The Story of Pog in a Slide Show

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Lake Pogamasing is a unique lake within the Sudbury District of Northern Ontario.  Few lakes in Northern Ontario can claim to have been the:

  • site of a Hudson’s Bay Company post managed by an Anishnabe Chief,
  • centre of a logging and sawmill operation during the challenging Depression decade, and
  • home of a flotilla of WW II dukws

These uncommon attributes are only a few examples of what makes the history of Pogamasing so compelling. Its story is also a microscopic view of what happened in many places, not just in Northern Ontario, but in Canada, from the mid 19th century to the present.

As part of the Spanish River watershed that empties into the North Shore of Lake Huron, Pog developed from a self-reliant Anishnabe community to become an area dependent on the industrial economy. It also attracted unusual characters who enlivened the tragic and humorous stories. To get an overview, have a look at this slide show.

Courtesy of Archives of Ontario

The Pogamasing post was the ‘canary in the coal mine’ for the Lake Huron District of the Hudson’s Bay Company. The post was opened in 1869 to confront serious competition facing the HBC in the district. For 20 years Pogamasing was one of the more successful posts because of its pivotal location, and because it was managed by Louis Espagnol, a chief of the Spanish River First Nation. Espagnol was exceptional in that he was highly respected, both by his district managers for his results, and by his people for his advocacy on their behalf.  The building of the CPR through the area, however, led to the demise of the fur trade, first at Pogamasing, and within a decade, the district.

 

 

After the rail line was completed the government initiated surveying along the rail corridor and subsequently opened up the Pogamasing area for logging, especially after a massive forest fire along the CPR and the Spanish River. It was either cut or let the bugs destroy the timber. Several companies logged the area from 1891 until 1929 when W. B. Plaunt bought the timber licenses and built a sawmill between the Spanish River and the CPR. He managed to keep this operation going during the 1930’s, despite the Great Depression until the pine was depleted in 1940.

This section of the book is highlighted by a colourful description of life in the bush camps and of the logging to milling process as told by Bill Plaunt Jr.(see video on lumbering), the walking boss of his father’s operation; the life in the village of Wye from the eyes of the inhabitants; and the character of W. B. Plaunt, a self-made lumberman.

 

The third phase of development overlapped the logging period and recounts the stories of people who were attracted to Pog: from men who preferred the solitude of the wilderness, to fishermen who were coming for the great trout fishing that Pog was known for. A few built camps and then, after WW II, two groups of veterans built fishing lodges. Eventually the fishermen brought their families to enjoy the pristine wilderness and a new era began.

Getting to our camps on Pog has always been an adventure because of its remoteness. Initially, the railway was our only way to get to Pog, however, between the railway stop and the lake sat the Spanish River, making our access to the lake difficult. As a result transportation is a major challenge and residents have employed an ingenious variety of means to get to their camps.

Andy Stevens

The book will include over a 130 photos, illustrations and maps, especially of the logging and contemporary eras. More of these photos will be seen on these web pages as the site develops.

 

 

Table of Contents
1. The Importance of Pogamasing
2. The Anishnabe, the First Inhabitants of Pogamasing
3. The Impact of the Newcomers
4. The Espagnols: the Leading Family of the Spanish River
5. The Pogamasing Post and the Lake Huron District
6. The Coming of the Iron Snake
7. Pogamasing: the Canary in the Coal Mine
8. The Surveyors: Assessing the Potential of the
Timber Resources
9. A Forest Fire Sparks Logging
10. The Charlton Limit
11. W. B. Plaunt Establishes a Sawmill at Wye
12. Lumbering in the Thirties: Interview with Bill Plaunt
13. Life in a Company Village
14. Beyond Lumbering
15. From Logging Camp to Fishing Camp
16. Families Eclipse Fishing
17. Billy’s Bay to Plauntation
18. Summer Camp to All Season Camp
19. Going to Pog
20. Mishaps and other Adventures
21. At the Turn of the 21st Century
22. Journey’s End

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

will kershaw January 24, 2011 at 2:03 am

Hey Andy, The site draws one in by talking about the various eras… precontact, logging, tourism, camp life – the Book is a heading in the “About the Book’ drop down in the menu. Could the main page start with the reference that there is a book and it covers the following topics in more detail. The reader gets this on the ‘About the Book’ section. But perhaps the main page needs to mention the book, even the title? It reads well and uses some hooks that get one thinking about Pog as an interesting place. I’m in!

