Postagoni River Bridge Orient Bay Station Cove Inlet
Orient Bay was a major station on the line located at Milepost 41.3/91.
Orient Bay is a 8km long bay of Lake Nipigon located northeast of Nipigon, Ontario. To the north lies Pijitawabik Bay (pronounced PEE-GEE-TUH-WAW-BIK) and is bounded by the Pijitawabik Palisades. Pijitawabik in the Ojibwe language means “Bay of the Rock Faces” or alternately “precipitous shore line” or “rock cut entrance.” Pijitawabik may have been misinterpreted and is likely spelled and pronounced similar to the nearby First Nations community of Biinjitiwabik Zaaging Anishnabek. The origins of Orient Bay is unknown, but it is certainly not Indigenous. The First Nations people called this area “Obod-tawnga,” meaning “sand bars forming into narrows.” A plausible explanation is that it was named by surveyors or during construction of the railway.
When the railway was built alongside the bay and later opened for traffic in 1915, a station was constructed where the bay narrows and the Shadow Creek empties into its waters from the west. As the major stop between Jellicoe and Nipigon, Orient Bay boasted a full station, telegraph operator, water tank, section houses, numerous small structures and a siding, which it retained until prior to 2005. The section houses were removed around the same time as the rails and a motorcar shed remains at the site.
In 1916, CNoR opened a 20-25 guest fishing and hunting lodge near Orient Bay Station, which would allow for easy access the waters of Lake Nipigon and the Nipigon River. Known as the “Nipigon Lodge,” it was operated as an annex to the company’s Prince Arthur Hotel in Port Arthur (Thunder Bay), Ontario, 107 miles to the west. In 1919, the lodge played host to its most famous guest, HRH the Prince of Wales, who would later become King Edward VIII. As part of his Royal Tour of Canada that year, he arrived at the lodge from Nipigon and began a 3-day adventure on Lake Nipigon and the Nipigon River. You can read more about his visit here: 1919 Royal Tour in Nipigon.
The lodge, renamed the Royal Windsor Lodge (in honour of the Duke of Windsor, Edward VIIIs title after he abdicated the throne), closed in 2017 after the passing of its last owner, Olga Jalkanen. Unfortunately the original main lodge building burned to the ground in the 1970s. The property was recently sold and is now belongs to a nearby First Nations community.
On April 25, 1994 there was a significant derailment on the line just north of Orient Bay Station at Milepost 40/89.7. Eastbound train #336 encountered a large washout resulting from a partially blocked culvert which caused water saturation to erode the grade. Despite emergency braking, the lead locomotive hit the washout at 26mph, precipitating the derailment of 15 cars, some of which came to rest on top of the locomotives. Two of the three crew members were seriously injured. You can read more about the incident here.
Click here to see a 2009 Google Streetview image of Orient Bay with the rails still in place and the section houses still standing.
Orient Bay Station
There are a number of videos of the area around Orient Bay Station, both historical and recent, in the playlist below: