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Mattawa, Ontario: Canadian History in Vintage Postcards

Greetings from Mattawa Enjoy these vintage Canadian postcards of Mattawa, Ontario. The c. 1960s to 1970s chrome postcard seen to the leftabove is known as a double view for obvious reasons. It was photographed by William R. Forder of North Bay, who was a prolific Nipissing District photographer. The double-view postcard to the left shows the Ottawa River from Explorer’s Point, with the Province of Québec to the right, while the bottom image is of Mattawa General Hospital and St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church. These old postcards highlight the history of towns and townships in the greater Lake Nipissing and Lake Temagami areas of Northern Ontario, Canada and 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 museum format for educational purposes. If you have images or historical information which you’d like to share with our digital, 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 This is an ongoing project; comments and questions to the webmaster at webmaster - at sign - are welcome.

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Mattawa, Where the Mattawa and Ottawa Rivers Meet Strategically located at the juncture of the Ottawa and Mattawa Rivers and nestled in the upper Laurentian Mountains, Mattawa was the earliest settlement in the Nipissing District as exploration pushed westward and northward. Its importance to the voyageur’s fur trading route and to northern and westward settlement can hardly be overemphasized. As early as 1610, when Étienne Brûlé camped in Mattawa, it became the starting point of the voyageur’s fur trapping and trading route west via Lake Talon and Trout Lake to North Bay and Sturgeon Falls and south, via Lake Nipissing, to the Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes. Because the Mattawa was a gateway to northwest exploration, it was the most important tributary of the Ottawa River. Only five years later, in July 1615, famous French explorer Samuel de Champlain, sometimes referred to as “The Father of New France” for his role in founding both Québec and Montreal, stayed in Mattawa for a few days while repairing his canoe. To the left, we see a c. 1940s CKC real-photo postcard (sometimes referred to as an RPPC) illustrating the town’s important riverside location and its raison d’être. Learn more about collecting and dating vintage postcards on the postcard collecting reference and Canadiana pages.


What you see below is the earliest known original engraving of native Americans on a portage with an early Canadian explorer, whose name is unknown (perhaps Claude Le Beau). The engraving was published in 1738 by Herman Huytwerf in Amsterdam and was page 94 in Part I of a book entitled Avantures du Sieur Claude Le Beau…Voyage Curieux et nouveau parmi les Sauvages de l'Amérique Septentrionale authored by Sieur Claude Le Beau. (The title translates approximately into Adventures of Sir Claude Le Beau…Curious Voyage and New Sites among the Savages of North America. The theme is very rare due to its depiction of both natives of the time and the canoe. There is no text on the reverse and the engraving measures 18.8 cm x 15.4 cm with margins, while the image engraving measures 17 cm x 13.7 cm without margins.

Canadian Portage with Native Americans and Canoe, Engraving, 1738
King George III in Coronation Robes

Mattawa was first “officially” noted on a tip of land belonging to the British, in The Royal Proclamation of 1763. Issued on 7 October 1763 by King George III (1738-1820), the proclamation followed Britain’s acquisition of French territory at the conclusion of the French and Indian War/Seven Years’ War. The proclamation’s purpose was two-fold: to legitimize in writing Britain’s North American empire (including about one-third of the United States), and to try, through regulation of settlement, land purchases and trade, to stabilize relationships with First Nations’ tribes, who had preferred the French to the British. As early as 1784, the North West Company, a Montreal-based fur trading company, built a small trading post, Fort Mattawan (sometimes referred to as Fort Mattaouan), at Mattawa. Beaver was the name of the game, and the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) competed bitterly for the pelts, until the two companies finally merged in 1821. The North West Company’s c. 1800-1820 coat of arms is seen to the right. Their motto was “perseverance.” The coat-of-arms depicts a beaver on the crest, with canoists paddling to the left in the field and a ship sailing to the right in the escutcheon.

North West Company Coat of Arms, c. 1800-1820

In 1830, the Hudson’s Bay Company sent their chief factor, Charlies Glacier, to open a trading post at what’s now known as Explorer’s Point. Under his leadership, the fur trade boomed to the point that sometimes Mattawa was called “Fort Commercial.” Mattawa, originally envisioned by the HBC as an outpost of their Temiskaming operations, soon took the lead role. The HBC was actually preceded in Mattawa by the Montreal-based Northwest Company, which built a small fort on the point in Mattawa in 1784; Mattawa was renamed as Fort Mattewan (sometimes spelled as Mataouan, an Indian term meaning “fork of the rivers,” and occasionally seen spelled as Mattawin).

Explorer Henry Hudson, 1910 Cigarette Card Front

This 1910 cigarette card, an advertisement for Hassan Cork Tipped Cigarettes of New York, was one of a set of 25 in a series called “The World’s Greatest Explorers.” A classic piece of original tobacciana which also falls into the trade card category of collectibles, Hassan billed its cigarettes as “The Oriental Smoke,” and claimed to be the largest selling brand of cigarettes in America. Ironically, the Hudson’s Bay Co. was named for famed English exlorer Henry Hudson. The reverse of the card says: “This famous English navigator was sent out by the Muscovy Company in 1607 to sail across the pole to the Spice Islands,and succeeded in reaching latitude 80° 23’. He discovered Jan Mayen (a volcanic island in the Arctic Ocean which now belongs to Norway). In 1609 he sailed across the Atlantic with the Half Moon for the Dutch East India Company, and went as far south as Chesapeake Bay, also exploring the Hudson River as far up as Albany. In 1610 he sailed in the Discovery to find a northwest passage, and wintered in St. James Bay. The crew mutinied the following year, and he was bound and set adrift in a small boat. He was never seen again.” Hassan originally issued the cigarette cards to commemorate the Commander Peary expedition to the North Pole.

Explorer Henry Hudson, 1910 Cigarette Card Back

Italian-born painter Albert Operti (1852-1927), who was renowned for his depictions of the Arctic and its explorers, created the Henry Hudson image seen above. After the painter’s birth, his family emigrated to Great Britain; Operti studied at the Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts. He arrived in the United States in 1875, studied at the Art Students League in New York City, drew newspaper cartoons and, by the 1880s, was painting backdrop theatrical scenes for the Metropolitan Opera. He accompanied Robert Peary on his 1896 expedition to Greenland. Operti’s paintings are not well known in the art world, as they primarily were commissioned by, and remain in the collection of, The Explorers’ Club in New York. In addition to historical paintings and sketches, he was also commissioned to make plaster casts of Greenlanders for the Museum of Natural History. While Operti’s work is not often seen or exhibited, contemporary prints of some of his finest paintings can be had for very modest sums at online auction sites — thanks to the series of trading cards done by Operti for the Hassan Cigarette Co. It’s a fascinating way to acquire some remarkable images of the Arctic from the early 20th century. Albert Operti is most associated with his Arctic scenes and Metropolitan Opera work.


