rev #1 - 20180302
A rather bizarre transportation system called the "La Compagnie de Chemin de fer de Temiscamingue" (or the Temiskaming Railway Company)" started in 1883 and financed by Federal Government grants to the Catholic Oblate Order for the purpose of settling the very rich farm lands of the Little Clay Plain on the eastern shores of Lake Temiscamingue.
other than the first born sons who would inherit the farm, were leaving to go to the United States and/or the Prairie Provinces to take up land or work there. Quebec, Ontario or the Federal Government could not afford to lose these skilled people and immigration to this country would be stifled.
Most of the arable land available for settlement to the provinces of Quebec and Ontario was the Little Clay plain that surrounded the Northern parts of Lake Temiskaming but this was not an easy place to get to.
In 1884 this transportation system consisted of steam driven river boats plying between :
river boat (&scow) travelling between Mattawa and foot of La Cave rapids to a 2 km. portage
river boat (&scow) travelling from La Cave to Les Erables rapids to a 3.5 km. portage
river boat (&scow) travelling from Les Erables to Montagne rapiids with a 1 km.
river boat (apparently larger) travelling from Head of Montagne rapids to the the very difficult 16 km. Long Sault Rapids
Here they would land at the foot of the 144 km. long Lake Temiskaming where a small steam ship would carry them to their destination!
All these portages were tough in unloading, carrying and then reloading but it was so bad this 4th and last portage was a nightmare of walking and carrying baggage up 10 kilometres beside the Long Sault Rapids over land which was exceptionally stoney with some of the boulders exceeding 15' in diameter.
In fact, this portage was so bad that in the next year the Oblates built a narrow gauge railway, with a small locomotive and 3 flats cars and a coach, eliminating the extreme drudgery of this portage.
This was from The Temiscaming Colonization road narrow gauge railway by Giff.
In very short order the number of Lake Temiskaming steamships tripled and continue to grow because this traffic increased drastically bringing thousands of people (settlers, lumbermen, trappers, etc.) and cargo on the only way up to Northern Quebec and Ontario.
Ontario also wanted to settle the Temiskaming Clay Plain and prior to 1884 had applied to the Federal Government for the building of the Nipissing to James Bay Rairoad
which seemid to have been accepted because the federal government commissioned the railroad, paid for the report and gave them land for a ROW and then never did anything else, as a matter of fact all the goodies and grants went to the Quebec based transportation scheme.
On September 17th, 1996 North Bay's MP Bob Wood had this farce formally eliminated.
This must have annoyed the Ontario Government but they had an advantage that they used!
For an explanation of how Ontario retaliated to having to bring in people on this Quebec based transportation we have to slip back in time (several thousand years ago) when the massive outflow of glacial Lake Agassiz established beaches and deposited gravel at the modern elevation of about 240 and 250 meters ASL (Atlantic Sea Level. ) A caribou / aboriginal / lumberman (in late 1830's lumbermen after red pine started to use it bringing men, equipment, draught animals (to haul these 60 to 70 foot long timbers to water), and food and fodder. This usage made this trail or passageway better but still a trail used mainly in winter!
This passageway is shown on the map below in purple dots that basically follows old relic beach lines (yellow areas) is shown on the following map
click for a pdf
The time for red pine timber extraction had passed but was replaced by and even greater demand for white pine logs and the number of settlers and lumbermen and steamships multiplied creating a lot of traffic on Lake Temiscamingue and these ships also towed the timbers down on their return to the foot of the lake. They no longer had to row or sail the timber rafts down the calm stretches of water. More traffic! Which again increased the lumber trade and the market for the produce (food and fodder) of the settlers. It also gave them paying jobs in the non growing seasons. All of a sudden this area really got to be populous. The more people that came there the more the traffic up the road/river/lake route increased!
At this point I am going to include a map I annoted hoping that the reader can understand how this one-upmanship match between the Federal & Quebec Governments against Ontario progressed.
click for a pdf
Ontario was very leery of Montreal being the terminus and having control of this transportation system! It is likely that they were fearful of losing their grip on "NEW" Ontario (their portion of Ruperts Land!)
The following map is an update on the 1897 map which essentially shows the T&NO Railway that was built by Ontario in 1905 without the help of Federal Government that I know of.
In 1885 Ontario played it's first "trump card!"
So they utilized that 7,000+ year old passageway (made by migrating caribou and aboriginals who followed them)
up to the foot of Seven League Lake and improved it to Colonization Road status under the name of the Mattawa - Temiscaminque Colonization Road (Ontario Sessional Papers 1885 - 1913) right up to the foot of Seven Leaque Lake. which was the docking berth or home of the steamboat "L'Emerillon."
This "highway" was then capable of taking stage coaches and livery wagons up to that point and it also cut the steam boat's L'Emerilion's water trip by 19 kilometres leaving only the 13 kilometres of the 25 kilometre length of Seven League Lake left
passengers and cargo could loaded at Mattawa and transferred to the boat here.
of course, this ate into the ridership of the Quebec based river steamboat/scows and the drudgery of walking and hauling luggage over those 3 portages
The Oblate order could not stop people from boarding that boat or using their railway around the rapids because public monies were spent in acquiring both. If somebody was willing to pay the fare they were obligated to accommodate them. To counteract this the Oblates re-approached the Federal government for funding and the following year they laid done poles for tracks and put horse drawn tramways over each of those 3 portages! This carried the baggage but the "passengers" still had to unload , walk and then load again.
Ontario played it's second "trump card" and in 1889 that Mattawa - Temiscamingue colonization road was extended along that old trailway to right across the river from the docks from where the lake steam ships took off from . Stagecoaches and livery wagons soon delivered to there. Even fewer people used the river steamboats and portages.
In the meantime and in order to better connect "NEW" Ontario with Toronto the Ontario Colonization Roads branch started yet another colonization road that they named the North Bay - Temiscaminque Colonization road which eventually terminated at the mouth of the Montreal River and there was a roadway from there which connected with New Liskeard. The intent here was to bring Toronto rather than Montreal into Northern Ontario's focus.
In 1894 the Oblate Order obtained and played an even better "trump card" having convinced the federal government to finance the CPR to build a spur railway line from Mattawa to the Lake Temiscamingue steamship port.
It seemed like they won this crazy game.
NEW Ontario was doing well according to the Canadian Newsmen who visited there via this transport system. New Ontario by then had about 5,000 registered settlers and that was continuing.
the rail and water passageway thrived and constantly gained in popularity with the inclusion of this CPR spur line up until to 1905 but it was strictly an "open water" operation, operating from mid April to mid November for the rest of the year ice made the steamships inoperable.
That CPR spur line really limited the usefulness of the Mattawa - Temiscamingue Colonization road except for travellers and/or cargo wishing to go to lumber camps mostly on the Ontario side.
It is also important to remember that boat travel on Lake Temiskaming was impossible when there was ice and this old road was still used as vehicle and a winter road communication by sleigh but it was easier and far safer to use the aforementioned North Bay - Temiscaminque Road for sleigh access, which in 1891, after the Gillies Lumber Company made generous donations, to complete it which met Lake Temiskaming at the mouth of the Montreal River eliminating the continuously open waters of the Colton and Opimican narrows and mouth of the Kippawa River.
click for a pdf
The 1905 completion of the T&NO sounded the death knell of the earlier Mattawan and North Bay - Temiscaminque Colonization Roads and the Steamships on Lake Temiscamingue
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