Atikokan

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Atikokan
Town
Atikokan ON.JPG
Motto: Canoeing Capital of Canada
Atikokan is located in Ontario
Atikokan
Atikokan
Coordinates: 48°45′N 91°37′W / 48.750°N 91.617°W / 48.750; -91.617Coordinates: 48°45′N 91°37′W / 48.750°N 91.617°W / 48.750; -91.617
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
District Rainy River
Settled 1899
Incorporated 1954
Government
 • Mayor Dennis Brown
 • Federal riding Thunder Bay—Rainy River
 • Prov. riding Thunder Bay—Atikokan
Area[1]
 • Land 319.29 km2 (123.28 sq mi)
Elevation[2] 395.30 m (1,296.92 ft)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 2,787
 • Density 8.7/km2 (23/sq mi)
Time zone Within the CST legislated time zone boundary but observes EST all year.[3] (UTC−5)
Postal code P0T 1C0
Area code(s) 807
Website www.atikokan.ca

Atikokan (Ojibwe for "caribou bones") is a town in the Rainy River District in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. The population was 2,787 as of the 2011 census. The town is one of the main entry points into Quetico Provincial Park and promotes itself as the "Canoeing Capital of Canada". Atikokan was originally established as a rail stop for the Canadian Northern Railway.

The town of Atikokan is an enclave within the Unorganized Rainy River District.

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

The original settlers to the Atikokan area were the "Oschekamega Wenenewak" (The people of the cross ridges) Ojibwa / Chippewa. They lived by themselves until the arrival of Jacques de Noyon in 1688. His journey was critical for the expansion and exploration of the Atikokan area.[4]

19th century to mid-20th century[edit]

The road to Atikokan[edit]

Palliser Gladman-Hind suggested the first real road in the area, he intended for it to go as far as possible starting from Arrow Lake, and after the road's end travellers would take a waterway to Fort Frances. Simon Dawson, on the other hand, thought the road could go from Dog Lake, to Thunder Bay, then using a series of dams, would allow even the larger boats to travel along the route of Dog River, Savanne River, Lac des Mille Lacs, via Pickerel Lake and Sturgeon Lake.

The government, ignoring both plans, decided to build a road west of Lac des Mille Lacs, down the Seine River and finally into Rainy Lake. In 1859, Simon James Dawson was hired to begin the route, but the plan was held up due to poor economic conditions in the east. In 1867, after Confederation, there became an increased need for communication to the west. Construction of the Dawson Trail began in Prince Arthur's Landing in 1868. Construction was sped up in 1869 as the Riel Rebellion resulted in the need to transport troops.[4]

The first residents[edit]

Tom Rawn and his wife were the first residents of Atikokan, arriving by canoe in 1899. Rawn was lured to Atikokan by both the allure of gold in the area and because of plans by the Canadian Northern Railway to build a divisional point. Tom moved here because he had heard that there was need of shelter for the workers on the railway. Within a year of moving to Atikokan, Tom Rawn built the Pioneer Hotel, which had 18 rooms on its second story. In 1900, he was the first to strike a claim for iron ore in the Steep Rock area. [4]

In 1937, when Julian Cross discovered ore, it seemed like Atikokan had some potential for becoming a real town. The first real showing was the construction of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce on Clark Street. Pitt Construction arrived later to construct roads. Their new way of making roads with machines amazed old-timers, who were used to making them using a pick, shovel and wheelbarrow. In 1950, the population had grown to 3,000 people.

The first businesses in Atikokan could buy lots on Main Street for only $10 an acre, but the prices soon skyrocketed to $100 per square foot.[4] Even with the high costs, stores, restaurants, banks and other establishments sprang up very quickly. The second bank to open was the Toronto-Dominion, the third, the Royal Bank of Canada.

Economic history[edit]

Fur trade era[edit]

During the fur trade era, major fur transportation and trading routes used by the voyageurs passed through the waters and portages south of what would later be Atikokan.[5][6]

Mining[edit]

The potential for the Steep Rock iron mine was revealed in 1897 by a non-resident geologist named William McInnis. Nothing was done until the winter of 1929–1930, when Julian Cross started interviewing iron and steel companies to try to unlock Steep Rock’s potential. He finally convinced a company from Duluth, Minnesota, led by Robert Whiteside to take the job.[4]

In 1932, Dr. McKenzie and Tom Rawn staked out the entire South East bay of Steep Rock. They then found a spot, sunk a shaft and found it was rich with high grade hematite. The mine was quickly abandoned as they had trouble keeping water out of it. In 1940, Rawn sold 109 claims located west of Steep Rock to Midwest Iron Mining Corporation, and in March of that year, with 60 claims in his name, created Rawn Iron Mines Ltd. Four months later, on July 23, Rawn went out prospecting near Sapawe, and never returned. Parties searched for weeks, but his remains were never found.

