Tuesday, April 23, 2013

HR7: Nakina

Dear Sally
wrote my father to my mother
on Saturday, September 10, 1960.

I arrived safely in Nakina 
about 10 p.m. last night.
I got a room in the Nakina Hotel
(not in any way to be compared 
or confused with the Waldorf Astoria)
and immediately went to bed
thinking I would get a good sleep.
That was a laugh!

The Palatial Nakina Hotel
The left door is a beer parlour.  
My window was the last one you can see on the second floor.
D.B.M., Sept. 10, 1960

Some of the miners and railroad men
were having a pay night celebration,
and things got real lively.
There were several fights 
that broke out in the hotel, 
one right outside my room.

Well, I finally got to sleep.
I slept right through 
until 8:30 this morning,
at which point 
I decided to write you a letter
before I fly to Lansdowne House.

The trip up here was very interesting,
especially the trip on 
the Algoma Central Railroad
from Sault Ste. Marie to Oba.

Northern Ontario Railway Tracks

The country was beautiful ~
lakes ~ woods ~ ravines ~ gorges
and fishing camps.
At Montreal Falls on the Montreal River
(see timetable map*)
there is a huge hydroelectric dam and power house.

Algoma Central 1753
at Montreal Falls
Source  CNW Lives/Flickr

I am enclosing a timetable for the ACR. 
This timetable contains a map 
showing their entire track system.
On this map the names printed in heavy type 
are the towns or villages, 
while the names printed in lighter type
are fishing camps.
The train stops at these camps
to pick up or discharge tourists
who are coming to fish.

Ahh, Wilderness
Source: sandypointcamp.com

It took us from 6:15 in the morning 
till about 3:30 in the afternoon
to reach Oba,
at which place we transferred to the CNR.

Main Street of Oba
All of it ~ except for one house out of sight at the right side of the picture.
The first building is the commercial district.
The second building is a beer parlour.
D.B.M. Sept. 10, 1960

We had a wait of about 45 minutes at Oba.  
The distance from the Soo to Oba
is roughly the same as
from Halifax to Digby**.

Train Station in Oba
Algoma Central Railway
D.B.M. Sept. 10, 1960

Tail End of Our Train in Oba
Algoma Central Railway
from Sault Ste. Marie to Oba
D.B.M. Sept. 10, 1960

About Frater (see map)
the trees started to be colored from the frost,
and at Nakina, the leaves are starting to fall.
Also, it was snowing when we arrived at Nakina*** ~
the first snow of the season.
However it only lasted about 15 minutes
and then turned to rain.

Northern Ontario Wilderness
Source:  James Wheeler/Flickr

Nakina is a real frontier town
of about 1,000 people.
There are about three substantial looking buildings
in the town ~ the RR station, the police barracks,
and the Hudson Bay store.
The rest of the buildings
from what I can see from my hotel window
appear to be of rather dubious origin and construction.
It's a really rough and ready town
I can tell you.

Nakina, Ontario
Taken from in Front of the Nakina Hotel ~ Looking East
D.B.M. Sept. 10, 1960

Well, I must sign off now
and see the Indian Agent 
about getting to Lansdowne.
I will write you regularly from Lansdowne.

What I said about Friday mails
depends upon the weather.
Sometimes the plane is delayed by bad weather.
The trunks I shipped
from the Cove arrived in Nakina 
on the same train I did.
They seem to be in good shape.

Office of Austin Airways
at Nakina:
My trunks have 
just been loaded,
and they are hauling them
out to the air base.
This was the evening before 
I flew in to 
Lansdowne House.

Bye now, Darling,
All My Love,

Nakina Today 

I never realized how often my father referred to maps until I started blogging these Human Refuse posts.  I've omitted the map references in his letters, because I haven't thought they were necessary to the story.  Not only was my dad collecting every map he could lay his hands on, but he was drawing them too.  

It was my dad who first taught me how to draw maps based on other maps using a grid system.  We worked on  Chile when I was quite young.  Now I'm wondering where all those maps Dad refers to have gone. 

Note to Barb:  
If you're reading this can you check out those scrapbooks of Mom's ~ see if there are any maps there?  
Better yet ~ can you arrange for another operation so I can come up and look for them myself? LOL!)

We're talking pre the Trans Canada Highway that now runs through Nova Scotia bypassing everything.  If you ever visit Nova Scotia, you must get off the TCH.

Alas, Nakina has been subsumed into the Municipality of Greenstone, along with the communities of Beardmore, Caramat, Geraldton, Jellicoe, Longlac, Macdiarmid, and Orient Bay.
Source:  Wikipedia

 Municipality of Greenstone
Source: The Greenstone Economic Development Corporation (GEDC)

Greenstone has a population of 4,724 people,
an area of 1,069 square miles
(2,768 square kilometers).
It is one of the largest incorporated towns in Canada,
compliments of the Progressive Conservative
Government of Ontario action in 2001. 
Source:  Wikipedia

Nakina Subsumed by Greenstone  :(  !!! 

