THE ORDEAL OF PILOT BILL TWEED IN 1936

From Facebook posts in Greenstone History PLUS . . .

Posted on February 7, 2021 by EJ Lavoie

A DH60 Moth, commonly called a Gipsy Moth, flies over the lakes and bush of the Canadian boreal forest. Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.

Following published on Friday August 14, 1936 in the Port Arthur News-Chronicle . . .

WEDNESDAY NIGHT W. TWEED MISSING

Flying from Round Lake to Twin Lakes near Longlac — Heavy Smoke Hampers Searchers, Sudbury Warehouse Razed — New Fires Reported in Nipigon Area

News-Chronicle Special

LONGLAC, Aug. 14. –PiIot Bill Tweed, of the Ontario Forestry Branch at Twin Lakes, has been missing since 9 p.m. Wednesday, when he left Round Lake, on the LongIac-Nakina cut-off, enroute to Twin Lakes(1). Reports from Bawk(2) are that a motor was heard in the distance and it suddenly stopped. At the time it was thought it was an outboard motor, but reports are that there was not any motor travelling at the time. Forestry planes and the Nipigon Airways have been sent out to search. No trace of the pilot has been found. Owing to heavy smoke today visibility is very poor for any search work.

Pilot Tweed had just come into the Forestry Service this year but had much experience with planes. It is said that he might have flown to the north and passed his destination without knowing it. At the time the pilot was returning home, it was getting late in the evening3. Making it more difficult to fly, it has been very smoky this last few days, due to the presence of fires which are at present burning steadily. Today Mr. Billington, of the Ontario Forestry Branch, has been out to look for Tweed, while planes are searching north of Nakina.

FIRES IN NIPIGON AREA

One hundred pumps, half-a-million feet of hose and more than 900 men are being used by the Ontario Forestry Branch at present in fighting forest fires in Thunder Bay district, Fred J. Dawson, district forester, said today. Most of the equipment and men is concentrated In the Nipigon area where several new fires were spotted and reported to branch headquarters yesterday. In the Western section of the district the situation was unchanged, from yesterday, except that some of the fires had been brought under control releasing a number of men for duty in the East end.

Over 15,000 feet of hose scorched or otherwise damaged by fire, has been repaired at the branch’s vulcanizing plant which has been operating night and day for some time. The general situation today, Mr.Dawson said, was unchanged from yesterday, with officials and fire fighters praying for rain to fall while they continue the ceaseless battle against the flaming despoiler of the forest. “There’s no use of talking about it,”Mr. Dawson said. “Until we get rain the situatIon is hopeless. We no sooner get one bad fire out than another or more than one springs up to take its place. It’s been like that for days now and the boys are wearied almost to death. Never in all the hlstory of fire fightlng has there ever been such a situation as has existed In Ontario since the first of May.”

In stating that the Ontario Government had decided to close the townships of Marks, Sackville, Adrian and Aldina because of the fire risk, Mr. Dawson said the ban against aII traffic into the four townships would remain until the end of the fire season, October l5. Hope of the department lies today in the thought that the Fall season with its rains is not so far away, Mr. Dawson said.

WAREHOUSE  DESTROYED

TORONTO. Aug. l4 -Destruction of their Sudbury warehouse by fire today  added to the worries of Ontario Forestry Branch officials already faced with 150 odd forest fires raging at scattered points in the province . . .

The pilot of this Gipsy Moth stands on a float, posing for the camera. The passenger is seated in the cockpit. Note the empty aft cockpit where the pilot will be seated. Photo source unknown.

Following published on Saturday August 15, 1936 in the Port Arthur News-Chronicle . . .

PILOT TWEED STILL MISSING

Three Planes and Provincial Police Join in Search Near Long Lac

Three Ontario Forestry Department airplanes, one from Sault Ste Marie, are today participating in the search for Pilot Bill Tweed of the department, missing since Wednesday morning, when he left Round Lake, on the Longlac -Nakina cut-off, to fly to Twin Lakes, near Bawk, it was stated today by Fred J. Dawson, district forester. A search maintained since reports were sent out that Pilot Tweed had disappeared disclosed no clue of the airman. This morning Mr. Dawson requested Port Arthur headquarters of the Ontario Provincial Police to assist in the search for Pilot Tweed and tomorrow Constable Nix, of Geraldton, and Constable James Higgins of Sioux Lookout will proceed to Bawk to organize a ground search. Constable Higgins is familiar with the general bush surroundings of the district where the pilot is believed lost4.

Ontario Forestry Branch officials today did not care to hazard a conclusive opinion as to what happened. They said Tweed’s machinemight have been in a forced landing in some out-of-the-way spot in the bush and that he might have been injured. On the other hand, the plane might have crashed and taken fire.

Mr. Dawson said no new bush fires have been reported since yesterday in the Thunder Bay district. Reports were reaching headquarters that rain had fallen in some of the fire zones and there were indications that a heavy rain might visit the Lakehead over the week-end.

This 1953 map is compiled from information and aerial photographs from 1946. Note the vast roadless area north of the TransCanada Highway No. 11, which linked Geraldton and Longlac to Hearst in 1943. Logging roads are just starting to penetrate the bush in this era. The whistlestop of Bawk (upper right part of the map) shows three structures associated with this location on the railway. Map “Longlac, Ontario”, Sheet 42 E/NE, National Topographic Series, Department of National Defence.

ENDNOTES

1 The description of the flight path is sketchy. The destination, Twin Lakes Air Base, is clear. Twin Lakes refers to Upper and Lower Twin Lakes, located six miles east of Nakina. Between Nakina and Twin Lakes was the longest road in the district, and in 1936 one had to fly 35 miles south and west to Geraldton to find more roads,  associated with the Little Long Lac gold camp. The district between Nakina, Geraldton, and Longlac was otherwise roadless terrain. The air base, for Ontario Forestry Branch (OFB) float planes, was located on the southwest shore of Lower Twin Lake. The OFB patrolled for forest fires and ferried firefighters and equipment to outbreaks.

2 Bawk was a whistlestop on the Nakina Cut-off, the Canadian National Railways line between Longlac and Nakina. It would have had a section house for railway workers maintaining the tracks and, judging by reports in this article, possibly a firetower for spotting fires. Bawk had telegraphic communication with both Nakina and Longlac.

The Port Arthur News-Chronicle (PANC) would have used Fred J. Dawson, Thunder Bay District Forester, based in Port Arthur, for its primary source. The reporter for PANC most likely had a very hazy idea of the geography outside the city, which would account for the sketchy description of the flight path. In addition, maps were not readily available and showed wide expanses of unsurveyed territory. Maps from that era also fail to identify a “Round Lake”. The details “passed his destination” and “very smoky” confirm that the pilot took his cues from compass and landscape features rather than radio directional  beacon signals, which the Nakina airport could provide. The time given in the August 14th report is very likely accurate, the plane’s motor stopping at 9:00 p.m. Wednesday evening. The time given in the August 15th report, “Wednesday morning”, is questionable. This report has no dateline (i.e., date and place) to provide some attribution, and was likely a rewrite job by newspaper staff.

4 Constables Nix and Higgins would travel by train to Bawk. Once leaving the tracks and plunging into the bush, one’s familiarity with “the general bush surroundings” counted for naught in finding one’s way. However, one’s knowledge of bushcraft would be useful if one had a destination in mind.

5 William “Bill” Tweed was flying a DH60 Moth, Canadian registration number G-CAOX.

Geoffrey de Havilland, founder of the de Havilland Aircraft Co. of Britain, designed the DH 60 Moth. In 1928, the Ontario Provincial Air Service (OPAS), based in Sault Ste. Marie, began to acquire a fleet of the Moths. They were a versatile aircraft which could be equipped with wheels, skis, or floats. The OPAS was phasing out the old HS-2L flying boats used by the Ontario Forestry Branch.

Originally fitted with 100 h.p. Gipsy engines, they were upgraded to 120 h.p. The biplane measured 23 feet long with a wing span of 30 feet and a cruising speed of 85 mph. It had two open cockpits: the pilot sat is the aft cockpit, the passenger in the fore; they could communicate with a speaking tube. The fuselage had a metal-and-wood frame covered with fabric.

In the 1930s, the Gipsy Moths, as they were commonly called, were the most popular aircraft in Canada. They broke all kinds of records for altitude, endurance, speed, and maintenance-free operation. They became the favourite of long-distance fliers.

The Canadian Museum of Flight.

Source Google Google Earth view annotated.

Posted on February 13, 2021 by EJ Lavoie

A de Havilland DH60 Moth in flight. Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre

Following published on Tuesday August 18, 1936 in the Port Arthur News-Chronicle . . .

TWEED HAS A FRACTURED LEG

Lost Pilot Suffered Five Days of Agony  ̶  Head Injured Too

By Canadian Press

NAKINA, Ont., Aug. I8. –At the little Red Cross hospital in thls town cut out of the tall forests of Northwestern Ontario, Pilot Bill Tweed rested today and looked back over five days of agony  ̶  five days through which, with a broken leg, broken arm and head lacerations, he lay beside his wrecked plane and waited for the rescue which time and again came so close but didn’t reach him until yesterday1.

Map section from information and photographs compiled in 1946. Map “Longlac, Ontario”, Sheet 42 E/NE, National Topographic Series, 1953, Department of National Defence, with annotations by author.

Too exhausted to tell of hls experiences, the flier was brought to safety after a fellow-pilot had discovered his whereabouts and a ground crew had spent hours hacking their way through dense bush to reach him.

Whether he had food or water during those five long days remains to be told. Residents here, however, think he might have been able to reach emergency supplies in his plane, or crawled painfully through the bush to a nearby stream.

Three planes scoured the territory by air while the ground crews searched for the spot of humanity in the vast ranges of the timber country – and all the time he lay there, just eight miles from Nakina2 and a short flight from his base at Twin Lakes.

Pilot Jim Westway, drawn to the spot by a signal fire, sighted the missing man yesterday afternoon. Beyond dropping a small supply of food, he could do nothing to relieve Tweed immediately for dense forests and the absence of nearby lakes made it impossible to land his seaplane.

Westway streaked back to his base to set a crew of groundmen on the trail, a trail that after hours of weary cutting through the forest, led to an exhausted flier and a completely demolished plane.

Tweedpilot Lake in Google Earth view.

Following published on Wednesday August 19, 1936 in the Port Arthur News-Chronicle . . .

RAIN REVIVED PILOT FROM DAYS OF UNCONSCIOUSNESS

By Canadian Press

NAKINA, Ont., Aug. 19. -Bill Tweed, Ontario Alr Service flyer missing five days in the Northern Ontario bush was unconscious from Wednesday night when he crashed until Saturday, when he was revived by rain, it was learned here today. The pilot is in the Red Cross hospital with a broken left leg and arm.

Fully conscious when found yesterday by a ground crew that hacked its way3 eight miles through the bush from here to a small clearing where he had crashed. Tweed could not speak above a whisper. He has no clear recollec-tion of what happened after the crash until rain, falling on his face, brought him back to consciousness Saturday night.

When he found hlmself lying on the ground with first-aid kit, emergency rations and a big red blanket beside him. Nearby was one of the seat cushions from the airplane.

Except for a few spoonsfuls caught in the hollow of the cushion, the lost man was without water. There was some in one of the pontoons of the plane not four feet away but he was unable to reach it. When the rescue party arrived, he directed them to the water.

Tweed had concentrated beef and raisins. He was afraid to eat the raisins, though, because he thought they would make him thirsty. Some morphine tablets from the first-aid kit were used to ease the pain of the leg, broken just below the hip, and the arm that was broken above the wrist. Hospital authorities said the wound had begun to heal and there was no danger of poisoning.

Tweed regarded the scantiness of his diet as something of a boon for his rescuers. On the way out he told members of the party he had been on a diet for the last few days, so he would not be so heavy to carry.

The plane crashed into a large spruce tree, breaking it into three pieces. The top brushy part of the tree fell over the craft, completely hiding it from above.

Tweed spent Sunday night trying to collect a few chunks of rotten wood and moss to light signal fires. He built a fire in an eight-inch funnel that fell from the airplane because he was afraid to light a fire on the ground. He feared the blaze might spread and he could not escape.

Several times Sunday he had seen searching planes but was unable to signal them4.

It was something of flier’s luck that helped Pilot Jim Westaway sight the missing man Monday.

