CPR Section House

CPR Section House

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Northern Line out of Mattawa -After Contact

When early French Explorers entered the Mattawa area , the Fur Trade began as a sideline to the search for an easier route west to China . Champlain convinced the French courts that fur was the value that the new world provided . He received permission to develop the industry and settlement to enrich France . Making use of the existing trade network , Mattawa became a place where furs were gathered for the last leg of the journey by canoe to Montreal .

 Since , the French population was not large enough to physically cover the territories , aboriginal peoples
cooperation was essential for the plans to work . Political alliances were formed based on 'common enemy' to build stronger ties . Men were brought in to work the Trade and marry into aboriginal population to create bloodties which allowed for further entry up river networks and unchallenged access through ally territory . It also created a new people of Metis , whose blood relationship made them the work horses of the Fur Trade , and who could travel great distances on behalf of the French .

Baptizing was a tool used to claim aboriginals and their territory for the Church and France . Missionaries travelled throughout the lands baptizing ...they did not remain , but the territory of a baptized Aboriginal was no longer his own ...a completely foreign concept which is difficult to believe they accepted with full knowledge .

Permanent posts were later established as greater distances were travelled to get to the furs . After the amalgamation of the North West Company and the Hudson Bay Company , a permanent post was established at Mattawa around which a camp , then village and finally a town developed . With the establishment of posts , the Fur trade began its decline as beaver populations were exhausted .

 But another resource from the area emerged...white pine . Now the race was on for the trees and Lumbering was born . Loggers headed up river to cut massive virgin pines , which were chuted down creeks into the Ottawa River and gathered together into booms that were floated down to mills in Bytown and Montreal . A forwarding business grew to accomodate the Lumber Boom .

An active steamboat network grew on the Ottawa River from its mouth near Deux Montagnes to its source at Lake Temiscaming ferrying supplies and people upriver in stages to Mattawa and beyond. At each rapid in the river , cargo and passengers were transferred by horse and wagon on ancient portage trails around the rapids to the next boat ...a much faster trip than horse and wagon on roads that traced the river from Bytown (Ottawa) north. Little settlements of a few houses grew up to support the forwarding business and give trappers bringing in furs access to sell their dwindling resource to the nearest HBC post on the river . Few canoes were used on the river by then .

Talk of railways began as Lumber Barons envisioned building mills upstream closer to the forest and finished goods travelling the other way . When the talk hit Ottawa, they were quick to the table to the ears of politicians . Fur no longer had prominence and the 'Indian' partners cast aside in the rush for wood and railways .

Before the CPR was chartered , the CCR out of Brockville was the first railway into Mattawa . But north from Mattawa , the beginnings of another was in the early stages . The steamboat business was still in full swing on the river and the  well established portage hauling continued . After 1870 , the wagon trails were being replaced with tramway rails and wagons were replaced with metal-wheeled tram cars . Horses pulled these along the portage rail more easily and quickly . The Portage Railway Company was born as an accomodation to lumbering .

When the CPR got chartered to build a transcontinental railway to unite the country , it began buying up established smaller railway companies on the Government sanctioned route . The CCR was purchased and the first spike was driven into the new line at Callendar Station in 1881 . The push westward was completed two years later . Rail size was standardized and changed old lines to comply with the new CPR and the links completed . Spurlines were built off the mainline toward the north and south to guarantee wide coverage of the country . The old Portage Railway tramways were connected to each other along the east shore of the Ottawa River in the North West Territories to the Long Saults at Temiscaming town by1893 . People began trickling north with the railway to establish larger settlements at some portage routes and new ones along the railway as focus left the river with the wind of the track .

The Temiscaming Colonization Society was established in 1885 , under the encouragement of religious orders in Lower Canada , to promote the colonization of the Lake Temiscaming and Abitibi regions of the territory for agriculture . The northern spur out of Mattawa became known as the Temiscaming Colonization Railway inside Lower Canada .

In 1898 , two large transfers of land were made using the upper reaches of the Ottawa River to draw a line straight north to the bottom of James Bay through the North West Territory . The parcel east of that line became part of Lower Canada and was renamed the province of Quebec . West of the mark , transfered to Upper Canada and became Ontario. Both parcels of land held the condition that treaty settlement be made with Aboriginal Nations in the territory . Ontario completed this obligation in 1904 with Treaty #9 , but Quebec has yet to comply with the condition . Were they waiting for them all to be baptized ?
In 1923 , the rail line north out of Mattawa pushed to Ville Marie , PQ . The Great Depression saw more colonists encouraged north along this spurline by the Temiscaming Colonization Society with promises of a better life .

And , in 1946 , my Mum and Dad headed to their first home in a CPR section house at Tabarette , just south of Fabre and north of Temiscaming , halfway up the line .

1 comment:

george said...

I like the pictures Christine . I can't imagine a vast country spanned by a network of railways . In Britai you could geta train from anywere to anywere else , the big oil companys put an end to that . But I digress , riviting stuff Christine .