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The Rosseau Nipissing Development Road
"Ontario's Ghost Road"
Part of The Trans Canada Trail
Here is a driving tour you will want to explore......
|Parts of The Rosseau Nipissing Road can be explored in the "Family Car", Mountain Bike, Hiking, ATV, Snowmobile, or 4 wheel drive SUV. Not all of today's trail/roadbed follows the original road, because of washouts, beaver dams, and wetlands. This website explores the trail starting in the south at Rosseau and ends in Nipissing Village. The actual end of the original road was at Wade's Landing on Lake Nipissing. Note Cell service is NOT available on some parts of the road
comprehensive history and guide book to the Nipissing Road is available. Click
Here for details
A new adventure map of the East Parry Sound and Nipissing district portions of the Nipissing road is now available. It will be included with all purchases of the book.
A BRIEF BACKGROUND
The Nipissing Road is The Ontario Ghost Trail. It was once home to many settlements
of hopeful pioneers, now is guarded by their abandoned log cabins and weathered barns.
The road runs through the centre of the Parry Sound District between highways 69
and 11. It can be reached on any cross highway including 141, 518, 520, 124, 522
and 534. It winds along 120 km of gravel road, bush trail and paved highway (#510)
from Rosseau on Highway 141 to Nipissing on Hwy. 534. Parts of the road surface are
now paved with tar and stone. This tour begins in Rosseau, but you can start it
any place along the trail. As you drive or travel the road
be sure to stop and read the historic markers located at interesting
spots along the trail. Look for this sign indicating
the location of historic markers.
A ghost town trail has no facilities, so fill your lunch bag and gas tank in Rosseau,
especially if you plan a leisurely drive. Magnetawan, halfway along the route, has gas stations, shops,
restaurants, and accommodations, but after that there is nothing until you reach
Nipissing. Although the road is gravel, its condition varies. Some stretches are
wide and well kept; others are little more than two ruts plunging into dark woods,
much as the pioneers might remember it.
does the Nipissing Road offer? If you are an artist or photographer, the
empty cabins and log barns offer unusual and rugged images. An explorer or
collector will find empty cellar holes and vanished village sites to replenish
their supply of old bottles or square nails. But leave the metal detector
at home, for most of what is abandoned is also heavily overgrown. You are
unlikely to find old coins. If fishing is your love, there are a number of
Trout Streams and good Bass and Walleye lakes along the route. The road/trail
is excellent for the mountain bike enthusiast. The route offers a range of
challenges from the "family" rider to
the dedicated avid cyclist. In 1997 the section north of Hwy. 518 became part
of the Trans Canada Trail. A trail linking Canada from coast to coast to coast.
A BIT OF HISTORY
The Nipissing Road was one of a network of colonization roads devised by government
of the Province of Canada in the 1850's to settle the virgin uplands between the Ottawa
River and Georgian Bay. Although these lands were touted as a Utopia for land-hungry
immigrants, the roads were built mainly to help the great lumber companies gain access
to their distant lands. Some thing modern Governments are still doing.
By 1877 the Nipissing Road was open
between Lake Rosseau and Lake Nipissing, and the first of the thrice-weekly
stages rattled into the new village of Nipissing. But with the forests laid
waste and the fertile Canadian prairies ready for settlement, the Nipissing
Road was doomed almost from the start. Settlers streamed away to the west.
Behind them they left overgrown bush farms and vacant villages. Only four
settlements prospered, and today they are still regional centres:Rosseau
and Nipissing, the centres of modest farm and tourist economies; Magnetawan,
located between Ahmic & Cecebe
lakes and part of a long- forgotten east west waterway; and Commanda, which has
one of Ontario's most unusual general stores.
||Clinging to the granite shores of Lake Rosseau, the white-frame houses and shops
of Rosseau village deserve a look before you start on your drive. A century ago Rosseau
harboured the fleet of steamers that plied the bays and channels of Lakes Muskoka,
Rosseau, and Joseph. Settlers and businessmen disembarked here to follow the Parry
Sound Road west or the Nipissing Road north. Tourists soon followed, and today Rosseau,
with its population of 225, survives primarily as a summer cottage town. Of the houses,
stores, and churches that line the little town's few streets, most were built by
pioneer labour and they still display their clapboard construction. Best known is
the white clapboard general store, built in 1875, which stands at the corner of River
Road and the Parry Sound Road.