Mattawa, Hudson's Bay Company Supply Depot The scarce image to the left shows the Hudson’s Bay supply depot in Mattawa in about 1920, when photographed by an unknown engineer who was designing one of the Riordon Pulp & Paper mills. His writing says: “This was our engineering office. Old Hudson Bay supply depot. Still standing in 1950. The office, Riordon Co.” The supply depot was quite large, with a brick addition to the right added c. 1880 to 1908 which had what appears to be a façade similar to that which one would see on a general store. Altogether, there were seven buildings at the outpost: a large store, two homes, two warehouses and two stables. The Hudson’s Bay location was so economically central to the Mattawa lifestyle, which still revolved primarily around fur trapping, that the first post office was in the HBC building known as Mattawa House, from 1856 until 1858. George Hunter, who managed Mattawa House beginning in 1853, was the first postmaster. After the HBC closed its Mattawa location in 1908, the building was used as the St. Anne’s parish hall until it burned in the late 1970s to early 1980s.


Hudson's Bay Company at Ville Marie, Quebec Nearby HBC outposts were located at Lake Temiskaming, as seen to the left in a 1909 real-photo postcard by Alex McLean of Haileybury, and at Sturgeon Falls and Temagami. Fort Temiskaming, built between 1679 and 1685, was the largest trading post on the Ottawa River. It was abandoned in 1902. All that remains are some stone chimneys and an early cemetery, with Parks Canada maintaining the grounds. Dating as it does to 1909, this is the earliest McLean RPPC in our collection; however, his last name stamped on the reverse is erroneously spelled McLean and not MacLean, which is the usual manner in which his Temagami area images were signed. See the Northern Ontario Postcard Photographers checklist to learn more about postcard photographers of the Nipissing and Temagami districts.

The HBC’s River House in Sturgeon Falls closed in 1880, while their outpost on Bear Island, which dated to a September 1834 establishment on the southern end of Temagami Island (just past Wabikon), and an 1876 relocation to Bear Island, closed in 1972. The 1834 Temagami post (originally spelled as Timagami) was set up by Lord Strathcona’s father-in-law, Chief Trader Richard Hardisty, essentially as an outpost of the HBC’s larger operations at Lake Temiskaming in the Ottawa Valley. While we don’t know of any images of the Sturgeon Falls River House, below is an early real-photo postcard of the exterior of the HBC’s Temagami outpost and a c. 1940s interior view of the same building.

Temagami, Exterior of Hudson's Bay Company, c. 1910 Temagami, Interior of Hudson's Bay Company, c. 1940s
Mattawa, Monument to the Fur Trade Route

In 1926, the Mattawa voyageur route was designated as a site of national historic significance for its role in opening up western exploration and in 1930, a bronze plaque commemorating the voyageur’s route was presented to Mattawa by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. The tablet reads: “Le Portage Mattawa, Main route to the Great Lakes, Plains, Rockies and beyond, used by the Indians, Explorers, Traders and Missionaries, French and English. Upon its traffic was founded the early commercial prosperity of Montreal.” The postcard is c. 1954. Who built the stone cairn? It’s in front of the Mattawa post office, at the intersection of Main (Highway 533) and Mattawan Sts.

Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle

The strategic importance of Mattawa’s location in early exploration and westward expansion is further attested to by the number of other explorers also known to have passed through the area, including but not limited to: Jean Nicolet (Nicollet) de Belleborne; Father Jean de Brébeuf; Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac (founder of Detroit); René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle; Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Sieur de La Vérendrye; Médard Chouart des Groseilliers; Pierre Chevalier de Troyes; Daniel Greysolon Duluth; Martin Frobisher; Louis Jolliet; Father Lallement; Sir Alexander MacKenzie; Father Jacques Marquette; William McGillivray; François-Marie Perrot; Peter Pond; Pierre-Esprit Radisson; and Simon François Daumont St. Lusson.

Voyageurs Paddling a Canoe

Life as a voyageur was not easy. In the romanticized oil painting seen above, entitled “Canoe Manned by Voyageurs Passing a Waterfall,” which was painted in 1869 by Frances Anne Hopkins (1838-1919) and which is now in the National Archives of Canada, life doesn’t seem too harsh. Notice that there is a white couple seated in the center of the idealized Indian canoe, with what appears to be a blanket draped comfortably over them, while neither of them paddle. Frances Anne Hopkins, an English woman, married Hudson’s Bay Company official Edward Hopkins; they traveled extensively together by canoe, along many of the most important fur trading routes. Her paintings thus provide some of the few images of this aspect of Canadian history. She often incorporated images of themselves into her work. However, in actuality, voyageurs toiled long hours and had to carry 50 to 90-pound bundles of fur over portages. One of the most common injuries was a strangulated hernia, which often proved fatal in the wilderness. Strangely, many voyageurs couldn’t swim, drowning in rapids.

North Bay, Old Home Week Parade Leader Dressed as Champlain

In 1615, when Champlain returned from a trip to France, he brought several missionaries back with him, with a goal of converting Indians to Christianity. One of the missionaries, Father Joseph LeCaron, in describing his trip up the Ottawa, Mattawa and La Vase rivers, wrote: “It would be hard to tell you how tired I was with paddling all day, with all my strength, among Indians, wading the waters a hundred times or more, through the mud and over the sharp rocks that cut my feet; carrying the canoe and luggage through the woods to avoid rapids and frightful cataracts; half starved all the while for we had nothing to eat but [a] little sagamite, [a] sort of porridge of water and pounded maize. We rested a few days, repairing our canoes, at the meetings of the waters [Mattawa], then pushed on west to the Lake of the Nipissings [North Bay].” Even Champlain once wrote: “This land is rather cold and uninhabitable.” Actually, no one knows what Champlain looked like, as his facial features are vague in the only surviving image of him, which is an engraving of a 1609 battle at Lake Champlain. Other paintings thought to have been of Champlain were later shown to be portraits of Michel Particelli d’Émery, a French banker and ambassador. Since there remains no accurate portrait of Champlain, here we’ll include a fanciful, more contemporary image of Champlain, as he led North Bay’s “Old Home Week” parade in 1925. If you know the identity of this costumed rider, let us know.

