RSS

Tag Archives: Macdiarmid

Feature Friday January 20, 2023

Then and now photos featuring the Macdiarmid Tunnel, also referred to as the Jumbo’s Cove Tunnel. In the first photograph, taken circa 1996 by Mike Ročnik, an eastbound prepares to enter the southern portal of the tunnel. Bored by contractors working for Canadian Northern Railway, it was part of a line constructed between Ruel (Sudbury area) and Port Arthur (Thunder Bay), Ontario from 1911 to 1914. Opened for traffic in 1915, portions of it were encased in concrete in the early 1980s.

Today the tunnel is much quieter after service was terminated in 2005 and the rails removed in 2010. At 1058 feet, it remains one of the largest in eastern Canada. In a three week span in January 1912, construction tragically claimed the lives of 3 workers, two of whom are still buried nearby.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 20, 2023 in History, Railway

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

CNoR/CN-Kinghorn (Dorion) Subdivision MP 33.3-37.6 VI

Video of the former Canadian Northern Railway/CN-Kinghorn (Dorion) Subdivision (MP 83-87.3) south of Macdiarmid/Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek, ON. Features the grade from the southern end of the Macdiarmid Tunnel to the northern approaches of the Postagoni River Bridge and includes signage, old crossings and the remains of a hot box/dragging equipment detector. *The cement barrel with the eyebolts is likely an anchor for a warning tower associated with the hotbox detector.

Part 6 of 7.

Active, 1914-2005.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 17, 2023 in Hiking, History, Railway, Video

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

CNoR/CN-Kinghorn (Dorion) Subdivision MP 33.3-37.6 V (Macdiarmid-Jumbo’s Cove Tunnel)

Video of the former Canadian Northern Railway/CN-Kinghorn (Dorion) Subdivision (MP 83-87.3) south of Macdiarmid/Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek, ON. Features the 1058-foot tunnel known as the Macdiarmid or Jumbo’s Cove Tunnel, which is one of the longest railway tunnels in eastern Canada. During its construction, three workers tragically lost their lives between January 16 and 31, 1912.

Part 5 of 7.

Active, 1914-2005.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 16, 2023 in Hiking, History, Railway, Video

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Luna’s Offbeat Adventures-Episode V

Hi everyone! My name is Luna and I’m a very active and curious Labradoodle. I love to follow my dad on his history exploration adventures, so he decided to put a camera on me to record what I see while we’re hiking. It’s in its armoured housing, so the audio is muffled, the harness doesn’t always stay in the right spot and the GoPro can’t always compensate for my movements, so there are no awards for sound and cinematography here (seriously, it’s very shaky at times). It’s just raw, minimally edited video.

This episode took us to one of the more interesting spots on the railway line just south of the communities of Macdiarmid/Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek, ON. The 1058-foot Macdiarmid or Jumbo’s Cove Tunnel is one of the longest in eastern Canada and we’ve been here several times. You’ll see me travel the grade from near the Postagoni River north to and through the tunnel. The tunnel is pretty long and dark! You can check out the video my dad made for his video series on the line here: https://youtu.be/cN3JF9uEyaE

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 28, 2022 in Hiking, History, Railway, Video

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Tunnel Tragedies

Some are familiar with the Macdiarmid or Jumbo’s Cove Tunnel, which lies north of Nipigon, ON near the communities of Macdiarmid/Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek. At 1058 feet long, the former railway tunnel is one of the largest in eastern Canada and was in use from 1915 to 2005. The tunnel unfortunately has a very tragic history, the details of which have only recently been pieced together.

It is unknown when construction of the tunnel began, but the latter part of 1911 seems logical as work was underway in January 1912. At least two separate subcontractors were involved; Nimmo & Flatt and Chambers, McColman & Harrison. During the second half of January, accidents claimed the lives of three labourers sadly.

The first incident occurred on January 16th. A group of men led by John Ranta (Juho Kiviranta) were setting additional blasting charges after several previous ones did not ignite properly. Unfortunately, one of the earlier explosives detonated; Ranta and Oscar Hendrickson (Oskari Suosalo) took the full brunt of the blast. Their injuries can be described as nothing less than horrific. With no nearby relatives claim the bodies, the men were interred nearby in a common grave with a single headstone.

Two weeks tragedy befell the construction again. In an era before proper protective equipment, a loose piece of rock fell and struck 35-year-old Peter Rice in the head, killing him instantly. His body had to be held at the camp hospital while next of kin were notified, so it took until the end of February before his remains could be moved to Duluth, Minnesota for burial.

Many thanks to all those who helped with this important piece of local history.

