About Gordon Lake
Gordon Lake History (Lac à la truite)
The development of the forest industry in the Temiscaming Region began in the middle of the 1830s. The first phase was the exploitation of the abundance of red and white pines to produced squared timber. The squared timber was assembled into log rafts and floated to the port in Quebec City where they were shipped to England for the construction of ships.
The second phase was saw the demand for wood changing from squared timber to sawed lumber to satisfy mostly the US markets as well as the people who migrated to the region as a result of the colonization efforts of the government. To satisfy this demand a number of sawmills where built in the Temiscaming area starting in the mid 1880s.
One the entrepreneurs at that time was Alex Lumsden who built in 1888 a sawmill operation along the rapids of Gordon Creek which flows through the town of Temiscaming. By the beginning of 1900`s the Lumsden operation included 30 buildings; a General Store, a forgery, a bakery, a post office, a school, houses for workers, a shop to build and maintained steam boats which operated on Lake Temiscaming, and a hydro electric dam to provide electricity for the mill and the worker’s homes. This development saw the birth of the first industrial town in the region.
The third phase of the forest industry resulted from the demand for pulp wood for the manufacturing of paper. In order to supply its mills with pulp wood for its operations, the Riordon Pulp and Paper Company purchased forest concessions in the Temiscaming and Abitibi regions.In 1917 the company constructed a mill know as the Kipawa Mill. They also constructed a village along the lines of an English garden city. In 1920, the municipality took on the name of Kipawa, and the following year took on the name of Temiscaming. The Canadian International Paper Company took over the Rieordon operation in 1925.
The year 1918 saw the arrival of permanent residence in Temiscaming to work in the mill. Included among the new arrivals were a number of the original pioneers who were to build cottages at Gordon Lake that is, Wilfred St-Jules (Lot 16) and Frank Lefebvre (Lot 15). The only means of the transportation at that time was the CPR railway which reach Temiscaming from Mattawa in 1894, and two years later extended to Kipawa, and the steamboats which began operating on Lake Temiscaming in 1882. The commercial navigation of the steamships ended in mid 1920s, except for the transportation of lumber rafts which continued until the end of 1970. There were no provincial roads at that time except those roads built by contractors responsible for the harvesting of trees. The route connecting Temiscaming and Ville Marie (Route 46) was completed only in 1937 as well as the road to North Bay Ontario.
As recalled by Frank Lefebvre to Yolande Poirier, Gordon Lake was a popular place for town’s people to go for picnics and fishing. One of the early lumber entrepreneurs , Mr. A.B. Gordon, ran a timber operation in the area and therefore the towns people began to refer to the lake as Gordon Lake rather than it’s official name of “Lac à la Truite`. To get to Gordon Lake, they would take the tugboat to the Boom Camp which was located at the end of the Boom Camp road that we see on the way to Gordon Lake. From there they would hike up what they referred as “one mile hill”, sometimes carrying a canoe. From the hill they would take a trail which would take them to the flat rock on the south west corner of the lake. There was a small structure there called the “Whisky Shack”, a picnic table, and a row boat that were for the use of everyone. Apparently there also was a gramophone and records for everyone’s use in the shack. They fishing was excellent with trout up to 4 pounds being caught.
The first structure on the lake apart from any related to the lumber operation, was a Fire Ranger’s Camp which was burned down by the Lands and Forest Department in 1971. (Lot 17) and the log cabin that the Forest Ranger ( M. Ethier) and his son built in 1923 (Lot16). During the winter Frank Lefebvre and others would go fishing with the game warden at Gordon Lake using a horse and sleigh “cutter” on a road built by the lumber contractors. Sometimes Frank and his brother in law, Wilfred St-Jules would get there by dog sled.
The first cottager per se was Wilfred St-Jules who bought the log cabin owned by the Fire Ranger in the late 1930s. In the early 1940s, Frank Lefebvre and Raymond Pacaud built log cabins on Lot 15 and 14 respectively to be followed by Mr. Barney Proulx (Lot 13), Mr. Godet (Lot 18), and Mr. Ryan (Lot 20). Wilfred St-Jules subsequently built a cottage for his sister in law Blanche, on his lot, and Frank Lefebvre built one for his son Roger adjacent to his. These six families were the first owners of cottages situated on Lots 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20. A road (trail) leading from Hwy 46 to the lake was built by Wilfred St-Jules, and Frank and Roger Lefebvre using steel bars to move the stones, and with the help of friends brought in sand to spread over the trail... The first car that reached the lake was Wilfred’s St-Jules 1930 Ford which had arrived in Temiscaming on a box car as they were no roads at the time.In 1979 the government opened up the other lots for rental and there begins another page of the history of the cottagers of Gordon Lake.