Mattawa District Museum, at Explorers Point Park in Mattawa, Ontario

In 1984, the Mattawa & District Museum was built at 285 First St. in Explorers Point Park, at the confluence of the mighty Ottawa and Mattawa Rivers. The architect was Jules Paivio. As we’ve mentioned, Mattawa’s location was vital to development of the voyageur’s fur trading route; Mattawa was also the jumping-off point for northern and westward settlement. This red pine building, made from timber such as that harvested during the Ottawa Valley’s great logging era, is fittingly located on the site of what was once Mattawa House, the seven-building Hudson Bay post complex.

With the exception of fur trading activities at the HBC and until about 1860, Algonquin Indians ruled the area. In fact, Chief Antoine Kiwiwisens and Chief Amable Dufond built houses next to each other on Rosemount Hill. Both were Montagnais, with the chief being in Lac Des Deux Montagnes, near Montreal. Chief Kiwiwisens’ hunting grounds were north of the Mattawa River to Temiscaming, while Chief Dufond hunted an area including Eau Claire, Kiosk, Lake Talon and Rutherglen. Antoine Creek, Antoine Township and Mount Antoine are all named after Chief Kiwiwisens.

J. R. Booth, Lumber Baron.  Source:  Library and Archives Canada, C-046480 Tradition has it that the first white settlers arrived between 1863 and 1867. They were Noah Timmins, James Bangs and a Mr. Gorman. Timmins built the Western, the first hotel in town, and was also a storekeeper involved in the lumber trade. A Mr. Durell, previously unaccounted for, operated the Western. Bangs owned and operated the Bangs Hotel, which opened in 1869; he’s considered to be the fledgling town’s first merchant and also served as the second postmaster, from 1864 to 1877. However, Great Britain was in urgent need of white pine for shipbuilding to sail the seas of her Great Empire and between 1855 and 1860, up to eight years before the arrival of the settlers mentioned above, the lumber business extended northwest from Ottawa to Mattawa, spurred on by timber barons such as the legendary J. R. Booth. E. B. Eddy, Gillies, Alex Lumsden, Mackey, McLaren, McLaughlin and the Pembroke Lumber Co. were other early names in the local logging business.

Mattawa grew rapidly during this time period. Starting in Fall 1870, hundreds of lumberjacks began to arrive, and thousands of logs were floated down the Ottawa and Mattawa rivers the following year, such that floating logs completely obscured a view of the water from shore to shore. Road construction began in 1871, in part to access the bush. The Union Forwarding Co. offered boat service between Mattawa and Des Joachims, where there was another HBC outpost. Captain Mulligan piloted the “Mattawan,” a steamboat, between Mattawa and the Levie near the Des Joachims Rapids, while stagecoaches provided wintertime transportation between the two locations. A telegraph office opened in 1872 and, that same year, the Nipissing District was established, with Mattawa as the district seat.

Mattawa, 1905 Patriotic Postcard of the CPR Bridge Mattawa, CPR Railroad Bridge c. 1930s

And, finally, came the iron horse. In the early 1880s, the Lake Temiscaming Colonization Railway came to Mattawa, with the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) tracks extended from Pembroke to Mattawa in February 1881. (In fact, the CPR laid track all the way to Sturgeon Falls that year.) A scarce 1905 Atkinson Bros. patriotic private postcard at top left shows the CPR bridge and other railroad buildings. It’s somewhat uncommon to see railroads featured as the subject matter of patriotic postcards. On the reverse, this old postcard bears an illegible railroad post office (R.P.O.) cancel. The c. 1930s to 1940s Photogelatine Engraving Co. (PECO) postcard, published in Ottawa, shows the CPR bridge crossing the Ottawa River. Dr. C. W. Haentschel of Mattawa published many high-quality postcards of the area, including the c. 1908 hand-colored post card seen below of the CPR bridge(left). A scarce private postcard, c. 1901-1907 (right, below), shows the CPR bridge spanning the Ottawa River, with buildings along the Mattawa shoreline and Québec to the left. In all four of these images, the view is east towards Québec.

Mattawa, c. 1908 Hand-Colored Postcard of the CPR Bridge Mattawa, c. 1901-1907 Postcard of the CPR Bridge Spanning the Ottawa River

As so often happened with railroad development and increased economic opportunities, the population increased dramatically, with Mattawa incorporating as a village in 1883. William Hogarth, also prominent in lumbering, was the village’s mayor. The 1884 Mattawa population included 165 families. Municipal services increased with the July 1885 construction of a large wooden town hall on Main St. which also housed the fire station. (It would later burn in February 1949; in January 1995, the present Town Hall on Water St. opened.) A district court house and jail were built in the late 1880s on Pine St. (later used as a town hall). On 14 April 1892 and with a population of 1,780, Mattawa incorporated as a town. Colin Ranklin of the HBC was the new town’s first mayor, and A. Filion served as police chief.

Dam on the Ottawa River at La Cave, Near Mattawa

On Christmas Eve in 1894, another milestone was reached when the Mattawa Electric Light and Power Co. came online and the first electric lights shown with power from the Hurdman Power Plant, which was two miles west of town on the Mattawa River. The dam at La Cave on the Ottawa River is shown to the left. Built in 1952 by the Hydro Electric Power Commission of Ontario, it supplied 144,000 kilowatts of power to the province at the time this c. 1960s or 1970s Forder postcard was published.

Nipissing District General Election

Many Mattawans served as early members of Parliament for the Nipissing District, including lumber merchant and Liberal Party member Charles Arthur McCool (27 February 1853-19 March 1926), seen in a scarce patriotic political postcard depicting Sir Wilfred Laurier and McCool. Born in Chichester, Québec, McCool served two years as a reeve in Mattawa and also as mayor before representing the Nipissing riding in the House of Commons from 1900 to 1908. This postcard is No. UNK15-002 in Mike Smith’s Canadian Patriotic Postcard Checklist, 1898-1928. McCool was defeated in the 1908 election by a North Bay lumber merchant, Conservative George Gordon. Other Mattawa politicians have included the Honorable Frank Cochrane, Dr. M. James, J. B. Klock of Klock’s Mill, Charles Lamarche, John Loughrin and Harry Morel.

Mattawa, c. 1906 Mattawa Seen in a 1906 Patriotic Postcard

The c. 1906 birds-eye view at top left shows many of the town’s buildings from a distance, while the scarce 1905 Atkinson Bros. patriotic postcard, entitled “A Pioneer of Mattawa, Ont.” and postmarked in Calvin in 1907, shows a white-bearded logger and some of the town’s Main St. buildings in greater detail. A second copy of this postcard contains valuable historical information on the reverse. The note reads: “The photo is of Mr. McCarthy and his team, consisting of one horse and one oxen [sic]. He homesteaded in the hills, on the north side of Champlain Lake [Lake Chant Plein], known as McCarthy’s Sugar Bush. He lived alone. Had an old hound dog for company…The hip roof building [far right] with the sign in front was Lamothe’s Bake Shop.” Notice the rough dirt road and the wooden boardwalk upon which a young man stands; this was the norm for roads and sidewalks of the time.

Mattawa, Main St. Homes 1 Mattawa, Main St. Homes 2

Here are two interesting c. 1920s photos of Main St. homes in the winter, photographed by the Riordon engineer mentioned above. In the image at top left, the first home is a log cabin from the 19th century. The photographer wrote: “I put in about a year up here in 1920-21 laying out a pulp mill for the Riordon Pulp & Paper Co. Cold? Yeh. 45 below zero. 240 miles northwest of Ottawa.” Two possible locations for this home have been suggested: next to Sid Turcotte’s trailer park, with a large fence now occupying the property, and a Main Street location as seen from the bridge looking towards Highway 17. If you know more about this log house, let us know and we’ll be happy to include the information. More homes on Main St., with a similar message, are shown in the second photo. Do you recognize the location?

Mattawa, McConnell St. Homes, Looking South

McConnell St. homes are seen in this c. 1920s postcard. The road is still dirt, although it appears that a concrete sidewalk is in place on the right side of the street. Do you recognize any of the homes? The view is south, with the Laurentian Mountains in the background. The post card’s message on the reverse bears an August 1936 date. Two stately homes in Mattawa are seen below, in postcards published c. 1903 by Dr. Haentschel. The century home on the left, with its Gothic Revival architectural stylistic elements, was likely built in the 1870s or 1880s. Whose home was this originally? The hand-colored post card at bottom right shows a large two-story brick home with Victorian gingerbread trim visible on the front porch and on a side porch. Lace curtains hang in the parlor. The house dates to about the 1890s. If you know whose home this was, let us know and we’ll include the information.

Century Home on McConnell St. in Mattawa, Ontario Victorian Brick Residence on McConnell St. in Mattawa, Ontario
Mattawa House

Travelers could stay at the Mattawa House (located at 351 Main St. and now known as Le Voyageur Inn), as seen in a c. 1920s-1930s postcard published by the International Fine Art Co. of Montreal. Built in 1881 and showing a Second Empire architectural style influence with the mansard roof, it was operated by F. Chaput when the 1910 postal cover (below) was sent. Other owners have included Cleo Lamarche (previously an agent of timber baron J. R. Booth), K. MacKecanie, and Dawn and Roger Ogletree. Mattawa House still stands.

Mattawa House, Chaput Postal Cover
Mattawa House in 1937, Side View Mac Lodge on Lake Talon at Rutherglen, Owned by Mattawa House

Here’s a 1937 postcard showing a side view of Mattawa House. On the reverse, the sender writes: “There is a marvelous view of the Ontario River from the porch of this hotel.” The card is actually a folding double view, which we’ve separated into two images for ease of viewing. Also on the reverse is a Mattawa House advertisement, in which the owners say that they own and operate Mac’s Lodge, Lake Talon, Rutherglen…“a handy fishing and hunting lodge only 14 miles west of Mattawa…The Lodge is opened from early May until late Autumn, and the rates are reasonable…Only 29 miles to the world famous Dionne Quintuplets.” The second image from the front shows a map to Mattawa and an inset of Mac’s Lodge, which was a modest log cabin structure with an inviting porch and steps leading down to the shore.


Mattawa, Ottawa House Cover This 1888 postal cover is from Ottawa House, when P. O’Farrell was the proprietor. The envelope, addressed to Ethel Charlton at the Ontario Institute for the Blind in Brantford, has a Mattawa split-ring cancel dated SP 14 88 (14 September 1888). The back has CDS cancels from Ottawa and Brantford. Many thanks to Peter Laycock of North York, Ontario for kindly providing this image.


Mattawa, Ottawa House On a c. 1903 Postcard A scarce c. 1903 postcard, published by Dr. Haentschel of Mattawa, shows the Ottawa House at front left. Located at the corner of Main St. and McConnell, it’s of board-and-batten construction and has a deeply recessed front entry highlighted with transom lights. The building had a second-story porch, where someone is seen sitting. The large street sign says: “Ottawa House/A. Valois,” for Armand Valois. We’ve been told that Valois owned the Ottawa House from 1890 to 1895, when it was sold to the Desjardins. It burned in 1899 and was rebuilt as the Royal Hotel and later renamed as the Trans-Canada Hotel. Just to the right of the Ottawa House is a small shed which may have been a fruit stand. Four doors down, J. H. Bell’s hardware store is seen, the first of two three-story brick buildings on the Ottawa House side of Main St. The other three-story brick building, a few doors down from Bell’s, now houses McCool’s sports bar. McCool’s drugstore was in this building in the 1970s. “Obbie” McCluskey’s Rexall drug store was there prior to McCool’s drug store. The other side of the McCool building housed the Bank of Nova Scotia in earlier times. Apartments and a hairdressing salon owned by Marguerite Ribout were upstairs.

Mattawa, Ottawa House in a c. 1907 Postcard

Interestingly, the Novelty Manufacturing & Art Printing Co. of Montreal published the same view a short time later. Did Dr. Haentschel have a publishing arrangement with Novelty Manufacturing? The colored image does provide better contrast and easier visualization of the streetscape.

Mattawa, Main St. c. 1904-1918

Another view of Main St. is seen in this c. 1904-1918 Azo Tri 1 real-photo postcard. Since horses are seen at front left, the postcard likely dates to 1904 to 1908, as automobiles arrived in 1908, and were fairly affordable by 1913. On the back of the unused postcard is a notation: “From Carl McConnell.”

Mattawa, J. P. Redmond Clothing Store Ink Blotter

A scarce ink blotter advertises J. P. Redmond’s clothing store. Based on the style of the overcoat shown, the ink blotter appears to be from the 1950s. During what years was the clothing store in business? Was this the store of Captain John Patrick Redmond (1863-1942), who piloted the Meteor steamer? If so, this ephemera likely dates from the 1920s to the 1940s.


With workers needed for the railroad, the burgeoning timber industry and the building of the power plant, at least four other hotels were in existence by 1895 including the Windsor House (P. Gilligan), the Lumberman’s House (I. Boulanger), the Rosemount (Lamothe brothers) and the Victoria Hotel (F. Quesnel). If you have images of any of these hotels which you’d like to share, let us know.