Gordon Laird

Karen Johnson-Sheppard

Jerry Adams

Harold Alanen

Nipigon Museum

Michael deJong & Thunder Bay Museum

For more information on the tunnel and the incidents, please the follow page: Macdiarmid Tunnel

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 18, 2022 in Hiking, History, Railway

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

CNoR/CN-Kinghorn (Dorion) Subdivision MP 33.3-37.6 IV

Video of the former Canadian Northern Railway/CN-Kinghorn (Dorion) Subdivision (MP 83-87.3) at Macdiarmid/Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek, ON. Features the grade as it passes alongside the communities with rock cuts, signage, crossings, culverts and the approaches to the Macdiarmid Tunnel. There are also beautiful views of Pijitawabik Bay of Lake Nipigon.

Part 4 of 6.

Active, 1914-2005

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 13, 2022 in Hiking, History, Railway, Video

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Feature Friday February 11, 2022

A photograph of the community of Macdiarmid, ON as it appeared in 1934. The town site was established in 1911 as a construction camp for the Canadian Northern Ontario Railway which was completed in 1914 (not visible in the photo). By late 1917, a railway spur had been built at what was then known as Sand Point, which was later changed to Macdiarmid. The area was a hub for commercial fishing on nearby Lake Nipigon during World War I.


In the 1960s land was partitioned off on the north side of the community for the Indigenous people living there. Initially known as Rock Bay First Nation, today it is commonly referred to by its more traditional name, Biinjitiwabik Zaaging Anishinabek.


Toronto Star Photograph Archive

Macdiarmid, 1934 (Toronto Star Photograph Archive, Courtesy of Toronto Public Library)
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 11, 2022 in History, Railway

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

CNoR/CN-Kinghorn (Dorion) Subdivision MP 33.3-37.6 III

Video of the former Canadian Northern Railway/CN-Kinghorn (Dorion) Subdivision (MP 83-87.3) near Macdiarmid/Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek, ON. Features the grade between Farlinger (MP 34.9) and Macdiarmid Stations (MP 36.6) with a milepost marker, a telegraph pole and rock cuts, including a massive 1000-foot long, 50+foot high cut. There are also beautiful views of Pijitawabik Bay of Lake Nipigon.

Part 3 of 6.

Active, 1914-2005

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 10, 2022 in Hiking, History, Railway, Video

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Tale of Two Tunnels…

The Tale of Two Tunnels…

No, this isn’t about London or Paris, and definitely not about the French Revolution; it’s a little closer to home. Likewise, I’m certainly no Charles Dickens or anything close to it. I fancy myself more like Hemingway haha! This story however, does have a historical flare to it, I guess like everything I write about. It is a bit of an adventure and deals with new discoveries, at least on my part. I doubt there will be a TV adaptation…I know, it would make for a “great” story.

Hey kids, it’s summertime! Well, I guess summer started a few weeks ago, but as this is my first post since that time, I do need to point it out. It has been a over month already since my last post and I can’t believe that much time has passed by; summer is flying by! I am doing my best to make the most of it considering the craziness of this time and the uncertainty of what the future brings. I don’t even want to think about what fall in the classroom is going to look like.

Thankfully, Mother Nature has been mostly cooperative. While we’ve seen some unsettled weather in the last week, it has mostly been great. Fairly dry and very warm; in fact, we had some extremely warm weather a few weeks ago where the temperatures were over 30 Celsius. It’s still been warm, but we’ve had showers and thunderstorms thrown into to mix since then that make things a little more interesting. Hopefully, these warm days continue for the rest of the month and into August. We’ve been spending most of our time out at camp where we can relax a bit more and cool off in the lake.

Camp sunrise, July 2020.

Camp sunset, July 2020.

In addition to relaxing (and working a lot) at camp, I’ve been going on hiking trips as often as I can. Two were on the Grand Trunk, and one on the Canadian Northern, though with all the time spent at camp, there will be more Canadian Northern hikes in the future. It’s been great to get out, though the bugs have made things a little more challenging that usual. However, it’s all been offset by the amazing discoveries and scenery I’ve been able to take in.

My first hike after the last post took on part of the Grand Trunk Pacific between Ellis and Flett Stations. I was one of the longer hikes I’ve attempted, but well worth it. My journey started on Finmark/Flett Road, just east of Flett Station and it took my about 8km east to Ellis Road and back. There were some remarkable sights, including a number of huge rock cuts and a very unusual concrete culvert over Strawberry Creek. The only downside was the bugs; I was absolutely eaten alive by deer flies, particularly on my head through the holes in my bike helmet. A small price to pay for the experience, I guess.

GTP/CN Grade, June 2020.

GTP/CN Grade, June 2020.

GTP/CN Grade, June 2020.

GTP/CN Grade, June 2020.

GTP/CN Grade, June 2020.

GTP/CN Grade, June 2020.

GTP/CN Grade, June 2020.

GTP/CN Grade, June 2020.

The next trip was less vigorous, but certainly strenuous given the temperatures that day. We departed for camp on a one hour and twenty-minute ride to the northeast to Macdiarmid, Ontario, on the former Canadian Northern line. I had never been to this spot before, and in fact had only been up the stretch of road it is located on once (Highway 11). Our goal (the boys came with me that day) was to explore something that I had been looking forward to seeing for quite some time, which was the railway tunnel known as the Madiarmid or Jumbo’s Cove Tunnel. It is one of the few railway tunnels in the area, and I believe the longest at over 1000 feet.

