||April 7, 2010
May Museum Month Comes to Commanda
Museum Month in Ontario started early on April 24th at the
Commanda Community Centre where the Commanda Heritage Centre held its first
Annual Membership Gala. I had the pleasure of attending the talk by W. A. Bill
Allen well known historian from Burks Falls who talked about the South River,
local native people and other related history.
The Commanda General Store was built in 1885 and relocated to Hwy 522 in 1978
where it became a museum with the same name. Many dedicated volunteers developed
this unique Victorian structure. The current board chaired by Jaimie Board has
an exciting summer planned and a long term heritage sponsorship plan including a
mortgage reduction campaign. It is now called the Commanda Heritage Centre. The
packed hall for Bill Allen is a good sign.
The Near North Heritage Group
Commanda is one of 9 area museums that form the Near North
Heritage Group of area museums. Google for information. For information on the
Commanda Centre email
or call Jaimie Board at 729-1384.
Nipissing Before 1884
Bill Allen is a retired teacher, heritage enthusiast, and
certified archaeologist with an interest in the local area. He has a special
interest in the native history. He played an important part in the South River
Watershed Management Plan several years ago (the numbers below indicate some of
my articles on the south river area (Google Heritage Perspectives and look for
the # in the index and click on title. For an article on Commanda click on #21
and for one on the Watershed Plan see #169.)
Pat Haufe introduced Bill and thanked him for his leadership. The room was
circled with numerous large maps and Bill used a power point presentation in his
||Bill Allen and Roger Noganosh at Commanda
Heritage Centre presentation. D. Mackey photo.
Roger Noganosh, Billís companion on many of his excursions
came from the Magnetewan First Nation Reserve near Britt for the evening.
Several members of the reserve attended. The reserve is located where the
Magnetewan River enters Georgian Bay. A tributary ,the Nagonosh River, enters
the Magnetawan nearby. The Magnetewan was an important travel route in the past.
Roger assisted with a smudging ceremony, drumming and chanting as a part of the
native overtone to the event. It was fitting that the event was held in Commanda
a venerable native name.
Bill brought out many fascinating pieces of information on the South River and
area. People know the significance of the Ottawa, Mattawa, French River route in
our history but donít realize how the South River and its link with the
Nipissing River further south played an important role in our history. The name
Nipissing so far south is an indication of the reach of the Nipissing First
Nation or the Nipissignan as they were originally called.
The archaeology of images on rock faces often visited with Roger Nogonosh ,are
of special interest to Bill Allen. Often referred to as rock art Bill and Roger
see the images as documentation of history. They made a long trip to south
Illinois to visit a special site which they described in detail. While there
they visited Cahokia an ancient native site going back to long before contact
that showed the remarkable advancement of native people. (Google the name for
fascinating details). Bill pointed out how many native names are still in use
today. His use of the native language during his talk was fascinating.
The talk, among other things, pointed out how stone tools also show advanced use
of technology in early native society.
All in all a revealing look at our past. Bill Allen can be contacted at Heritage
One 705-382-3706 in Burkís Falls or at
Heritage Perspective Home Page