Sunday, 24 July 2016


I  wrote this a couple years ago using Buzz Lein's timelines of Nipigon's evolution.  Like every other town trying to find a "hook" to bring tourists in, Nipigon goes through periodic "group thinks".
The piling, Nipigon River.
It is the name of Legend.
Famed the world over…
For its POETRY…that sings to us of NIPIGON, of the SILENCE and the SOLITUDE, and the POWER.
Those who came here claimed their memories for eternity when they returned to “The WORLD” beyond our shores.
They came.
They saw.
They were conquered by the grandeur of  our NIPIGON.
Be proud of your NIPIGON that you have today.
Be aware of what you have that others don’t.
Why not be “NIPIGON”?
Be the place people want to come to , AGAIN.
The RIVER still runs. Tamed by 3 DAMs plus the OGOKI and possibly the Little Jackfish in the future.
DAMs are powerful attractants.
We have 3 on the NIPIGON – Each unique in its setting.
There be those who rail against the loss of the wild rapids and falls and the over-flooding of the Lakes of the NIPIGON. I was one myself when I read E.E.Millard’s Days on the Nepigon of 1917.
The Nipigon Historical Museum has a copy of that. (It is also in the public domain and reprinted on the internet.)
But, our loss has been mitigated – it is preserved in memoirs, journals and photos of the early visitors to NIPIGON. The Nipigon Historical Museum has some of these.
To some it was a journey of a lifetime – others returned year after year.
There was even a saying in the  ‘60’s “If you drink the water of NIPIGON 3 times you’ll never leave.”
I drank first in 1965.
I drank a second time in 1966.
I drank a third time in 1968.
Hello, I am still here in 2013.
The FORESTS still grow – but our Nipigon Mills are no more.
Only photos and memories.
The Nipigon Historical Museum holds many of these.
A lone piling off the site of the Little Mill – artefact of the River Drives of the NIPIGON – never to come this way again.
 Only photos, artefacts and memories.
The Nipigon Historical Museum holds many of these.
Before the TRAINS people came by canoe or boat – steamers or Paddle-Wheel or sail .
After 50 years of being the only way to roll the TRAINS had to share travellers with THE ROAD.  The one ROAD crossing the Nipigon River.
The one road that we still have – now the ONLY way to get to NIPIGON unless by canoe or boat or sail…
But, soon we will have “THE BRIDGE” like no other bridge in Ontario.
The ROCK remains.
Stripped to its bare essentials by the glaciers.
Highway 11 runs beside it.
Highway 17 cuts through it – again, and again and again.
In NIPIGON it is “THE NATURAL EDGE” framing the horizons.
Granite, Marble and Sandstone – and the Red Red Rock.
The Nipigon Historical Museum has some of that.
According to Buzz Lein’s calculations – about 1500 B.C., our view became what you see from McKirdy Avenue.
To drive McKirdy is to drive on the TERMINAL MORAINE.  The oldest glacial beach is just below along the 800 foot contour level.  That’s where the Copper Culture artefacts were unearthed.
The Nipigon Historical Museum has some of those.
Time passed.
The water dropped.
Driving by Cliffside Cemetery and along Front Street puts you on the geological level of the NIPISSING BEACH – dated at 4000 years ago.
The Nipigon Historical Museum is located on that.
Time passed.
The water dropped another hundred feet – or the land rose on the glacial rebound as it is still doing at about 50 cm. per 100 years.
So, the RIVER runs now as it did in 1500 B.C. – except that it is tamed and flooded and diverted – all in the last 100 years.
But, you can still say when you stand on the River shore at the Marina, here also stood La Verendrye.
When you stand on the dock, you see what the H.B.Co. Fur Traders saw – their dock being in that same location only longer, and the Lagoon held the full flow of the NIPIGON RIVER.
43 years ago when Buzz rounded up the movers and the shakers of Nipigon he had visions of a CULTURAL COMPLEX. A Fur Trade Post, a Logging Camp and a Museum and Archives.
That didn’t happen.
But, we did get the Museum and Archives – opening in 1973-  helped by the demise of the river drives and Domtar relocating their Woodlands Office to Red Rock. That old office was sold to the town of Nipigon for $2 with a Covenant  “To be used as a museum.”
The Nipigon Historical Museum Society set up and ran the Nipigon Historical Museum with a membership of 139 to draw on for staffing until we could qualify for summer student grants.
With the help and encouragement of Jack Stokes, our member of Provincial Parliament at the time, and John Carter, Museum Advisor of the Ministry of Culture, and Ollie Sawchuck, Regional Advisor from Thunder Bay,  the Nipigon Historical Museum qualified for Community Museums Operating Grant status which we held until a few years after the fire of 1990.
In 2008 re re-applied and became a “CMOG” Museum again.
In 2011 and 2012 we were required to submit all our policies for evaluation by the Ministry of Culture etc.
As a result we had to up-date every one to reflect how we meet new criteria and laws – by the 30th of June 2013
We could not just say we are accessible – we had to describe each feature such as – “ The Nipigon Historical Museum’s front entrance off Front Street is an automatic push-button-to-open door, sidewalk level entrance to foyer with interior door also push-button-to-open.”
The Provincial Government has a set of Standards that all CMOG museums must meet. How we do it is reflected in our Policies to address each criteria of that Standard.
And all must show our ETHICS, Right of PRIVACY and ACCESS.
TECHNOLOGY  is not yet on their list but I have included a POLICY for our own benefit.
The Government wants to know who is responsible for the implementation of these policies and how we evaluate our activities.
Using Guest Register Comments is not considered an evaluation.
That’s a pity.
When , this June,  the Province’s Chief Museum Advisor from Toronto visited the Nipigon Historical Museum, she commented in our Guest Register.
She wrote, “Fantastic!”

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Hudson's Bay Company sign


From: Times Journal May 13, 1948


The Hudson’s Bay Company has been in operation in the Nipigon area since the year 1792 when the first post on Lake Nipigon was established at the Northwest corner of the Lake by John McKay.

John McKay was the son of a family which had been serving the Hudson’s Bay Company faithfully for 130 years.  Four years later after the first post was built in 1796, Jacob Gorrigal built another post on the west shore , near a fort occupied by a group of traders from Montreal.  The new post was known as St. Anne’s Lake House.  At the time, Lake Nipigon was known as St. Anne’s Lake.

When the Hudson’s Bay and Northwest Companies joined in 1821 there was only one post in operation on Lake Nipigon, a post of the Northwest Company.  It was known as Fort Duncan Cameron.  The post is said to have been well-favored by the Indians of the area who came there to trade in great numbers.

Where the community of Nipigon now stands at the mouth of the Nipigon River, there stood a post of the Northwest Company which is believed was established about  the year 1785.  This post was later taken over by the Hudson’s Bay Company.

The Post was called Red Rock Post but the name was later changed to Nipigon.  The post was operated as a fur trading station but in 1938 it was transferred to the retail stores division of the company.

The present store (1948) , occupying a prominent position on Front Street, the main business street of Nipigon, is little reminiscent of the old fur trading days.  The Hudson’s Bay Company store supplies modern merchandise in several lines in a handsome modern structure.

Hudson's Bay Company store sign from Nipigon Store.
circa 1938 -1982
Now on the Nipigon Historical Museum wall
Some dates in this article may be approximate.