An aboriginal person discovered The Hammond Reef Mine in 1894 on the shore of Sawbill Lake, about 30 miles from Atikokan and showed it to John Hammond. A 10 stamp mill was built there in 1897 and 30 more stamps were added along with a hydro electric power house. It later closed down in 1899 because the results were disappointing. It then reopened in 1938.[4]

Forestry[edit]

Timber was first noticed in the area as early as the 1870s. There were 31 surveys, with 21 being in Quetico Provincial Park and 10 being in the Clearwater and White Otter Castle area. The first attempt at harvesting timber in the area was in the 1886. A sawmill was located on the height of land east of the French Portage.

The strip between Lac La Croix and French Lake held great potential for logging of red and white pine, however, the barren shores around Saganaga show that there were many fires there, with approximately one sixth of the total area having been destroyed by fires. These forest fires were usually caused by the carelessness of troops that passed through the area years before on the Dawson Trail. H.C. Smith[who?][full citation needed] described the aftermath as "gigantic, half burned dead pines, which, towering in the air, add so much to the wildness and desolation of the scene" and "too often caused by the carelessness of explorers, prospectors, and hunters; The Indians are very careful to extinguish their fires during the dry season ... it is regretted that the fatal carelessness of the others cannot be checked." He noted that the pine in the unburnt area was excellent. The best trees were said to be found on Trout, Darkey, and Brent Lakes, and the farthest Southeast end of Sturgeon Lake. [4]

Recent history[edit]

Before the 2nd World War, mineral exploration in the area determined the presence of a large, high grade, iron ore deposit at the bottom of Steep Rock Lake. After the war a large water diversion project on the Seine River system was undertaken to enable the draining and dredging of Steep Rock lake in order to develop open-pit mining operations.

Atikokan is in the Central Time Zone but observes Eastern Standard Time year round.

Two large mines (Steep Rock Iron Mines and Caland Ore Co.) commenced operations in the late 1950s and continued for more than 30 years. When the mines closed in the early 1980s the town of Atikokan suffered economically but continued to survive on natural resource-based industries and tourism.

In 1994, a 10 megawatt hydroelectric generating station (Valerie Falls Power) was developed on the Seine River diversion that had facilitated the opening of the mines 40 years earlier.[7]

On February 1, 2013, Resolute Forest Products announced its plans to develop a new single-line random-length sawmill located in the Atikokan area, to be operational in 2014.[8] The plan would create 90 direct jobs in Atikokan, with the additional benefit of supplying residual forest products to nearby pulp and paper mills.

Climate[edit]

Atikokan has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb) with four distinct seasons.[9] Winters are long, cold and snowy while summers are warm. Precipitation is higher during the summer months and lower during the winter months.

Demographics[edit]

Population trend:[1][11][12]

  • Population in 2011: 2787
  • Population in 2006: 3230
  • Population in 2001: 3632
  • Population in 1996: 4043
  • Population in 1991: 4047

Economy[edit]

Atikokan's main employers are the Atikokan Generating Station located 20 kilometres north of the community, the general hospital and (collectively) its canoeing outfitters. Recently, two forest product mills, Fibratech and Atikokan Forest Products (Located 30 kilometres east in Sapawe) were closed indefinitely due to the downturn in the wood industry.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG), has been one of Atikokan's main employers since the eary 1980's. The station burns coal shipped from Saskatchewan.[13] The power plant is currently under construction as it is converted from a coal powered fire plant to a biomass plant.[14]

The Osisko Mining Corporation is planning a new gold mine and ore processing facility at its Hammond Reef site approximately 30 kilometers north of Atikokan. The company plans to have a permit by 2013, open in 2016 and operate until 2030 followed by a 2 year decommissioning and closure process. The mine is planned to have two main open pits to produce 17.5 million tons of gold ore each year.[15]

Transportation[edit]

The town is located off Highway 11, between Thunder Bay and Fort Frances. A CN Rail branch line runs along the south side of town. When Atikokan opened its first rail line, fares were $15.[citation needed] Atikokan Municipal Airport is located to the northwest of the town.

Recreation[edit]

Little Falls, a scenic water body within the town limits.

