Railstop and HBC store in Gogama
|• Type||local services board|
|• MP||Claude Gravelle (NDP)|
|• MPP||France Gélinas (NDP)|
|Time zone||EST (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|Postal code||P0M 1W0|
Gogama is a community located in the heart of Northeastern Ontario, situated on Lake Minisinakwa, it is 580 kilometres north of Toronto, 191 km north of Sudbury and 114 km south of Timmins. With a population of 277 people in the Canada 2011 Census, it boasts recreation, hunting and fishing that is unrivaled in this part of Ontario.
Gogama is an Ojibway word meaning "jumping fish", likely in reference to the many fish that abound the waters of Lake Miniskawa. A native trading post was established in the area in the early 18th century. From 1911 to 1914, the Canadian Northern Railway, was under construction through this area, now the CNR. Gogama was first settled in 1917 by Arthur L'Abbé. The post office was opened shortly after in 1919 and since, Gogama has relied heavily on the forestry industry although tourism is starting to benefit the hamlet as well.
During the era of railway construction, Gogama was likely a place of importance for the manufacture of Axe ties. However, following that period, maintaining and upgrading the railway required a constant supply of ties. The handmade axe ties were phased out and replaced with creosote treated ties. For the most part, this development followed World War I throughout Northern Ontario. At that same time, returning soldiers came to this area looking for work.
The first mill at Gogama was established in 1919, when W.H. Poupore contracted with the Harris Tie and Timber to supply the CNR with sawn ties. The mill produced all types of merchantable timber, but specialized in tie blocks. This mill was later taken over by Poupore's brother M.J.(Joe) Poupore. As orders for ties declined contracts were secured to supply mining timber for Falconbridge. Although the original mill burned in 1936, a new mill was erected at the mouth of the Nabakwasi River, in Togo Township, north of Gogama.
In winter 2015, the town saw two nearby train derailments within less than one month. On February 14, seven rail cars carrying crude oil derailed approximately 30 kilometres from the town, and on March 8, 35 Canadian National Railway cars derailed at a site just four kilometres from the town, spilling crude into the Makami River and igniting an oil fire that took several days to extinguish. The two incidents sparked renewed debate on the effectiveness of Canada's rail safety regulations in the wake of the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster of 2013.
The community currently relies heavily on eco-tourism including hunting and fishing.
Recently, Iamgold announced it intended to open an open pit gold mine in 2015 employing an estimated 1,200 people. The company anticipates a 15-year lifespan for the mine with approximately 60,000 tonnes of ore production per day. The mine site will be located about 25 km southwest of Gogama and consist of an open-pit mine, tailings storage, a mill site and camp facilities.
Sergeant Wallace Edmond Firlotte, who served with the Lincoln and Welland Regiment during World War II, was born and raised in Gogama. He was bestowed with six war decorations for his heroism during the war; most notably, Sergeant Firlotte was one of fewer than ten Canadians, and the only one from his regiment, who had the Order of the Bronze Lion bestowed by the Crown of the Netherlands. HRH Prince Bernhardt, husband of Princess Juliana, heir to the Dutch Throne at the time personally presented this Order to Sgt Firlotte by Royal Decree (No. 2) on December 8, 1945.
Sergeant Firlotte remains buried in the French River township of Monetville, Ontario beside his lifelong wife.
Featured in film
Gogama is featured in a short educational film The Forest Commandos, produced by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film is 19 minutes long. It was completed by Warner Bros. in September 1945 and released in January 1946. The film documents the operations of the former Forest Protection Service, of the Department of Lands & Forests, Province of Ontario, which was renamed the Ministry of Natural Resources (Ontario) in 1972. The film is specifically dedicated to the work of the bush pilots flying floatplanes, such as those manufactured by the Stinson Aircraft Company, in support of forest fire suppression crews. A Second World War Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) de Havilland Mosquito fighter-bomber is also show briefly taxiing on a runway. The Forest Commandos is occasionally aired on Turner Classic Movies.
- "Census Profiles: Gogama". Canada 2011 Census.
- "CN line reopened after train derailment". Vancouver Sun, February 19, 2015.
- "Gogama derailment shows feds need to act on train safety, MPPs say". CBC Sudbury, March 8, 2015.
- "Derailments cast doubt on new safety standards: Tank cars carrying crude oil catch fire in second incident near Gogama, Ont.". The Globe and Mail, March 9, 2015.
- "Gold mine good for north: Company". Sudbury Star, April 12, 2013.
- "Gogama mine project shines for IAMGOLD". Timmins Daily Press, January 8, 2013.