Had he been half an hour later in his flight over the small clearing where Tweed lay beside the plane he might never have discovered his fellow pilot. A light wind sprang up and it would have dispersed the smoke signal.

The plane is a complete wreck, piled in a space ten feet square. The safety belt was torn from the sockets and Tweed was hurled from the rear cockpit through the instrument panel and into the front cockpit5. Fuselage and support were torn as if slashed by an axe.

Map composite of sections of NTS Nakina 42L and NTS Longlac 42E, with labels added, showing Tweedpilot Lake and Bawk.

The broken bones had to be set by Dr. T.H. McKillip before the injured man could be moved. It was necessary to travel three-quarters of a mile to obtain water for the plaster casts. Tweed uttered no complaint during the trip out to Nakina, although he was severely jolted over the rough trail6.

He is resting comfortably in hospital here and unless complications set in he will not be moved. His wife and daughter Shirley have come to Nakina, where they are staying with a fire ranger’s family.7

ENDNOTES

1 Scouring maps for a “Round Lake”, this author found no such lake between the north and south east-west lines of the CNR. By happenstance, his eyes lit on a tiny lake named Tweedpilot Lake. What were the odds? Tweedpilot Lake is located south of Nakina and west of Bawk, the whistlestop on the Nakina Cut-off.

2 Tweedpilot Lake is not eight miles from Nakina. Tweedpilot Lake is thirteen miles from Nakina. However, Tweedpilot Lake is approximately six miles by air from Bawk (which is 15 miles from Nakina). So, eight miles is a fair approximation of the distance from Tweedpilot Lake to Bawk by a rough trail. Again, the newspaper reports are confused about the geography.

3 “Hacked” is an accurate description of how the searchers made their way through the bush. They used axes. Bucksaws would have been ineffective. Chainsaws had not been invented yet.

4 The grid pattern used by planes strongly suggests that they had narrowed the area in which to search. They certainly were not searching in the area of Bawk and the Nakina Cut-off. Only the signal fire alerted them to the crash location. Northerners can imagine how far even a smoky fire can be seen. Answer: not far.

5 Note that there is no suggestion that there was a passenger in the fore cockpit. This evidence is important in light of later official reports.

6 The trail would indeed be rough and just wide enough to carry a stretcher through. The ground route from Bawk would have taken the searchers around the north end of Burrows Lake and across the creek that empties into the lake (now called Murky Creek). The author has canoed this creek, and can imagine how searchers had to ford this waterway. They most certainly got their feet wet.

7 Questions remain about Pilot Tweed’s flight plan. Why was Tweed flying to Round Lake? Where was Round Lake? What caused the air crash? There was indeed a probe into the crash Would the probe answer these questions?

Posted on February 17, 2021 by EJ Lavoie

A DH60 Moth in the air. Photo Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.

Following published on Thursday August 20, 1936 in the The Globe . . .

PROBE ORDERED INTO AIR CRASH

Wreckage of Forestry Plane Guarded1

Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Aug. 19 ,(CP) ̶ Director George Ponsford of the Ontario Alr Service, said tonight he had asked the Department of Civil Aviation at Ottawa to investigate the crash of the Moth airplane which left Pilot Bill Tweed marooned five days in the bush near Twin Lakes.

Inspector J. Shields of Ottawa, he said, has been appointed to carry out the investigation2, and now may be on his way to Nakina, Canadian National Railways divisional point, 200 miles northeast of Port Arthur, near where the crash occurred.

SufferIng a broken leg and a fractured arm, Tweed, found Mondav. about eight miles from Nakina, is still in hospital there.

A guard has been placed over the wrecked plane, which will not be touched until Inspector Shields examines it. A. Simard, Air Service engineer, has already gone to Nakina to dismantle the machine and salvage undamaged parts once the inspection is completed.

A composite map of Nakina and Longlac showing the possible return flight line of G-CAOX on August 12, 1936.

ENDNOTES

1 It is unclear why the wreckage would guarded, being miles from anywhere, and any unauthorized person salvaging parts would be detected by train crews.

2 A report of the investigation cannot be accessed at the present time when archives are locked down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, snippets of information have surfaced. Here is a semi-official report from the non-profit Aviation Safety Network  < Incident de Havilland DH.60X Moth G-CAOX, 12 Aug 1936 (aviation-safety.net) > . I have submitted corrections to be reviewed. Note the reference to a charter flight.

Here is a report from the Bureau of Aircraft Accident Archives < Crash of a De Havilland DH.60X Moth near Nakina | Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives (baaa-acro.com) > . The Bureau was founded by a historian based in Geneva, Switzerland, and may be classed as a semi-official site. The report on G-CAOX is also rife with errors, but adds that the flight was a non-scheduled revenue flight. No source is cited for the data. One egregious error is “the pilot [attempted] an emergency landing in a wheat field”. There is no wheat field within 200 miles of Nakina.

Given that official reports (i.e., news items) and semi-official reports teem with errors, we may never know the real story. Even archived reports have errors. It is the historian’s job to make whatever sense he can with the materials (i.e., the facts) he has. It is tempting to take the Farley Mowat approach. The late Farley Mowat was an historian and a storyteller. However, he never let the facts (as much as we can determine they are facts) get in the way of a good story. His approach was to tell not so much what happened as what should have happened. Please forgive this author for the following story à la Farley Mowat.

3 Suppose the first Port Arthur News-Chronicle news report of August 14 had another minor error. We already suspect that the reporter was geographically challenged. Could he have also been geometrically challenged? Could he, in his haste to transcribe the word flow of Fred Dawson, the busy Thunder Bay District Forester  ̶  could he  have written “round” instead of “square”? Could this “Round Lake” really be a “Square Lake”? In 1936 there was a Square Lake in Thunder Bay District. It was later named Wilkinson Lake.

An almost straight line can be drawn from Wilkinson Lake to the Twin Lakes Air Base. It would pass over Tweedpilot Lake, the site of the crash. The pilot, navigating by topographic features, would be guided by prominent and/or distinctive lakes. At 1,000 feet, he would see Onaman Lake, a huge body of water, and keep it constantly on his left. He would easily recognize large lakes such as Atigogama, Treptow, Greta, and Burrows, and fly by them on his left or right side.

What reason would he have to take a passenger to Wilkinson Lake, drop him off, and fly back to Twin Lakes? In the summer of 1936, Penelton was exploring a big gold strike at Square Lake. This is largely detailed in The Wilkinson Lake Strike < bit.ly/2MW5QoF >. Like all prospectors, he had sold an option on his claims. He had a relationship with the option holder. Here’s what should’ve happened:

*** ***

“Tom,” he said.

“And Mike.”

“Yes,” they said. “What’s up?”

John Penelton was smoking thoughtfully on the bench outside the door of their log cabin. He knocked the dottle out of his pipe.

“We got to make a trip,” Penelton said. “To the railway.”

He could spare Tom and Mike on the diamond-drilling crews for a day. He had to see Cecil.

“Got to talk to Waite,” he said. “We need more money. More supplies.”

They left Square Lake in a 15-foot Chestnut canoe. They paddled south down the creek to the Sturgeon River and turned east to head upriver. At each portage, a passenger relieved one of the paddlers. At the falls just before Partridge Lake, they pulled ashore, walked to the tracks near the bridge. Tom dropped Penelton’s packsack on the ballast.

“Okay, boys,” said Penelton. “I’m off to the Big Smoke. Shouldn’t take more than a few days. I’ll bring you back a treat. You’ll see me when you see me.”

“Right, boss.”

“Boss,” said Tom, “think of us when yer quaffing a draft at the Walker House.”

“And don’t get tangled up in them clean sheets at the King Eddy,” said Mike.

They smiled, waved, trudged down the path.

A couple hours later, he flagged down No. 80. In Toronto he met J.H.C. Waite. It was a satisfactory meeting. More than one meeting, actually. He enjoyed the draft beer. He enjoyed the clean sheets. For three nights, actually. He caught the train to Nakina. He had wired ahead to charter a flight.

At Nakina station, he hitched a ride the six miles to Twin Lakes Air Base. Pilot Bill Tweed met him on the dock. His plane’s number was splashed in big black letters on the fuselage: G-CAOX. Penelton stowed his packsack under his feet in the forward cockpit and adjusted his goggles. The take-off was uneventful.

It was a beautiful day. Just some smoke from small scattered bush fires. Far to the west, to his right, he scanned the big body of water on the horizon. He got Tweed’s attention on the speaking tube:

“That’s Red Paint!” he shouted. He pointed west.

Tweed nodded quizzically.

“Red Paint Lake,” he explained. “Now they call it Onaman.”

Tweed nodded and smiled.

Penelton didn’t know the names of the lakes they flew by. But he recognized Atigogama Lake. Site of the Dik-Dik mine, discovered by Tom Johnson. And then the Gipsy Moth was descending. Descending to Square Lake. Soon he was home. And the Moth flew homeward.

As the light faded, the drilling crews straggled in and congregated at the cabin. Suppertime. Eager eyes probed at Penelton’s packsack.

After a meal of beans and bacon, bread and coffee, Penelton opened the sack. He pulled out a lard pail. Opened it. Revealed dainty iced cakes. Licorice sticks. Rummaged deeper in the sack and pulled out a bottle of Seagram’s.

A fitting end to a day’s work.

Pilot Tweed would be home by now. Probably enjoying a bottled beer, cooled in the lake.

*** ***

This is not, repeat, not what happened. It’s what should’ve happened.

P.S. In the fall of 2020, a company took an option of the Hercules-Elmhirst claims, which included Penelton’s original claims. Again, today, 87 years after the original find, another mining exploration group is hopeful to find a mine. Maybe 87th time lucky.

A post in Aviation Safety Network, riddled with misinformation.

A DH60 Moth on a lake. Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.

Posted on February 19, 2021 by EJ Lavoie

Canadian Vickers Vedette II flying boat G-CYYF near Orient Bay ca 1930. Library & Archives Canada MIKAN no. 3650434.

Following published on Wednesday August 19, 1936 in the Port Arthur News-Chronicle . . .

PLANE STUCK ON SANDBAR

Pilot Joe Heaven is Found Safe After Being Missing From Macdiarmid1

Fear that a second accident such as that in which Pilot Bill Tweed of the Ontario Air Service suffered serious injuries last week had been met by Pilot Joe Heaven was proven groundless today.

Unreported after he had left Orient Bay2 early Monday afternoon, two planes left Port Arthur today to begin a search of the wild country east of Lake Nipigon for the missing flyer.

Ontario Department of Lands & Forests, annual report completed March 31, 1937.

Later in the day Heaven was found on a small lake twenty-two miles east of Macdiarmid, with his plane stuck on a sandbar. He had landed on the lake with supplies for a fire-fighting gang.

Heavy smoke and fog which blanketed the area yesterday prevented the searching planes setting out at that time. It had been thought at first Heaven might have landed on some out-of-the-way lake because of adverse flying conditions.3

Canadian Vickers Vedette. 1000aircraftphotos.com.

ENDNOTES

1 While a ground party was rescuing Bill Tweed, south of Nakina, another drama was unfolding near Macdiarmid.

2 The Orient Bay base was the Ontario Provincial Air Service (OPAS) base in Thunder Bay District closest to Port Arthur as well as to Nakina. It was located on the southwest shore of Pijitawabik Bay of Lake Nipigon, across from Macdiarmid and the CNR’s Nipigon Lodge (soon renamed Royal Windsor Lodge).

3 Joe Heaven, pilot, flew out of Orient Bay. There was only one seaplane assigned there, a Canadian Vickers Vedette, registration no. CF-OAB.

The Canadian Vickers Vedette, like its predecessor, the HS-2L, was a bi-plane. All remaining OPAS HS-2Ls (H-boats) were taken out of service in 1932. The Vedette, also equipped with a push propellor, was designed by Canadian conditions and suitable for forest survey (i.e., aerial photographs) and fire protection.

In 1936, the OPAS had two seaplanes operating from the Twin Lakes base, the Moth (with its tragic history) and a Buhl. The Buhl Airsedan was also a type of bi-plane. However, rather than open cockpits, it had an enclosed cabin. OPAS bought the rights to manufacture Buhls and built four planes in 1935-37 for fire spotting. They were equipped with Canadian Vickers floats (pontoons).

Ontario Provincial Air Service Buhl CA-6M Airsedan CF-OAQ. Canada Dept. of National Defence / Library & Archives Canada PA-063271.

