Posts Tagged ‘northwestern ontario’

1974 Occupation of Anicinabe Park.

The year 1974 was seen by some as the turning point in the Red Power movement in Canada. One of the key events was the occupation of Anicinabe municipal Park in Kenora, Ontario, in July 1974. Louis Cameron from the nearby White Dog reserve organized a conference in the park, participants decided they needed to do more to assert their rights and make their demands heard. They were demanding better living conditions, education and access to land.
The July conference created an atmosphere to articulate other objectives including an end to police harassment in Kenora, better medical and dental services, cultural training for white police, creation of a local human rights committee, and appointment of First Nations justices of the peace. Ojibway Warrior Society Including dozens of young First Nations people from across the continent joined the protest in 1974.

One of the original protestors, Lorraine Major, said the people who were there with her should be remembered and honoured. “They had the guts to stand up for their rights. They had the guts to speak out against leadership.“

The occupation lasted 39 days, involving a stand-off between 100 First Nations participants and police. There were dozens of arrests but subsequent acquittals.

– Anthony Melting Tallow, November 18, 2018.

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“Immediate Aid Is Demanded By Workless,” The Globe and Mail. October 25, 1938. Page 03.

Port Arthur, Oct. 24 (Special) – Unemployed crowded the Port Arthur city council chamber tonight to present a petition, signed by 804 men, urging immediate relief until work could be provided for them.

The petition urged a wide-scale work program by Dominion and provincial governments, mentioning particularly resumption of work on the trans-Canada highway, clearing a right of way on the projected road from Geraldton to Hearst, a housing program in Port Arthur, the St. Lawrence waterway, and reforestation, as needed works that would benefit this district and provide employment.

‘The situation this year in the bush camps, with probably only one-quarter the men working that there were last year, is inevitable in view of the unprecedented amount of wood which the Ontario government permitted to be cut for export last year,’ said Mayor C. W. Cox, M.L.A. 

‘The market has been flooded and now bushmen are idle. There is too much dictation in the east about problems in the north, by people who know too little about this part of Canada. Not enough consideration is given to the views of the elected representatives who know conditions,’ said his Worship.

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“Prisoners to Build Highway Link – Ontario To Use Convict
Labor To Build Road,” The Globe and Mail. October 24, 1939. Pages 03
& 20.

Three Camps of 100 Men Each Planned on Long Lac Section


Faced with the problem of abnormal congestion in the prison system, the Ontario
government will immediately establish three camps housing 100 men each, near
Long Lac, on the projected line of the uncompleted 112-mile section of the
Trans-Canada Highway between Geraldton and Hearst, Premier Hepburn announced

The decision to employ prison labor on the highway
construction work was made only after Ottawa refused the Ontario government’s
proposal to relieve congestion by enlisting in the army 560 short-term prisoners.
Hon. Harry Nixon, Provincial Secretary, revealed yesterday that 821 inmates of
the specified classification, men convicted of misdemeanours, rather than
crimes, had volunteered for enlistment and that 623 had been recommended by
reformatory superintendents.

In announcing the highway construction program, both the
Premier and Mr. Nixon stressed that congestion in the reformatories was caused
directly by the Government’s presentation to defense authorities of the new St.
Thomas mental hospital for air force training purposes.  In order to relieve the population strain on
mental hospitals by the transfer of the St. Thomas institution, prisoners at
the Jail Farm near Langstaff were moved to Mimico and Guelph Reformatories and
the farm became a mental hospital for male patients.

The highway construction plan, added the Premier, was almost
identical to the Government’s proposal to Ottawa to employ interned enemy
aliens for highway building. The suggestion, which was refused, carried with it
an offer to accept full responsibility for the maintenance of the internment

Provincial Secretary Nixon said both Canadian and Provincial statutes permitted
the use of prisoners in road construction, and that the first road work was
done in 1910, when a forty-mile right of way was cut from the T. & N. O.
Railway to the Porcupine gold camp. Road work was also done by prison labor,
subsequently, in the Burwash Reformatory area.

He said there was no problem in transportation, as Burwash and Long Lac were on
the same rail line. ‘This may be regarded as only a start in the program, if it
is successful,’ he said. ‘This year the work will be limited to three camps,
and it will take the entire season to clear the right-of-way, and to stump and
ditch it.’

Camps Cost $5,000
The plan was developed in close collaboration with the Department of
Highways. R. M. Smith, Deputy Minister of Highways, in a report, said the
Geraldton-Hearst link passed through comparatively level country, where
construction costs would not be excessive. He estimated that the completion of
the 112 miles’ stretch to the gravel stage should not exceed $5,000,000. The
camp, by agreement, are to be built by the Highways Department at points five,
thirteen, and twenty-one miles east of Long Lac.