|We received this comment from one of our readers . . "
I have lived in Rosseau for the past 10 years. What a wonderful place my
husband and I have found it to raise our four children. When we first moved
to the Village the population was comprised of mainly older families whose
children had already grown. There are many young families who now live in
Rosseau and many small businesses thrive not only in the village but throughout
the surrounding areas. Rosseau has quickly become more than simply a "minutes
place". Please do not forget the many residents who live here, operate
their businesses from the Village and raise their children here." To
contact the writer click on the" name" Kelly
We received this comment from
another of our readers . . May I comment on the building referred to as the Old
Legion Hall. It is in fact, the Orange Hall. In 1870 a group of men
who belonged to the Orange Lodge in Canada applied for a warrant to start
a Lodge in Rosseau. The warrant was granted and the Lodge building was begun
in 1870 on what was the Parry Sound Road, now Highway 141. It was completed
in 1871 and was used rented as a public hall until the Rosseau Memorial
Hall was built in 1924. See Rosseau, the Early Years, page 23.
Member of the Rosseau Historical Society To contact the writer click on
ROSSEAU TO ORRVILLE
Leave Rosseau along Hwy. 141 north. After 1 km or so, just past a small municipal cemetery on the left, you will come to an intersection
with an unnumbered gravel road. This is the starting point of the Nipissing Road
and the site of a village called ASHDOWN, look for the plaque with details at the corner of the the HWY and the Nipissing Road.
Named after a pioneer family, Ashdown could once claim a store, a school, an Orange
Hall, a blacksmith's shop, and a hotel. Today, nothing remains except for vague cellar
holes and rotting lumber. The town, like so many along the Nipissing road went into
decay after the Booth Railway and the rail from Gravenhurst and Callander was built. The post office was closed by 1900.
Turn right onto the gravel road and drive north for 1 km to a fork. Take the
left branch, called MacAuley road. (The original Nipissing
Road followed the right branch, but it soon degenerates into a bush trail that
is suitable only for hikers, mountain bikes, 4 wheel drives or winter snowmobiles.)
There is a pioneer log church about 15 km from this fork, if you want to take
a side trip. It is worth the trip. You will have to turn back to the fork to
proceed along the trail. Follow the left branch 10 km to Orrville, keeping right
at the two intersections you encounter on the way. This takes you over the Turtle
Lake road, and on to Star Lake Road, drive north.
The little church you have pictured in the Rosseau to Orrville section I always
thought was in Bear Cave. (which it is)We have snowmobiled there many times
and used the church's open door to warm up on cold days. Amazing to see it pictured
here. Tracy M., Windsor, Ontario.
(Thank you to: Karen patient of Township of Seguin for correcting my notes)
One of the first buildings you will see in Orrville is Campbell's blacksmith shop.
Popular with local artists and photographers, this frame shop with its hand painted
sign dates from the turn of the century. Its doors, however, have been closed for
several years. Apart from this, there is little to pause for in the village, except for the Orrville Bakery. If you
are traveling in spring watch for Lilac bushes. The early pioneers planted them close
to their cabins to remind them of home. To day they grow in wild patches as a memory
to those early settlers.
ORRVILLE TO SEGUIN FALLS
At the stop sign beside the general store, turn right and follow Hwy. 518 east.
Here young forests flank the road, reclaiming the exhausted soils of the pioneer
fields; surrounded now by shrunken clearings are many pioneer cabins (still lived
in) which display the frame or shake construction of their pioneer builders. It is
some what humbling to think that all of the cleared land along the route was done
with out the aid of mechanization. every thing was cleared by hand labour.
After 11 km, Hwy. 518 meets a T-intersection,
turn to the north, to bring you back onto the original Nipissing Road. This
is the start of the Old Nipissing Road
"Discovery Route" and the Trans Canada Trail.