Mattawa, Trans-Canada Hotel

The Trans-Canada is shown here when Alexander Emond was the proprietor. We’ve seen another copy of the Trans Canada postcard with Mrs. Blanche Morel’s name stamped on the front. The Morels owned the Trans Canada in the 1920s. Unfortunately, this local landmark burned down in August 1997. Main St. was still unpaved, as seen in the c. 1924 Azo Square real-photo postcard below, which shows the Trans-Canada at left front. The road looks deserted, save for a horse or mule in front of a small storefront adjacent to the Trans-Canada, and a dog headed towards the hotel’s entrance.

Mattawa, Trans-Canada Hotel and Main St. Businesses 1

Mattawa, Trans-Canada Hotel and Main St. Businesses 2 In this c. 1940s PECO postcard, the Trans-Canada is on the left side of Main St., looking north. Also on that side of the street are business signs for a drug store offering Sweet Caporal cigarettes; the shop of tailor F. A. Ribout, which remained family-owned for over 90 years until its 1990s closure; a large three-story brick building with advertising near the roof line for Bell’s hardware store, which was housed within, and an Imperial gas station. McCool’s can also be seen, further down the block. On the right side of the road is a smaller Sweet Caporal advertising sign and Mattawa Lunch (see below). If you can identify more of the businesses, let us know their names and we’ll include them.


Mattawa, Main St. in the 1950s

A later 1950s real-photo postcard of Main St. (left) shows Imperial gas in the left forefront, with a Bargain Store next to it. We can’t quite make out the name of the Bargain Store’s owner. Ritter & Sons is at right front, with the wonderful Art Deco sign for the Champlain movie theatre shown prominently and the Hotel Mattawa a little further down the road. An early home is sandwiched between Ritter & Sons and the Champlain. At the time this photo was taken, the house served as Dan Mooney’s insurance agency. Does anyone know whose home this was in earlier times? Another view of Main St. (right), taken from higher ground, shows the Martin Bros. clothing store at left front, with a large neon sign for the Chez Francois restaurant next door. The Deluxe taxi stand is also seen.

Mattawa, Main St. in the 1950s Showing the Chez Francois Restaurant and the Deluxe Taxi Stand
Mattawa, 1955 Post Office Mattawa, Post Office with Fur Trading Cairn

The post office finally found a permanent home with construction of this Main St. building in 1955. It had previously been located in the aforementioned Hudson’s Bay outpost, in James Bangs’ store, in a building where the Champlain Theatre now stands, in Noah Timmins’ Back I. Tongue store, in the Bell store and in the Lamothe bakery. Local historian Leo Morel was postmaster when this building opened, serving until 1969; Robert J. Gennings is the present postmaster. Below is an 1894 postage stamp with a violet split-ring Mattawa cancel, from the time period when the post office was run by George Smith at the site of the present-day Champlain Theatre. Smith was postmaster from December 1892 to 1902.

Mattawa, 1894 Post Offce Cancel
Mattawa, Main St. in the 1960s Mattawa, Main St. in the 1970s

Postcards can be used to document changes in the built environment, and to identify important remaining buildings for historic preservation purposes. It’s interesting to see the changes on the same section of Main St. looking north in the 1960s to 1970s. What was the name of the taxicab stand at front left? It doesn’t appear to be the same cab stand seen in the next paragraph. Or is it? Three handsome late 19th c. brick Victorian buildings still anchor the left side of the street, including the building which housed Bell’s hardware store. On the right side of the street, just beyond the sign pointing to Champlain Provincial Park, is Riverview Restaurant, located where Mattawa Lunch once was (see below). The Champlain movie theatre is seen. This chrome postcard image was photographed by Len Leiffer, a commercial photographer who worked throughout many Canadian provinces. At bottom left, we see a c. 1970s Forder postcard again showing the same stretch of Main St. (Highway 533), in which the Riverview, a barber shop, the Champlain, the Mattawa Hotel and the now-closed IGA are visible.


Mattawa, Main St. in the 1990s

Here, the view is south on Main St., as photographed by Wayne Reid. Much of the historic fabric of the town’s architecture has been retained in this section of Main St. The building at bottom right (only partially seen) was Ike Tongue’s clothing store. Since then, it has been the site of an antiques store and a meat market. Presently, a magazine of some sort is located there. Joffre Ribout of Mattawa wrote: “Continuing up the street is Mattawa IDA Drugs. In the 50s, this was the liquor store on one side and McElroy’s, a variety store, on the other. I believe it was owned by a Mr. Gamache. There are apartments above…The next building is a small one-story building which housed Morin insurance and [which] later became a vegetable market. This is where the taxi stand with the clock probably was (see below). Next is a two-story building, Kannegiser’s Furniture. It is becoming a restaurant…Next to that is the Madadjiwan building, formerly Crest Hardware, owned by my uncle Armand Ribout and before that by his father-in-law, Mr. Guilbeault.” Many thanks to Mr. Ribout, for this and other information supplied.

Mattawa Lunch and A. F. Belanger's Taxi Stand From a social history perspective, the images on postcards were often chosen to depict the grander sites in a town, and thus this charming Azo real-photo postcard, dating to 1947-1948 and showing Mattawa Lunch and A. J. Belanger’s taxi stand, is a scarce depiction of the more mundane aspects of life. The taxicabs shown are a 1947 Chevrolet model. Mattawa Lunch, which burned down in the late 1940s to early 1950s, also advertises Sweet Caporal and has a Coca-Cola entryway kick plate. Three cabs await Belanger’s passengers. His sign says “All Passengers Insured.” One can only assume that not all public transportation of the time insured its passengers, which seems strange in our more litigious times. A small round clock is located at the top of Belanger’s advertising sign.

Mattawa, Valois Hotel and Cabins Mattawa, Valois Riverside Lodge Hotel Mattawa, Valois Hotel Mattawa, Valois Motel and Tavern Mattawa, Valois Motel, Dining Room and Motel Room

Since 1934, travelers have stayed at the Valois Motel at 701 Valois Dr. (Highway 17) in Mattawa. The motel and restaurant have had various name permutations over the course of time. In the above images (left to right), the first RPPC calls this the Valois Hotel and Cabins. The photograph was taken in the 1940s by Sterling Photos of Cornwall. The second postcard shows a head-on view of what’s called the Valois Riverside Lodge Hotel. In the 1950s image of Valois’ Hotel, a dining room has been added to the left side of the building, and a new canopy extends out towards the gas pumps. By the time William R. Forder of North Bay took the chrome color triple-view image of the Valois Motel & Tavern, further construction has occurred on the left side of the building, and motel rooms are seen at top right. The c. 1970s triple-view postcard at far right shows an additional configuration of the motel and tavern, as well as a more contemporary image of the dining room and a motel room. This continental postcard image was made by Alex Wilson of Dryden, ON. In the 1970s, many postcards were enlarged from the standard 3-1/2” x 5-1/2” inches to 4 x 6 inches, which is the largest size that the USPS allows to go through the mail at a postcard rate. Learn more about area photographers on the Northern Ontario Postcard Photographers page.

