Gagnon was one of those places people just arrived at. While the area was generally sparsely populated, the completion of a Grand Trunk Railway line in 1882, coupled with an abundance of really big trees, motivated Peter Kelty and Morris Shaver to establish sawmills in the immediate area around 1890. McCauley Siding was added to the line to move their products to market.
As with all small towns (and in keeping with Dire Straits' classic "Telegraph Road"), success begets success. People moved in to support both the lumber and rail industries. As land was cleared, farming became viable and even more people arrived. Following the completion of the town's hotel, a school was built (1895), a general store (1903), a post office (1906) and a butcher (1909). That eastern Ontario staple, the cheese factory, was built in 1922. The post office operated until 1931 and the first postmaster gave Gagnon its name. Gibeault and Pommainville were also predominate names. (as the memorial site list of contributors ably demonstrates).
The Cheese Factory, established by Remi Huneault, operated from 1922 until 1948. With the Depression, the War and closures due to lack of a milk supply during winter, the factory exchanged hands up to eight times before finally shuttering its doors.
Mary Farrell was Gagnon's first teacher, one of almost 50 who served at Roman Catholic Separate School Number 4. The school produced young farmhand scholars for 72 years before closing in 1965.
Calixte Chevigny ran the general store until it burned down in 1928. Simeon Gagnon ran it out of his home until its final closure in 1931. The post office was co-located.
As with many things rural, things moved on. The post office closed in 1931, the Cheese Factory in 1948 and the school in 1965. The town itself, although listed in italics on some Ontario maps, no longer exists. It's memory is maintained by a group of generous members of some founding families who have established a very pleasant commemorative site where Gagnon once stood. The site also honours other former towns in this beautiful region of Ontario, including Grant, which was located nearby.
I could find no date where Gagnon stopped being a village. Indeed, the sign in the park states "Today, Gagnon is a mixture of farmland, country style residences and a reforestation area. Its economy is mostly related to nearby villages and the large cities. It remains a most pleasant area". The park built to remember this village is certainly a pleasant place.
And, every now and then, if one is lucky, the whistle of a train can be heard passing the Gagnon and McCauley Siding telegraph poles. (See photos)