A side trip right leads to what remains of the town of Seguin Falls. To take this side trip, stay on
Hwy. 518 for a few meters until it bends left, then follow the gravel road straight
ahead for 1 km. An area sign will direct you to the trails. As the road twists around
rock outcrops, vacant cabins peer from their granite perches. And then you come into
Seguin Falls a red brick schoolhouse, now privately owned, just beyond it, the centre
of the one time village. Please respect private property as most of the land and buildings are private.
J.R. Booth Canada Atlantic Railway
Falls owes its start to lumber king J.R. Booth.
In 1895 this Ottawa
timber baron acquired extensive timber limits in Algonquin Park, 160
km to the east. To tap his new riches he extended his Ottawa, Arnprior
& Parry Sound Railway into the park and then to Georgian Bay. By
providing the shortest link between the Upper Great Lakes and the Atlantic,
he quickly captured the grain trade. For more than three decades, steam
engines transported grain, lumber, manufactured goods, and passengers.
At the Nipissing Road crossing the Spence Lumber Co. erected a mill,
and this marked the beginning of Seguin Falls. The settlement grew to
have a population of 500, with a general store, a post office, shops,
a church, a school, and the King George Hotel. The town prospered until
1933, when a trestle in Algonquin Park was washed out and the rail traffic
dropped drastically. During the following years, as the timber vanished
and the farms failed, the town's residents moved away. Finally, in 1954,
the line was closed and the tracks lifted. When the hotel and its confectionery
shut their doors forever, Seguin Falls became a ghost town. The abandoned
rail line is now the Seguin Recreational Trail, one of the provinces
most popular snow machine and recreational trails. There is an active
group of people working on making this trail a "park to park"
trail - Algonquin to Killarney. If you would like more information Click Here.
A group of cyclists checking directions in Seguin Falls
King George Hotel to day
The King George Hotel from a post card
SEGUIN FALLS TO SPENCE
||Turn around at Seguin Falls, return to Hwy. 518, cross it, and continue
north. For the next 25 km the road is wide and well maintained, although
still gravel. Here it passes farm steads and villages - once bustling,
now long gone. Signs, with small maps,
have been erected from this point north to the end of the road to
||After 5 km you will see on the right the St. Johns pioneer cemetery. With its fading white limestone headstones,
some dating from 1876, the cemetery marks the site of the one-time village of Dufferin
Bridge. A few meters beyond lies the Dufferin Methodist Cemetery, which tells a sad story. On the
weathered tombstones of James and Janet Morden are the names of six children, their
ages between between one and a half years and ten years, who died January 14 and
January 19, 1902.The Ashley stone nearby lists four more children who died in the
same period. About 2 km farther on, the Nipissing intersects the Orange Valley Road.
This was another branch colonization route, and it leads west over scenic hilltops
for 15 km to the Broadbent church and the site of the Hurdville mill, a photographer's
The following was contributed by Robert Tait
The Hurdville Mill is no longer
in existence. As the son of the present owner, I witnessed
its demolition in the summer of '74. My parents purchased the property
in '64 and sold the mill to the Hamilton Historical Society in '74.
It was taken down piece by piece, each piece numbered and photographed
with the intention of rebuilding it at a later date in Hamilton. It
was stored in a barn in the Hamilton area for years and basically forgotten.
When the Society decided to start the rebuilding project in the '80s,
they discovered the man who owned the barn had burned most of the pieces
of the mill because he was never paid the rent promised for his barn.
Irene Morel of Parry Sound has written a book titled "Half A Loaf" about
her fight to have the mill restored on its site in Hurdville. Hurdville
is still a very picturesque village to visit, and information on the
Mill can be had by dropping in to the General Store and Marina. It is
owned by my parents, who built it on the site of the old Hurdville Saw
Mill, and they love to reminisce about it. My father was born on the
property next to the mill site and it was his first job as a boy. They
can be reached at:
Mr.. & Mrs.. R. Tait
Parry Sound, On.
The Orange Valley Road intersection also marks the site of the one-time village
of North Seguin, again a site with no trace of its former activity. In the fall after
the leaves have fallen you can see the old stone foundations of a road house
Then follows a scene not unlike that which awed the Nipissing Road's first pioneer
travelers The road plunges into a dark forbidding forest. Trees close in from both
sides and meet overhead. Through this tunnel the trail twists one way and then back
upon itself; it lurches over granite outcropping and slogs through muddy swamps.
