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November 7, 2008

Some Footnotes on the Mattawa Timmins and Dunlap Families


The Timmins Remembered in Mattawa 

Noah Timmins Sr., who died 1887 before his sons became highly successful, is buried in Mattawa.  Son Noah Jr. donated the huge 500 pound bell that tolls from St. Anne’s Catholic Church when he became successful in mining  The original Timmins home a couple of hundred metres from their store was also torn down and replaced with a Timmins Memorial Park which has been upgraded and fenced for the children of Mattawa.   

Moosehead Lodge 

Henry Timmins Jr.the other son  built a beautiful family Lodge on Lake Champlain west of Mattawa on six acres he bought for about $60.  It was later expanded and is currently completing a full restoration by Melanie Viau and her husband Marc Bouthillier.  It has changed hands several times over the years since it was built in 1933.  At one time Norman Mann a former NHL hockey player and his wife owned the place.  Several Hollywood stars including Roy Rogers and Mae West visited.  Many in Mattawa remember the McBrien family there in the 1970s.  

The original Timmins Memorial Park with the Dufond log house and priest house across the street.  Submitted photo.

The original six acres has had two lots severed but the remaining site with a large shoreline is a beautiful location.  Jack Whalen, Frank Bastien and I visited Moosehead recently and were very impressed with the fine lunch and outstanding restoration.  The three year project is now complete with many of Melanie’s antiques added along with a complete redecoration.  She will be providing a meeting and retreat service for organizations or groups that want privacy, accommodation and good food. It will be called Moosehead Estate 

The restored Moosehead Lodge with co- owner and manager Melanie Viau.  D. Mackey Photo

Melanie’s website is up and runningat- www.mooseheadestate.com. She can be contacted at 705-744-0322 or vmelanieb@hotmail.comMoosehead Estate   is at the end of Moosehead Road at the end of Brydges St. (turn left at the Museum and keep right)

In Mattawa the short street between the Timmins Park and the log house is called Timmins street. There is also one in North bay which prompted me to call historian Roy Summers who told that Noah Timmins and R. Gorman bought land on speculation before the  CPR went though in the 1880s. Gorman was one of Mattawas early settlers. There is Timmins and a Gorman St., a Gormanville Road and a section of North Bay called Gormanville. And believe it or not Roy lives at the corner of Timmins and Gorman Sts.

Mike Rodden  

Mike Rodden Mattawa’s great athlete in his book Anent Michael J talks about his regular visits to beautiful Moosehead Lodge and mentions former owners Mr. & Mrs. Hisey and Mr. & Mrs. Norm Mann (The NHL Hockey Player).  Rodden worked for the Timmins-Dunlaps in their mines in 1907-8-9 and his father kept and audited their books for 32 years.  He knew the Timmins brothers and Alphonse Pare and Jules Timmins.  Rodden was also an admirer of politician Frank Cochrane ( who was married to David Dunlaps sister) who he said had “a record beyond compare”. 

The Dufond Loghouse 

In the old photo of the Timmins Park you can see Mattawa’s oldest home built in 1864 in the background.  One report says that Noah Timmins lived there before his house was built across the road where the park is now.  The log house had a priest’s house built next door.  It was torn down in 1964 when John Argo built Annie Lamont’s house there using some of the old bricks.  The Lamont house was recently bought and restored by Ron Glabb and the area around the log house has been cleaned up and the roof repaired pending future considerations. 

The Grandchildren 

I recently wrote about David Dunlap’s grandsons David and Moffat and the recent excursion to their old estate  on Snake Creek ,Quebec.  It should be noted that the Timmins also have some well known grans.  The highly popular and successful Cowboy Junkies musical group are direct descendants of Noah Timmins.  Formed in 1985 by Michael and Peter Timmins with lead singer Margo Timmins they have had remarkable success over the years providing many albums.  (check out www.cowboyjunkies.com). Margo does the occasional solo performance and was featured at the River Run Centre in Kitchener Waterloo last night (check her out on wikipedia.)  Sister Cali Timmins was featured in the TV series Ryan’s Hope. 

Discussion with the Cowboy Junkies has begun regarding their participation in the Mattawa 125th anniversary celebration next year.  If they come it is hoped they would stay at the Moosehead for old times’ sake. 

Speaking of actresses – you will recall that the two Timmins brothers and their sister married into the Pare family and that son Alphonse Pare was a successful mining entrepreneur.  Alphonses’ granddaughter Jessica Pare is a successful Hollywood actress with movies and TV series under her belt.  She is also on Wikipedia and elsewhere online 

Frank Cochrane Another Mattawa Connection 

David A Dunlap the Mattawa lawyer who was the friend and partner of the mining entrepreneurs Noah & Henry Timmins has an interesting connection with early Ontario and Canadian politics and business.  David’s sister Alice Dunlap married Frank Cochrane (1852-1919) a Mattawa hardware merchant in the 1880s who later founded the Cochrane-Dunlop Hardware Company and later became a highly successful Federal and Provincial Conservative politician.  Cochrane’s history is recorded in various sources but especially in the book Silent Frank Cochrane (1973) by Scott and Astrid Young.  The subtitle of the book is The North’s First Great Politician. 

Frank Cochrane lived  next to his store in Mattawa and  on one occasion John A. Macdonald became ill on a train going through Mattawa and stayed with Frank and his wife for three days.  Wilbur Cochrane, Frank’s young son picked up a bottle of “medicine” at the liquor store each day for John A. 

Frank moved to Sudbury where he established his Cochrane-Dunlap Hardware Company, built the Cochrane Block and became Mayor of Sudbury for three terms.  The Cochrane- Dunlop Store in North Bay was shown in my column two weeks ago when it became a heritage site.  In 1905 Cochrane was handed a cabinet post in the provincial government without running in the election.  A winner dropped out and they did not run a bi-election.  He later went into the Federal Cabinet without running in an election.  He won subsequent elections.  Before Frank died in 1919 there were some accusations of favouritism with some people in the mining business.  There were also some interesting exchanges with Mattawa’s Liberal John Loughrin detailed in the book.  The Town of Cochrane is named after Cochrane.  Google his name or get the book for a fascinating political story of a remarkable man. 

With these Mattawa reminiscences I will take a break for a while to work on some other projects. 

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