wouldn't be sure which it was - and am sorry I got into the yarn. I never saw the shield or axe. Of course it was my own fault. I didn't know it might hurt Eddie, and I have no desire to hurt him or anyone else. He has a heart as big as a house."

Mr. Ragotte gave me an affidavit to the above effect with the further allegation that Hansen had once told him that he (Hansen) had personally brought the relics from Norway, and through the kind offices of Vice-President Warren of the C.N.R. at Winnipeg, and Vice-President Kingsland at Toronto went to Toronto at my suggestion to the Royal Ontario Museum, where he met Dr. Currelly and Prof. McIlbraith. Ragotte was shown the Dodd sword and relics there and at once signed a statement for the museum that the sword, or' piece of iron' he had seen in Dodd's cellar was not the sword in the museum. He also gave a second affidavit covering this matter in which he stated that Hansen had never claimed he owned the relics till 1938.

As Mr. Hansen had on September 22 stated to Judge McComber, Dr. G. E. Eakins and myself that he "had never seen" the Dodd relics, Mr. Ragotte's affidavits rather complicated matters.

Hansen had written in May of 1938 to Dr. Currelly asking for photos of the relics the museum had bought from Dodd so he could see if they were the relics he claimed he had got from Bloch. Dr. Currelly wrote back that as long as the ownership of the Dodd relics were in dispute he would not furnish photos of them.

To Judge McComber, Dr. Eakins and myself, Hansen said he had loaned Bloch $25. In his letter to Dr. Currelly in May the amount was placed at $30.

The affidavits in the case will be printed later.

End of J.W. Curran's October 7, 1938 article.

A FEW RECORDS ON THE CASE Oct. 7, 1938 continued

Nipigon Historical Museum Archives
The Fenwick "papers"
The News-Chronicle, Oct 7, 1938

J. M. Hansen, it is claimed, says Dodd found the relics in the cellar of 37 Machar Avenue, which Hansen owns.

But Dodd says that the relics were brought to Port Arthur to his home at 296 Wilson Street, before he moved to 37 Machar Avenue, and that when he moved into the Hansen houses (37 and 33 Machar Street) he took them with him from 296 Wilson Street which wasn't owned by Hansen.

It would appear from the records and other testimony that Dodd is correct. It seems to be established that he found the relics about the beginning of June 1931; that he didn't move from 296 Wilson Street to the first Hansen house till June 29, 1931.

It was first established by rent records that the Dodds had lived at 296 Wilson Street, owned by the Ruttan Estate in 1931. The following shows several addresses since 1928 of Mr. Dodd on the Port Arthur city voters' list:

  • 1928 - 1931, 296 Wilson Street

  • 1932, - 27 Machar Avenue

  • 1933, - 33 Machar Avenue

  • 1934 - 1937, - 74 South Algoma Street

As a railway man always on call for duty, Mr. Dodd had to have his telephone moved promptly from one house to another. The phone company's records show that his phone was shifted as follows:

  • From 296 Wilson Street to 37 Machar Avenue on June 29, 1931; thence to 33 Machar Avenue on September 18, 1931; to 74 South Algoma Street on March 9, 1933; to 354 Bay Street on Oct. 2, 1937.

  • The city directory gives these addresses:
    Year 1929 - 296 Wilson Street
    Years 1930 -31, (one directory was issued for two years) 296 Wilson Street
    Year 1932 No directory available
    Years 1933 - 1937, - 74 Algoma Street

The most accurate and the most important of the above records is that of the phone company, kindly furnished by manager Chandler of the Public Utilities Commission of Port Arthur. It makes clear that Mr. Dodd moved from 296 Wilson Street (owned by the Ruttan Estate), to 37 Machar Avenue (owned by J.M. Hansen), on June 29, 1931; that he moved from 37 Machar Avenue to 33 Machar Avenue (also owned by Hansen), on September 18, 1931; and that he moved from 33 Machar Avenue to 74 South Algoma Street (not owned by Hansen) on March 9, 1933.