Posted in WRITING | Leave a comment

10 Lost & Found Aug 1936 Times in Nakina & Macdiarmid

Canadian Vickers Vedette II flying boat G-CYYF near Orient Bay ca 1930. Library & Archives Canada MIKAN no. 3650434.

10 19 August report in Port Arthur News-Chronicle in 1936

Refer to 07 Pilot Missing Aug 1936 Times in Nakina and 08 Pilot Found Aug 1936 Times in Nakina and 09 Probe into Crash Aug 1936 Times in Nakina for the full story about Pilot Bill Tweed.

Editor’s Note After July 1936, the local correspondent for Nakina did not submit copy to the Port Arthur News-Chronicle for the rest of that year.

Wed Aug 19 –

PLANE STUCK ON SANDBAR

Pilot Joe Heaven is Found Safe After Being Missing From Macdiarmid1

Fear that a second accident such as that in which Pilot Bill Tweed of the Ontario Air Service suffered serious injuries last week had been met by Pilot Joe Heaven was proven groundless today.

Unreported after he had left Orient Bay2 early Monday afternoon, two planes left Port Arthur today to begin a search of the wild country east of Lake Nipigon for the missing flyer.

Ontario Department of Lands & Forests, annual report completed March 31, 1937.

Later in the day Heaven was found on a small lake twenty-two miles east of Macdiarmid, with his plane stuck on a sandbar. He had landed on the lake with supplies for a fire-fighting gang.

Heavy smoke and fog which blanketed the area yesterday prevented the searching planes setting out at that time. It had been thought at first Heaven might have landed on some out-of-the-way lake because of adverse flying conditions.3

Canadian Vickers Vedette. 1000aircraftphotos.com.

ENDNOTES

1 While a ground party was rescuing Bill Tweed, south of Nakina, another drama was unfolding near Macdiarmid.

2 The Orient Bay base was the Ontario Provincial Air Service (OPAS) base in Thunder Bay District closest to Port Arthur as well as to Nakina. It was located on the southwest shore of Pijitawabik Bay of Lake Nipigon, across from Macdiarmid and the CNR’s Nipigon Lodge (soon renamed Royal Windsor Lodge).

3 Joe Heaven, pilot, flew out of Orient Bay. There was only one seaplane assigned there, a Canadian Vickers Vedette, registration no. CF-OAB.

The Canadian Vickers Vedette, like its predecessor, the HS-2L, was a bi-plane. All remaining OPAS HS-2Ls (H-boats) were taken out of service in 1932. The Vedette, also equipped with a push propellor, was designed by Canadian conditions and suitable for forest survey (i.e., aerial photographs) and fire protection.

In 1936, the OPAS had two seaplanes operating from the Twin Lakes base, the Moth (with its tragic history) and a Buhl. The Buhl Airsedan was also a type of bi-plane. However, rather than open cockpits, it had an enclosed cabin. OPAS bought the rights to manufacture Buhls and built four planes in 1935-37 for fire spotting. They were equipped with Canadian Vickers floats (pontoons).

Ontario Provincial Air Service Buhl CA-6M Airsedan CF-OAQ. Canada Dept. of National Defence / Library & Archives Canada PA-063271.

PHOTOS

01 Canadian Vickers Vedette II flying boat G-CYYF near Orient Bay ca 1930. Library & Archives Canada MIKAN no. 3650434.

02 Ontario Department of Lands & Forests, annual report completed March 31, 1937.

03 Canadian Vickers Vedette. 1000aircraftphotos.com.

04 Ontario Provincial Air Service Buhl CA-6M Airsedan CF-OAQ. Canada Dept. of National Defence / Library & Archives Canada PA-063271.

Posted in WRITING | Leave a comment

09 Probe into Crash Aug 1936 Times in Nakina

A DH60 Moth in the air. Photo Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.

09 20 August report in The Globe in 1936

Refer to 07 Pilot Missing Aug 1936 Times in Nakina and 08 Pilot Found Aug 1936 Times in Nakina for the full story.

Thu Aug 20 –

PROBE ORDERED

INTO AIR CRASH

Wreckage of Forestry

Plane Guarded1

Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Aug. 19 ,(CP),

̶ Director George Ponsford of the

Ontario Alr Service, said tonight he

had asked the Department of Civil

Aviation at Ottawa to investigate the

crash of the Moth airplane which left

Pilot Bill Tweed marooned five days

in the bush near Twin Lakes.

Inspector J. Shields of Ottawa, he

said, has been appointed to carry out

the investigation2, and now may be on

his way to Nakina, Canadian National

Railways divisional point, 200 miles

northeast of Port Arthur, near where

the crash occurred.

SufferIng a broken leg and a fractured

arm, Tweed, found Mondav.

about eight miles from Nakina, is still

in hospital there.

A guard has been placed over the

wrecked plane, which will not be

touched until Inspector Shields examines

it. A. Simard, Air Service

engineer, has already gone to Nakina

to dismantle the machine and salvage

undamaged parts once the inspection

is completed.

A composite map of Nakina and Longlac showing the possible return flight line of G-CAOX on August 12, 1936.

ENDNOTES

1 It is unclear why the wreckage would guarded, being miles from anywhere, and any unauthorized person salvaging parts would be detected by train crews.

2 A report of the investigation cannot be accessed at the present time when archives are locked down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, snippets of information have surfaced. Here is a semi-official report from the non-profit Aviation Safety Network  < Incident de Havilland DH.60X Moth G-CAOX, 12 Aug 1936 (aviation-safety.net) > . I have submitted corrections to be reviewed. Note the reference to a charter flight.

Here is a report from the Bureau of Aircraft Accident Archives < Crash of a De Havilland DH.60X Moth near Nakina | Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives (baaa-acro.com) > . The Bureau was founded by a historian based in Geneva, Switzerland, and may be classed as a semi-official site. The report on G-CAOX is also rife with errors, but adds that the flight was a non-scheduled revenue flight. No source is cited for the data. One egregious error is “the pilot [attempted] an emergency landing in a wheat field”. There is no wheat field within 200 miles of Nakina.

Given that official reports (i.e., news items) and semi-official reports teem with errors, we may never know the real story. Even archived reports have errors. It is the historian’s job to make whatever sense he can with the materials (i.e., the facts) he has. It is tempting to take the Farley Mowat approach. The late Farley Mowat was an historian and a storyteller. However, he never let the facts (as much as we can determine they are facts) get in the way of a good story. His approach was to tell not so much what happened as what should have happened. Please forgive this author for the following story à la Farley Mowat.

3 Suppose the first Port Arthur News-Chronicle news report of August 14 had another minor error. We already suspect that the reporter was geographically challenged. Could he have also been geometrically challenged? Could he, in his haste to transcribe the word flow of Fred Dawson, the busy Thunder Bay District Forester  ̶  could he  have written “round” instead of “square”? Could this “Round Lake” really be a “Square Lake”? In 1936 there was a Square Lake in Thunder Bay District. It was later named Wilkinson Lake.

An almost straight line can be drawn from Wilkinson Lake to the Twin Lakes Air Base. It would pass over Tweedpilot Lake, the site of the crash. The pilot, navigating by topographic features, would be guided by prominent and/or distinctive lakes. At 1,000 feet, he would see Onaman Lake, a huge body of water, and keep it constantly on his left. He would easily recognize large lakes such as Atigogama, Treptow, Greta, and Burrows, and fly by them on his left or right side.

What reason would he have to take a passenger to Wilkinson Lake, drop him off, and fly back to Twin Lakes? In the summer of 1936, Penelton was exploring a big gold strike at Square Lake. This is largely detailed in The Wilkinson Lake Strike < bit.ly/2MW5QoF >. Like all prospectors, he had sold an option on his claims. He had a relationship with the option holder. Here’s what should’ve happened:

*** ***

“Tom,” he said.

“And Mike.”

“Yes,” they said. “What’s up?”

John Penelton was smoking thoughtfully on the bench outside the door of their log cabin. He knocked the dottle out of his pipe.

“We got to make a trip,” Penelton said. “To the railway.”

He could spare Tom and Mike on the diamond-drilling crews for a day. He had to see Cecil.

“Got to talk to Waite,” he said. “We need more money. More supplies.”

They left Square Lake in a 15-foot Chestnut canoe. They paddled south down the creek to the Sturgeon River and turned east to head upriver. At each portage, a passenger relieved one of the paddlers. At the falls just before Partridge Lake, they pulled ashore, walked to the tracks near the bridge. Tom dropped Penelton’s packsack on the ballast.

“Okay, boys,” said Penelton. “I’m off to the Big Smoke. Shouldn’t take more than a few days. I’ll bring you back a treat. You’ll see me when you see me.”

“Right, boss.”

“Boss,” said Tom, “think of us when yer quaffing a draft at the Walker House.”

“And don’t get tangled up in them clean sheets at the King Eddy,” said Mike.

They smiled, waved, trudged down the path.

A couple hours later, he flagged down No. 80. In Toronto he met J.H.C. Waite. It was a satisfactory meeting. More than one meeting, actually. He enjoyed the draft beer. He enjoyed the clean sheets. For three nights, actually. He caught the train to Nakina. He had wired ahead to charter a flight.

At Nakina station, he hitched a ride the six miles to Twin Lakes Air Base. Pilot Bill Tweed met him on the dock. His plane’s number was splashed in big black letters on the fuselage: G-CAOX. Penelton stowed his packsack under his feet in the forward cockpit and adjusted his goggles. The take-off was uneventful.

It was a beautiful day. Just some smoke from small scattered bush fires. Far to the west, to his right, he scanned the big body of water on the horizon. He got Tweed’s attention on the speaking tube:

“That’s Red Paint!” he shouted. He pointed west.

Tweed nodded quizzically.

“Red Paint Lake,” he explained. “Now they call it Onaman.”

Tweed nodded and smiled.

Penelton didn’t know the names of the lakes they flew by. But he recognized Atigogama Lake. Site of the Dik-Dik mine, discovered by Tom Johnson. And then the Gipsy Moth was descending. Descending to Square Lake. Soon he was home. And the Moth flew homeward.

As the light faded, the drilling crews straggled in and congregated at the cabin. Suppertime. Eager eyes probed at Penelton’s packsack.

After a meal of beans and bacon, bread and coffee, Penelton opened the sack. He pulled out a lard pail. Opened it. Revealed dainty iced cakes. Licorice sticks. Rummaged deeper in the sack and pulled out a bottle of Seagram’s.

A fitting end to a day’s work.

Pilot Tweed would be home by now. Probably enjoying a bottled beer, cooled in the lake.

*** ***

This is not, repeat, not what happened. It’s what should’ve happened.

P.S. In the fall of 2020, a company took an option of the Hercules-Elmhirst claims, which included Penelton’s original claims. Again, today, 87 years after the original find, another mining exploration group is hopeful to find a mine. Maybe 87th time lucky.

A post in Aviation Safety Network, riddled with misinformation.

PHOTOS

01 A DH60 Moth in the air. Photo Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.

02 A composite map of Nakina and Longlac showing the possible return flight line of G-CAOX on August 12, 1936

03 A post in Aviation Safety Network, riddled with misinformation.

.

Posted in WRITING | 2 Comments

08 Pilot Found Aug 1936 Times in Nakina

A de Havilland DH60 Moth in flight. Photo Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre

08 18 & 19 August reports in the Port Arthur News-Chronicle in 1936

Refer to 07 Pilot Missing Aug 1936 Times in Nakina for beginning of story.

Tue Aug 18 –

TWEED HAS A

FRACTURED LEG

Lost Pilot Suffered Five Days

of Agony-Head

Injured Too

By Canadian Press

NAKINA, Ont., Aug. I8. –At the

little Red Cross hospital in thls town

cut out of the tall forests of North-

western Ontario, Pilot Bill Tweed rest-

ed today and looked back over five

days of agony  ̶  five days through

which, with a broken leg, broken arm

and head lacerations, he lay beside

his wrecked plane and waited for the

rescue which time and again came so

close but didn’t reach him until yes-

terday1.

Map section from information and photographs compiled in 1946, with labels added. Source “Longlac, Ontario”, Sheet 42 E/NE, National Topographic Series, 1953, Department of National Defence.

Too exhausted to tell of hls experiences,

the flier was brought to safety

after a fellow-pilot had discovered his

whereabouts and a ground crew had

spent hours hacking their way through

dense bush to reach him.

