Discovering Kapuskasing, Ontario: A Blend of History and Natural Beauty
Kapuskasing, Ontario, is a charming town nestled on the Kapuskasing River in the Cochrane District of Northern Ontario, Canada. It's approximately 92 kilometres east of Hearst and 130 kilometres northwest of Timmins. This article will take you on a journey through the rich history, stunning geography, and vibrant culture of Kapuskasing.
The Origin of Kapuskasing, Ontario
The town of Kapuskasing derives its name from the Kapuskasing River, a name of Cree origin meaning "bend in the river". The first reported survey of the district was carried out in 1875 by Dr. Robert Bell of the Geological Survey of Canada. He referred to the Kapuskasing River as the "Kai-bush-ka-sing".
In 1900, the Bureau of Colonization of the Ontario Department of Agriculture sent parties to survey the region north of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Their main interest was to seek out and delimit areas for further agricultural settlements. The results of their exploration were published as "Report of the Survey of Exploration of Northern Ontario 1900".
The Geography, Climate, and Wildlife of Kapuskasing, Ontario
Kapuskasing lies in the heart of the Great Clay Belt, a region dotted with numerous small lakes and muskeg bogs. The district is heavily forested, mostly by thick stands of black spruce that have commercial value as pulpwood.
Kapuskasing has a humid, continental climate with long, cold winters and warm, sometimes humid summers. Wildlife is abundant in the area, with species such as moose, black bear, lynx, and red fox commonly seen. The lakes and rivers are well populated with walleye, northern pike, and yellow perch, making fishing and hunting popular local activities.
The Rich History of Kapuskasing, Ontario
Kapuskasing was founded in the early 20th century after the National Transcontinental Railway was built through the area in 1911. The town was known as MacPherson until 1917, when the name was changed to avoid conflict with another railway stop in Manitoba.
The town was the site of one of the largest internment camps in Canada during World War I. The camp held over 1,300 German, Austrian, and Turkish prisoners. After the war, the Kapuskasing Soldier Colony was established to settle veterans returned from the Great War.
The Spruce Falls of Kapuskasing, Ontario
The Kapuskasing River Pulp and Timber limit was awarded to speculators Saphrenous A. Mundy and Elihu Stewart in 1917. The still unexploited timber limits were sold to Kimberly-Clark in 1920. The new Spruce Falls Company Ltd. began the development of the first pulp mill in Kapuskasing under the direction of F.J. Sensenbrenner.
The Kapuskasing Inn and Its Legacy
The Kapuskasing Inn was built in 1927–28 by George Roper Gouinlock. In 1951, the inn hosted Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh on their first visit to Canada. The landmark inn closed in 2002 and fell into disrepair but was slated for renovation by new investors.
The Demographics and Transportation of Kapuskasing, Ontario
In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Kapuskasing had a population of 8,057. Travellers reach Kapuskasing by car, by Ontario Northland bus, or by plane. The town's pulp and paper mill is served by the Ontario Northland Railway.
Public Services in Kapuskasing, Ontario
Kapuskasing offers a range of public services, including health, safety, and well-being services. Sensenbrenner Hospital, built in 1927-1929, serves a regional population of 14,000 residents. The town operates a fire department and a local branch of the Ontario Provincial Police.
Kapuskasing, Ontario in Popular Culture
Kapuskasing has been featured in various forms of popular culture. It is mentioned in the 1994 children’s book "Where is Gah-Ning" by Robert Munsch and in Tomson Highway's award-winning play "Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing". Canadian singer-songwriter Justin Rutledge has a song called "Kapuskasing Coffee" on his album Valleyheart.
Kapuskasing, Ontario, is a town rich in history and natural beauty. Whether you're a history buff, a nature lover, or just a curious traveller, Kapuskasing has something to offer you.