Callander and Corbeil, Ontario: Canadian History in Vintage Postcards
Highlighting in vintage postcards the history of towns and townships in the greater Lake Nipissing and Lake Temagami areas of Northern Ontario, Canada, including the Nipissing District and portions of the Parry Sound district which are in the “Blue Sky Region.” These Canadian postcards are shown in digital, virtual museum format for educational purposes. If you have images or historical information which you’d like to share with our virtual museum, feel free to do so. To navigate these pages, mouse over the top navigation bar. Drop-down menus will appear of the areas of interest. Click on the thumbnails for larger images. Close the larger image before opening another thumbnail. The occasional duplicates for sale can be found using the search box on the main (home) page of VintagePostcards.org. This is an ongoing project; comments and questions to the webmaster via our contact form are welcome.
Please note that while you are certainly welcome to visit the virtual museum as often as you’d like (and we encourage you to do so), these scans are owned by VintagePostcards.org and, as such, they are not to be re-used or re-purposed in any way, for any other reason — including use on another website, on social networking websites, in brochures or print-outs, etc. — without our prior express written permission. Under the terms of the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act), such use without permission constitutes copyright infringement and intellectual property theft. We hate to have to make that so clear, as we want you to enjoy the museum and we put these images up due to our love of Canada, but the actions of a few have prompted this notice. For further information, please see the footer of this page.
Note: We never offer Dionne quintuplets materials for sale, out of respect for them. They have had very trying lives. View selected images of the Dionne quintuplets and Quintland.
Bookkeeper George Morrison is credited as the founder of Callander. In 1880, he departed Oxford County (the Woodstock area) in southwestern Ontario, traveling by ox cart from Muskoka to Lake Nipissing. He then built a raft and floated his family and belongings across to the southeast bay. While logging companies were already active in the area, Morrison was one of the pioneer settlers and, in fact, his wife was the budding town’s first white woman. Morrison operated a general store and, on 1 June 1881, opened a post office in the store, naming the post office after his parents’ birthplace in Callander, Scotland. He was also the town’s first reeve and, as a tribute to him, Callander chose the Ancient Morrison tartan as the town’s official tartan. While other early settlers were also from England, Ireland and France, Mr. Morrison’s Scottish heritage until recently was celebrated annually with Celtfest Callander, a festival held every Victoria Day weekend. Many thanks to the Callander Bay Heritage Museum for information and the use of this image.
By 1912, the lumber industry, the railroad and boating activities were well entrenched in Callander. There were three railroads leading to and from town: the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to Ottawa; the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) to Toronto; and the Canadian National Railway (CNR) to Montreal. A fourth railroad, the Canadian Northern Ontario (CNO) to Parry Sound, was surveyed but never constructed. In addition, lumber baron J. R. Booth’s Booth Railroad ended just south of Callander, at Wisawasa Falls. To the left, we see a c. 1912 real-photo postcard (also known as an RPPC), of a rock cut along the railroad track into Callander. We believe this view is looking south, as a train would have traveled from Nipissing Junction toward Powassan. If you know otherwise, let us know. The post card, published by Rumsey & Co. of Toronto during a time period when they took numerous area photographs which were reproduced in postcard format, shows the Pacific Hotel as the building on the right in the distance. Just to the right of the Pacific, out of sight, was the GTR station. Interestingly, the town’s founder, George Morrison, also built the Pacific. What was the large building to the left, across the street from the Pacific?
Residents of the growing town could send their children to a two-story white brick school and choose from Presbyterian, Anglican and Catholic houses of worship. The Presbyterian Church on Lansdowne still looks much the same.