Whether he had food or water during

those five long days remains to be

told. Residents here, however, think

he might have been able to reach

emergency supplies in his plane, or

crawled painfully through the bush to

a nearby stream.

Three planes scoured the territory

by air while the ground crews searched

for the spot of humanity in the vast

ranges of the timber country – and all

the time he lay there, just eight miles

from Nakina2 and a short flight from

his base at Twin Lakes.

Pilot Jim Westway, drawn to the

spot by a signal fire, sighted the missing

man yesterday afternoon. Beyond

dropping a small supply of food, he

could do nothing to relieve Tweed immediately

for dense forests and the

absence of nearby lakes made it im-

possible to land his seaplane.

Westway streaked back to his base

to set a crew of groundmen on the

trail, a trail that after hours of weary

cutting through the forest, led to an

exhausted flier and a completely demolished

plane.

Tweedpilot Lake in Google Earth view.

Wed Aug 19 –

RAIN REVIVED PILOT FROM

DAYS OF UNCONSCIOUSNESS

By Canadian Press

NAKINA, Ont., Aug. 19. -Bill Tweed,

Ontario Alr Service flyer missing five

days in the Northern Ontario bush

was unconscious from Wednesday

night when he crashed until Satur–

day, when he was revived by rain, it

was learned here today. The pilot is

in the Red Cross hospital with a

broken left leg and arm.

Fully conscious when found yester-

day by a ground crew that hacked its

way3 eight miles through the bush from

here to a small clearing where he had

crashed. Tweed could not speak above

a whisper. He has no clear recollec-

tion of what happened after the crash

until rain, falling on his face, brought

him back to consciousness Saturday

night.

When he found hlmself lying on the

ground with first-aid kit, emergency

rations and a big red blanket beside

him. Nearby was one of the seat

cushions from the airplane.

Except for a few spoonsfuls caught

in the hollow of the cushion, the lost

man was without water. There was

some in one of the pontoons of the

plane not four feet away but he was

unable to reach it. When the rescue

party arrived, he directed them to the

water.

Tweed had concentrated beef

and raisins. He was afraid to eat the

raisins, though, because he thought

they would make him thirsty. Some

morphine tablets from the first-aid kit

were used to ease the pain of the leg,

broken just below the hip, and the

arm that was broken above the wrist.

Hospital authorities said the wound

had begun to heal and there was no

danger of poisoning.

Tweed regarded the scantiness of his

diet as something of a boon for his

rescuers. On the way out he told

members of the party he had been on

a diet for the last few days, so he

would not be so heavy to carry.

The plane crashed into a large

spruce tree, breaking it into three

pieces. The top brushy part of the

tree fell over the craft, completely hid-

ing it from above.

Tweed spent Sunday night trying to

collect a few chunks of rotten wood

and moss to light signal fires. He

built a fire in an eight-inch funnel

that fell from the airplane because he

was afraid to light a fire on the

ground. He feared the blaze might

spread and he could not escape.

Several times Sunday he had seen

searching planes but was unable to

signal them4.

It was something of flier’s luck that

helped Pilot Jim Westaway sight the

missing man Monday.

Had he been half an hour later in

his flight over the small clearing where

Tweed lay beside the plane he might

never have discovered his fellow pilot.

A light wind sprang up and it would

have dispersed the smoke signal.

The plane is a complete wreck, piled

in a space ten feet square. The safety

belt was torn from the sockets and

Tweed was hurled from the rear cock-

pit through the instrument panel and

into the front cockpit5. Fuselage and

support were torn as if slashed by an

axe.

Map composite of sections of NTS Nakina 42L and NTS Longlac 42E, with labels added, showing Tweedpilot Lake and Bawk.

The broken bones had to be set by

Dr. T.H. McKillip before the injured

man could be moved. It was necessary

to travel three-quarters of a mile to

obtain water for the plaster casts.

Tweed uttered no complaint during the

trip out to Nakina, although he was

severely jolted over the rough trail6.

He is resting comfortably in hospital

here and unless complications set in

he will not be moved. His wife and

daughter Shirley have come to Nakina,

where they are staying with a fire ranger’s

family.7

ENDNOTES

1 Scouring maps for a “Round Lake”, this author found no such lake between the north and south east-west lines of the CNR. By happenstance, his eyes lit on a tiny lake named Tweedpilot Lake. What were the odds? Tweedpilot Lake is located south of Nakina and west of Bawk, the whistlestop on the Nakina Cut-off.

2 Tweedpilot Lake is not eight miles from Nakina. Tweedpilot Lake is thirteen miles from Nakina. However, Tweedpilot Lake is approximately sixmiles by air from Bawk (which is 15 miles from Nakina). So, eight miles is a fair approximation of the distance from Tweedpilot Lake to Bawk by a rough trail. Again, the newspaper reports are confused about the geography.

3 “Hacked” is an accurate description of how the searchers made their way through the bush. They used axes. Bucksaws would have been ineffective. Chainsaws had not been invented yet.

4 The grid pattern used by planes strongly suggests that they had narrowed the area in which to search. They certainly were not searching in the area of Bawk and the Nakina Cut-off. Only the signal fire alerted them to the crash location. Northerners can imagine how far even a smoky fire can be seen. Answer: not far.

5 Note that there is no suggestion that there was a passenger in the fore cockpit. This evidence is important in light of later official reports.

6 The trail would indeed be rough and just wide enough to carry a stretcher through. The ground route from Bawk would have taken the searchers around the north end of Burrows Lake and across the creek that empties into the lake (now called Murky Creek). The author has canoed this creek, and can imagine how searchers had to ford this waterway. They most certainly got their feet wet.

7 Questions remain about Pilot Tweed’s flight plan. Why was Tweed flying to Round Lake? Where was Round Lake? What caused the air crash? There was indeed a probe into the crash (see 09 Probe into Crash Aug 1936 Times in Nakina). Would the probe answer these questions?

A DH60 Moth on a lake. Photo Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.

PHOTOS

01 A de Havilland DH60 Moth in flight. Photo Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.

02 Map section from information and photographs compiled in 1946, with labels added. Source “Longlac, Ontario”, Sheet 42 E/NE, National Topographic Series, 1953, Department of National Defence.

03 Tweedpilot Lake in Google Earth view.

04 Map composite of sections of NTS Nakina 42L and NTS Longlac 42E, with labels added, showing Tweedpilot Lake and Bawk.

05 A DH60 Moth on a lake. Photo Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.

Posted in WRITING | Leave a comment

THE WILKINSON LAKE STRIKE(1)

Location of Wilkinson Lake, north of Jellicoe, accessed by the bush road named Kinghorn Road. Map Jellicoe, NTS 42E/NW.

      What’s it feel like to stand atop a potential gold mine?  Good.  Very Good.  “VG,” a prospector might say, although he would mean “Visible gold”.

      In August 2006, Kodiak Exploration Ltd. began stripping the overburden from a promising outcrop on the east side of the Kinghorn Road in ElmhirstTownship, north of Jellicoe.  Oldtime prospectors had found this showing decades ago, but this was the first time that the occurrence would be extensively explored.

      Workers took channel samples.  They used a special power saw to cut out long slabs of rock a few centimeters wide.  The samples were sent to an assay lab to determine the value of gold and associated metals.

      The best value was 23.29 grams of gold per metric tonne over a length of 3.05 metres.  A weight of 31.1 grams is a troy ounce, so 23.29 grams is more than .7, or 7/10ths, of an ounce.  That’s very good indeed.  The gold came from a bonanza vein on surface.  The market price for gold today is closing in on $670 an ounce in American dollars, or $700 Canadian.

      On the recommendation of its on-site geologist, Stephen Roach, Kodiak began a drilling program.  Through his research, he knew that others had drilled this zone before.  “It has seen quite a bit of drilling in 1978 right to 1981,” he told this author, “and another spurt of drilling in the late ‘80’s, accumulating around 5 kilometres of drilling.”

      On Monday, July 9, 2007, Roach led a party on a tour of the Hercules property of Kodiak.  The party comprised Gerry White, District Geologist for the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM); George Horobec, an interested citizen; and the author.  Observing the whitish dome or lens of rock for the first time, Horobec said he experienced a thrill.   It had been a great many years since any citizen of the Geraldton-Beardmore Mining Camp  ̶  who was not a prospector  ̶  had been this close to a potential mine.

Stephen Roach, Gerry White, and George Horobec stand atop the original structure of the Wilkinson Lake Gold Zone. Behind them, the zone extends for about 200 metres to Wilkinson Lake.

      The dome appeared to be sitting in a puddle of water in a clearing.  A backhoe had stripped away the surrounding bush and soil (overburden), and brought the vein-laced rock to the light of day.  Every 15 to 20 metres, a shallow channel had been cut to intercept the main quartz vein at right angles.

              The assay results triggered a 1500-metre diamond drilling program in late summer and fall over a length of 240 metres along the line of strike. 

The program involved 20 boreholes.  “That [drilling],” said Roach, “intercepted significant gold results, up to 15.6 grams over 16 metres in one of the holes for these bonanza gold veins.”

      The official report on hole HR-06-03 indicates 15.59 grams of gold per tonne over an “interval” (apparent depth because of borehole’s slant) of 16.6 metres and a “true width” (width of vein at its narrowest point) of 9.7 metres.

Stephen Roach points out a channel cut in the dome. Behind him are stakes with flagging tape, indicating where holes have been drilled.

      In explanation, Roach continued, “Bonanza gold veins are really high grade gold veins where you’ve got flour gold and coarse gold in the vein system.  We have an envelope of low grade gold around these bonanza veins.”  Flour gold consists of very fine to micron-size particles that can best be seen with a hand lens or under a microscope.  Coarse gold is VG.

      With regard to the ongoing work on the Hercules property, Roach said, “Currently we’re trying to expand the Wilkinson Lake Zone to the west, and find other multiple vein sets close [by], peripheral to the main structure here.”  The work has been occurring over a distance of 1.2 kilometres.

Amede Lafontaine, prospector, and Stephen Roach, geologist, point out a drill casing in a long-abandoned overburden trench.
At the southern end of the Amede Gold Zone, Amede Lafontaine kneels beside the spectacular quartz blowout on a property he has been exploring for decades. (Correct date is July 17.)

How It Started

      In the old days, there were three ways a prospector could get around in the bush.  He could walk, he could paddle, or he could fly. 

      So in late spring of 1958, when Amede Lafontaine wanted to visit the claims his family had acquired in Elmhirst Township, in the deep bush north of Jellicoe, he took his canoe, a 14-foot cedar strip.  He launched in the Sturgeon River (Namewaminikan River) not far from the point where Wilkinson Creek entered.  Amede paddled the stern, his father-in-law, Leon Michaud, the bow.

      Wilkinson Creek (today the maps call it O’Neil Creek) was in full flood, the water was swift.  “… We’d take the odd little break here and there,” Amede recalled, “but it was hard going.  At one place we had to portage, there’s a waterfall.”

      The canoeists ignored the portage from the creek into the south end of Wilkinson Lake because it entailed climbing up and down a steep hill.  They proceeded to the point where the creek debouched from the east side.  They turned north, passed through a narrows, and paddled across the upper pond of Wilkinson Lake to the northwest shore.  Where a brook entered, they beached the canoe and walked a hundred metres or so up the right (south) bank till they came upon Bill Garvey’s cabin.  The cabin itself was in ruins.  It was just a few metres further west overland to the Wilkinson Lake showing. 

      Endy Lafontaine, Amede’s father, had recently acquired a hand-drawn map of this terrain from Bill Garvey, another prospector.  Bill was interested in a property owned by Endy south of Timmins.  “It was a trade-off”, said Amede, and so the Lafontaine’s came into possession of a map that showed the two major lakes, Wilkinson and Elmhirst, several rock outcrops, and 10 gold-bearing veins marked in bold red (see previously published story The Penelton Strike for more details).

On a table in his own kitchen, Amede Lafontaine peruses the sketch map drawn by Bill Garvey a long time ago. Amede’s fingers rest on Wilkinson Lake, and following the direction his fingers point, one can see the “bar” that locates the historical showing which started his decades-long pursuit of gold in this area.

      That was the first day Amede did work on the Wilkinson Lake strike.  He would visit the property many times, always by canoe, over the next few years.

      In 1934 the Sturgeon River area had experienced a gold rush.  Hundreds of prospectors descended upon Jellicoe, a major divisional point, and Beardmore, a flag stop on the Canadian National Railway.  No roads connected them to the outside world.  As strikes were made and prospects developed, individuals and consortia punched trails and rough roads through the bush.  Soon hundreds, perhaps thousands (no one knows the numbers), of men toiled away at promising prospects and developing mines.