After you cross an old cement bridge, there is an over grown trail to the right.
(now a snowmobile trail.) It was the road to Rock Hill, another pioneer village now long abandoned the only
remains is the cemetery. After 6 km the road brings you to Spence.
John Nelson settled in Spence in 1868, was the first
master at the Spence Orange Lodge #799 in 1872 dying in 1926. Nelson Lake Road and
Nelson Lake are memories of him and his family.
|After Seguin Falls,
Spence is the Nipissing Road's most extensive ghost town, described
as follows by an early traveler: "At the junction of the Ryerson Road and Nipissing
Road is Spence post office, a good store, boarding house, and public school."
The boarding house became Simpson's Hotel, and Spence acquired a
church and a population of 150. The red building at the junction
of the Nipissing road and the Ahmic Lake road is the Spence School house.
Today, the shells and foundations of the buildings lie buried under weeds or peer
from among young trees. Most cluster about the more southerly end of the village's
two intersections. It is the other intersection, 1 km north, that was the site of
the store, church and hotel. The hotel has been moved to Huntsville's Pioneer Village,
and now only a part of a picket fence tells that anything at all stood at the crossroads.
A view of the road from a hill south of
following is a contribution by:"Brian
D. Westhouse". He visited and explored the area in the Fall of 1998.
|Subject: Nipissing Trail
"A side trip-The Ahmic Lake Road" I was through Spence about a month ago,
and unless they've since moved it, the Ahmic Lake Road was not at "Cornball
Corners" but, at the school house, as indicated in the paragraph second
Editor Note: What is often mistaken for the "school house" at Spence
is the "Orange Hall" .It is located at the intersection of the Nipissing
road on the Ahmic Lake road. The Spence School house is a brick building which is off
the main road hidden in the trees on the east side of the road about a 1 km south
of the Ahmic Lake Road intersection.
The first time I was at Spence was about 2 years before the hotel was
moved to Huntsville. What I thought was the Spence Hotel was on the west
side of the Nipissing Road, south of the Ahmic Lake Road, not "the other intersection, 1 km north"
as your story indicates. I'm all stressed out.
About 300 feet south of the Cornball store, there was what appared to be a blacksmith's
shop. It was at the crest of a slight hill on the west side of the road and very
close to the road, but, on the outside of the fence-line. I'd thought it was a smith's
shop because of the metal debris scattered about inside the place. All trace of it
has disappeared since the road was straightened and widened during the last twenty
The Spence School house is now a private
On the "ROSSEAU TO ORRVILLE" section, you've lost me there too. I
was up that way September 20th. "Turn right onto the gravel road and drive north
for 1 km to a fork. Take the left branch." Is that the road marked Cemetery
Road, or is it the next one, that I turned up that crosses a concrete
bridge just after you turn off the main road. The Nipissing Road
is further along than that, after crossing a bridge farther upstream, the
the trail branches to the left as the main road continues on to Cardwell and
Bear Cave. I only went in about a half/hour walk past the cottage, until I
saw my first bear. He seemed to be afraid of me but since I was alone, I didn't
stick around to see if he was also.
One thing about the history of the Rosseau/Nipissing Road that few people know
about, is its role in the building of the first transcontinental railway. I'll assume
you've read or heard of Pierre Burton's The National Dream. In 1875 A.B. Foster was
awarded the contract to build the Canada Central Railway from Renfrew to a point
85 miles from Georgian Bay and from there continuing to the mouth of the French River
as the Georgian Bay branch of the CPR. In his book Berton doesn't elaborate on this
because the contract was annulled about a year later. On the 21st of April, 1875,
Senator Foster wrote to the Attorney General of Ontario, calling for improvements
to the road so that supplies could be drawn from the new rail head at Gravenhurst,
and the head of navigation on Lake Rosseau (Helmsley). Foster desired to establish
a main camp of operations at Commanda, so that work could be started east and west
of that point.
Foster's hand written document is preserved at Ontario Archives. The letter
was also signed by steamboat owner and area M.P. A. P. Cock burn. Foster described the
road's condition as INSUPERABLE. At least the petition accomplished one thing. Note
the historical plaque says that the road was passable for wheeled vehicles by 1875,
hmmm. There was probably more written about the road in the Journals of the Legislative
Assembly, of that time, than what has been put into recent publications.