Houseboats and other pleasure craft were abundant, given Callander’s proximity to Lake Nipissing. The “Hazel B,”" built in North Bay in 1905, sailed until 1938. Moe’s Ark I and II, operated by M. Masson and shown below, was popular. By 1908, William (John) Kervin, a prominent early settler, was offering “board, boats, guides, tents [and] houseboats.” A scarce c. 1908 patriotic postcard with an attractive maple leaf surround in the third row (center) advertises Kervin’s “Shamrock House Boat” for use on Lake Nipissing and on the French River, and boasts of the “Best Accommodation on the Northern Lakes.” The postcard was published by A. H. Cooper of Toronto. By the 1920s, Kervin’s three sons, George (Leo), Tom and Charles (Charley were running the houseboat business, with Leo later serving as reeve of the North Himsworth township from 1955 to 1963. Kervin operated other houseboats on the West Arm of Lake Nipissing, in the Sturgeon Falls area. The cruisers “Julia S.” and the “Keas” also operated on the West Arm, stopping at Kervin’s camps there. Additionally, the “S. S. Seagull” tugboat was often seen on the lake in the Callander area. See postcards of timber magnate J. R. Booth’s “Booth” steamboat on the North Bay page. It also served as a pleasure craft from time to time, especially on Dominion Day.
Below, one sees two very striking Canadian patriotic postcards. They are both c. 1907 and show the Shamrock House Boat, which sailed both Lake Nipissing and the French River. William Kervin ran the houseboat, which advertised the “best accommodation on the Northern Lakes.” The second postcard most clearly shows the steamboat, with a smaller tour boat with a sun roof on it in the foreground. Both vintage post cards were published by A. G. T. of Toronto, as part of their “Land of the Maple” series. The latter postcard was sent to Miss Flo Darling, c/o Dr. Porter in Powassan. These patriotic postcard views are separated by a c. 1930s image of a Kervin houseboat and launch. There is at least one other patriotic Callander postcard in this series; it shows the Shamrock at an angle, with both British and American flags flying and guests standing on the decks. A splendidly detailed 1924 real-photo postcard of the Shamrock and another houseboat, taken by photographer George Vachon of Sturgeon Falls, can be seen on the Sturgeon Falls page.
If you double-click the 1950s postcard above and then hold your cursor just to the left of the crease and click, you can see the Smith’s Mill complex, including their incinerator, on the north side of Callander Bay.
Timber baron J. R. Booth, about whom you can read more on the Mattawa page, was in the Callander area by 1894, operating his Dimension Mills at Wisawasa, which had its own post office at the time. The c. 1913 real-photo postcard shown at bottom left depicts part of Booth’s “jackladder,” used to raise logs from the bay to ship to Ottawa via the Booth Railroad.
J. B. Smith, another local lumberman, started business in 1851 at his Frank’s Bay sawmills, just east of the mouth of the French River, on the south shore of Lake Nipissing. In 1893, he moved his operations to Callander, on the northeast side of the bay. John B. Smith & Sons advertised that they produced lumber, lath, shingles, doors, sash blinds and other wood products, with doors, sash and bill lumber being their specialties. The company remained in business until 1960. We believe this vintage postcard is a view of Mill No. 2 (left); it shows the silo-shaped incinerator and the sorting shed. This 1907 real-photo postcard of Smith’s Mill references its 1906 construction, saying: “I received your card, am at home. This is a new mill that was built here last year. Henrietta has just got home from a ball in Powassan.” The postcard, which bear an RPO (railroad post office) cancel from the Toronto and North Bay line, was sent to Ella Sheridan of Merton, Ontario. A more finely detailed private postcard (right), also postmarked in 1907, shows the mill as well. The sender, writing to Miss Norma Knight of Box 119 in Chapleau, ON, wrote: “I received your telegram but I was in Burks Falls at the time.”
Does anyone recognize this Callander location? We think this c. 1907 postcard may show the south side of Callander Bay, at its confluence with the Wasi River. Callander is misspelled as Calander, making the post card more desirable. Published by Warwick Bro’s & Rutter of Toronto, this old postcard was sent by E. J. Darling to Master G. Darling of Wisawasa.
