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August 6, 2004

History notes and footnotes


The 20th Anniversary of the opening of the Mattawa Museum by the Mattawa and area Historical Society was celebrated on July 24th on the front lawn of the Museum. Jules Paivio the architect of the beautiful log building drove in from Sudbury and many other friends of the Museum returned. MPP Monique Smith, MP Anthony Rota, Mayor Dean Backer all participated bringing greetings from their respective jurisdiction. Former Mattawa Mayor at the time of the building, Bernie Macdonald was present as was the MP for the area at the time Len Hopkins. All praised the work of the people who have worked on building to bring it to its current level. One of the awards went to Claudette Desroches, the current Board Chair for her voluneer work. Dolores Casselman presented a cheque in memory of her late husband and past Board Chair Byron. Jack Whelan chaired the event and gave a brief outline of the history of the area. He recognized that the Museum was built on the 100th Anniversary of Mattawa’s incorporation and that this year is the 120th anniversary of incorporation. 

MPP Monique Smith presenting volunteer award to Claudette Desrocher, Chair of the Museum Board at the Museum 20th Anniversary, July 24, 2004

MPP Monique Smith and MP Anthony Rota had good visits with the experienced Len Hopkins. Monique Smith had a long look at the Gordon Dafoe and Tom Cummings paintings on her tour of the museum. Her mother has some of Tom’s paintings. I told her that there will be a major exhibition of Tom’s work this September at the WKP Kennedy Gallery celebrating Tom’s 100th birthday.Later at lunch I had a conversation with Len Hopkins about his current project of getting the Ottawa River designated as a Heritage River. 

A friendly 120th anniversary event is identifying Mattawa’s most famous resident. Gilbert Parent former MP and Speaker of the House, Dr. S.F. Monestene & Phil Rainville are some of the nominees. Some of the other possibilities that I have written about in Community Voices are Anabareo (Gertrude Bernard) who won the Order of Canada, Gordon Dafoe, John Argo and Mike Rodden.  Conincidentally I received an email the day before I went to Mattawa from the daughter of Maurice Nadon who was born in Mattawa in 1920 and left in 1932 and went on to be the commissioner of the RCMP retiring in 1977. She is writing his history and wanted some information his families’ Mattawa years particularly, like Gilbert Parent, his native connection.

It was nice to see the renovated Champlain Movie Theatre operating again especially in this year recognizing Champlain.  Congratulations to the new Antoine First Nations store (across from the Caisse Populaire). A beautiful open space displays many beautiful native artifacts and other items. I came away with a beautiful T shirt featuring drawings by Frederick Remington from the former Mattawa Moose Hunt story that appeared in Harpers magazine in 1890 that I have written about a couple of times. (#28 on my website). 

Samuel de Champlain 

As a follow up to my recent article on Champlain I note that an organization that promotes francophone tourism (Destination de Noel de L’ontario) has received a $150,000 grant for provincial, national and international promotion of Circuit Champlain celebrating the 400th anniversary of Champlain’s historic arrival in Canada. The Circuit runs from Montreal to Georgian Bay. Three hundred and fifty businesses and organizations and 20 municipalities are supporting this tourism initiative

A new 25 cent Canadian circulation coin celebrating the first French settlers in Canada in 1604 is being released. The coin shows one of the 5 ships. A mint silver dollar with the same design is also available.  Look for the quarter in your change and look for the dollar at your Post Office or contact www.mint.ca or phone 1-800-267-1871. 

Tom Thompson 

With South River’s Festival of the Arts scheduled for August 14-15 a couple of footnotes on Tom Thompson who visited and painted in South River and has been celebrated at the Festival may be of interest. Two of Canada’s most famous paintings the West Wind and the Jack Pine will be a part of a Thmpson exhibition leaving for Russia next week after a successful tour of 120 of Thompson’s paintings in Canada. 

There are many theroies on the cause of Thompson’s death in 1917. Bernard Shaw in his 1996 book Canoe Lake discusses the Thompson case at some length including extensive forensic evidence an addendum to a recent reprint of his book adds a new theory which can only be touched on here. Meteorologists have identified powerful water spouts, mini tornado like forces that could throw someone out of a boat and drown them. Details are provided that make a pretty good case for such an event being possible. This deepens the famous mystery that confounds many Thompson fans. 

Bernard Shaw’s book talks about the exhuming and reburial of Thompson and conspiracy theories…… associated with it. A report in the Globe and mail reports that a forensic anthropologist as part of the research in the recent exhibition tried to find Thomspon’s skull in the Ontario Crime Lab and could not find it and the family won’t allow the exhumation of his “alleged” grave near Owen Sound to check for it. The mystery continues.

The Temiskaming & Northern Ontario Railway Head Office, North Bay in 1908 by C. Shouten

Another Mystery 

I mentioned the mystery of the discovered family album last week and have received some good information on it which I will report here soon. I have several other items I need some help on including a new one today. 

The Temagami Station in 1907 by C. Shouten

Maureen Lovely from Little Britain near Lindsay found 3 beautiful framed 16x24” drawings at her local waste disposal site. One was of the Ontario Northland building on Oak Street (1908) and one the Temagami Train Station (1907). She gave them to my neighbours Cec and Jan Reid who shared them with me.  I called Lorne Fleece, volunteer archivist with the Ontario Northland (formerly the Temiskaming and Ontario Northern Railway) who did not recognize the drawing or the artist C. Schouten.  I have a couple of other feelers our. Does anyone recognize the drawings or know anything about the artist? If so, contact me as indicated below.  

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