Iroquois Falls

Iroquois Falls isn’t right on Highway 11 – it’s about 15 kilometres away at the end of road 67.  Founded more than 90 years ago, Iroquois Falls is home to a big pulp/paper mill and three electricity dams — all of which together used to be the world’s largest pulp and paper operation.

Iroquois Falls, OntarioIroquois Falls (pronounced locally as Urr-roquois, not Ear-roquois) is about half anglophone and half francophone.  The town is split in two by the railroad, and crisscrossed by the tracks at an innumerable amount of locations.  (I wonder if Iroquois Falls has the highest number of railroad crossings per capita in Ontario.)

Interestingly, the west half of the town seems to have English street names, while the east side’s streets are in French.  There is even rue Synagogue – a testimonial to the Jewish population that once settled in northeastern Ontario.  And while we’re on street names, there’s also Oil Tank Road, which is just begging to be the name of a country album.

Iroquois Falls was comprised of at least three communities – Iroquois Fall, Ansonville and Montrock. Amalgamation has put them all together under one municipal roof.

The Shay in Iroquois Falls

The Shay, Iroquois Falls’s old locomotive

The Abitibi Arena in Iroquois Falls was built entirely by community labour in 1955. Actually, at the time it was billed as the largest community labour project in North America. A large contributor to the project was personnel employed by the paper mill. If a part or piece of equipment was needed somewhere during the construction apparently it was readily made by a millwright over in the paper mill.

Iroquois Falls woodpile at the mill, Highway 11

Sometimes this travel blog feels like a tour of northern Ontario woodpiles (Credit: User P199 at Wiki Commons.)

Known as “The Garden Town of the North”, Iroquois Falls is home to The Shay, an old restored locomotive that used to work the Abitibi line.  The town is also home to the Abitibi Eskimos, a junior hockey team that draws record numbers in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.  I’ve heard that people come from as far as Kirkland Lake to watch the Eskies.  Iroquois Falls celebrates Paperfest in August and the Moby Pike fishing Derby in July.  There is also a Pioneer Museum in town chronicling the rise of the forestry industry and settlement of the town.Iroquois Falls Eskis logo

Iroquois Falls used to be the home of a large, wooden hotel that was served by an fantastic dining room. Unfortunately, it is no more, either being torn down or burned down at some point before I had a chance to have a meal. Randy’s Rec Room is a pub serving surprisingly good food and the service is top notch.  For food there is also the Main Street Café, the Bus Stop Chip Stand, DJ’s pizza, a diner, and a Tim Horton’s.  There’s a motel when you’re coming into town, but I don’t think the adjoining steakhouse has been in operation for years.  There are some bank branches and a caisse.  Esso (west of the tracks) and PetroCanada (east of the tracks) are in town as well. And the Silver Grill is a Chinese place serving 100 percent northern Ontario Chinese food.

Iroquois Falls is a pretty nice town.  There are nice old houses, a few parks, and a marina at Twin Falls that provides access to the massive Lake Abitibi.

Thanks to Paul for the info on Iroquois Falls.

30 thoughts on “Iroquois Falls

  1. Just had a few other memories (I go back to ’44)…my grandfather was caretaker at the Public School in Ansonville – my cousins (Bill or Pete
    since his dad’s name was Bill McDonagh played semi-pro and pro hockey for New York Rangers in the 40s) and I lived a few doors down the street and the Separate School rink was in between- a lot of fond memories cleaning off the snow and playing shinny hockey there -
    a cute blonde girl who lived right behind us was Gail Locke. Went to high school with her as well – had a crush on her. Mary’s store was just down the street across from the Separate School.

    • Yes Bill McDonagh. My father is Peter McDonagh, the son of Harry McDonagh which is Bills brother. A few years ago my great uncle Bill was still playing hockey, at the age of 87 in Coppercliff Ontario, i haven’t heard any new changes since then.

      • My great grandfather Henry McDonagh (many knew him though as Bill) built the rink back in the day. Its confusing because his son Bill (my great uncle) is the one who played some professional hockey for New York!

        • My dad explained it better.
          Many people called Henry McDonagh Bill.
          Henry had a son named Bill, but many called him Peter.
          That’s how my Dad Peter got his name (from his uncle Bill)

  2. does any one remember Mrs Adamson at Ansonville public ..she had a daughter when I was at school who was about 8 …or Mr Eisinbock probably not spelled properly or Mrs. Festerini who was the best teacher I had in high school ..

  3. I remember Marys Store and used to stop in for candy before going to the Sat. afternoon Show….the post office across the street and Barneys Store by the railway tracks.
    Does anyone remember Peanuts little corner store…..those frozen treats sure tasted wonderful on a hot day.

    • Well I returned to Ansonville on a “remembering visit” in June this year ….and found Barneys Store Closed THE TOWN closed (it was Mon)the movie theatre not even in the running ..post office turned into something else and no one remembers Stan Dennis who who owned Airport Nurseries ….AND no boxcars on the tracks …..THAT TO ME SAID ITS TIME TO GIVE UP MY MEMMORIES OF CHILDHOOD
      Crossing those tracks everyday for 8 years going to school was often scary ducking under the couplings of the boxcars….hoping it would not move.
      I also returned to Tomko Lane …..and met a lady who was married to our neighbours son The Soucys ….I played with Claudette in the field behind their house and often remember her Mom hiding under the bed during storms when only My Mom could get her to come out
      Boy What changes both good and bad can occur in 50 years….