In the latter part of his
book SPORTSMAN"S PARADISE, B.A.Watson describes
some of his travels between Rosseau and Magnetawan, in the 1880's.
I'd had my own copy of this book, but since sold it. There
may be one in the Burk's Falls Library. On one of those trips to the
northern wilderness, the fishing party camped on the outskirts of Spence.
From reading the book, I'd had the understanding that their guide, a
Captain Ross was the proprietor of Spence Hotel. There are a number
of Ross's in the Cornball cemetery. From the age group, I'd assume the
Captain was George Washington Ross, a memorable name.
As the historical plaque notes,
and your overview doesn't, the Nipissing Road lost its importance
with the completion of the railway through Burk's Falls. For Watson,
the only route to the Lakes of the Upper Magnetawan, was up the Nipissing
Road. His last trip out was by rail, as he remarked "it was thought this line
would bring prosperity to the region" or something like that, and so
Brian D. Westhouse Rexdale
Additional comments . . .
In your description of Seguin Falls, you mention of a lumber company that was
there shortly after the railway had arrived. Where can I find more information about
that company. When I explored that area on Monday, I saw there were traces of yard
tracks about 500 feet west of the road, at that point the pathway veers slightly
to the north of the original roadbed for about 300 feet. In that area, the grade
is wide enough for three tracks. Uneven ground surfaces on the south side indicate
the locations of small buildings, perhaps a waiting room and a tool house. One near
perfectly square mound is overgrown with moss while saplings and alders etc. cover
most of that part of the alignment. That part of the track can more easily be found
by a one foot rock cut along the south side.
SPENCE TO MAGNETAWAN
North of Spence the road suddenly widens and enters a pastoral farming area. On
the left lie the waters of Ahmic Lake, a bulge in the Magnetawan River. For 10 km
rolling green fields and old barns mingle with forested hills and overgrown pastures
as the road winds along the rolling hills surrounding the lake to the homes and stores
of Magnetawan. A side trip-The Ahmic Lake Road Just north of Spence is a left turn onto a scenic side road. If you have the time,
it is a pleasant drive to Ahmic Harbour which has particularly spectacular colour
in the fall. Don't forget your camera. Ahmic Harbour once was a prosperous terminal
for the Ahmic Lake steam ships, and a stop on the 'Great North Road from Parry Sound.
There is a hotel, restaurant and gas bar here. A Second Side trip - The Burk's Falls Road At the Cornball store intersection you can take a right turn, just past the Spence Cemetery and follow a good gravel road about 15
Km to the Screaming
Heads. On your way to the heads, the road passes the Midlothian Cemetery and
a cut off back south to Sprucedale. The heads are being built by Peter Camini , an
art teacher from the local High School. Their are ghosts in the field behind the
castle and Dragons to defend the walls!! You must take the side trip. Click on the link for more information MAGNETAWAN Unlike the ghosts of Spence and Seguin Falls, Magnetawan is very much alive, with
a population of 286. Solid frame homes line the village's half dozen streets, while
shops and a restaurant cluster by the bridge over the Magnetawan River. In a park
beside the bridge is a historical plaque commemorating
the story of the Nipissing Road. There is also a plaque at the dam telling the story
of the Magnetawan Water Way. Magnetawan grew quickly during the nineteenth century, for it was situated at
the junction of the Nipissing Road, the Ahmic Road, and the Magnetawan River. Settlers
and loggers flowed in and turned the valley from forest to farm and mill. A hand powered swing bridge allowed
steam boat traffic to navigate from the rail siding in Burk's Falls to Ahmic Harbour,
some 48 miles down stream. The workings for the swing mechanism have been removed
to make a two lane bridge This was tourists' only means of access to their lake country
homes. In 1925 the area's first hydroelectric plant whirred into life, powered by
the falls on the river. Commercial traffic on the lakes ceased in 1936, and the hydro
plant fell silent in 1953, when Ontario Hydro began to provide Rural Service. Magnetawan
has continued to prosper because of the cottage and recreation trade. The dam and
locks were rebuilt in 1997 to allow boats to navigate from Ahmic Harbour to Burk's
Falls. It has become a popular attraction.
The old hydro plant, with its original generators still in place, is now a museum.
It stands a few paces east of the Nipissing Road on Hwy. 520. If you ask at the museum,
they may start the generators for you.
Located beside the bridge, you will pass the "Church on the Rock".
St George the Martyr Anglican church was made famous by the group
of seven painter A.J. Caisson.
The town offers a selection of services. You can lunch at the the Grill and Grocery a general store, post office, hardware store, licensed hotel, burgers and soft
ice cream stand, museum, and liquor store. If, by
the time you have filled your day and wish to spend the night in the area,
accommodation is available locally. It is suggested you call ahead if you
plan to travel in the summer as accommodation is limited.
MAGNETAWAN TO COMMANDA
Leave Magnetawan north on Hwy. 520 and turn right onto Hwy. 510 (which,
at 3 km, is to be noted as the shortest numbered highways in the provincial
network). Cross Hwy. 124 past the Chapman
cemetery where many pioneer families are resting.
Here the road again
is as the pioneer stage travelers might have known it. The forest
is tall and dark, and the dirt ruts bend and twists around each obstacle.
There are no clearings, no old cabins. So sparse was the soil that
settlers shunned this area completely. Why should they settle here when the
deep flat soils of the Chapman Valley lay just a few kilometers east? Despite
its pioneer condition, the road is passable by bicycle or 4 wheel drive, although
slow. This part of the road is also marked with signs as part of
After 18 km there appears a clearing and a white frame house. This is the side of
a one-time village,
Mecunoma, and its famous hotel with the colourful name
of 'Bummers Roost
'. The original hotel burned in 1926 and today's house was built
on the hotel foundations by T.R. Russell, son of the original hotelier.
For the next 2 km the Nipissing Road is impassable, except by foot or bike. This part of the road will allow for hiking
or Mountain Bikes. If driving, take the road right for 1.5 km and then the first
road left, which again has no number. After 2 km you will rejoin the original alignment
at the abandoned hamlet of Rye. Gone now are the store, post office, and log hotels
- some sources say as many as four - and Rye today consists of a brick school (now
residence) and 1.5 km north of that, an intersection full of old foundations. The
Rye cemetery contains some unique wooden grave markers.
Four bush farms still guard the
next km of road, until once more the route becomes deserted and unusable.
The road in this area is passable by bike only. Watch for the "Forgotten Trail" signs. Follow a one-time concession road "the
Jerusalem Road" for 6 km to a T-intersection with the Mandeville Road.
Then turn left for 3 km to another T-intersection. Here you pass
through an abandoned rural settlement, which was called Mandeville. The land
is low and swampy, and a young forest closes in overhead. Bush barns, long
abandoned, are collapsed, and their overgrown clearings are indiscernible
from the road.
At the second intersection again turn left. Once more you emerge onto a rocky upland;
the hills, however are steeper. After winding through a mature forest and past a
pair of marginal farms, you will suddenly come to the crest of a knoll. Below lies
the Commanda Valley. As you descend the valley to Commanda village, the road merges
imperceptibly with the Nipissing Road. A word of caution....... Some of the bridges
in this part of the route are closed and may necessitate a detour. Check before going
Named for a local Ojibway chief, Commanda is a small cluster
of houses at the intersection of Hwy. 522. Here, in 1885, James Arthur built the
area's first general store. It was larger than most for a pioneer village - two stores
high, with a double porch and extensions to each side. Arthur distinguished his store
with elaborate flourishes to its fret work(gingerbread). While most such buildings
would have been replaced or severely altered, the Commanda store has survived five
ownership's intact. In 1980 the Gurd Township and Area Historical Corporation purchased
the building and refurbished it as a turn-of-the-century general store, and in 1982
opened it as a living museum. You may find it the single most photogenic building
on this road trip and one of the most colourful in Ontario. An interesting foot note
to the history of railway building. . . Commanda was the site of a construction camp
of railroad builders in 1875.