Atikokan was selected as the host site for the 2003 edition of Raid the North Extreme, a televised 6 day multi-sport expedition race that visits wilderness locations across Canada. A key factor in the selection was the proximity to Quetico Provincial Park.[16] Quetico Park, located about 20 minutes south from the town of Atikokan, is a protected park with a route of lakes that was once traveled by the voyageurs.[5]

The clubs and activities in Atikokan include Atikokan Minor Hockey Association, Atikokan Figure Skating Club, Little Falls Golf Club, Little Falls Curling Club, Beaten Path Nordic Trails, Atikokan Bowling Association.[17]

Annual events included the Atikokan Bass Classic, a smallmouth bass tournament for teams of all kinds[18] and the Atikokan Mud Slingers 4x4 Races, a summer event located at Charleston Recreations Center.[19]

Education[edit]

Partial view of Atikokan as seen from above.

Atikokan is served by one elementary school, one separate school and one high school. Public Schools are administered by the Rainy River District School Board, St. Patrick's School is administered by the Northwest Catholic District School Board.

Public Schools:

  • North Star Community School
  • Atikokan High School

Separate School:

  • St. Patrick's Separate School

Media[edit]

Newspapers:

  • Atikokan Progress

Radio:

Television:

Arts[edit]

The Atikokan Public Library started on December 16, 1952 with only 700 books. Currently it has a varied collection of 30,000 items such as books, CDs, DVDs, and e-books, and offers public computers and computer instruction.[21]

The Atikokan Centennial Museum has a collection of heavy equipment from early logging, mining and railroad days.[22]

The Pictograph Gallery is a volunteer-run gallery that features arts and crafts of local and regional artists.[23]

Municipal Government[edit]

The mayor Dennis Brown leads the municipal government in Atikokan along with 6 councillors, Bud Dickson, Marj Lambkin, Mary Makarenko, Jerry Duhamel, Bob Gosselin, and Marlene Davidson.[24]

Health Care[edit]

The Atikokan General Hospital is a 41-bed hospital. Serving about 6,000 patients a year, this hospital offers emergency care, long term care, and rehabilitation services.[25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Atikokan, Ontario (Code 0028) and Ontario (Code 35) (table). Census Profile.". 2011 Census. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2012-03-30. 
  2. ^ "Canadian Climate Normals 1971-2000". Atikokan, Ontario: Environment Canada. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  3. ^ http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/Magazine/SO98/alacarte.asp
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Vita, Alan (1974). A History of Atikokan, 75th Anniversary Booklet Committee.
  5. ^ a b Fur Trade Canoe Routes of Canada/ Then and Now by Eric W. Morse Canada National and Historic Parks Branch, first printing 1969.
  6. ^ The Voyageurs Highway Nute, Grace Lee. Minnesota Historical Society June, 1941 Standard Book Number 87351-006-2, Library of Congress Card Number 65-63529
  7. ^ "Valerie Falls Dam". Seine River Watershed. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  8. ^ "Resolute to build sawmill in Atikokan". Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
  9. ^ "Climatic Regions [Köppen]". Atlas of Canada. Natural Resources Canada. June 2003. Archived from the original on 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
  10. ^ "Atikokan, Ontario". Canadian Climate Normals 1971–2000 (in English & French). Environment Canada. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "2006 Community Profiles". Canada 2006 Census. Statistics Canada. March 30, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-30. 
  12. ^ a b "2001 Community Profiles". Canada 2001 Census. Statistics Canada. February 17, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-30. 
  13. ^ http://atikokaninfo.com/economy/majorEmployers/opg/
  14. ^ http://news.ontario.ca/mei/en/2010/10/phasing-out-coal-power-in-ontario.html
  15. ^ http://www.osisko.com/pdfs/HammondReef_FactSheet.pdf Fact page for Hammond Reef project within the Osisko Mining Corporation web site Retrieved November 27, 2011
  16. ^ Adventure Sports Magazine article "3rd Time's a Charm", Oct 2003
  17. ^ http://atikokaninfo.com/
  18. ^ http://atikokaninfo.com/highlights/communityEvents/?eventID=atikokanBassClassic
  19. ^ http://atikokaninfo.com/highlights/communityEvents/?eventID=atikokanMudSlingers
  20. ^ Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-595
  21. ^ http://www.aplibrary.org/
  22. ^ http://www.atikokaninfo.com/highlights/centennialMuseum/
  23. ^ http://atikokaninfo.com/community/artCulture/cultureDetails.php?businessID=19
  24. ^ http://www.atikokan.ca/siteengine/activepage.asp?PageID=6
  25. ^ http://www.aghospital.on.ca/

External links[edit]