Ferguson Highway or Highway 11: 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 at webmaster - at sign - vintagepostcards.org are welcome.
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Here’s a c. 1927-1930 view of the entrance to the Ferguson Highway (Highway 11) in North Bay, as the road heads north towards Temagami. Construction began in 1925 to link “New Ontario” and its lumber, mining and agricultural resources with southern Ontario. It was originally a gravel highway, as shown here. Note the sign above the gateway which says: “Stop - Get Your Travel Permit Here,” and the small guard station to the right of the entry. Named for the Honorable G. Howard Ferguson, Premier of Ontario from 1923-1930 and a proponent of northern development, the highway officially opened on 2 July 1927. Later, it became a northern branch of the Trans-Canada. Things still had a wilderness air to them when the sender of the postcard at bottom left mailed it, as he wrote: “This is some place - the last town in the North Country.” The road here is dirt, and the pictured travelers have set up a waterside camp.
A scarce 9 August 1928 Ferguson Highway travel permit, issued by the Ontario Forestry Branch, authorized passage of C. B. Hamilton of Toronto to travel between North Bay and Latchford. Hamilton’s ultimate destination was Cochrane. The permit, signed by “J. Leonard,” notes Hamilton’s license plate number as 71-090. Viewed diagonally below, the permit warns that “Dangerous Fire Hazards and Valuable Timber exist adjacent to this Road. Do Not Throw Lighted Matches, Cigars or other Burning Substances from Cars. Build your lunch fires only in prepared fire places. Be Sure Your Fire is Out Before You Leave. Penalties for Infractions of the Fire Act, up to $300.00 together with imprisonment.” A map on the reverse, with a scale of 1 inch to 12 miles, shows public camp sites and indicates that “lunching places” were spaced approximately every three miles along the road. We have numerous writings and photos from Mr. Hamilton’s Northern Ontario trip and will be adding them to this page.
This scarce 1930 real-photo postcard, which was published for the Temagami Outfitting Co., shows a seated camper at one of the “lunching places”mentioned above. Both a picnic table and a campsite have been provided, with an Ontario Forestry Branch sign posted regarding forest fires. It reads: “Prevent Forest Fires. Build Your Camp Fire Here. See That Your Fire Is Out Before You Leave.”
Powassan to Trout Creek:
Tomiko: Located in the Nipissing District, Tomiko began in 1905 as a section village along the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario Railway (T & NR) (later the Ontario Northland Railway, or ONR). The town had a promising start: In 1906, there were 354 residents, a post office, and a Baptist church. Ultimately, Tomiko had about 24 homes, two stores and two bunkhouses. But by 1921, one store and the church had closed. The population gradually dwindled. By the late 1960s, only a handful of residents remained. By 1971, Tomiko had been completely abandoned. Three original homes and the railway station still exist, with the station seeing occasional use for railroad purposes.
Here’s a scarce 1911 postcard of the T. & N. O. (Temiskaming and Northern Ontario) train station in Tomiko (left). A team of horses is to the right of the modest one-story frame building, in front of which are about four men apparently waiting for the train. The mail hook can be seen on the building, and a water tower is to the right. The sender wrote: “This is a photo of our station up here. Isn’t it a dandy?” It was sent to Mrs. Arthur Canning of Severn Bridge and bears DPO (dead post office) cancels from both Tomiko and Severn Bridge. The postcard was published by H. L. Holstein of Tomiko. To the right, one sees a postcard showing Ferguson Highway traffic, camping and a bridge at Tomiko. Shea’s gas station and convenience store, located next to the Tomiko River Roadside Park on Highway 11, is seen below.
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.