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Gary McLaughlin February 17, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Hi Andy, it’s been a long time. I hope this hello makes its way to you.
Looking forward to obtaining a copy of the book. I have so many great memories of our outdoor adventures.
We will need to get together soon.
Gary

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Robert (Bob) English August 17, 2012 at 8:39 pm

I as a boy who lived in Sudbury in the early
fifty’s was fortunate enough to have spent
my summers there. Andy and Betty(their last name
escapes me) followed by Harry and Kay Ward!
they treated me as a son, there was Bill the guide the other
guide was Bud Carmichael who later went on to great
heights in the MNR. Then there was the fire warden
Herb with his green canoe who mentored me
in the ways of the bush! My father Harold English built the
log cabin (by himself) and an 10 yr old me !
The Plantes and the Mehaphys (spelling) were the
only kids I got to hang out with once in a while.
It was and still is a monumental period in the formation
of a young boy who to this day could take a 2.5 Johnston
in the dark anywhere on that lake . WHAT A GREAT TIME
IN MY LIFE !!!!

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Fred McGinnis May 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Bob, Fred McGinnis down here in Florida. My father Jim bought your dad’s cabin about 60 years ago and is still used each summer. I would loved to talk with you about over 60 years on Pog. Please call at (904) 396-1326 or email at lehigh65@yahoo.com

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Jackie Lilley August 19, 2012 at 4:07 pm

I spent a few summers at pog lake as a child, and have wonderfull memories I am looking forward to reading the book and seeing the pictures

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John Sanker June 24, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Just doing some surfing and came upon this info on Lake Pog. I made several trips to Lake Pog and the lodge in my mid teens back in the mid sixties and have some great memories of the area. We started up in Biscotasing and canoed the Spanish to Lake Agnew after having done about 9 days around Lake Ramsey and the Mississagi River. What great times. Is the old lodge still there?

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Andy Thomson June 25, 2013 at 8:39 pm

There were two lodges on Pog when you went through. Pog Lodge closed in 1979 (the one on the right coming from the river), however Butchart’s Camps still operates under the daughter and son-in-law of the founder, Charlie Butchart.

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Fred Holmes October 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm

When will your book be available to buy?

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Andy Thomson June 27, 2014 at 8:46 am

Please see ‘How to Obtain book’.

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Ron O'Shell July 1, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Had the opportunity to snow shoe in from the rail line with my father and two of his friends. We took the caboose out of Cartier, and caught the Bud car for the return trip. Never knew the history until now, thanks

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Leonard Ethier September 28, 2016 at 11:20 am

Just recently found your book & sure enjoyed it”/I’ve seen a lot of the country west of Pog mostly in winter by snowmachine in late 60’s coming into there via Benny as far as Big Squaw’Went to Blue Water’ Kennedy” Trout Creek to Denny ” Little Pog”’on to Big Squaw ” Bag Pipe ect/Fished all those lakes threw the ice including Kennedy’ which Mel Laidlaw flew my wife& I in for a week once/Sudbury Aviation had set up a new tent near Trout Creek & after Mel left us there on shore ‘ we walked up to the tent & the whole back of the tent was thorn out by a bear/// So being late June we sure couldn’t stay in there. With a 12 ft. boat ” our 3 hp motor & all our stuff we had to head for south end of Kennedy to the old log camp there that the winter before we had stapled plastic all around/ Thank god that camp was there for the bugs were bad//Was a long trip every day to fish north end //We climbed the high cliffs on west side of Kennedy & we found where a logging road had been cribbed into side of that big hill nearly at the top/ Amazing where those old loggers went/You have mentioned a lot of familiar names” Vince Hull ‘Ronnie Benoit ect whom we know/ Unfortunately Vince is gone but Ron going good/ Even C-FIBM which was owned by a friend & tied to our dock on Onaping once in a while/Our camp on Onaping is very close to site of old H B post site at north end.Anyway it looks like Im the one who is writing a book here// ha ha so again thank you for a great book from an avid reader////

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Andy Thomson September 28, 2016 at 2:50 pm

Thanks for those stories and your connection to Pog.
Very pleased you enjoyed the book.

Andy

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Andy Thomson October 26, 2016 at 8:58 am

Thanks, Leanard, it’s great to hear some other stories from those in the region. Maybe you should get a book going on Onaping.
Andy

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