Mattawa, Welk's Restaurant Mattawa, Myrt's Grill

Other eateries have included Welk’s (B/P) Restaurant on Highway 17 East, seen in a great c. 1960s roadside Canadiana postcard of the restaurant’s interior. A lady who is probably the owner and a waitress hold up menus. If you know their names, let us know and we’ll include them. There’s lots of Coca-Cola advertising on the walls, a Coca-Cola cooler to the left of the owner, and an interesting apple-shaped advertisement on the wall saying: “Big Thick Red Apple Shakes.” Myrt’s Grill was a smallish roadside diner on Highway 17, owned by Myrt and Norm Dixon and open 24 hours a day. Leiffer took the Myrt’s Grill image, which is hand-dated on the reverse as Tuesday, 16 April 1974.

Mattawa, Sid Turcotte Park

The hardier traveler could camp at Sid Turcotte Park, still going strong just off the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 17) in Mattawa. The Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, just west of Mattawa, includes 2,550 hectares (1,032 acres) along an eastern section of the Mattawa, which itself is a Canadian Heritage River protected along most of its 64-kilometre length. Interestingly, the Mattawa travels along a 600 million-year-old fault line. Champlain Park notably contains a bottle brush grass-wild rye hybrid found nowhere else, and is home to more than 200 species of birds. Antoine Provincial Park, on the Ottawa River in Mattawan township, is also nearby, with Antoine Creek flowing into the Ottawa River just above Mattawa.

Antoine Creek, Near Mattawa Loin Chute, Near Mattawa

Here’s a c. 1910 postcard, published by Dr. Haentschel, of Antoine Creek. Many people are out and about, and we wonder if logging activity is occurring. The c. 1910 Lion Chute postcard, also published by Haentschel, appears to be hand colored and is miscaptioned as “Loin Chute,” thus adding to the postcard’s rarity. Looking closely at the rock in the top left corner, one sees that it does resemble the head of a roaring lion. According to Joffre Ribout of Mattawa, the lion’s head rock has fallen off. Ribout wrote: “I used to fish here as a young man. It [Lion Chute] is located up off Highway 533 on the Antoine, just about where the access road to Redbridge meets 533. It is in a bit and not easy to get to.” In the Lion Chute image, several men are standing on what appears to be a log slide. The sender wrote: “This town is okay…I am just sitting in the station and hear the Montreal Express coming in (9:55 p.m.).” Dr. Haentschel was Mattawa’s first doctor. He later moved to Haileybury.

Colton's Falls, Near Mattawa

Another “beauty spot,” as they were sometimes called, is Colton’s Falls. Where, exactly, are the falls? This nicely detailed c. 1903-1907 vintage postcard was published by the Valentine & Sons’ Publishing Co. of Montreal and Toronto.

Mattawa, Moosehead Lodge 1

Moosehead Lodge (at 655 Moosehead Rd. and now known as Moosehead Estate & Retreat) is seen in a c. 1940s postcard. It’s on the north side of Lake Chant Plein, about a mile from the Hurdman Dam, and is mistakenly labeled as Lake Champlain on this post card. Roy Rogers, an American cowboy actor, and his comedic sidekick, Pat Brady, hunted at Moosehead in the 1940s, when the Hiseys owned the lodge. Rogers was a repeat customer, and autographed pictures of him were on some of the walls. Other notable visitors included American burlesque and striptease performer Gypsy Rose Lee as well as Eaton family members from T. Eaton Co. Limited, which was once Canada’s largest department store chain, operating from 1869 to 1999. Melanie Viau and husband Marc Bouthillier bought Moosehead in 2006 and spent two years restoring it before reopening the lodge as Moosehead Estate & Retreat.

Roy Rogers and Trigger
Mattawa, Moosehead Lodge 2

In a second c. 1940s PECO postcard of the lodge (left), we see a lady in a sweater with some type of spaniel or Basset Hound near the building. The lodge is quite large; it was built by Henry Timmins, Jr., a brother of Noah Timmins, in 1939. To the right, the lodge is seen on a snowy day in a c. 1940s CKC real-photo postcard. The “Moose Head Lodge”’s business name and logo are to the right of the front door, while a “tame deer” wanders in the snow.

Mattawa, Moosehead Lodge 3
Mattawa, Seaplane Base at Moose Head Lodge on Lake Champlain [sic]

A c. 1940s CKC real-photo postcard depicts the seaplane base at Moose Head Lodge on Lake Chant Plein. It would have provided much excitement and increased access to bush country for its celebrity visitors.

Mattawa, Rainbow Cabins

The Rainbow Cabins, a complex of frame roadside cottages seen here in a CKC real-photo postcard dating to the 1940s, offered more modest accommodations. According to Ribout, the Rainbow Cabins were “at the top of Main St. on the Ottawa River side of the tracks, across from the Anglican Church.”

Moose at Antoine Creek Near Mattawa

Speaking of moose, a c. 1915 International Fine Art postcard shows one at Antoine Creek, mislabeled on the card as “St. Antoine Creek.” The moose at Antoine Creek reminds us of the notation made on the first map of the area. Prepared in Paris in 1653 by King Louis XIV’s cartographer, Nicolas Sanson, and based on Champlain’s discoveries, the phrase “Grande Chasse de Cerfs et Caribous, ” meaning “big hunt of deer and caribou” is marked on the Mattawa area to denote the plentiful game. The deer hunters seen to the right would probably have agreed about the plentiful game: In fact, the c. 1940s PECO postcard is entitled “Come where the game is at Mattawa, Ont.”

Deer Hunters at Mattawa, c. 1940s
Mattawa, Information Booth at Antoine Provincial Park, c. 1940s Mattawa, Tourists at Antoine Park Viewing the Ottawa Mines

At top left is a c. 1940s real-photo postcard of the small information booth at Antoine Park, with a uniformed attendant standing outside. A postcard seen at bottom left from the early 1950s shows tourists viewing the Ottawa mines from Antoine Park. A more contemporary postcard at top right shows a map of the park. The Len Leiffer postcard at bottom right shows a c. 1960s family with their catch. The Otto Holden dam on the Ottawa River is in the background. Named for Dr. Otto Holden, an engineer who was a Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario assistant general manager, the dam was built from Spring 1949 to 1953. Scenic Mount Antoine offers skiing in season (below).