      The name Penelton first gained prominence in The Northern Miner newspaper dated August 2, 1934.  “John Penelton has made an interesting find in the Jellicoe-Long Lac section on the Sturgeon River, according to reports from the field, and 12 claims have been staked for Minefinders Limited[,] upon which a shear zone of five to six feet in width has been traced about 1,500 feet.” 

      The report mentioned ore shoots identified by trenching and crosscutting and panning, and “in some sections two veins of eight inches have been opened up”.

      Another report on October 18 stated that Minefinders “now have six groups of claims in the district”.  On January 2, 1936, another report referred to “the Penelton gold find at Square Lake”.  The find was located about seven miles north of the Sturgeon River.

      Were all these reports alluding to the showings identified on the Bill Garvey map?  Not likely, although we cannot know for certain.  The “Penelton gold find”, however, has a strong link to the map, where one showing is labeled “Penelton Claim”.

      A report on April 16, 1936, pinned down the location of the “Penelton gold find”.  “This Square Lake find,” the newspaper stated, “was made in the fall of 1935 and resulted in the staking of a number of claims in the vicinity.”  A gentleman by the name of J.H.C. Waite, of Toronto, had taken an option on the property.  The report continued, “The present diamond drilling campaign has been undertaken due to the almost impossible task of stripping the surface showing owing to the extremely heavy overburden.”  Part of the task would have involved transporting a backhoe by canoe.

      There were resemblances to the Penelton Claim.  “The surface work last fall was successful . . . in opening up a 75-ft. length with additional length extension indicated in a pit along the strike to the southeast.”  Sampling had provided an average grade of $4.20 (per ton) over an average width of 16 feet.

      The Bill Garvey map, with a much later provenance, showed the Penelton Claim vein trending northwest-southeast, exposed for 170 feet, and with gold values between $1.50 and $11.55.

      The J.H.C. Waite interest sank 4 drill holes on a northwest trend, all to shallow depths, at angles of 45 degrees.  At the time of the report, assay results from the first drill hole resembled those obtained from surface samplings, which were described as indicative “of a wide low grade occurrence”.  The report noted “the occasional assay giving a value as high as $18”.  This analysis bore a strong resemblance to the initial analysis reached by Kodiak Exploration Ltd., the company currently carrying out exploration on the Penelton Gold Zone.  A drilling program currently underway may change that analysis.

      However, the last paragraph of the report proved most interesting.  “Property location is one mile west of mileage 47 on the east boundary of the Nipigon Forest Reserve.  The area is some 10 miles north of Nezah on the Canadian National Railway and approximately six miles northeast of the Sturgeon River Gold Mines.”

      Applying the directions and distances in the last sentence quoted above, as well as the previous one reference of “about seven miles north of Sturgeon River”, one arrives at Elmhirst Township.

      The reference to “the Nipigon Forest Reserve”, however, could pin down the location of the “Penelton gold find” precisely.  After an arduous investigation, the writer did just that.  (See sidebar Tracking Down Square Lake.)

On July 15, 2007, Ray Koivisto, employed by Kodiak Exploration Limited as a prospector, carries out a bag of grab samples. Jim Leduchowski’s backhoe is stripping the Amede Gold Zone west of the
Kinghorn Road.

How It Turned Out

      In his many trips to the Wilkinson Lake showing, Amede Lafontaine stripped the overburden by pick and shovel.  Sometime in the ‘60’s, when he was working for Domtar Forest Products, a road had been pushed to within two miles of the lake.

      “One night,” said Amede, “I was able to use the tractor, and brought it in to the showing and scraped it clean.”  Amede understated the challenge of traversing two miles of bush in the dead of night, exposing the vein, and then getting the tractor back to the worksite before dawn.  At one point the machine bogged down in the creek that passed by Garvey’s old cabin.

      Recalling more details of that night, he said, “Actually, that night when the tractor was cleaning off the soil off the showing there, the main showing that I was working on, [the operator] managed to get a good chunk of rock off of there that weighed probably around 15, 20 pounds.  It was full of mud so that I didn’t even know what the heck I had but I took it with me.”

      Back at the worksite, he threw the chunk into his vehicle, and headed home, which meant Geraldton at that time.  He stopped at the MacLeod-Cockshutt mine, which was the one district mine then operating, and asked them to process the rock.  Then he went to his home on Beamish Avenue.

      As he walked in the door, his wife, Shirley, said, “The manager [of the mine] wants to see you at the office right away.”  When he walked into the office, the girl at the desk said, “They’re all upstairs waiting for you.”  Amede was still mystified.

      As he walked into the room, he saw a group huddled by the big window and peering at his rock.  One geologist said, “Have you had a good look at this sample?”

      “No, I haven’t, because I took this out at two o’clock this morning out of the bush, you know, on the tractor, and it was full of mud.”

      “Yeah,” the geologist said, “but we washed it off.  So you haven’t seen it?”

      “No.”

      “Come ‘ere,” he said.  Amede walked to the window.  “Look at all the gold in this goldarned thing.”

      The rock was peppered with gold.  When he got the assay, it was 17 ounces to the ton.  The mine took out a strip of gold and cut it in half, keeping half for their efforts.  Lafontaine was handed a strip over 14 inches long.

      “I kept the other half in my wallet for the longest, longest time, and I finally lost track of it.”

      Amede never lost faith in the property.  He optioned it to different companies, and even those that did do a little work on it, walked away.  At one point a company in Vancouver said, “If you stake 200 claims, we might come up and have a look at it.”  It was a ridiculous proposition.  “As a prospector, you can’t afford that,” said Lafontaine.  “…To keep [a claim] in good standing, you have to do $400 worth of work per year to be filed with the government . . .” 

      “Then I finally figures, well, maybe I’m not the guy to really advance this darn property.” He had some showings further west of Wilkinson Lake, so he brought in Robert Cote to stake a block of claims for him.  Cote was puzzled.  Why was Amede giving up a perfectly good showing?

      Amede explained.  “The reason is very simple.  I can’t move the darn thing.  Hopefully if I leave it open, somebody will come in, and if they can stake it and move it, then I’ll have a chance to sell mine . . . I might not make as much but at least I’ll make a little bit.”

      Official records show that Robert Cote staked TB 1187667 on April 3, 2002.  The owners of record are Shirley Lafontaine and Geneva Nichols.

      The “somebody” who came in was Stephen Roach, an exploration geologist.  Looking over the country north of Jellicoe, he saw the potential.  On October 14, 2004, he and two partners staked TB 3006416, encompassing the waters and shoreline of Wilkinson Lake, including the Wilkinson Lake showing beside the Kinghorn Road.  Roach retained a 50% interest, and his partners, Pierre Maillet and Denis Laforest, 25% each.

      On July 25, 2006, the TSX Venture Exchange approved of the option agreement that Kodiak Exploration Limited signed with Stephen Roach and his partners.  At some point Stephen spoke to Amede, who, according to Stephen, was quite forthcoming about his strategy to lure a company to work his new claims.  On August 7, Stephen and Amede made the important rediscovery of the Penelton claim (see previously published The Penelton Strike).

      Subsequently, Kodiak optioned the Lafontaine property, including the current Amede Gold Zone and the Penelton Gold Zone, signing the agreement on August 31, 2006.

      In August 2007 Kodiak completed the second phase of drilling on the Wilkinson Lake Gold Zone.  The Amede Gold Zone now has been opened up for many hundreds of metres to the northwest.  Kodiak’s drilling program will wind up in the last week of September.  Results will soon be released.

      In less than an hour from Jellicoe by road, several thousand metres of gold-bearing veins now lie exposed to the light of a new day.

On July 17, 2007, Amede Lafontaine (on the left) examines a sample of rock with visible gold, uncovered in the Amede Gold Zone. One worker is washing down the muddy bedrock.

Tracking Down Square Lake

      Was there ever a place in the Greenstone region called Square Lake?

      Square Lake is not a unique name; Ontario has several Square Lakes.  But was Wilkinson Lake, in Elmhirst Township, north of Jellicoe, ever called Square Lake?

      First, the writer perused ancient maps.  One photocopied map of the gold rush era showed Wilkinson Lake as an unnamed lake.  So when was Wilkinson named?  E-mail inquiries to the provincial and federal geographic names agencies yielded some information.  Their records indicated that the name Wilkinson Lake was officially entered on June 2, 1950, and that the lake was possibly named after a Provincial Land Surveyor.  Before that date, was Wilkinson known as Square Lake? As for the place name of Elmhirst, the township’s name was officially recorded on August 12, 1935.  There was no information on Elmhirst Lake.

      An important clue was the reference to Nipigon Forest Reserve.  Searches on Google produced allusions to such a reserve currently located on islands in Lake Nipigon.  The Ministry of Natural Resources is the agency managing the forested public lands of Ontario.  Initial inquiries at the Geraldton Area Office and Nipigon District Office, proved fruitless.  Officially, the Ministry does not have a long memory.

      Was there ever a Nipigon Forest Reserve? Yes.  The writer recalled coming across historical references to it, including some dating back to 1910.  It was an era when no one was concerned about setting aside forest reserves in the unpeopled wilderness east of Lake Nipigon.  Logging was, in fact, the order of the day, the wood being rafted down Lake Nipigon.  Besides, Nipigon Forest Reserve seemed historically to be confined to an area south of Lake Nipigon, bordering the Nipigon River, a prime brook trout fishery, and a world-class attraction.

      Pawing through old books and documents, the writer came upon a reference to the creation of a Nipigon-Onaman Game Preserve in 1933.  Local MNR offices had no official memory of it.  It covered 835 square miles, including Onaman Lake, north of Jellicoe.  The writer recalled that in the early ‘70’s, he had come upon a related sign tacked to a tree on a creek north of Geraldton. So the search took a different direction.

      Years ago the writer had bought from an antique shop a full-colour laminated map of the Greenstone area in the 1930’s.  A little rummaging produced it – “Longlac”, issued in 1938, a topographic map by Canada’s Department of Mines and Resources.  There it was – the Nipigon-Onaman Crown Game Preserve – at least the southeast corner of it.  The southern boundary followed the CNR tracks from Beardmore, east to the CNR tracks between Longlac and Nakina, and followed those tracks north.  No help.  Those boundaries came nowhere near Elmhirst Township.

      But Wilkinson Lake was labeled, and so was Elmhirst Lake.  No Square Lake.  But there was another piece of interesting information.  The east boundary of Nipigon Provincial Forest ran north-south through Wilkinson Lake.  Still no reference to Nipigon Forest Reserve.  But the distance from the southern end of the boundary to Wilkinson was 47 miles, the distance specified in the old newspaper report. 

      A telephone call to the curator of the Nipigon Museum.  Could they help?  Betty Brill said they had recently received a batch of area maps from someone’s estate in B.C.  So the writer scheduled a trip to Nipigon.  Dan, the summer student in charge, had received the heads-up.  Judging from the stack of maps, it looked to be an all-day job, for there was no finding aid.  Half an hour into the search, and bingo! 

      A beautiful colour map entitled “Sturgeon River Gold Area”, which had accompanied the Ontario Department of Mines Annual Report of 1936.  Wilkinson Lake had a name – Wilkinson Lake.  But Elmhirst Lake was still unnamed.

This old-time prospector is outfitted for travel. He has a packboard and packsack, mosquito
netting wrapped around his wide-brimmed hat, a rifle in his hand, and a rock hammer hanging
from his cartridge belt. His dog is also burdened with a backpack and such accessories as a gold
pan. Note the man’s tie tucked neatly into his shirt between the buttons.
Photo Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.

      The Sturgeon River Gold Area map of 1936 is an extraordinary document.  A miniscule area in the vast province of Ontario is drawn and labeled in painstaking detail, half a century before GPS and satellite photography were commonplace tools.  The map measures .55 by 1.1 metres (21.5 by 43.5 inches).

      The map confirmed that the east boundary of the Nipigon Provincial Forest (not the Nipigon Forest Reserve) lay only a mile east of the historic Wilkinson Lake showing.  The writer was ninety percent certain that the old “Penelton gold find” and the Wilkinson Lake showing were one and the same.  By the time Bill Garvey created his map, the name of Penelton had been reassigned to a location further west in Kodiak’s current Penelton Gold Zone.