Links to other northern posts:


  1. Oh, the beer parlour! What a Canadian institution! Around the same time as your Dad's story is taking place, my grandparents ran a small country hotel in southern Saskatchewan that had a lunch counter restaurant and a beer parlour -- the beer parlour was the REAL moneymaker of the entire business! They saw their fair share of noise, mayhem and bar room brawls too. Phone the Mounties!

  2. Loved your comment, Debra! When there is no beer parlour, you have to go to the bootlegger or make your own. In isolated Newfoundland ~ more isolated than Oba and Nakina, I experience the joys of three day potato brew and dogberry wine. Foul but potent! Have a good one!

  3. That looks like on weird hotel, but the beer parlour had to be swell. And yeah the crummy highway doesn't come this far. So you have to spend 50 hours going up down and all around costing lots of gas for your car haha

    1. A lot of people walked! It cracks me up to see them in a couple of the pictures. I know I stayed in the Nakina Hotel at one point, but I have no memory of it! Hope you day is going swell!

  4. Hi Fundy,

    It is Barb - I will check for maps in Dad's things. Bye the bye other members of the family are following your blogs and enjoying - maybe sometime they'll drop you a note - eh Donnie!!


    1. Thanks Barb! I'm glad to hear that some of the others are following ~ hey Donnie! If I get off track or it's not interesting, please set me straight! I'm going from letter to letter and trying to find my way. Hunting for pictures and maps takes a lot of time!!!!!

  5. How wonderful to have that legacy of letters. Such love. I loved your comment on my blog about tackling those teacher materials. When I retired I was begging other teachers to please take those units that I had developed over the years. I couldn't throw them away. I even gave a lot of it to my students. I did contact the local college and some future teachers came and took some things. After 35years I had accumulated so much. I've been retired almost eleven years now but still miss the process of teaching but don't miss the bureaucracy.

    1. Hi Peggy! It is wonderful to have these letters because they vividly bring back so many memories. It was hard letting go of all my teacher material ~ It was hard to retire! Like you, I miss the kids, but not the bureaucracy!! I read the papers and think, "Thank God I'm retired!" I gave away a lot to my kids and colleagues and then was left with things I couldn't bear to part with. Now it's getting easier, and I'm thinking about visiting my old school. I'm really trying to pare down the contents of our home! I don't want it to be somebody else's ordeal! I hope that you are having a great day!

  6. O wow, that hotel -- fantastic! And those landscape shots -- they really capture Canada's natural beauty. I love how sweetly these letters always end off :)

    1. Thanks, B&R for your kind comments about the illustrations for my post! Canada really is beautiful! It makes me so happy when I read my parents' letters and how they showed their love to each other. It's quite fascinating. I hope you are having a lovely day. I can't help wondering how long Wiggle is going to make it! I hope Rebecca isn't too sad when the inevitable happens. She is a sweetheart, and she is very articulate!

  7. I love seeing these old photos. so much history... amazing

    1. Hi Ana! Thank you for your encouraging comment! I've been posting our old family photos from the north because I see them as history, and I don't want it to be lost! Have a good one!

  8. What a lovely, nostalgic post - the old photos remind me of some of the Northern California logging towns I visited as a child. "Beer Parlour" is a new term to me. :)

    What a gorgeous place Canada is! So large and wide - as Americans I think we forget that.

    1. Hi MM! Thank you for your kind words. "Beer Parlour" is a grand, old Canadian institution ~ nearly every community had one. It's basically a bar or pub where the locals gathered. The other mainstay as a community "waterhole" was the Canadian Legion where many vets gathered. Way back, a Lady's Tearoom might be near or by the Beer Parlour. But these are fading into oblivion now. Canada is huge, no doubt! And to the north it is still largely remote wilderness. Have an awesome day!

  9. I love reading these posts Louise, a slice of social history - thank you for sharing all this personal information, papers and maps making it very interesting! Wonderful just imagining you dear Father sitting down and writing these letters, that must have been so important to your family.

    1. Hi Ivan! Thank you for your lovely comment. I do try very hard to make it interesting, and it is so much fun! Those letters meant so much to us at the time, and even more now since both my parents are gone. I hope that you are enjoying your day!

  10. I heart this post. I feel like I've gone back in time on a very interesting journey.

    1. Thanks Laeli! The journey gets more interesting I hope. I've had to lay down the context for future posts. It's time consuming, but it is a project of love for my parents, my Indian friends, and my beloved north that I have not had a chance to see in way, way too long!

  11. Looking at the old pictures reminded me of the Valley in the 1950's. It seems the buildings are very similar back then. The buildings near the train station in Kentville were so similar even in the '60's. I used to take the train to the pool in Kentville for afternoon swims, just 25 cents one way. I loved the train. Mulroney took care of that in the 1980's...no good words for him I'm sorry!

