Ontario Abandoned Places

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Database location #8
Public Location
Created by OAP (CONTACT)
This member has donated.
Creation Date: 1/1/2006
Last Photos Uploaded: 1/1/2006

Byng Inlet was the second largest sawmill operation in Ontario. The name of the town came from that of the English Admiral John Byng. John Byng was court-martialled and executed in 1757 for failing to "do his utmost" during the Battle of Minorca.

Between 1868 and 1906 numerous mill transactions occured in which partnerships were made and broken. Some of these partnerships included Clarke White and Company, Dodge and Company, Merrill, Ring and Company and the Holland & Emery Lumber Company.

The Holland and Graves partnership lasted from August 6, 1900 to December 31, 1906. This dominant partnership would also change over the next twenty-five years until finally ending in the 1930's.

Construction of the main three mill sites was not an easy task, for workers had to be brought in to work the isolated area. Bricks, horses, oxen and other equipment had to be brought in by steamer or barges (Holmes, Fred: The History of Byng Inlet).

At the location of the Anson Mill there was a blacksmith shop, carpenter shop, ice-house, store, two barns, steamboat dock, millman and manager's house and twelve worker's homes.

The cutting capacities for the three mills were 10 to 12 million board feet for the Page mill, 14 million for the Anson mill and 15 million for the Burton mill.

A post office was opened on July 1, 1868.

To accomodate transportation to and from the mills, various ships were used. The Lily Kerr, Minnie Hall, The Resolute, Julien V. O'Brien, Mohegan and a tug named John Junior.

The Minnie Hall showed a determination to stay afloat. It was burned twice until August of 1886 when it caught fire again and had to be sunk. In 1897 it was raised from thirty feet of water and used in Midland.

Workers at the mill received an average of $1.75 per day for ten hours of work. By 1920 the wages were somewhat better, $4 per day and $1 for board.

The work could be dangerous; some workers drowned while logging and in late 1883 Miss. S. Armstrong and her escort Lewis Walter Carter, drowned when they fell through thin ice. Fire also saw the destruction of the Anson mill on June 30, 1891 and the Burton Brothers mill on April 17, 1893.

For entertainment, pool rooms on either side of the inlet were strategically located near the docks. During the winter, two ice rinks provided an opportunity to play hockey. Railway boxcars were used as change and warm-up rooms.

In 1893 the post office closed only to be reopened in 1903 as the Byng Inlet North post office. A fire on Nov. 4, 1899 brought down the Byng Inlet hotel.

In 1900 the Holland & Graves was doing so well that they added electricity, a box factory and added a night-shift.

In 1906 the Holland & Graves company became the Graves & Bigwood Company.

A massive mill fire on May 20th of 1912 saw losses in excess of over 55 million feet of lumber. The Graves & Bigwood Company mill was rebuilt. It contained a mill, lumber yard, planing mill and boilers (thanks to Ron Brown once again).

Approx. 450 people lived in the shanty houses and the 50 or so solid houses in the area. The mill employed some 1250 people, while the town's overall population was 4200.

When the railway was introduced in 1912, the Graves Lumber Company was able to ship out some 20,000 feet of lumber every other day.

In 1927, after the resources dried up and the mill closed, without any other form of industry to keep the population employed, most of the people left. The Graves Bigwood Company store burned down on Christmas Day in 1930.

The town has a small permanent population to this day. It remains a small town with small streets making it worth sight-seeing. The two-room school house (SS No. 1 Wallbridge) has been fixed up and is now a residence. It sits atop a small mountain as you enter the town.

The mill has some excellent ruins and hundreds of pieces of wood still litter the lakeside by the mill as if waiting for someone to cut them.

The cemetery had the last burial around 1915. The markers are old and faded and there are about five scattered graves. Only one wall of fence remains, and it has toppled over and is almost invisible. A tiny trail leads off to the back where a mountain sits. A newer looking marker has a wreath placed on it, belonging to a 30 year old private in the First World War.

Location: Take highway 529 off of Highway 69 about 20 minutes past the Grundy Lake Provincial Park (heading away from Sudbury). It is then a short 2 km drive to highway 645 where you turn right. Note the graveyard is off to your left if you are driving into Byng and is roughly after the first curve.