Mattawa, Antoine Provincial Park Mattawa, Fishing at Antoine Provincial Park
Mattawa, Skiing at Mount Antoine
Mattawa Hockey Team, Winter 1931

Someone got busy with their camera in the winter of 1931, taking pictures of winter sports. Was the men’s hockey team known as the Rockets then, as they are now as members of the Nipissing District Hockey League (NDHL)? Does anyone know the names of these players? Below are images of the women’s broomball team, taken on 28 February 1932. Left to right (front row), the broomball team members were: Leyda Fink; Claire Freve; Gertie Burke; Simone Hurtubise; Clara Sauve; Gertie Sloan; Antoinette Fink; Eunice Backer; and Edythe Reid. In the back row (left to right) were Winnie Laclaire; G. McCracken; Marguerite McElroy; and Bill Carson. The second photo of the broomball team doesn’t give the players’ names. (You can also see Leyda Fink when she was a child, in a c. 1889 cabinet card photo taken by Mattawa photographer Bruno Charron.

Mattawa, Womens Broomball Team in 1932, 1 Mattawa, Womens Broomball Team in 1932, 2
Mattawa, Timmins Recreation Park A Young Boy's Catch Along the Mattawa River

In town, children could play at the Timmins Recreation Park, seen in a 1940s CKC real-photo postcard. The park was named after early settler and mining speculator Noah Timmins, for whom the town of Timmins was also named. And the fishing was good for the young boy seen in a c. 1920s-1930s postcard erroneously labeled: “A morning’s catch on Lake Champlain [Lake Chant Plein] at Mattawa, Ont.” It was published by the International Fine Art Co. of Montreal, which published a Mattawa House postcard seen earlier on this page. The misprint of Lake Chant Plein makes this old postcard more desirable. Does anyone recognize the landscape, which has a small white picket fence in the background? The location is perhaps Moosehead Lodge, which is one of only a few local spots with flat ground close to the water.

Anahareo, Noted Iroquois Conservationist from Mattawa

Speaking of Noah Timmins, four of his great-grandchildren are well-known entertainers: Margo, Michael and Peter formed the Cowboy Junkies rock and roll band and Cali Timmins is an actress (best known for her role as Maggie Shelby in the television soap Ryan’s Hope from 1983 to 1989. From 1990 to 1991, she played the first Paulina Cantrell Cory in the Another World TV soap opera.). Anahareo (Gertrude Bernard, 1906-1986), was another notable person from Mattawa. An Iroquois conservationist, she played a critical role in converting her trapper husband, Grey Owl (Archibald Belaney), into a conservationist. In his 1934 book, Pilgrims of the Wild, Grey Owl details how, after Anahareo saved the lives of two beaver kits, he rethought his way of life and began wildlife protection work. Anahareo authored Devil in Deerskins - My Life with Grey Owl in 1972 and received the Order of Canada in 1983. She’s seen here in a c. 1938 photograph.


To the Mattawa military history page.


Mattawa, 1907 Blessing of the Bridge

Travel in town and across the Mattawa River was accomplished first via a wooden bridge built in 1877, which was replaced with the steel bridge seen being blessed on 22 September 1907 in the charming image at top left, which was published by the Novelty Manufacturing & Art Printing Co. of Montreal. Many of the town’s citizens are gathered on the bridge, beyond which one sees the hospital and St. Anne’s to the south. To the right, we see another view of the bridge, with a Union Jack flying atop it. Many other town buildings can also be seen. Although this postcard was not postmarked until 1921, it is actually an earlier c. 1907 card. We think this view is looking north. If you know the names of any of the buildings, let us know and we’ll be happy to include them.

Mattawa, Alternate View of the Steel Bridge
Mattawa, 1907 Bridge Opening

This finely detailed private postcard probably also depicts the opening day of the bridge, based on the crowds. One can see that a sign naming the bridge has been added to it. The hospital, Catholic church and Boulevard des Oblats are seen. The sender, Dodo, writing to Berniece Cousins of Crown St. in Port Arthur, wrote: “Well, hope you are having just as good a time as we are. Made about 25 mashes already.” If that’s the case, it sounds like an excellent time was had by all.

Unpaved Trans-Canada Highway, Entering Mattawa from the East, c. 1930s Trans-Canada Highway, Entering Mattawa from the East, c. 1950s

Entering Mattawa from the east (Québec) in the 1930s, one would have traveled the unpaved Trans-Canada Highway, seen at top left in a 1930s PECO postcard. A welcoming wooden bridge, done in a rustic style, was a feature of the road. By the 1950s, the Trans-Canada was paved (bottom left), as seen in one of a number of images offered for sale by Mattawa’s Trans-Canada Hotel. At top right, we see a c. 1940s gateway to Mattawa as approached from the west. This bridge is of sturdier metal, and bears a sign saying that a 30 m.p.h. speed limit is strictly enforced. A water tower can be seen in the distance. Murphy’s Road, narrow and unpaved in the 1940s, is seen at bottom right, entering Mattawa from Mattawan Township. Does anyone recognize the section of the Trans-Canada seen in the c. 1913 image centered below?

Trans-Canada Highway, Entering Mattawa from the West, c. 1940s Travelling Down Murphy’s Road in Mattawan Township, Towards Mattawa
Mattawa, View Along the Trans-Canada Highway, c. 1913, When It Was a Dirt Road
Mattawa Area, Unknown Bridge

Speaking of bridges, does anyone recognize this one? It appears to be a single lane and looks much too narrow to be the bridge in downtown Mattawa. It’s been suggested that this could be a bridge in Papineau, Cameron or Mattawan Townships, just outside Mattawa, with another possibility being the bridge at Eau Clair on Highway 630 that crosses the Amable du Fond River. Perhaps someone will recognize the location from the house in the background. The picture was taken c. 1950.


Read about steamboats and steamships in Mattawa, Ontario.

Mattawa, Boulevard des Oblats Mattawa, Hospital Hill 1

The church, and particularly St. Anne’s, has always played a large role in Mattawa. The c. 1907 postcard at top left, published by the Canadian Souvenir Post Card Co., shows the Boulevard des Oblats and the prominent location of the Catholic Church on Rosemount Hill. In the finely detailed postcard at bottom left, which was published by Rumsey & Co. of Toronto, you’ll see the hospital and church described as being on “hospital hill.” The postcard bears a 1911 RPO (railroad post office cancel) from Train No. 20 of the Ottawa & S. S. Marie Railroad. You’ll notice that many other Mattawa images also prominently feature the church, as it was central to Mattawa life. Another old post card at bottom right, published by Dr. Haentschel, shows a different view of Hospital Hill.

