Mowat was a mill town that attracted residents in 1897 on the northwestern shore of Canoe Lake in western Algonquin Park. Mowat was a lumberman's town that included all the usual stores and businesses of the early mill villages including a hospital for a town that grew to a population of more than 500, the largest town in the Park. When the school opened in 1898 it listed 30 pupils in attendance. Unexpectedly, the lumber industry entered a recession and the population dwindled to just over 200. By 1914 it was down to 150. The community continued to decline and in 1946 the school closed having only 6 pupils. Soon the trains stopped running and Mowat became a ghost of its former self.
After Mowat's decline the Group of Seven painter, Tom Thomson painted and lived in the area. Thomson often stayed at Mowat Lodge, a tourist retreat operated by Shannon and Annie Fraser, which made use of a converted Gilmour company building. In 1917 Thomson died in Canoe Lake under mysterious circumstances after staying at the lodge. Speculation is that he was murdered. To learn more go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Thomson
* (To read about other Ontario ghost town murder stories check out: Horncastle, Barkway, Germania, Lewisham, Monsell, Uffington, Shanick, Reesor Siding, Dalton Mills, Michipicoten and Redwater.)
The railroad originally built by J. R. Booth in the service of the lumber industry still weaved its way through Algonquin Park just to the north of Canoe Lake. Before the construction of Highway 60 trains provided the only easy access to the area. Despite all of this human activity, Canoe Lake was still a place of beauty, as Thomson's paintings show.
There is another railway village called Mowat in the NW part of Parry Sound District near Pakesley.
To see a 1914 map of Mowat, Canoe Lake and Joe Lake as they looked around Thomson's time copy and paste this map: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fc/1914_ALGONQUIN_PARK.jpg
To see a detailed map circa 1922 of the entire park check this link: http://www.markinthepark.com/downloads/algonquin_park_maps/1922/1922_cnr_algonquin_park_map.jpg