      Not entirely satisfied, the writer drove to Beardmore to attend the weekly prospectors’ meeting.  He explained his problem, and asked if anyone had documents from that era.  Robert Cote said he did.  At his home, Robert produced a marvelous map, issued in 1926.  It was obviously a much-loved map, for it was falling to pieces.

      The “Tashota-Onaman River Area” map, which had accompanied the annual report of the Ontario Department of Mines, showed the “East Boundary of Reserve” line running through an unnamed lake easily identified as Wilkinson.  It coincided with the eastern boundary of the later Nipigon Provincial Forest.

      Better yet.  In big bold caps, between Lake Nipigon and the east boundary line, were the words NIPIGON FOREST RESERVE.  The last proof!

      To be fair, it was the last documentary proof.  Earlier in the day, the writer had dropped into the home of Amede Lafontaine, and in the course of conversation, Amede remarked, “Square Lake?  Of course I know Square Lake.  I spoke to Bill Garvey many times about it.”  Square Lake was what the maps called Wilkinson Lake. 

      Who would have thought the name would persist in memory for decades after the lake had received its official name circa 1936?  Even Garvey’s map called the lake Wilkinson.

      And if one looks with a critical eye at the contours of Wilkinson on a map, one perceives that the upper pond of that complicated water body does resemble a square, especially on the earlier maps.

      Here’s the epilogue.  Dave Barker, MNR information management supervisor, working from the Geraldton office, had become intrigued by the writer’s quest.  He personally searched the District office, and enlisted the help of the MNR archives in Peterborough.  There is, apparently, no official memory of a Nipigon Forest Reserve.

      Still, the above exercise demonstrated that for prospectors and volunteer curators and amateur historians and for at least some government officials, history is alive and well in the North.

In this section of ‘Sturgeon River Gold Area’ (1936), note the squareness of the upper pond of Wilkinson Lake. Wilkinson Creek was later officially named O’Neil Creek. The township is named Elmhirst, and the lake below the “S” is Elmhirst Lake, though unnamed on the map.

ENDNOTE

1 In 2006-07, Kodiak Exploration Ltd. was a major player in the Beardmore-Geraldton gold belt, but it did not find a mine. In October 2020, Golden Futures Mineral Corp. optioned the Hercules-Elmhirst property, which includes the original Wilkinson Lake gold strike.

PHOTOS

01 Location of Wilkinson Lake, north of Jellicoe, accessed by the bush road named Kinghorn Road. Map Jellicoe, NTS 42E/NW.

02 Stephen Roach, Gerry White, and George Horobec stand atop the original structure of the Wilkinson Lake Gold Zone. Behind them, the zone extends for about 200 metres to Wilkinson Lake.

03 Stephen Roach points out a channel cut in the dome.  Behind him are stakes with flagging tape, indicating where holes have been drilled.

04 Amede Lafontaine, prospector, and Stephen Roach, geologist, point out a drill casing in a long-abandoned overburden trench.

05 At the southern end of the Amede Gold Zone, Amede Lafontaine kneels beside the spectacular quartz blowout on a property he has been exploring for decades. (Correct date is July 17.)

06 On a table in his own kitchen, Amede Lafontaine peruses the sketch map drawn by Bill Garvey a long time ago. Amede’s fingers rest on Wilkinson Lake, and following the direction his fingers point, one can see the “bar” that locates the historical showing which started his decades-long pursuit of gold in this area.

07 On July 15, 2007, Ray Koivisto, employed by Kodiak Exploration Limited as a prospector, carries out a bag of grab samples. Jim Leduchowski’s backhoe is stripping the Amede Gold Zone west of the

Kinghorn Road.

08 On July 17, 2007, Amede Lafontaine (on the left) examines a sample of rock with visible gold, uncovered in the Amede Gold Zone. One worker is washing down the muddy bedrock.

09  This old-time prospector is outfitted for travel. He has a packboard and packsack, mosquito

netting wrapped around his wide-brimmed hat, a rifle in his hand, and a rock hammer hanging

from his cartridge belt. His dog is also burdened with a backpack and such accessories as a gold

pan. Note the man’s tie tucked neatly into his shirt between the buttons. Photo Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.

10 In this section of ‘Sturgeon River Gold Area’ (1936), note the squareness of the upper pond of Wilkinson Lake. Wilkinson Creek was later officially named O’Neil Creek. The township is named Elmhirst, and the lake below the “S” is Elmhirst Lake, though unnamed on the map.

Posted in WRITING | 1 Comment

04 May to September 1922 Times for Jellicoe

This is an authentically historical photo, and the ravages of time prove it. These two pieces were posted in Facebook group people from Beardmore Ont. The lefthand piece was posted by Loraine Johnson and the righthand by Simone P. Fortier. There’s probably a story behind the separation but they didn’t share it. Photo dates to circa 1958-59.

04 by F.A. Farley, Correspondent, in Canadian National Railways Magazine

At an enthusiastic meeting, on 4th of April

the Jellicoe Baseball Club was organized for the

coming season. It was the desire of all present

that we enter a team in a league composed of

Hornepayne, Jellicoe, Port McDiarmid, Nipigon,

and possibly C. N. R. team Port Arthur . The

question of uniforms was also discussed, but

finally left over until the next meeting. The

following officers were elected:

Hon. President-P. Bohan.

Manager-R. Cronk.

Sec Treas-F. A. Farley.

Captain-Geo. Canfield.

Home Umpire—W.McNairn.

Official Scorer-Jas. Canfield.

With regard to the formation of a baseball

league, there is no reason why such a league

should not prove a great success. Living as we

do, in a district where most forms of amusement

are out of reach, a series of week-end

games would provide fine sport for players and

fans alike. The playing schedule need not be

unnecessarily long, when the distances to be

travelled are so great. In the interest of good

sport, it is to be hoped the plan goes through.

We are all glad to mark the return of Lineman

‘Bill’ McNairn looking better than ever.

Relief lineman Baker has returned to North

Bay, with his family.

In defiance of all wiseacres, almanacs, butterflies

and Mr. Foster, the weather continues a

la’ Baffin Land. Nothing to do but bear it and

grin.

July 1922 Times for Jellicoe

by F.A. Farley, Correspondent, in Canadian National Railways Magazine

Agent R. Cronk and Mrs. Cronk are enjoying

a month’s vacation in the east.

The bush fire, which for a time threatened to

blot out the town, has been entirely quenched

by the recent welcome rains. The blaze swept.

over an area some twenty miles long and varying

from two to ten miles in width, destroying

several logging camps and ruining much valuable

timber. The continuing efforts of several

gangs of track laborers prevented any serious

damage being done to company property, with

the exception of about sixty telegraph poles

which are being promptly replaced. A regretable

feature of the work was the fatal injuries

inflicted on a Swede labourer, when he was

pinned beneath a falling tree. Death resulted

almost instantaneously. During the conflagra-

tion Superintendent Napier, Div. Engineer,

Polybank, B & B Master, McGinty, and

Roadmaster Bohan, took an active part in

directing the fighting forces.

The Jellicoe Baseball team, looking quite snappy

in their new uniforms, have won three games

in their first three starts. On 24th of May the

boys took part in a general field day at Nipigon

and wound up the day by defeating the home

ball tossers by a wide score. At Foleyet, the

Giants won a close, interesting game, six runs

to four. Air tight ball was the order of the

day and some clean fast work at bat and on the

bases gave Jellicoe an early lead which they

maintained throughout.

Mr. G. F. Canfield recently attended an executive

conference in Capreol.

We are glad to welcome Miss Mildred and

Miss Beatrice Bohan back to town.

August 1922 Times for Jellicoe

by a relief correspondent, in Canadian National Railways Magazine

06 August 1922

Our regular correspondent, F. A. Farley, is

away on one month’s vacation

in British Columbia.

We all sincerely hope he

does not sprain his back

“pulling corks” in that

damp province.

I heard a good story the

other day from a Hoghead1

running out of Port Arthur,

which I think is worthy of

ink. It happened in Mexico,

and this engineer was

having dinner with a new-

comer in the country, who

was not acquainted with

the hot green peppers

which are partaken with

nearly every meal. During

the meal the new-comer put

one of these peppers in his

mouth, and after rolling it

around for a while he put

his hand to his mouth,

threw on the table the pepper,

and without taking his

eyes off it he growled:

“Now blaze. D—­ you,

blaze.”

The Jellicoe Baseball

team had a successful day

in Foleyet on Dominion

Day, playing a double-

header with the Hornepayne

and Foleyet teams,

and winning both games from Hornepayne,

11 to 10, and from Foleyet 11 to 4.

Everybody had an enjoyable time, and many

thanks are in order to the officials who were

kind enough to grant the necessary relief.

The black flies are with us, and seem to

take great delight in biting big chunks from

the back of one’s neck: the bush fires apparently

did not diminish their number any.

We regret to lose Dr. W.B. Carruthers, who

has been in this vicinity for the last two years.

The best we can do, is to wish him every success

in his new locality.

In Memoriam

It was just one year since we lost our for-

mer correspondent, Mr. A.H. Middleton, who

was accidently drowned in the Black Water

lake at Jellicoe. His memory is still cherished

by everyone who knew him.

The Pasco team from Port Arthur in Winnipeg for a series of exhibition games. Photo Winnipeg Tribune July 31, 1920 > 1920 Pasco Port Arthur (attheplate.com)

September 1922 Times for Jellicoe

by F.A. Farley, Correspondent, in Canadian National Railways Magazine

Mrs. W.E. Cooney accompanied by her mother

Mrs. Bagley and the two children, is spending

a few weeks in the Queen City.

Our Hornepayne friends seem to have thor-

oughly enjoyed the temporary annihilation of

the Jellicoe ball team. Now that all the lusty

cheers have died away, it is rather interesting

to look at the short series in retrospective mood.

We can see “David” sauntering forth, his new

armour glittering, looking rather diminutive it’s

true, but displaying the splendid morale of a

veteran. He meets the mighty “Goliath” from

the land of the Philistines, the hero (sic) of a

hundred fights. The contest is short and desperate;

now the youthful David is borne back-

ward, now he puts forth his best effort and

boldly assaults the giant on neutral ground. The

great Goliath weakens and one sunshiny day,

the tired and happy David finds himself standing

victor over all his opponents. But his victory

is short-lived. Once more the contest is re-

newed. Never for an instant, does the young

David’s courage fail but sheer might begins to

tell, and Lo! the Lilliputian warrior Iies in the

dust, crushed and bleeding. Fiercely then the

great Goliath stamps on his fallen foe and his

countrymen rush forward in cheering throngs

to witness the slaughter. Ye Gods! what a

spectacle!

Miss Jean Canfield, Miss Doris Canfield, and

Mr. J. Brandy were recent visitors at the home

of Mr. and Mrs. G. F. Canfield.

The beach is enjoying strong patronage these

days. Mr. “Bud” Fisher has acquired quite a

local reputation as a stunt diver.

Mr. “Jimmie” Smith, our popular car checker

spent two weeks’ holidays in Schrieber.

Hearst baseball team in 1938. Source article SOME HISTORY OF NORTHERN ONTARIO BASEBALL FEATURING THE DILLONS OF JOGUES by Ernie Bies, 2020 > bies-dillon-baseball.pdf (ontariohistory.org)

ENDNOTES

1 “Hoghead” or “hogger” is railway lingo for locomotive engineer. A locomotive engineer or engine man drives a “hog”.

PHOTOS

01 This is an authentically historical photo, and the ravages of time prove it. These two pieces were posted in Facebook group people from Beardmore Ont. The lefthand piece was posted by Loraine Johnson and the righthand by Simone P. Fortier. There’s probably a story behind the separation but they didn’t share it. Photo dates to circa 1958-59.

02 The Pasco team from Port Arthur in Winnipeg for a series of exhibition games. Photo Winnipeg Tribune July 31, 1920 > 1920 Pasco Port Arthur (attheplate.com)

03 Hearst baseball team in 1938. Source article SOME HISTORY OF NORTHERN ONTARIO BASEBALL FEATURING THE DILLONS OF JOGUES by Ernie Bies, 2020 > bies-dillon-baseball.pdf (ontariohistory.org)

Posted in WRITING | Leave a comment

07 Pilot Missing Aug 1936 Times in Nakina

A DH60 Moth, commonly called a Gipsy Moth, flies over the lakes and bush of the Canadian boreal forest. Photo Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.

