As the Nipissing Colonization Road moves north from Magnetewan, you will reach the small village of Mecunoma. There's not much to see here. It has been said that in the early 1800's, Robert Galbraith, an early settler to the area, while cutting a road to his cabin, heard nearby Natives yelling "Mecunoma". When asked what it meant, they replied, "We have found a road." The Rousseau-Nipissing Road.
Alfred Russell and a friend, Richard Mannering, moved to Mecunoma from England. Alfred had been a carpenter in Toronto and then a railway bridge construction worker. As a result of the depression, he was unemployed and thought trapping might be more successful. The first year the two men lived in a tent. Richard (Dick) had little else going for him other than trapping and living in a tent, and thus earned the nickname of "Dick the Bummer". Dick wrote "Bummer's Roost" on a shingle, with a piece of charcoal from the fire. A passing hunter, also a journalist, made the name of this place well known.
Alfred, seeing the flow of overnight travellers, thought a hotel would be a good investment. In 1865 he opened the "Russell House" which couldn't lose the nickname of "Bummer's Roost".
Galbraith, the man who had overheard the natives yelling "Mecunoma", became postmaster of the post office in the hotel in 1877. He would retain this position until 1881. During his time as postmaster he changed the name to Mecunoma.
George Archer became a partner with Alfred Russell in the hotel and in April of 1887, 22 years after opening the hotel, they were granted a license to sell alcohol. The hotel also offered tobacco, lanterns and cooking ingredients. George also took over as postmaster when Galbraith left, until 1916 when mail delivery service changed.
Alfred returned to his homeland in England to bring back Maria Henley. It has been said on December 30th of 1886 the couple walked 12 miles to Magnetawan to be married, and then walked home again. Tragically, Maria died when the hotel burned in 1926. A small replacement was built until another hotel could be built. The property currently has the house built by T. Russell who was the son of Alfred. Maria is buried in the Rye Cemetery.
Alfred's partner in trapping, Richard, who is credited with the namesake of this area, married Mary Wood in 1883.
For more information visit the Rye write-up, also on this webpage.
Bummer's Roost is north of Magnetewan, east on Eagle Lake Road. Bummer's Roost main home burned down early in May 2007.
* There used to be an Ontario Lands and Forests fire tower right in Bummer's Roost until 1970 on the SE side. In the middle of the 1900's other ghost towns listed on this site also had a Department of Lands and Forests' fire tower lookout located on a nearby hill. These include: Pakesley, Key Junction, Key Harbour, Dufferin Bridge, Bummer's Roost, Pickerel Landing, Lost Channel, Byng Inlet, Moon River, Cheddar, Germania, Ormsby, Uphill, Biscostasing, Renabie Mine, Milnet, Armstrong, Metagama, Cheminis, Wavell and Pineal Lake . For more info. on Ontario's Fire Tower Lookouts go to this link: Ontario's Fire Tower Lookouts.