After a very picturesque drive along the Nipigon River and Orient Bay of Lake Nipigon, we arrived at our destination, which was a dirt access road a few hundred metres from the tunnel. We walked in from the highway and could see the tunnel right away to the north. Soon we were at the entrance and proceeded through its length toward the northern portal. Other than its length, this tunnel is unique as it is partially lined with concrete at intervals inside its cavernous expanse. From what I could see, with reinforcing steel jutting from the complete sections of concrete, the entire length was supposed to be lined but was never completed. It does give it a rather interesting appearance. Railway ties still sit in their place throughout the length of the tunnel.

Macdiarmid Tunnel, June 2020.

Macdiarmid Tunnel, June 2020.

Macdiarmid Tunnel, June 2020.

Macdiarmid Tunnel, June 2020.

Macdiarmid Tunnel, June 2020.

After completing our exploration of the tunnel, we headed south for about 700 metres to where the grade crossed over the Postagoni River on a high bridge. This structure, built in 1924 to replace a previous wood trestle, is 285 feet long and 45 feet high. The temperature was starting to climb quickly, so we didn’t dwell too long, but we spent enough time to check out both ends of the bridge as well as the area next to the river. The views from the bridge (which was rather interesting walking across…much like the bridge in the previous post) of Lake Nipigon and Orient Bay were spectacular. It must have been quite interesting from the train!

Postagoni River Bridge, June 2020.

 

Postagoni River Bridge, June 2020.

Postagoni River Bridge, June 2020.

Postagoni River Bridge, June 2020.

A week later I was back at it, this time on the complete opposite end of the district on the GTP. This “hike and bike” as I call them was going to be tough, as it was going to a 10km trip each way. The boys were going to come along again on this trip, and I was bracing myself for a bevy of complaints about how far and how boring it was. I won’t ever tell them, but their complaints make the journey a little more entertaining.

So the plan was to pick up from the last hike at Finmark/Flett Road and push northwest, past the station at Flett to a bridge crossing just east of Griff Station. There was a thunderstorm the night before, so the air was hot and very humid that morning. After a short ride, we arrived at the first point of interest, which was another tunnel. The Flett Tunnel is a very popular hiking spot and probably the most visited abandoned railway location in the area. Unlike the Macdiarmid Tunnel, I had been to this one before, back in 1996…if I remember correctly. I might be hazy on the exact year, but I recall the tunnel well and remember ice still in the tunnel months after it had disappeared from the ground. It’s just over 600 feet long and has a much more rough appearance, with no concrete on the inside.

Flett Tunnel, July 2020.

Flett Tunnel, July 2020.

Flett Tunnel, July 2020.

Flett Tunnel, July 2020.

Flett Tunnel (west portal), 1909.

Past the tunnel, there are numerous large rock cuts that made the journey very interesting. In one spot, I was expecting to see (hopefully) another concrete culvert. What I found was something far more unique. Very strangely, the railway engineers re-routed a creek and blasted a culvert out of solid rock, the likes of which I have never seen.

GTP/CN Grade, July 2020.

GTP/CN Grade, July 2020.

GTP/CN Grade, July 2020.

The railway grade in this area is in rough shape, as it was used a logging road for many years. There were many large puddles in some of the rock cuts, which made our journey a bit challenging at times. It even ended our ride short of the planned destination, as several large puddles about 500 metres from the bridge were unnavigable by bike, so I had to walk the last bit. I was hoping this bridge over the Oskondaga River was another concrete structure like the one over Strawberry Creek, but it was something different, a bridge I had never seen before. Turns out it is a Ballasted Through Plate Girder span bridge. Who knew!

GTP/CN Grade, July 2020.

GTP/CN Grade, July 2020.

GTP/CN Grade, July 2020.

GTP/CN Grade, July 2020.

My last bit of railway news relates to those North Lake Station documents I bought off ebay. One of my goals was to have them properly preserved and accessible at the Thunder Bay Museum. After reaching out to the museum, I was able to arrange to present them to Curator Michael DeJong. There they will form the first part of a historical fond of my research files, which will eventually all find their way to the museum. I don’t often feel that I do a ton of things right, but this one gives me warm and fuzzy feelings!

Document transfer, June 2020.

Anyway, it’s time to move along. I already have new hikes to write about and even more on the drawing board. I’ll be back soon enough with all the latest info. until then…

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 21, 2020 in Hiking, History, Railway

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

CNoR/CN-Kinghorn (Dorion) Subdivision MP 37.6

Video of the former Canadian Northern Railway/CN-Kinghorn (Dorion) Subdivision near Macdiarmid/Rocky Bay FN, ON. Features the 1924 bridge over the Postagoni River.

Active, 1914-2005.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 4, 2020 in Hiking, History, Railway, Video

 

Tags: , , , , , ,