For over 80 years, Camp Tillicum (left), which has 72+ acres and 750 feet of shoreline on the south shore of Lake Nipissing near Callander, has provided a summer vacation for the area’s young people. Mr. James Nightingale and Mrs. Edith Palmer bought the property in 1926; Mr. Nightingale wanted a lakeside property for Boy Scout camping. The camp proved popular with Scouts and church groups; buildings including an assembly hall, dining facilities, a kitchen and sleeping cabins were constructed. Mr. Tom Palmer, a local businessman, Rotary Club member and husband of Mrs. Edith Palmer, oversaw the camp’s operation along with Mr. Nightingale. Camp Tillicum was gifted to the Rotary Club of North Bay in February 1949, for continued use as a camp for boys and girls. Since 1986, the the YMCA has run the camp on behalf of the Rotary Club of North Bay. The YMCA Rotary Camp Tillicum also provides day camping.
Other roadside Canadiana establishments have included: the Bay Breeze Court & Motel owned by Verna Dobbs and her husband; the Happen Inn restaurant, c. 1930s to 1940s, which also sold handicrafts, woollens and “Athensons” perfumes (and which may have had bear cubs on display); the Hillcrest Bungalow Cabins in the 1930s, located three miles north of Callander; Horseshoe Cabins in the 1930s and 1940s and with a large figural horseshoe above the office entrance; The Pines, a rooming house owned by T. Anderson which also offered cabins for rent; Cosy Cove Cottages on Tillicum Bay Rd.; and Wisawasa Cabins in the 1930s, located one-half mile south of Callander on Highway 11. Two vintage postcards of The Pines are seen to the left and right.
The Red Line Inn was built in 1937 by Leonard Wookey (for whom Wookey Blvd. was later named) to capitalize on tourists coming to see the Dionne Quintuplets. Employees pose in front of the Red Line in this c. 1937-1938 postcard, which was published by the Photogelatine Engraving Co. (PECO) of Ottawa. The reverse says that the interior was finished throughout in Canadian “log cabin style,” with native Canadian white pine and birch. Totem poles on the front doors were carved by a local French-Canadian artist. Does anyone know who carved the totem poles?
There were several early (pre-Dionne quintuplets) hotels including the White House Hotel, which was a massive c. 1880s Victorian building with an Italianate architectural influence seen in the bracketing along the roofline; the Pacific, built by George Morrison and facing the two-story frame Grand Trunk Railroad (GTR) station; and the Hotel Callander, built c. 1900. These early hotels provided accommodations for GTR passengers headed to and from Toronto, for Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) passengers headed to and from Ottawa, and for Canadian National Railway (CNR) passengers traveling and from Montreal. It was anticipated that the Canadian Northern Railway (CNO) would stop here on trips to and from Parry Sound; however, the line was surveyed but never constructed. The Booth Railroad terminated at Wisawasa Falls (see below), south of Callander, and no doubt Booth employees also patronized these early hotels.
This roadside Canadiana complex, consisting of tourist cottages and an Esso gas station, has been in business since at least 1932. David and Diane Bain are the present owners. The entrance is just past the Gateway to Callander, shown above in the Main St. section, on the right side of the road. The Gateway bears a “Welcome to Callander” inscription.
A couple named Elmer and Rena visited Callander in August 1940, with one of them writing on a postcard (below left): “Saw the quints twice this a.m. in their confirmation dresses. The mother & two sisters were with them.”
The Waltonian Inn, built in 1923 and opening for business in 1925, suffered a fire in 1980 which largely destroyed the lodge. Since rebuilt, it’s presently owned by John and Karen Scott.
Corbeil, a small town southeast of North Bay, Ontario and just east of Callander, is located at the junction of Highway 17 and Highway 94, in the East Ferris township. It was actually the birthplace of the Dionne Quintuplets, although most postcards refer to their birthplace as being in Callander.
For collectors of vintage postcards, old postcards and the antique postcard. Deltiology, the hobby of collecting vintage postcards, is one of the fastest-growing collectibles hobbies. Old postcard collections interest collectors of antiques, memorabilia and ephemera; collectables such as old vintage postcards are used by museums and historians to document what was.