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nobody lives at Coldwell; a settlement which was once painted by the famous
“Group of Seven” artists.
Terrace Bay particularly, is an attractive town. There are ample remains at Coldwell to satisfy the experienced Ghost Town adventurer. Where the Coldwell Road is terminated by the CPR tracks is a swing-gate. The gate reads “private property” etc. (please note that this sign is very legible, and it is advisable to abide by the warning).
When facing towards the gate, on your right amongst the tall grass will be a cellar surrounded by rubble. And to your left, a disused rail cart, and further evidence of foundations on a grassy out-crop. It appears that the present owners of the property use the sight as a junk-yard, so please keep yourself from disappointment and try not to confuse ones’self by mistaking garbage for artefacts, and mind what you step on.
Beyond the gate is private property. You will behold a fairly steep hill surrounded by very dense woodland which descends down to the inlet. I have been led to believe that further remains are present in the bay (rotting timbers, artefacts, dilapidated shacks etc.), as well as an alleged cemetery concealed within overgrowth.
Coldwell (sometimes referred to as Port Coldwell) is situated on the shores of a secluded rock-walled inlet. Established in 1882 when Ben Almos and Peter Dennis set-up the town’s fishing mainstay, Coldwell was once a quiet community which orbited around the ports into the great lake. The first fishing company in town built docks, cabins, homes, net houses and ice sheds. Regular hauls of trout and whitefish would be stored at Coldwell awaiting a courier vessel to take it away.
When the hauls were ready for departure, a bright flag was to be hoist up a pole to signal the captain of the vessel to enter the port. Following Coldwell’s fishing years, the CPR blasted a whole in the hilltops and laid-down their tracks, where following the completion of the lines a small CPR depot was constructed along with a water tower and section houses to house the rail road maintenance crews.Coldwell was never a boom-town. The peak populations reached just over 100 after four decades of fluctuation. Eventually the CPR switched from steam power to diesel fuelled engines which required far fewer stops than the predecessor trains. This meant that the trains would require fewer stops along the way, and thus the CPR foot-hold in Coldwell was removed. And finally, to deal the finishing and crippling blow to the town, overfishing and the sea lamprey devastated the fishery and docks, which were all permanently abandoned.
Location : The town site can be reached by travelling along Trans Canada Highway 17 to a point some 25 KMs west of Marathon, between Marathon and Coldwell's fellow Ghost Port – Jackfish (Jackfish and Coldwell are situated east of Terrace Bay). Coldwell lies down a dirt track named Colwell Road, just off of TCH 17. This road is sign posted, but you may miss the sign if you are travelling from Terrace Bay towards Marathon, as the sign is visible when driving from the other direction. Gas and supplies are available from both Terrace Bay and Marathon.
Pictures/text courtesy of Ryan Hill.
Coldwell station circa 1906