07 14 & 15 August reports in the Port Arthur News-Chronicle in 1936

Refer to the intro in the 01 January, February, March posts. bit.ly/3o0GxPs

Editor’s Note – After July 1936, the local correspondent for Nakina did not submit copy to the Port Arthur News-Chronicle for the rest of that year.

14 Fri Aug –

WEDNESDAY NIGHT

W. TWEED MISSING

Flying from Round Lake to Twin Lakes near

Longlac — Heavy Smoke Hampers Searchers,

Sudbury Warehouse Razed — New Fires Reported

in Nipigon Area

News-Chronicle Special

LONGLAC, Aug. 14. –PiIot Bill Tweed, of the Ontario

Forestry Branch at Twin Lakes, has been missing since 9 p.m.

Wednesday, when he left Round Lake, on the LongIac-Nakina

cut-off, enroute to Twin Lakes(1). Reports from Bawk(2) are that a ,

motor was heard in the distance and it suddenly stopped. At the

time it was thought it was an outboard motor, but reports are

that there was not any motor travelling at the time. Forestry

planes and the Nipigon Airways have been sent out to search:

No trace of the pilot has been found. Owing to heavy smoke

today visibility is very poor for any search work.

Pilot Tweed had just come into the Forestry Service this

year but had much experience with planes. It is said that he

might have flown to the north and passed his destination with·

out knowing it. At the time the pilot was returning home, it

was getting late in the evening(3). Making it more difficult to fly,

it has been very smoky this last few days, due to the presence of.

fires which are at present burning steadily. Today Mr. Billington,

of the Ontario Forestry Branch, has been out to look for

Tweed, while planes are searching north of Nakina.

FIRES IN NIPIGON AREA

One hundred pumps, half-a-million

feet of hose and more than 900 men

are being used by the Ontario Forestry

Branch at present in fighting forest

fires in Thunder Bay district, Fred J.

Dawson, district forester, said today.

Most ofthe equipment and men is

concentrated In the Nipigon area where

several new fires were spotted and reported

to branch headquarters yesterday.

In the Western section of the district

the situation was unchanged, from

yesterday, except that some of the fires

had been brought under control releasing

a number of men for duty In

the East end.

Over 15,000 feet of hose scorched or

otherwise damaged by fire, has been

repaired at the branch’s vulcanizing

plant which has been operating night

and day for some time.

The general situation today, Mr.

Dawson said, was unchanged from yesterday,

with officials and fire fighters

praying for rain to fall while they continue

the ceaseless battle against the

flaming despoiler of the forest.

“There’s no use of talking about it,”

Mr. Dawson said. “Until we get rain

the situatIon is hopeless. We no sooner

get one bad fire out than another or

more than one springs up to take its

place. It’s been like that for days now

and the boys are wearied almost to

death. Never in all the hlstory of fire

fightlng has there ever been such a

situation as has existed In Ontario

since the first of May.”

In stating that the Ontario Government

had decided to close the townships

of Marks, Sackville, Adrian and

Aldina because of the fire risk, Mr.

Dawson said the ban against aII

traffic into the four townships would

remain until the end of the fire season,

October l5.

Hope of the department lies today

in the thought that the Fall season

with its rains is not so far away, Mr.

Dawson said.

WAREHOUSE  DESTROYED

TORONTO. Aug. l4 -Destruction of

their Sudbury warehouse by fire today

 added to the worries ofOntario Forestry

Branch officials already faced with

150 odd forest fires raging at scattered

points in the province . . .

The pilot of this Gipsy Moth stands on a float, posing for the camera. The passenger is seated in the cockpit. Note the empty aft cockpit where the pilot will be seated. Photo source unknown.

15 Sat Aug –

PILOT TWEED

STILL MISSING

Three Planes and Provincial

Police Join in Search

Near Long Lac

Three Ontario Forestry Department

airplanes, one from Sault Ste Marie,

are today participating in the search

for Pilot Bill Tweed of the department,

missing since Wednesday morning,

when he left Round Lake, on the Longlac

-Nakina cut-off, to fly to Twin

Lakes, near Bawk, it was stated today

by Fred J. Dawson, district forester.

A search maintained since reports

were sent out that Pilot Tweed had

disappeared disclosed no clue of the

airman. This morning Mr. Dawson

requested Port Arthur headquarters of

the Ontario Provincial Police to assist

in the search for Pilot Tweed and to-

morrow Constable Nix, of Geraldton,

and Constable James Higgins of Sioux

Lookout will proceed to Bawk to or-

ganize a ground search. Constable Hig-

gins is familiar with the general bush

surroundings of the district where the

pilot is believed lost(4).

Ontario Forestry Branch officials today

did not care to hazard a conclusive

opinion as to what happened. They said

Tweed’s machine(5) might have been

in a forced landing in some out-of-the-

way spot in the bush and that he

might have been injured. On the other

hand, the plane might have crashed

and taken fire.

Mr. Dawson said no new bush fires

have been reported since yesterday in

the Thunder Bay district. Reports

were reaching headquarters that rain

had fallen in some of the fire zones and

there were indications that a heavy

rain might visit the Lakehead over

the week-end.

[To be continued in 08 Pilot Found Aug 1936 Times in Nakina]

This 1953 map is compiled from information and aerial photographs from 1946. Note the vast roadless area north of the TransCanada Highway No. 11, which linked Geraldton and Longlac to Hearst in 1943. Logging roads are just starting to penetrate the bush in this era. The whistlestop of Bawk (upper right part of the map) shows three structures associated with this location on the railway. Source “Longlac, Ontario”, Sheet 42 E/NE, National Topographic Series, Department of National Defence.

ENDNOTES

1 The description of the flight path is sketchy. The destination, Twin Lakes Air Base, is clear. Twin Lakes refers to Upper and Lower Twin Lakes, located six miles east of Nakina. Between Nakina and Twin Lakes was the longest road in the district, and in 1936 one had to fly 35 miles south and west to Geraldton to find more roads,  associated with the Little Long Lac gold camp. The district between Nakina, Geraldton, and Longlac was otherwise roadless terrain. The air base, for Ontario Forestry Branch (OFB) float planes, was located on the southwest shore of Lower Twin Lake. The OFB patrolled for forest fires and ferried firefighters and equipment to outbreaks.

2 Bawk was a whistlestop on the Nakina Cut-off, the Canadian National Railways line between Longlac and Nakina. It would have had a section house for railway workers maintaining the tracks and, judging by reports in this article, possibly a firetower for spotting fires. Bawk had telegraphic communication with both Nakina and Longlac.

3 The Port Arthur News-Chronicle (PANC) would have used Fred J. Dawson, Thunder Bay District Forester, based in Port Arthur, for its primary source. The reporter for PANC most likely had a very hazy idea of the geography outside the city, which would account for the sketchy description of the flight path. In addition, maps were not readily available and showed wide expanses of unsurveyed territory. Maps from that era also fail to identify a “Round Lake”. The details “passed his destination” and “very smoky” confirm that the pilot took his cues from compass and landscape features rather than radio directional  beacon signals, which the Nakina airport could provide. The time given in the August 14th report is very likely accurate, the plane’s motor stopping at 9:00 p.m. Wednesday evening. The time given in the August 15th report, “Wednesday morning”, is questionable. This report has no dateline (i.e., date and place) to provide some attribution, and was likely a rewrite job by newspaper staff.

4 Constables Nix and Higgins would travel by train to Bawk. Once leaving the tracks and plunging into the bush, one’s familiarity with “the general bush surroundings” counted for naught in finding one’s way. However, one’s knowledge of bushcraft would be useful if one had a destination in mind.

5 William “Bill” Tweed was flying a DH60 Moth, Canadian registration number G-CAOX.

Geoffrey de Havilland, founder of the de Havilland Aircraft Co. of Britain, designed the DH 60 Moth. In 1928, the Ontario Provincial Air Service (OPAS), based in Sault Ste. Marie, began to acquire a fleet of the Moths. They were a versatile aircraft which could be equipped with wheels, skis, or floats. The OPAS was phasing out the old HS-2L flying boats used by the Ontario Forestry Branch.

Originally fitted with 100 h.p. Gipsy engines, they were upgraded to 120 h.p. The biplane measured 23 feet long with a wing span of 30 feet and a cruising speed of 85 mph. It had two open cockpits: the pilot sat is the aft cockpit, the passenger in the fore; they could communicate with a speaking tube. The fuselage had a metal-and-wood frame covered with fabric.

In the 1930s, the Gipsy Moths, as they were commonly called, were the most popular aircraft in Canada. They broke all kinds of records for altitude, endurance, speed, and maintenance-free operation. They became the favourite of long-distance fliers.

Source The Canadian Museum of Flight.
Source Google Earth view annotated.

PHOTOS

01 A DH60 Moth, commonly called a Gipsy Moth, flies over the lakes and bush of the Canadian boreal forest. Photo Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.

02  The pilot  of this Gipsy Moth stands on a float, posing for the camera. The passenger is seated in the cockpit. Note the empty aft cockpit where the pilot will be seated. Photo source unknown.

03 This 1953 map is compiled from information and aerial photographs from 1946. Note the vast roadless area north of the TransCanada Highway No. 11, which linked Geraldton and Longlac to Hearst in 1943. Logging roads are just starting to penetrate the bush in this era. The whistlestop of Bawk (upper right part of the map) shows three structures associated with this location on the railway. Source “Longlac, Ontario”, Sheet 42 E/NE, National Topographic Series, Department of National Defence.

04 Source The Canadian Museum of Flight.

05 Source Google Earth view annotated.

Posted in WRITING | 2 Comments

03 April 1922 Times for Jellicoe

A coaling plant from Leaside, Ontario, in July 1934. Photo Canadian National Railways/James A. Brown Collection.

03 by F.A. Farley, Correspondent, in Canadian National Railways Magazine

The hockey season is rapidly drawing to a
close. The locals played home and home games
with the Hornepayne team, winning both en-
counters handily; the scores being 8-3 and 5-0.
A feature of both games was the fine goal tend-
ing of “Tobie” Sanders, the Jellicoe net guardian.
It is possible another match may be ar-
ranged before Old Sol turns our rink on the
lake into a canoe route.

With the grain movement over, staff reductions
are being made in all departments. Traffic,
while much reduced in volume, remains steady,
auguring well for the months to come.

The new coal chute(1) is in operation and is
an up-to-date plant in every respect. Upon its
completion, the ditching machine(2) operated by
Engineer Bohan for coaling engines, was no
longer required and has been removed to Leaside(3).
We are sorry to lose “Tommy”.

An old-time ditching machine features one arm for excavation and one arm for conveying excavated material to a flat car circa 1913. Source “Railroad Ditching Machines”, 1913, by Clem Austen, from thesis for University of Illinois.
A Lomar ditcher, a modern ditching machine, working on April 25, 2004. Photo Doyle Massey on website RailPictures.net.

Steps are being taken to form a school sec-
tion in this locality. Mr. Hamilton, public
school inspector, paid a visit to town and
promised his assistance. We hope to see things
materialize shortly, so the little ones may have
the opportunity for education, so necessary in
this modern world.

A map of Leaside railway centre and associated housing development from 1913 to 1934. Creator John Naulls, 2016 @leasidelife.com.

ENDNOTES


1 The coal chute was instrumental to transfer bulk fuel to the steam locomotives. The term “coal chute” may be synonymous with “coal shed”, “coal tower”, and “coal plant”. This author is depending on the comments of readers for clarification.


2 The term “ditching machine”, according to all sources consulted by this author, was a mobile machine that sat on the tracks and excavated or cleared ditches which carried runoff. It featured an extensible arm with a shovel or bucket and a moveable conveyor system which relocated the excavated material. One can imagine how such a machine was used for “coaling engines” before the construction of a coal chute. The comments of readers are very welcome. This author could not find an image of a CNR ditching machine from the 1920s or ‘30s.


3 The community of Leaside was key to operations of Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR), later part of the Canadian National Railways system.


Even before the CNoR began operating as a transcontinental railway in 1915, the owners were acquiring land and making plans for a model “railway town” with shops and sidings and a huge housing complex for employees and their families. William Mackenzie and Donald Mann chose Leaside, an agricultural area immediately northeast of Toronto and west of the Don River.

Construction began in earnest in the spring of 1917, giving rise to 14 tracks parallel to existing Canadian Pacific tracks, a coach shop, a freight car shop, a roundhouse, and a locomotive repair shop, along with a huge icehouse, a blacksmith shop, a planing mill, and offices and storage buildings.


