Reesor Siding was situated two miles west of Reesor along the railway line. The original purpose of Reesor Siding was to be that of a siding but all this changed with the immigration of Mennonite and French Canadian farmers to the area.
As the population grew, the farms expanded North along the main road. David Frost saw an opportunity here and opened a store north of the tracks, in 1924. A sawmill operated by the Government of Ontario was situated east of the railway and provided lumber during the summer for the settlers.
To accomodate the children, a school was built in 1927. The Mennonites built a church in 1935 which stood north of the siding. Not far from the church stood a tennis court.
As with many towns during the Great Depression, Reesor Siding saw the population dwindle as the effects of the economy were felt by all. To pick up business, Reesor Siding built a spur line south of the settlement during 1943. This was an attempt to access lumber that had not yet been cut. It was a temporary measure to sustain the town however by 1948, most of the Mennonites had abandoned the area. A few residents remained.
Reesor Siding would be a name not soon forgotten a decade and a half later.
On February 10, 1963 (other sources indicate the 11th of February) three men were killed and eight wounded in what would be a violent labour conflict. The men were workers of the Lumber and Sawmill Workers Union (LSWU) who were on strike against the Spruce Falls Power and Paper Company.
The workers concerns were a wage freeze and a company proposal to have workers working for seven days a week over the next two months in an effort to meet their quota.
The strike would last for 33 days and saw tensions between family members and friends. The men were looking for a higher price per cordwood. As the trade union held out for the higher price, they saw their demands weakened by the farmers in the community. The farmers continued to sell their wood to Spruce Falls which had a negative impact upon the strikers. The farmers supplied 110,000 cords of wood, which was 25% of the annual 450,000 cords required by the Spruce Falls Power and Paper Companty.
Representatives from the trade union met with the farmers in an effort to explain the situation. If the farmers stopped selling wood, the company would have no choice but to negotiate with the trade union about paying more for pulp wood. The farmers refused to negotiate with the union.
Soon, the men began to take matters into their own hands. On two occasions the wood was vandalized. 400 cords and 700 cords respectively were unstacked and could not be shipped out. The farmers took to guarding their wood around the clock.
On February 10th, 600 cords of wood were ready to be loaded onto the railway cars. The strikers knew this and plans were made to vandalize the shipment. The Ontario Provincial Police had seen vehicles full of strikers on their way to Reesor Siding. They arrived close to midnight to warn the farmers of the situation. By 12:30 A.M. the police and farmers were met with between 400 to 500 unarmed strikers.
The strikers made their way towards the wood, overrunning the police barrier. A single chain stood as the only real barrier between the farmers and the strikers. As the strikers made their way towards the chain, the farmers opened fire. There was no warning shot. When it was finished, three men would be dead and eight wounded. Five out of 14 guns found at the scene had been fired repeatedly.
The dead were brothers Irenee (34, father of two) and Joseph Fortier (25) from Quebec and Fernand Drouin (29, single) from St. Elzéar.
The 20 farmers were arrested and charged with non-capital murder which carried a jail sentence. The Attorney General sent 200 police to the area to assist the current 25 policemen from Kapuskasing. This manpower was necessary as 237 strikers were also arrested for participating in a riot. That would change to 254 men charged with "illegal assembly." 138 strikers were found guilty and fined $200 each, which was paid by the union.
The farmers who were on trial for murder had their preliminary hearings in October. Due to a lack of evidence they not charged. Three farmers were fined $150 each for possessing dangerous firearms.
For other murder stories check out: Monsell, Uffington, Lewisham, Shanick, Mowat, Redwater, Michipictoen, Bury's Green and Dalton Mills. Many other ghost towns have stories too- check clay70's listings..
Reesor Siding is found at approximately mile 103 of the Trans Canada Highway. It is west of Cochrane between Kapuskasing and Hearst.
The Mennonite town of Reesor began around 1924. At this time John Enns from the Ukraine immigrated to Canada and set up his home in what was to become Reesor. In 1936 John Enns became the school teacher for the settlement. The school closed in 1966.
Hennich Bergen was a blacksmith from 1933 until 1942.
The Reesor United Mennonite congregation began church services about 1926. They were formalized in May of 1927 and became the Reesor United Mennonite Church in 1932. By 1932 there were 75 Mennonites. This number fell during the depression and they disbanded in 1947.
The name Reesor came from Thomas Reesor who was an Old Order Mennonite minster that established the community.