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Temiskaming GenWeb

Temiskaming's History

A long thin lake lends its name to the District of Temiskaming. this area was virtually unknown to the French and English and the speech of the original inhabitants varied from tribe to tribe. When a voyager in canoe first inquired the name of the lake, he had to make the man on the bank repeat the strange sounds many times before transcribing it ans "Themiskamingue".

Through the years there have been many ways to spell this name. In general English speaking inhabitants write their district's name as Temiskaming. The territorial district and federal electoral district are spelled asTimiskaming. In our neighbouring Province of Quebec, the county and federal electorial distict are Temiskamingue

Our large beautiful lake which has the border of the two provinces running down its middle is officially called, "Lake Timiskaming" in Ontario and "Lac Temiscamingue" in Quebec. Just to add to the confusion, at the very south end of our 128 km long lake (80 miles) sits the town of Temiscaming. No matter how you care to spell it, the name means "deep waters" or "deep lake", and so it is, both deep and dangerous.

Lake Temiskaming has a long recorded history that goes back to the early 1600's and an even longer history in the legends of the local native bands. The original inhabitants were Ojibway and Algonquin, many of their descendants still live in this area. It was a major travel route for the Algonquins Indians, fur traders, oblate priests, lumber barons and the finally the settlers.

The first permanent settlement was established on the site now called Haileybury in 1889, by the last chief trader of Fort Temiscamingue for the Hudson Bay Company. Even the publication of a small pamphlet by C.C. Farr in 1894 did not bring hoards of people flocking to the area. During this time the area was part of the District of Nipissing and genealogist researching today should search Nipissing records to find ancestors.

The Ontario Government sent a Crown Lands agent north in 1893 to establish some order to the settlements. His home and office was a tent set up on a site at the Wabis River (Wabi River). Close by was a permanent settler, William Murray who had squatted on a piece of land in 1891. This small village was first named Liskeard then Thornloe, changed back to Liskeard and finally to avoid confusion with another small town in Southern Ontario it was given the name "New Liskeard".

In summer steamships plied the Lake bringing supplies and passengers. During the long winters residents remained isolated or were forced to use whatever means they had to travel down the lake on the ice and snow. Winter freeze up and spring thaw meant no travel. One year there were no nails, another year no coal oil. The nearest Doctor lived at the foot of the lake, settlers turned to anyone available in their time of need. Even going to church could be perilous.

The arrival of the railroad in 1903 and the discovery of silver at Cobalt brought the long hoped influx of people. Now the towns of Cobalt, Haileybury and New Liskeard are often referred to as "The Tri-towns".The Mining boom spread to Elk Lake, (1906), Gowganda and Larder Lake (1907) and Kirkland Lake in 1911.

Only in 1912 did this area become officially known as the District of Timiskaming and Haileybury obtained the privilege of being the District Seat.

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