Mattawa, St. Anne's, the Presbytery, Hospital and School Mattawa, Hospital Hill 2

St. Anne's and Mattawa General, Overlooking Mattawa and the Ottawa River Mass was first said in Mattawa in 1843 by the Reverend Father Bellefeuille, a French-Canadian. Those in attendance were primarily Indians. Father Laverlochere arrived next, in 1845, as the first of the Oblate missionaries. The Oblates traveled by canoe to Mattawa two or three times a year from their home base at Baie des Pères, near Ville Marie, Québec. Next to arrive were the Reverend Jean Marie Pian, an Oblate Superior, and Father Deleage, in 1859. Father Pian remained in 1860, recording the first Mattawa baptism, of two-year-old Antoine Thivierge. The first Catholic church was built in 1863 under Father Lebret’s tenure. By the time Father Nedelec arrived in 1868, the population explosion which accompanied logging operations was beginning.

St. Anne's and Mattawa General Hospital 1

Just 20 short years later, in 1888, the congregation had outgrown church facilities to the point that construction of the grand granite St. Anne’s Church on Rosemount Hill began in 1889 under the guidance of Father Perron and Father Poitras, with the first mass, baptism and marriage occurring there the following year. An impressive Casavant organ from St. Hyacinthe, Québec was installed at a cost of $2,000.00 in 1894. Disaster struck on 8 September 1959, when lightning struck a cross high in the air at the rear of the church, which was destroyed by fire. Loss of the pipe organ alone was estimated at $40,000, with the total loss of St. Anne’s estimated at a million dollars. Here are two c. 1950s real-photo postcards of the church and Mattawa General Hospital. Notice that in the top view, the Hudson’s Bay Co. supply depot, which was later used as the parish hall, is seen.

St. Anne's and Mattawa General Hospital 2

Mattawa, Father J. N. Duquette Here’s an interesting October 1943 image of Father J. N. Duquette, who served at St. Anne’s from 1917 to 1949. The picture was taken by Clifford Norton of Cleveland, Ohio. Does anyone recall this photographer? Father Duquette is posing in front of a log cottage. Along the bottom of the photograph is written what appears to be “Wabe Maquaw Club.” Wabe Maquaw means “White Bear” in a First Nation dialect, probably Ojibwa. Further information is sought on the specific dialect. Photographer Norton’s name is stamped on the reverse, along with a cryptic list which includes the words black molding, Pocahontas and oil and the name Jim Sparles. We’d like to know more about this photograph.

Mattawa, Saint Anne's Roman Catholic Church

The Riordon engineer who took several other Mattawa photographs seen on this page perhaps wasn’t Roman Catholic, and inadvertently spoke to the central role that the church played in Mattawa life, when he wrote a caption for the image of St. Anne’s which says: “The only building in Mattawa.” The hospital is to the left of the church. The large, elaborate shrine to the Virgin Mary, seen to the right in a 1948 PECO real-photo postcard, is located on the hospital grounds. While there are no buildings seen behind the shrine in 1948, an addition to the Mattawa General Hospital is now located behind the shrine. Many thanks to Samantha Hinschberger for this information.

Mattawa, Shrine to the Virgin Mary

Mattawa, St. Alban's Anglican Church St. Alban’s the Martyr Anglican Church in Mattawa dates to 1882, as shown in a c. 1940s PECO postcard. J. L. Caverhill of Montreal sold the land to the congregation, and the Reverend Forster Bliss was the first minister in the new building. At the time of his arrival, only 20 percent of the town’s 1,000 residents were Anglican. The Anglican bishop of Ottawa intended it to be a mission to cover the area between Pembroke and North Bay and, in fact, St. Alban’s was the mother church of St. John the Divine at 301 Main St. E. in North Bay. Built in 1895 and opened in 1896, St. John’s is now the oldest church building in North Bay. The first Anglican services in North Bay were held in 1883, with a congregation of 15 meeting in the CPR engine house.

Mattawa Mystery Pictures:
Mattawa Mystery Scene 1, Unknown Location

These pictures were made by the Riordon engineer who was in Mattawa in the 1920s. Can you tell us more about them? The picture to the left shows an elderly woman in what appears to be a rocky field, with town buildings behind her. What part of town is this, and is there any significance to this rocky area? To the right is a puzzling image of a wooden object at water’s edge. What was its purpose?

Mattawa Mystery Scene 2, Along One of the Rivers

News flash! Regarding mystery image 1, Ribout writes: “It is surprising how many of those buildings are still there. The picture is taken from a spot maybe 100-200 yards west of the railroad station…I believe that it is taken from the far side of the railroad track looking to the north. If you continued panning to the right, the railroad station would soon appear. If you pan to the left, you would see the water tower that appears on the left side of the gateway photo (The postcard of the gateway on the Trans-Canada Highway headed east into Mattawa.).”

Overview of Mattawa, Ontario in the 1960s or 1970s

According to the Canada 2001 Census, there were 2,270 Mattawans, with 40 percent being Francophone. From 1996 to 2000, Mattawa actually lost 0.5 percent of its population. There were 1,016 dwellings in a 3.66 km² area. The town is located in the eastern section of the Nipissing District (which was created in 1858) in northeastern Ontario; the district seat is North Bay.

If you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into Mattawa history, you might also enjoy two books written about the town, Mattawa: The Meeting of the Waters by Leo Morel, published in 1980 by the Mattawa Historical Society, 202 pp., and Gérard N. Therrien’s Mattawa, Our Timeless Town, ISBN 0-9694741-2-1, published in 1999, 94 pp. Both were small private printings and, while somewhat difficult to obtain, they provide an interesting read. Check online book dealers to find copies.


More as time permits, with updated photos and new articles on the Nipissing and Parry Sound districts including Bear Island, Temagami, Bonfield, Callander and Corbeil, Commanda, the Ferguson Highway (Highway 11), Lavigne and Verner, Marten River, Mattawa, Monetville and Noëlville, North Bay, Powassan and Trout Creek, Sundridge, Alderdale, Nipissing Village, Trout Lake, Restoule, South River, Tilden Lake, Dokis, Rutherglen, Tomiko Ontario, Trout Mills, Sturgeon Falls and other areas of interest. Enjoy the story of Frederic Remington’s moose hunting trip near Mattawa, over 100 years ago. See an 1880s Orangemen Parade, or a rare collection of New Ontario Brewery artifacts.

Learn more about collecting vintage postcards on the postcard collecting, Northern Ontario Postcard Photographers, Canadiana pages, and more about the author on the page About Us.

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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.

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