Meanwhile, the CNoR was transitioning from ownership by Canadian Government Railways to Canadian National Railways (CNR). By 1920 the Leaside railway centre was fully operational, but the multiple railways that now formed the CNR made many facilities redundant. After the 1920s, the Leaside railway centre declined in importance.

An aerial view of the Leaside railway facilities in the 1920s. Photo Toronto Public Library.
A view of Leaside shops, July 31,1919. Source website Old Time Trains @trainweb.org.

PHOTOS
01 A coaling plant from Leaside, Ontario, in July 1934. Photo Canadian National Railways/James A. Brown Collection.
02 An old-time ditching machine features one arm for excavation and one arm for conveying excavated material to a flat car circa 1913. Source “Railroad Ditching Machines”, 1913, by Clem Austen, from thesis for University of Illinois.
03 A Lomar ditcher, a modern ditching machine, working on April 25, 2004. Photo Doyle Massey on website RailPictures.net.
04 A map of Leaside railway centre and associated housing development from 1913 to 1934. Creator John Naulls, 2016 @leasidelife.com.
05 An aerial view of the Leaside railway facilities in the 1920s. Photo Toronto Public Library.
06 A view of Leaside shops, July 31,1919. Source website Old Time Trains @trainweb.org.

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06 Heat & Fires in July 1936 Times in Nakina


Headline in The Toronto Daily Star, July 9, 1936.

06 Heat & Fires in July: article by Beverly Soloway


NAKINA 7 – A WEEKEND OF FIRE AND FEAR(1)
by Beverly (Kouhi) Soloway

For nine days it hadn’t rained. The
mercury on the thermometer kept climbing-
90, 95, 100, 106 and higher. Everyone waited
for rain, for relief from the dry, scorching heat.
To the northwest, dark clouds were building.
When the storm moved over the Nakina
District on July 9, 1936, it didn’t bring rain. It
brought a summer of fire, smoke and fear. And
a weekend that no one would soon forget.

The fire tower at Twin Lakes reported
two fires that Thursday night before darkness
fell. When the sun came up Friday morning, all
hell broke loose. Fourteen more fires were
reported before the morning was out.

In 1936 there were no roads in the
Nakina district. A rugged trail went north three
miles to Cordingly Lake. Another went east
seven miles to the Lands and Forests Base at
Twin Lakes. The railway was the only
connection to the larger towns of Geraldton
and Hearst.

Reaching a forest fire was difficult. A gas
car could take the rangers and fire fighters
down the railway track to the nearest point,
and one the two airplanes at the Twin Lakes
Base could fly them into the nearest lake. Then,
the men had to walk into the fire. Through
dense bush , blackflies and mosquitoes, the men
carried their fire fighting equipment (axes,
shovels, and sometimes pumps, hoses and
hand pumps). They also carried in the supplies
they need to eat and rest.

The forests surrounding Nakina were on
fire. One blaze was north of Ara Lake, and
seven burned east of the town between the
Drowning River and Chipman Lake.

II didn’t take long to discover that
NAKINA 7 would be the most dangerous fire.
The blaze had started on a ridge at the north
end of Fleming Lake, a mile and a half from the
rapids. It was 110 degrees when the fire crews
left Nakina. They went by rail west of Exton to
Kowkash Lake. Here, the Arrow Land and
Logging Company transported the men into the
fire site using their logging horse-teams and
motor boats.

When the men reached the fire it had
grown to 3 acres. It would not be an easy
blaze to fight. The fire was uphill, and a mile
and a half from the nearest water. The pumps
were placed at water’s edge and hoses strung
through the bush. Facing a strong southwest
wind, the men held the fire at bay. Saturday,
July 11, 1936, was hot and smoky. The bush
was tinder dry, feeding the fire all it could
consume. Three pumps tried valiantly to suck
water from the lake and spit it on the ferocious
fire. Suddenly, the wind shifted, swinging down
towards the rapids, sending the men running for
their lives. Dragging canvas hoses and gas
pumps with them, they jumped into the rapids.
The fire swept past them and onto the north
east.

Nothing could stop it now. Acres of
spruce and jackpine were fodder for the wild
beast. Dense clouds of smoke and intense
temperatures slowed down the battle as 109
men fought the war.

On Sunday, July 12, Nakina woke up to
the hot oppressive summer heat and eyestinging
smoke. Gray ash filtered down over
the town of 500. Chief Ranger Alfred Grasser
kept the CNR up-to-date as men fought flames
only three miles away. A train stood waiting in
the railway yard should the need to evacuate
the town become a reality.

During the Depression years, several
men could be found “riding the rails” when a
freight train pulled into town. On Sunday
afternoon, Ranger John Raeburn conscripted
the transients on a passing freight to help battle
the forest fires.

As the sun went down on Sunday, the
sky glowed orange through the haze and
smoke. People went to bed fully dressed,
unsure of what darkness would bring. Chief
Ranger Grasser spent the night at the Twin
Lakes Air Base. Other Forestry Branch staff
maintained the office around the clock. CNR
Station Agent Jim Cordingly went out to his
camp at Cordingly Lake.

In the dark of the night, as the sky
glowed orange from the fire consuming the
forests just three miles away, Jim Cordingly
returned to town. A council of concerned
citizens had been formed to watch over the
dangerous fire situation. The town teetered on
the edge of panic. Someone started to cry, and
at 2:30 in the morning, the town turned out of
their beds and began to pack up for
evacuation. Holes were dug in back yards and
furniture and treasured possessions were
buried.

Jim Cordingly discovered that the water
tank car that normally stood watch in Nakina
had been sent south towards Longlac and
Geraldton, where fires raged towards those
communities. He ordered it turned back at
Longlac, then wired Port Arthur to have a crew
of section men destined for Oba re-routed to
Nakina.

Monday morning dawned smoky and
hot. The firefighters continued their battle
against NAKINA 7. A five mile front was
edging closer to the community. In town, ash
from this fire as well as others in the region
rained down on a worried town.
At the west of the village a Lands and
Forests water pump, hose, and fire crew
watered down the station and buildings.
At the east end of Nakina, an engine
spark set the roundhouse roof on fire. The
water-tank car, now back from Longlac, spewed
water dousing the flames. People hung around
the waiting train, worrying about the forest fire
southwest of the town while they watched the
roundhouse roof burn.

Meanwhile the Lands and Forests
rangers tried to calm the people. They
reminded the people that they had not called
for evacuation yet.

At 2:45 p.m., a noticeable shift in the
wind turned the fire to the northwest. The
town began to breathe easier. It would be ten
more days before the people felt comfortable
enough to dig out the possessions they had
buried.

As the summer wore on, Northern
Ontario continued to burn. During the same
few days, the people of Nakina and Geraldton
would watch the fire dance on their doorsteps. On
July 16, over 250 fires raged on a 700-mile front
across the North. Smoke hung so dense and
thick across the North that airplanes had a hard
time flying. As one pilot flew eastwards, he
looked west and later commented that it
looked like the whole North was on fire.

NAKINA 7 was finally extinguished on
September leaving over 10,000 acres of
forest destroyed. In 1936, it was valued at
$52,837. In 1995, that same timber would
carry a price tag of $607,631.

The summer of 1936 brought a
weekend of fire and fear that has not been
forgotten by those who lived through it.

A clip about extreme weather events in Environmental & Climate Change Canada.

ENDNOTES

1 This article, written by Bev Soloway, is copied from the book Sentimental Journeys:
Nakina Nostalgia, Volume 1
, by Elle Andra-Warner. Both authors granted
permission for reproducing it. Bev Soloway expanded the article,
documenting in scholarly fashion, and it was published in Papers & Records,
Vol. 36, in 2008,
by Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society.

Request for photos to illustrate this article. Neither Bev Soloway nor this author have found any online.

PHOTOS

01 Headline in The Toronto Daily Star, July 9, 1936.


02 A clip about extreme weather events in Environmental & Climate Change Canada.


03 Request for photos to illustrate this article. Neither Bev Soloway nor this author have found any online.

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05 13 July 1936 Times in Nakina

On July 9, 1936, Torontonians flocked to the beaches to escape the heat, according to an article in The Toronto Daily Star. Source article “This was the worst heat wave in Toronto history”, July 24, 2016, in blogTO> http://bit.ly/3sVjPv4 .

05 13 July report in the Port Arthur News-Chronicle in 1936

Refer to the intro in the 01 January, February, March posts. bit.ly/3o0GxPs

Mon Jul 13 – extract – MOST SERIOUS FIRES IN YEARS

“Three deaths were recorded today as Port Arthur and district sweltered in the highest temperatures ever recorded. From Long Lac in the East to Kenora in the West, the thermometers rose over the 100 mark.”

The mining community of Beardmore sent a telegram to Mayor C.W. Cox, MLA, signed by 15 residents, requesting a special train stand by on the siding to evacuate citizens.

Three Port Arthur residents tried an experiment to fry an egg on the sidewalk. “Inside of three minutes the yolk had hardened and it was, to all intents and purposes, a regular fried egg.”

“First of the deaths from heat occurred at Armstrong Saturday afternoon when Sam Proper, Canadian National Railways extra-gang laborer, suffered a sunstroke at 3 o’clock and died two hours later.” Hired in Winnipeg, he had been working under a blistering sun.

“John Charnoski, 44, of 1011 Minnesota Street, Fort William, an employee of the Tashota Mine, east of Nakina, died of sunstroke at the mine at 10 o’clock this morning.” He was survived by his wife and three daughters.

“At 2.45 o’clock this afternoon, the first death by heat prostration in Port Arthur, was reported when Mrs. Eva Wolotko, 68, of 295 Bay Street, collapsed while in the basement of her home.” She was survived by her husband, three sons and two daughters.

“At Nakina a major fire eight miles southwest of the Canadian National Railways divisional point was headed toward the town, and the residents were organized this morning to make possible speedy evacuation by train if necessary. A small blaze at the C.N.R. shops at 11 a.m. was placed under control.

A message from Nakina at 2.45 o’clock this afternoon stated that a northwest wind had sprung up, making the situation more favorable for the community of 500 people by driving the smoke and fire away from the town. Men and equipment were sent out this morning to fight the fire, and it was felt that unless the wind changed there was no immediate danger.”

There were more than forty fires reported burning in Thunder Bay district in the tinder-dry bush. Reports of deaths, mostly from Toronto, continued to pour in. “Funeral directors in Toronto were using old equipment and hearses brought in from outside the city to carry out burials. Extra grave-diggers were put to work.”

In Thunder Bay district, stories proflerated: “Fire-fighters prostrated by the heat; a horse killed, fish dying in shallow lakes; pilots taking their planes through acrid smoke in oven-like cockpits . . .“ Pilots reported that visibility over the entire rural area was poor.

“The fires in the Geraldton area, including Little Long Lac and Hard Rock gold mines and the MacLeod-Cockshutt property are reported under control, although the situation at Geraldton itself will remain dangerous until a heavy rain has soaked the bush.”

“Three planes of the Ontario Air Service, assisted by private planes flown by Al Cheesman, Louis Bisson and R. Parsons have been working steadily for the past three days flying men and equipment to the various fires.” F.J. Dawson, district forester, said, “Small crews are working on almost every fire, narrowing them down along their course and attempting to turn them toward lakes where they will burn themselves out. It is impossible to send men in front of fires . . . The intense heat of the sun, coupled with that generated by the fires, make the very air burn . . . “1

ENDNOTES

1 Beverly Soloway, history professor at Lakehead University and former Nakina resident, published an account of the fires in the Papers & Records of Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society. Predating that publication, she contributed an article to a booklet titled Sentimental Journeys: Nakina Nostalgia, Volume 1, authored by Elle Andra Warner. This article will be the subject of post 06 Heat & Fires in July 1936 Times in Nakina.

Request for photos to illustrate this article. Neither Bev Soloway nor this author have found any online.

PHOTOS

01 On July 9, 1936, Torontonians flocked to the beaches to escape the heat, according to an article in The Toronto Daily Star. Source article “This was the worst heat wave in Toronto history”, July 24, 2016, in blogTO> http://bit.ly/3sVjPv4 .

02 Clip from The Porcupine Advance, July 16, 1936, adds to the events surrounding the Nakina forest fire threat.

03 Request for photos to illustrate this article. Neither Bev Soloway nor this author have found any online.

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