History of Temagami

The Anishnabai have been living in the area for at least 6,000 years after migrating from the east coast of North America. The land was divided into familial hunting and trapping territories.

Since the main east-west fur trade route bypassed Temagami to the south, settlement of this area by Europeans did not come until 1834. That year the Hudson's Bay Company built a store on Temagami Island, which later relocated to Bear Island. The town itself was founded by Dan O'Connor, who in 1903 formed the O'Connor Steamboat and Hotel Company on the lake and established its first store on the future townsite. By 1906, he had built three hotels on Lake Temagami: Hotel Ronnoco, Temagami Inn, and Lady Evelyn Hotel and by 1910 the company operated ten steamships on the lake including the Belle of Temagami.

Discoveries of goldcoppernickel, and particularly silver in 1903, brought mining to nearby Cobalt and accelerated development of the region. Several mines opened in Temagami, including Big Dan MineLittle Dan MineBarton MineHermiston-McCauley MineTemagami-Lorrain MinePriest MineBeanland MineSherman MineKanichee MineNorthland Pyrite Mine and Copperfields Mine, which once mined the richest copper ore in Canada.


The Forest Reserves Act of 1898 established the 15,000 km2 (5,800 sq mi) Temagami Forest Reserve. Because of this reserve, the region was home to the last Old-growth forests in Ontario. Logging of the vast pine stands only began in the 1920s. Now just a few patches of old growth remain, including the White Bear Forest (12.42 km2 [4.80 sq mi]) and the world's largest stand of old-growth red and white pine forest - the Obabika Old-Growth Forest or Wakimika Triangle Forest part of the Obabika River Waterway Provincial Park (25 km2 [9.7 sq mi]). This has led to confrontation in recent years between loggers and environmentalists when new logging access roads are built or major logging operations are proposed. Access to many old-growth areas is provided on local hiking trails and canoe routes.

The inspiration and wonder of the area were brought to millions around the world in 1907 when Grey Owl arrived in Temagami. He was employed by Keewaydin Canoe Camp as a guide, and later by the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests as a ranger. His subsequent books and extensive lecturing in Britain and the United States brought tremendous attention to northeastern Ontario and wildlife conservation.

In 1968, Temagami was incorporated, first as an Improvement District, and 10 years later as a Township,[2] consisting of the geographic townships of Strathy and Strathcona, together with parts of BriggsChambersBest, Cassels, and Yates townships.

In 1973, The Teme-Augama Anishnabai (TAA) exercised a land caution against development on the Crown land of 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi), most of the Temagami area. The Attorney General of Ontario pursued legal action against the Band for this caution. The TAA lost this court case in 1984 and the Band proceeded with an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Band lost this appeal and eventually the caution was lifted.

In 1988, the Ontario Minister of Natural ResourcesVince Kerrio approved the expansion of the Red Squirrel Road, directly through Anishnabe territory. This prompted a series of roadblocks by the TAA and by the Temagami Wilderness Society in 1988-1989. The Temagami First Nation's former chief Gary Potts was the leader of the TAA blockades. In 1991 the TAA and the Ontario government created the Wendaban Stewardship Authority to decide what to do with the four townships near the logging road.

On January 1, 1998, the Township of Temagami was greatly enlarged through the merger with 17 unincorporated townships and became the Municipality of Temagami with town status.


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