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Oct. 25, 2002

The Vanished Village of Klock's Mills

About sixteen km east of Mattawa on the Trans-Canada Highway, through Cameron Township, there is a small sign that says Klock Road. A left turn over some badly neglected road and a broken bridge brings you to the CPR rail line at the edge of the Ottawa River. A short distance to the right is the Aumond River, which flows into the Ottawa. From 1860 to the 1930s this was the site of a thriving logging community. Time has removed all signs of the village's former existence. There are a few photos, references, and a few aging former residences that I have been able to find and report on here this week and next for the record. If anyone has additional information, please let me know. The village was called Klock, Klock's Mill, or Klocks for short.

A small Cameron Township history book, written by three students on a Summer Canada Works project in 1983 has a brief description of Klocks and a photo of the old train station. The September 2002 issue of the Nipissing Voyageur, the newsletter of the Nipissing Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society has a copy of an article on Klock from the Ottawa Citizen newspaper on Friday, December 31, 1880. The article was discovered by John Carkner, a member of the branch.

The following is a composite sketch of Klock, and R.H. Klock and his sons, who came to the south shore of the Ottawa River to cut square timber. They cut along the Ottawa, on the Aumond River, and had extensive limits in Quebec and in Témiscaming. Mr. Klock established a depot west of the creek and built a beautiful home nearby for his family. When Cameron Township was surveyed he acquired ten hundred acre lots that included his depot village and his farm on the river. 

A squared timber raft of the Klock Lumber Company on its way to Bytown (Ottawa). Courtesy of Barry Walters.

He must have been very successful because the home, shown here, had a large lawn where the family played tennis and where he raced his prize horses. The home had a grand staircase and many woodcarvings and mouldings. His two sons James and Robert took over from R. H. and lived there and kept the business thriving. There was no railway until the CPR went through in the 1880s by which time Klock had a sawmill and was shipping sawn lumber. A small original railway station on the east side of the Aumond was moved to the growing village. Before the railway, the only way for settlers to travel along the Ottawa to Mattawa and points west, other than by water, was on a trail-the Mattawa Pembroke road-which went through Klock. There were stopping places spaced about a day apart for traveller's along the way.

The Klock residence near the village of Klock on the Ottawa River, east of Mattawa at the turn of the century. Courtesy of Barry Walters.

As the village grew, a store, church, schoolhouse, boarding house, and various homes were built. Wooden sidewalks and gas streetlights were installed. Anthony Guilbeault established a store that sold groceries, tobacco and hardware. One of Anthony's sons became a well-known priest.  Agnes (Guilbeault) Rainville, a daughter, lives in the Algonquin Nursing Home and recalls those days.

1893 postcard sent from Klock to Mattawa, ordering a box of cigars. Courtesy of John Fretwell.

The Guilbeault store had a mail outlet. John Fretwell of Callander provided me with an 1893 postcard from Klock. The message on the other side orders a box of cigars from a Mattawa store. The Cameron history book, mentioned above, refers to Native people bringing furs to the store and mentions an older Native lady Suzanne (probably Suzanne du Fond) selling deerskin mitts and moccasins at the store.

The Klock Railway Station on the CPR. Courtesy of Joy Jenveau.

The train station had a stationmaster, a telegraph service and nearby accommodation for the section crew responsible for the section from Hodgson to Rankin. One of the latter railway families was the Backers, with Mrs. Backer in charge of the station and Mr. Backer the foreman of the section crew.

Pulpwood became a staple in later years, and many local men served on cutting, hauling and filling boxcars at Klock. In the 1920s the Souter family operated a basket making operation there for several years. By the 1930s, with the Depression and the advent of automobiles and trucks, Klock began to die. The Trans Canada highway shifted life away from the river.  With the building of the Holden Dam fifty years ago, the village site was flooded, and only a few foundations remain. A power line cut through the area.

In a future column I will look at some of the personal stories about Klock from former area residents, including Joy Jenveau, Isabelle Rainville, James Souter, and Dwayne Backer who remember those days.

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