Ontario Abandoned Places
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Michipicoten Harbour (AER)
Creation Date: 1/1/2006
Last Updated: 2/22/2020
In 1890, local citizens wanted the Sault Ste. Marie and Hudsons Bay Railway (SSM HBR) to build a railway from SSM to a link between Dalton and Ridout. Nothing happened for many years until 1899.
In 1899 a man named Francis Hector Clerge established the Helen Iron Mine, located 16km east of the harbour. Clerge also incorporated the Algoma Central and Hudson Bay Railway on August 11, 1899. The ACR would construct a rail line from Sault Ste Marie to a connection with the CPR railway.
Clerge received subsidies of $6400 per mile of railway, and given a 2 million acre land grant. His railway was renamed the Algoma Central and Hudson Bay Railway presumably because it might one day link up with the Hudson's Bay route.
In May 1901 Clergue created the Algoma Iron, Nickel and Steel Company of Canada (later known as Algoma Steel Corp.) to smelt the ore deposits in the area. His company produced the first steel and first rails rolled in Canada. It would be a wise business venture as over 30 million tons of ore were waiting to be mined at Helen.
Clerge used his railway to transport logs to his pulp mill and ore from the Helen Mine to his steel mill.
The Helen Mine operated from July 1900 to 1918 when the ore supply had been depleted. It would reopen in 1937 with a new sintering process for making iron ore pellets that was cost effective. A new ore dock was built at Michipicoten Harbour and shipping began again in 1939.
At the harbour, one ore dock stretched 275 feet out in the the water. For almost two decades the dock was used to empty ore from steam ships. The coal recieved from ships was used to supply fuel for the trains on the ACR as well as CPR and CNR railways.
By the 1930's, Michicpicton Harbour had grown to two dozen homes, a one room school, and Dave Summer's store and post office (1899-1952), and a one room school.
In 1936 the townsite added piped water and fire hydrants.
Michipicoten stopped receiving ore when the mines closed but opened up again for the many paper mills that sprung up in the area. This time the docks were offloading coal, not ore. After WWII, when the paper industry no longer required coal and the ACR railway had changed to diesel in 1952, the town began to become a ghost town.
The railway started promoting the beauty of the area to tourists, mainly the Agawa Canyon. This canyon ran around the Agawa River and was not accessable by car. This was a success for the ACR with up to 24 railway cars full of tourists. In the 1970's and 80's it was not uncommon for 100,000 visitors to take the tour.
Today CN owns the line, after the ACR was put up for sale and a handful of ownership changes took place.
The harbour is currently owned by Superior Aggregates who are building a trap rock mine behind the wharf. Two of the original homes remain in use, one is now a bunkhouse for the mine and the last one belongs to the "Harbour Pottery" shop.
Danger at Michipicoten in its heyday
This village was a dangerous place to make a living in its heyday. Locals would work hard, live in poor and dangerous conditions, suffering loneliness and poor treatment from thier bosses. Alcohol was forbidden by these bosses. Soon, outlaw booze-runners began to control the town and danger became common occurence in the area. A "Masked man wanted to run the town" and "man was shot and killed"- these were the headlines that reached Toronto. Police from Toronto were dispached to the area to help out.
Location: 9 kms south of Wawa turn onto Michipicoten River Village Road from the Trans Canada Highway.
For other similar stories from Ontario's ghost towns check out clay70's listings..
Created by: OAP
Created by: OAP
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