COMMANDA TO NIPISSING
From the store follow Hwy. 522 east, and after less than 1 km turn left onto
an unpaved road-the Alsace Road. Commanding a high, gravely ridge is the Nipissing
Road's only surviving farm community. Although stony, the soils here are deep
and they have allowed the farmers to grow hay and to graze beef cattle. Most
of the frame homes and plank barns have been little altered from pioneer days,
though their occupants now supplement their incomes with off-farm jobs. At
5 km from Hwy. 522 your route swings east away from an abandoned Nipissing
Road to pursue a concession road, to Wolf Lake. There is a public beach here,
but few other services. After another 1/2 km turn left at Wolf Lake and continue
3 km to Hwy. 534. Turn right and follow the highway around a steep mountain
and past modern rural residences into the road's final village.
Comments from a resident Tom Armstrong . . .
Map of the area north of Commanda
|I was born in Nipissing Village - my father was born at McQuaby Lake between the
access road and the creek flowing to the present Nipissing village - his mother was
a Barber from Hotham and his father Edward was son of Thomas Nesbitt Armstrong a
surveyor who later moved to Cobalt and worked for the famous surveyor Niven of Niven's
Meridian at Cochrane - just west of Cochrane is a monument my people are part of
the McMullen clan - the father was a surveyor and sent his five daughters there -
one was married to a Beatty - both my father and my mother (Floyd) are part of the
McMullen set - my father's people came from Beachbourg - my mother's from Eganville
where her mother's father Robt Mills was famous Anglican priest -Jenny Floyd played
the organ in the church in Nipissing
I am writing to you as I was trying to get some honest information on the Nipissing
Road used by our German neighbours to come from Maryhill - nobody has been able to
tell me much about it except that it guaranteed only the above average people got
I have traveled a lot of this bush - particularly abandoned "stone farms"
and it supported a large population years ago mainly from lumbering - I have seen
pictures over by the French river of abandoned railroad beds indicating the original
route would have gone around the west end of the lake. Could it be possible that
the original route of the Nipissing road went north to the river directly from this
site - it is on high ground I think but have yet to walk the area - I can remember
them talking about the hotel in the present village and the logs running
down the hill to the sawmill on the outskirts of the village - I
also remember Donald Barber talking about hauling logs to this junction point
- I am in trouble as my father's generation are very few and far between and
I was away too long to maintain proper contacts
I grew up at the hydro plant at Fraserdale and one of the railway agents was Bob
Willougby who retired years ago as Superintendent in Englehart - his dad once owned
the hotel in Nipissing Village and was treated as family by my dad is it possible
there was a different terminus to the road than publicized - it really had nothing
to do with Alec Beatty he was a valley man - I think Niven worked out of Peterborough
and went right up to James Bay - I saw a copy of one of his log books for this area
that an old hydro surveyor found and noted my dads grandfather and great grandfather
as both surveyors and explorers - most important is Gramp McMullen was here long
before the others and claimed the village for his daughters, there could have easily
been a camp or settlement at another location - I do think the sawmill decided the
Ernie Daley was one of the electrical foremen at ABitibi Canyon Generating station
north of Cochrane where I grew up. He married our maid and went home around the start
of the war to run the family plant. This is located in the village of Magnetawan
Nipissing remains small, thought modern cottages and retirement homes now mingle
with the pioneer church, school, and houses. During the village's short-lived heyday
as a busy stagecoach terminus, stores and hotels sprouted at each other. Today they
are gone. No longer does Nipissing provide liquid refreshment for the weary traveler
But then no longer does the journey from Rosseau take a full week as it did a century
ago! If you would like more information about Nipissing Village's history follow
this link from the North Bay Nugget's history pages. As well click here
for information about the cemetery in Nipissing village.
Nipissing marks the end of your route.
The Trans Canada Trail continues on to Callander and then North Bay. Details about the route, condition, etc. can be found on the Discovery Routes web site.
From here you can follow Hwy. 534 east for 14 km to Hwy. 11 and then drive north
30 km to North Bay. This modern-day finish your Nipissing Road trip has a number
of sights, restaurants, pubs, and places to lay your head.
A complete guide and history of the Nipissing road is available Click here for details
Ken Turner - Magnetawan Area Business Association
Gail Henderson - South River Chamber of Commerce
John Belinni and Anthony Sharpe - Trans Canada Trail
- Inspecting the Trans Canada Trail in the Fall of 1998