      • I can relate to a good number of your childhood memories. I would take Sheridan Street, pass by Peanuts corner store, duck underneath boxcars to reach a small lane next door to the Cormiers and finally making it to Main Street through a rough field leading me to Mongeon’s Foodstore. From there, it was a hop to get to school.

        • Yep, I remember Mrs. Adamson, Mr. Blundon and all the rest – was at IFPS, then Calvert #4 P.S. with Mrs. Adamson in grade 4. Then went to Calvert Centenial P.S.
          I remember Mary’s, Selrite’s, Yankee Abramson’s men’s store, and then things all started to become more “big city” when Jack Frazier came in…. LOL
          Yep – most time called it errqua falls…. lol. Worked as a broke hustler (6th hand on all the old paper machines) until I went south to university. Still try to get back every couple years and this year will be there end of July to do some fishing, blue berry picking and relaxing.
          Mary’s store wasn’t for the candy, that was Myna’s – then Shea’s variety (Mary’s was women’s clothes). We had the electronic’s store next to it and right next to Bear Mongeon’s deli, can’t remember if that was before or after Mongeon’s was on there. Remember that changed to Value Mart, but I was in Toronto by that time. Lived on Monteith Road, then on 2nd street in Montrock (Iroquois Falls “M” – once they added the Postal Codes. Then we moved to Jacob’s Hill Road (Hwy 578) which then had our lane – Vanier Road, before we sold it to Henry Fontaine.

          • Apparently there was a Mary’s candy store too, but that must have been early in the 60′s or before because the Mary’s I remember was a clothing store. Then Montrock had a variety store on 2nd Street that was later Judd’s variety.

  4. I was born and lived in Iroquois Falls for the first 10 years of my life. It is still home to me and I get misty eyed when I think of it. I need to visit again and I am planning on doing so this summer with my family. I have many life long friends and family that still live there. Iroquois Falls is the Jewel of North. The large Hotel looked so fancy and massive as child. As visitors to the mill dwindled down the cost of keeping and heating a massive wooden building became to expensive. It was torn down although I do not know when.

    • The Iroquois…. it was torn down after it had a kitchen fire. Wasn’t worth repairing. That was in the late 60′s.

  5. If coming to Iroquois Falls, come experience Nellie Lake by staying at our inn. 705-232-4768
    Snowshoeing, skidooing and swimming right out the front door.

  6. My family lived in Iroquois Falls for five years in the mid eighties. My youngest brother was born there and I have fond memories of fun in the snow and far too fabulous friends. Lové to get back

  7. Does anyone remember Karl Kussner store. I worked there as a cashier and bookkeeper many years ago. I recall Therese zproulx , working there also

  8. my father was born on teefy st he had 6 brothers and a sister.blakie,gerry,joe,ivan,remi,dadoo,thresa. my first girl friend was chantal laranger may have spelled her last name wrong her parents owned a store 1974-1975
    great times there when i was a kid

  9. Henry.Karpus –
    Was born in Ansonville & my uncle worked in the Paper Mill,
    One day he took me(9 years old)
    on a tour of the mill.
    Very impressive. Then he & my Aunt open a variety store called
    Mary\’s Store.
    Back then we had wooden sidewalks & dirt streets.
    Swimming in the river off the wooden bridge. Blueberry picking.
    Two grocery stores — Styles on Main St.,and Kidekles on Railroad
    St. A clothing store run by Mr.
    Mike Ayub.
    A great part of Canada — worlds
    greatest country!
    Henry Karpus

    • I remember Mary’s store. It was near the Sears catalogue outlet. The clothing store on Ambridge Dr was Abram’s store I think.
      Silver Grill’s been there over 50 years, because I remember it from the 1960s.

    • I was born in Ansonville on Water Lane, right behind the theatre in 1932. My family moved away – my Dad (Armand) took a job in one of the mines in Kirkland Lake probably around 1940. I remember selling the local paper on the street and got thrown out of a few hotels. I was probably nine. Every Saturday mornings (in summer, at least) we used to haul our wagon (Vic and I) to the market and got little jobs hauling people’s purchases to their homes and then back to the market.

      We had a brief home in Malartic, Quebec and then I took sick and had to go to my grandparents in Ansonville. I remember Mary’s store well. The Separate School and the Public School. The principal was my home room teacher for grades seven and eight. GThen on to High School at ‘the Falls’. My music teacher was Victor Eisenbach (have a picture of the Glee Club 1948) and I took violin lessons from him for two years.

  10. I drive by IF on my way to Timmins. I am staying in Cochrane and had no idea that IF was so large. I’ll be stopping for a visit and some Chinese food! Love your website!

  11. My husband taught for over 30 years in Iroquois Falls and my sister and husband still live there. A very pretty town and the Silver Grill has great Chinese food.

  12. My grandparents used to live in IF and I loved to visit. From the nine hole golf course, indoor pool, hockey rink and dont forget the Mina!!Special town, will always think fondly of it.

  13. Great memories of IF. My first and most cherished girlfriend was from there. Haven’t been up in over 30 yrs but I bet it is just as nice as I remember it.

  14. I have been to Iroquois Falls, MANY, MANY times, as I have family living there. I make it a point to visit there at least once or twice a year. The drive there is long, but TOTALLY worth it. It’s a wonderful little town, where everyone knows everyone else. I look forward to making lots more visits there. : )

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