As Hansen made more or less distinct allegations about the ownership of the Norse relics in 1938, the above records should be kept in mind. There are other records bearing on the case to be quoted later.

According to half a dozen people whose testimony has been secured the relics were first brought to Port Arthur when Dodd lived at 296 Wilson Street.

About 1923, a young man came to Canada from Norway. His name was Johann or John Bloch, and he was known to his friends there as Lieutenant Bloch. It seems he had spent a year at the military school in Oslo, Norway, but it is suggested, didn't make a success of his studies there. He said that his father was an artist, and J.M.Hansen, a carpenter, forty years out from the northern part of Norway, was one of the Norwegian colony and became acquainted with Bloch. The first Port Arthurite apparently to meet Bloch was Carl Sorenson, Royal Norwegian vice consul at Fort William.

To be continued:

Tuesday, 3 April 2012


Nipigon Historical Museum Archives
The Fenwick "papers"
October 7th 1938 continued
page 11

Having failed to get action from his friends he tried an outsider. Dr. E.M. Burwash, of the Department of Mines, was in Port Arthur "three or four years ago," (James E. is exasperatingly uncertain about when things happened), on his annual rounds as a teacher of classes for mining prospectors. Perhaps Dr. Burwash would like to see the stuff. Dr. Burwash, a mild and obliging man, would. He thought his friend Dr. C.T.Currelly of the Ontario Museum might be interested. Finally, about two and a half years ago as is stated Dodd took his relics to Toronto, being paid his expenses on the trip.

Dr. Currelly believed the relics were worth investigating. He sent photographs to experts in Norway and back came word that the Dodd 'junk' was really a Norse warrior's equipment. The Museum man had been looking for just such a set for thirty years, and Mr. Dodd had the first he had ever seen.

"How much do you want for them?" the Doctor asked.
"You set a price," said James E. Dodd.
"The Museum is not allowed to do that," the Doctor is reported as saying.
"Well," said the Port Arthur man, "after all the work and expense and trouble I have had I think they should be worth $400."

'We will do better than that," said the Doctor. "We'll give you $500."
And as James E. now thinks he well might. For the Doctor didn't buy a bit too quickly, the report goes. Dodd probably could today get enough for his relics to keep himself and his family in comfort for the rest of their lives. That is if he hadn't sold them to Dr. Currelly after having them lie around the house for five years.

Then when the deal had been completed and the money paid at the museum, the Doctor asked among other questions if Mr. Dodd had found anything else. Thinking the matter over, Dodd recalled that on top of the handle of the shield lay what seemed to be a shallow bowl of iron, but this was so fragile that when Dodd touched it with the shovel it just shattered into pieces. So he paid no attention to it, and presumably the fragments were lost in the shovelling out of the trench.

Dr. Currelly expressed the view to me when relating the particulars that this shallow bowl was the "boss" on the ancient shield - an iron protection for the hand of the man who held the shield. He showed pictures of old Norse shields with a "boss" in the centre of the front of the shield, and drew attention to Mr. Dodd's statement that the "bowl" had rested on top of the handle, the right place for it to rest as the shield lay on the ground with the face of the shield and its "boss" uppermost.

The story of James Edward Dodd, 54, Canadian National Railway freight conductor, regarding the finding of pieces of old iron on his Beardmore claim, afterwards identified by experts as genuine Norse relics of 11th century make, is clear enough. As to the year of the find, however, he was a little hazy at first. When he first told me the story he said it was during the spring of 1931, "after the snow went off." On this and all other points I questioned him closely, even suggesting strongly several times to him that the right date was 1930. I merely wanted to see if he would wobble on the matter. We talked the whole matter over a couple of times, and three or four days after our first meeting which was on Tuesday, September 13, Mr. Dodd said that maybe the date was 1930 - he wasn't sure.

"It happened so long ago," he said, "and I have worked pretty regularly on the claim since staking it in 1925, but what happened each year since then, I am not sure I can remember."

"It is very important," said Judge Alexander McComber, "that all dates be fixed clearly."

To be continued: