Book Reviews


Through this website and a network of friends and family I have been selling my book and am now hearing some initial responses. This page is an opportunity for those who have read the book, or sections of it, to post their comments.

“Andy Thomson’s Pogamasing: The Story of a Northern Lake is a wonderful read of a part of Canada and a cast of Canadians the likes of which we shall not see again. It has drama, humour, history and, on every page, love of a special place.The research is phenomenal and many of the stories — the “mattress drownings” in particular — are heart wrenching and powerful. It is well written, well organized and nicely illustrated. I cannot think of a family history or a local history that compares to it. Drop in for a visit and you’ll stay to the very end.”

 Roy MacGregor, Globe and Mail columnist and author of A Life in the Bush, Canadians: Portrait of a Country and Its People and Northern Light: The Enduring Mystery of Tom Thomson.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Misty Sillen October 4, 2011 at 11:06 pm

We love it! I am Dave and Harriet Young’s granddaughter and this puts weight to why Pog is so special! It’s not just beauty, nature or family, it is a treasure to care for, nurture and pass on for generations to enjoy. We are caretakers for something so unique and a life that few will ever have the chance to know. Thank you for your research!!


Erhard Kraus October 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Places where we travel usually reveal little of their detailed history. For the Spanish river area, we’ve had a bit of its story already: Grey Owl’s books, and then details collected by Grey Owl’s biographers. We are thankful for that, and in my case, this knowledge made me want to explore the area further.

Now, there’s a book that describes people, events and history of this specific area. It’s written by Andy Thomson, a member of the family that had logged the area in the 1930s and ’40s, built a saw mill beside the river and created much of the village at the place that is now the Sheahan railway stop. They still have a large camp there and are still call the area their summer home.

The book is focused on Pogamasing, the large lake that parallels the Spanish River in its mid-section. Andy spent his summers at that lake, as a youngster he was a canoe guide and later became a high school teacher. His academic curiosity shows in the thorough research done for this book: it’s a treasure trove of stories, maps, photos and archival records, all painting a vivid and detailed history of the area.

I was spellbound to find
* how the area experienced the First Nations contact with the Europeans,
* the documented efforts of the fur traders plying their business in that area, including the details of the various HBC posts from the Lake Huron North Shore to the height of land (such as the post at LaCloche, Green Lake on the Missisagi and of course the post on Lake Pogamasing),
* the pushing of the trans-Canada railway straight through largely uncharted bush, and the iron snake’s effect on people and land,
* the effort of then surveying endless miles of forests and lakes so the government could sell the rights to mine and log
* the various efforts to log the area and use the river to float the logs to the mills – and first-hand descriptions of how a logging operation was run in the days of horses and sleighs
* the building of the Wye village and successfully running the business in spite of the depression of the 30’s
* the arrival of tourism after WWII

It’s a fascinating book. I never knew the area had that much history!

From My Canadian Canoe Routes


Rosemary Sexton October 18, 2011 at 6:05 pm

My husband Edgar and I have had so much fun perusing this book. I had presumed the book to be just a personal project of Andy’s and was amazed at the breadth and depth of its scope. I had no idea it would be so well-written and so all-encompassing. It is a real tour de force which Andy should be justifiably proud of (and Mandy too!). What a wealth of fascinating lore about Pog that will interest not only those closely connected to the lake but many others as well.

The book is also beautiful to look at and the pictures tell their own stories. Is the Dorothy Miller on page 214 our great-aunt? I presume so.


Toni Harting April 29, 2012 at 10:11 am

Review by Toni Harting in NASTAWGAN, the Journal of the Wilderness Canoe Association (Spring, 2012)

Over the years, quite a few WCA members have paddled the Spanish River, north of Lake Huron, starting with either the west branch from Biscotasing (see the trip report on page 13 of this issue), or the east branch from Duke Lake. About 13 km downriver from the point where the two branches meet, the railroad crosses the river, and one km downriver from that point a historically important portage exists on river right. This 600-metre portage leads to a small number of buildings of varying sizes on the eastern shore of Lake Pogamasing, an about 16-km-long, rather narrow lake that is quite symptomatic of what happened during the development in many parts of the Canadian wilderness in the past century and a half.
I quote from the book: “I was amazed to learn how Lake Pogamasing, a medium-sized and remote lake, was connected to so many significant developments in Ontario and Canadian history. A number of the major players were present at the Pog: the Anishnabe, fur traders, railway builders, surveyors and lumbermen. As well, key developments in our country’s history left an indelible mark on our area. Events and milestones, such as the Robinson-Huron Treaty, the building of the first transcontinental railway across Canada, the demise of the fur trade, the Depression, the Second World War and the development of the wilderness for recreation all had an influence.”
Each of us paddling the Spanish and who has the least bit of interest in the country they’re paddling through, would do wise to consult this profusely illustrated book and learn in exquisite detail about Lake Pogamasing and its fascinating history. Indeed, a genuine treasure of a book for everyone loving the Canadian North.


Bill Buttle May 30, 2013 at 12:37 pm

About a half a century ago I had the privilege of boarding a Budd rail car in Sudbury with a group of friends, destination Sheahan, and taking the trip to and across Lake Pogamasing to the group of camps known as the Plauntation in a WW2 DUKW – an experience not soon forgotten, so it was with great interest that I picked up Andy Thomson’s book detailing the history of the lake.
I was not disappointed. Andy has put together a meticulously researched account of a fascinating bit of Ontario history that was both entertaining and informative. We tend to think of our undeveloped wilderness as having no particular historical background, but the building of our nation has touched on many areas like Pogamasing to an extent that few realize.
Andy’s account of how his extended family came to bond with Pog over the years provides a window on times and customs that we will not see again, as well as affirming his family’s ongoing love of the area into the present day. A thoroughly enjoyable read!


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