Each camp, to cost an estimated $5,000, is to be constructed so that they may
be used later for tourist accommodation. Mr. Smith held also that completion of
this stretch would open ‘another mining area, which has already proven itself.’
and he named the Nipigon-Beardmore road as ‘one of the most picturesque
sections in the Province.’

Men Prefer Camps
‘An added factor in the decision to employ prisoners in the road project has
been the closing down of the brick and tile industry at the Mimico Reformatory
because of the lack of market, and because the Government, due to the war, is
not constructing new buildings.

C. F. Neelands, Deputy Provincial Secretary, advised: ‘It
has been our experience that the majority of the prisoners  prefer the comparative freedom of a road
camp, with the restricted conveniences, to the main institution, with its high
custodial restrictions and its greater comfort.’

He reported there were 1,570 prisoners in the Guelph and Mimico Reformatories
and at the Burwash Industrial Farm who are serving terms of three months or
longer. In addition, there were 200 prisoners of this category in the jails.

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Port Arthur Jail ‘Monumental Disgrace,’” Toronto
October 14, 1947. Page 08.

The Star
Port Arthur, Oct. 14 – Commenting on the report of the grand jury,
Chief Justice McRuer stated conditions at the jail here were
‘shocking’ and should be rectified by the authorities.

On Aug. 12, Hon. George Dunbar, Ontario minister of municipal
affairs, while making a routine inspection here, said the report of
the spring grand jury was ‘quite true.’ ‘There is considerable
overcrowding and conditions at the jail are not good,’ he said, and
promised a ‘drastic’ shake-up in the administration of the jail.

Despite overcrowding, which could be rectified, Mr. Dunbar said at
the time, the jail and prisoners could have been kept much cleaner if
‘certain people had looked after their jobs.’

The report, as endorsed by the current grand jury, stated in part:
The deplorably overcrowded conditions are a monumental disgrace to
the people of the province of Ontario. Every square inch, and every
part of the building is used for beds. There are beds in the
washroom, beds in the laundry, beds in the hallway.  This revolting
condition cries for immediate, drastic action, right now – tomorrow
may be too late–

stench from so many human beings living in such overcrowded
conditions, together with the regular institutional smell, is
something the members of this grand jury will remember for a long,
long time.

we found 118 men and nine women confined at the jail, almost double
the normal capacity.

questioning the officials we find the food costs per day, per
prisoner, is 31 cents, with food being purchased at retail prices.
With our knowledge of present day food prices, it is doubtful in our
opinion if sufficient nourishment can be provided at the above meat

find that shaving is restricted to once a week when 12 men use the
same razor blade.’

Reporting on conditions at the Ontario Mental hospital, the
presentment of the grand jury emphasized the urgent need for a
building to house women patients.

the present time, women, who are mentally ill, are kept in the
district jail, until such time as they may be sent to eastern
institutions. It is most unfortunate that during their stay in the
district jail they must be placed with women prisoners.’

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“Three Are Saved in Central Patricia Mine Blast Which Killed Four Underground,” Toronto Star. October 9, 1947. Page 02.

Captions to photographs, starting top left:

Whole Community at Central Patricia Mine in the Red Lake district today stood by as draegermen toiled following the accident which trapped seven men at the bottom of the shaft. This is the mining settlement.

Explosion of Natural gas is blamed for the disaster which caught the men below 3,300 feet in the shaft at Central Patricia Mine, seen here. Three men have been saved, it is reported, and the other four are known to have died in the blast.

Hospital at Mine, at right, is available for emergency cases. Condition of rescued miners is not known. Because of limited communication facilities, the Toronto offices of the company have only meagre details.

Red Cross Outpost hospital at Red Lake, 100 miles from the Central Patricia Mine, is standing by to aid in any way it can, the society reports. This nurse is at work in the hospital which has an adequate supply of blood plasma and penicillin.

Map of the Red Lake area shows location of Central Patricia Mine where the explosion took four lives. Besides Red Lake Hospital, one at Sioux Lookout also could aid.

Four Men died under 400 tons of rock and earth in shaft at point indicated.

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“Young and Old Are Victims of Bush Blazes,” Globe and Mail, October 18, 1938. Page 13.

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“Carrying Their Few Belongings, Settlers Leave Their Homes For The Safety of Fort Frances,” Toronto Star, October 15, 1938.  Page 04.

“Flames still shoot skyward in the Rainy River district.  With the wind dropping, hopes are rising that the fire will be subdued before destroying towns and villages near Fort Frances.  Meanwhile refugees continue to pack their belongings (left) bury what they cannot carry and stream to the safety of Fort Frances.  The general scene of desolation (centre) shows a road blocked after flames burned out a bridge.  At the right, inhabitants of Frog Creek are shown as trucks carry them to safety at Fort Frances.  There Hon. Peter Heenan has taken over the tasking of caring for the homeless.  Anything can happen while the fires still burn along the boundary and the firefighters that winds were ill drop further and rain will come to aid them.”

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