    I was surprised that your father's trunks were there without any delay. I'm sure he was too.

    The last map really helps to situate Nakina. I've only driven along Lake Superior so do have an idea of the countryside, but going that far off the beaten track, never.

    Thanks for the next installment!


  12. Hi Ron!
    I hope that the flu bug has departed, and that you, Jim, and Sophie are 100%! I loved it when Sophie said that she had everything under control on Jim's blog! LOL!

    I loved the train too! I thought it was totally stupid to get rid of Nova Scotia's trains! I didn't think much of Mulroney either!

    It took me a lot of hunting until I stumbled across those two maps. I'm so glad they fixed things in place for you. I swear one day you hunt and find something, and another day you find something different ~ and sometimes you can't find what was there the day before! I just keep pushing! Hey, Nakina was on the railroad ~ you can go much further off the beaten track, let me tell you!

    I'm working on the next Northern post. We're the old cars cool too?? I loved the "beer parlours!"

    Have a good one!

  13. You know what I like about these 'family stories' Louise? The very personal and heartfelt words chosen by your father to send to his wife many miles away! That must have been so difficult for both of them. But it also shows their resolve to what was best for themselves and therefore their family. Very similar I am sure to the feelings the pioneers in both our countries felt. These letters show also how deep your parents' love and trust was for each other. Really beautiful to read and for your to share.
    Geez Louise, I wonder where YOUR love of maps came from!! lol
    Have a great evening.

  14. Thanks, Jim, for the lovely words about my parents' letters.
    I know how I feel about them, but I wasn't sure how "the world" receive them. Being separated from the people you love is always difficult. I guess maps were in my genes and nurture!

    I really believe in the power of story. I was sifting though a pile of old PEI photos today, and I have no clue who the people were other than distant relatives ~ maybe not so distant. I may not be able to piece together their stories, and it seems like such a loss.

    It's so amazing to have reached a point in my life when I can finally devote time to my creativity daily. I am so loving it! Thank you for following my "story" and for your continuing encouragement. You're probably asleep now ~ so I shall wish you a happy, fulfilling day tomorrow!

    1. PEI connections eh? Well, we could just be related!! What are some of the surnames you are related to? Never know....

    2. Hi Jim! The two main branches are my grandfather's MacBeath (Marshfield) and my grandmother's Pratt (St. Peter's Bay) lines. I have Nicholson and Stewart thrown in. The MacBeaths date back to about 1806 to Donald MacBeath who came from Perthshire in the Blair Athol district, Scotland. I don't have Pratt dates, but my great grandfather Pratt came from Scotland as an orphan and took the name Pratt from people who helped him ~ that's what I heard, and I'm sticking to it until I learn otherwise. Some of the families my family married into were Frazers, Andersons, and Coxes. I'm sure your relatives knew my relatives ~ PEI was a small place. So many things to find out!!!!

  15. WOW!
    That is such a piece of family memory you've brought to light!
    I honestly believe you should put it all in book, you have such talent to highlight past events!
    My grand parents also were pioneers, from Switzerland to Nicaragua, but their story would take 3 books and too much time for what's left for me to live! ;-)
    Wonderful reading and following you!
    All the best!

    1. Hi Noushka!
      Thank you for your very encouraging words!
      I am floundering about trying to figure out how to turn everything into a book! I'll find my way eventually, but I going to keep posting on my blog. It makes an overwhelming process approachable. What a diverse background you have, from Switzerland to Nicaragua! I've never been to Switzerland, but I have been briefly in Managua, Nicaragua (just at the airport both times). Now that, in 1991, was scary!

      I'll post about that at some time, I'm sure! I'll just say armed military emptying our Continental plane and herding us between attack dogs into a holding area while they searched our plane. Quite an experience, and utterly out of my control!

      I would love to hear your story, Noushka ~ but I totally get what you are saying about time running out! I feel time nipping at my heels everyday ~ so much I want to do ~ so little time! I'm just going to move forward the best I can, every day!

      So! I am wishing you an amazing and fulfilling day among the beauties of the natural world!

  16. Would it be possible to post your pictures of Nakina on the 90th Nakina Anniversary Facebook page?



    1. Yes, as long as you post them with my copyright symbol. And send me a link so I may see them. Thanks!

  17. Replies
    1. https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/337243113040880/

  18. O primeiro lugar que estive no Canadá foi em La Loche no Saskatchewan. Tenho predileção por lugares assim remotos. Estive algum tempo atrás em Armstrong. Agora estou em Nakina. Do mesmo modo que fiz em La Loche, ao andar por Nakina procurei por uma Igreja. Por ora despeço esperando voltar e feliz por ter estado na porta de 2 Igrejas em Nakina, uma na esquina de Centre av x Quebec st e a outra Centre av x Algoma st. Fiquem com Deus.


Thank you for your comments! I appreciate them very much.