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WrecksdaleWreck says:
10/26/2012 3:32:45 AM
In the above narration it states the railway came to Byng Inlet in 1912 which is not the case. The CPR began operation in 1908. The CPR's resident engineer during construction, A. J. Isbester married the daughter of the mill manager J. T. Emery. Isbester later purchased Bigwood's tugboat, Julien V. O'Brien for use in marine construction at Thunder Bay.
WrecksdaleWreck says:
10/26/2012 3:08:47 AM
Financial reorganization of the Holland & Emery included support from Nelson Holland's cousin L. P. Graves, manager of the firm's lumber yard at Black Rock, N.Y. along with Temple Emery's son-in-law Wm. Bigwood and nephew (millwright) James Thissel Emery.
WrecksdaleWreck says:
10/26/2012 2:57:08 AM
Holland & Emery had purchased the Page mill and also dismantled the mill at East Tawas and relocated it to Byng Inlet. In 1899 Temple Emery came upon finacial hard times after paying for logs that were not delivered. The Page mill was resold in 1899 and the company was reorganized in 1900 with financial assistance from people within the firm.
WrecksdaleWreck says:
10/26/2012 2:36:26 AM
Merrill and Ring resold the Wahnapitae timber berths to Holland & Emery of East Tawas, a firm that had been towing logs to Michigan from that area since 1885. The Dingley Act of 1897 increased the duty on lumber imported from Canada, but reduced the duty on logs. After Ontario banned the export of uncut sawlogs, Holland & Emery relocated to Byng Inlet.
WrecksdaleWreck says:
10/26/2012 2:17:54 AM
With the loss of the Anson mill in 1891, Dodge & Co. sold a associated timber berth on the Wahnapitae River to Saginaw lumbermen Merrill and Ring. Their intention was to tow the logs to the Michigan side for sawing, tariff laws of the time made it cheaper to process the logs in Ontario, so they purchased the Page mill in 1892.
emmabee2 says:
6/28/2011 11:50:26 AM
I am really enjoying reading the history as well as seeing past and current photos! Great Job!
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On 10/22/2012 8:39:47 AM user OAP changed the following: description
On 9/17/2012 9:02:57 PM user clay70 changed the following: city,

2008 Photos

Prior Year Photos

Along the road to mill

Along the road to mill

Marjorie Edith, died at age 3.5 years

Always interesting finds when ghosthunting

This is a crib, placed around the grave of a child. The only marking is "1210".

Edward Cheech

'Elliot' gravestone. One age is 31, the other is 2 months, 2 weeks.

The mill

Old hotel
The old school, now very much alive.

Historical Photos

Byng Inlet railway station

(Courtesy: Gary McLaughlin)

Byng Inlet fire of 1912

(Courtesy: Parry Sound Library)

After the fire

(Courtesy: Parry Sound Library)

The Graves, Bigwood and Company mill rebuilt in 1913

(Courtesy: Parry Sound Library)

Anson Mill (1870)

The mill in 1913 after the 1912 fire

(Courtesy: Parry Sound Library)

Graves, Bigwood Mill and Byng Inlet village (1910)

L-R: refuse burner, boiler smokestack, company store and offices, elevator, planing mill, smokestack, white house and manager's house

Source: Lovejoy/Carson Collection

Western end of Byng Inlet (1910)

Source: Lovejoy/Carson Collection

The Aloha

Source: Huronia Museum
1952 0014 0038 S

Byng Inlet village from 1913. Holland Avenue is on the left while Front Street is on the right.

Source: Dave Thomas Collection

Northern Belle

Archives of Ontario
ACC 10328, C 253,4-1

The Mohegan

Source: Collingwood Museum

The Maganettawan Hotel with stone cookery on the right.

Source: Clara Lamore
(Dave Thomas Collection)

Gary McLaughlin sent me some information on Byng Inlet. He mentioned the frame in the graveyard is actually a crib. Gary also provided me with information on the gravemarkers.

Byng Inlet Abandoned Protestant Graveyard
Highway 645 Off Highway 69
Lot 43, Concession 11, Wallbridge Twp
District of Parry Sound

BOLER, Elizabeth Ellen
Wife of Walter Harold Boler
Born Feb 2, 1874
Died Nov 23, 1918

BOLER, John Willie
Born May 29, 1918
Died November 22, 1918
(son of Elizabeth and Walter Boler)

BOLER, Walter Harold
Husband of Annie Boler
Died February 7, 1922
Aged 52years
(perhaps remarried after Elizabeth's death?)

CREECH, Edward
Born 1832
Died 1905

DAUBNEY, Robert Earl
Born Oct 22, 1912
Died Feb 12, 1913
(Son of G.H and S Daubney)

ELLIOTT, Ellen E Crowe
Died Sept 15, 1911
Aged 31 years
(Wife of Harry Elliott)

Died Sept 17, 1911

Died Dec 3, 1911
(Aged 2mos 2weeks)

FLEMING, Margaret Reeves
Born Aug 30, 1907
Died Sept 9, 1907
(Infant daughter of William and Margaret)

LORD, Marjorie Edith
Died Sept 10, 1915
Aged 3 years, 6mos
(Daughter of H and A Lord)

MCCAFFEY, Jonathan
Born Feb 19, 1909
Died May 5, 1909
Infant son of Robert and Jennie Ramesbottom)

Andrew Eveline (husband of Ida Eveline)
born 1859
died 1920

John Nelson Eveline (husband of Myrtle Eveline)
born 1887
died 1919