Kapuskaing, Cold Weather Test Centre, GM, Highway 11 Ontario

Nothing says “welcome, why don’t you stay a while?” like seeing the Cold Weather test centre from your car window

Which Highway 11 town has 9000 people, more than 50 shops and services and was the hometown of the director of movies like Terminator, Aliens, True Lies, Titanic and Avatar?

Yep, Kapuskasing is kindofabigdeal in Highway 11 terms.

Kap has some neat sites.  The old Ontario Northland train station has been recently fixed up and has a little area for art exhibitions from the area.  There’s an old locomotive adjacent to the station that houses train memorabilia and neat facts about the CNR’s history.

Highway 11 Ontario, Kapuskasing, bear

Kap’s entry into the “some big weird thing” – a bear

Originally named Macpherson, the ‘model town of the North’ was built around the pulp mill that originally supplied paper to the New York Times.  When they built the mill, they decided to build a company town, and since it was a company town they planned it as the ‘model town of the north’ complete with planned parks (quite nice), its own power supply (which used to serve the town and mill exclusively), and an English-style traffic circle, which residents and visitors alike find confusing to this day.

MOdel Town of the North, Kapuskasing's roundabout

You know roundabouts are confusing when they are a pain even in a town this small

With about 9000 people, Kapuskasing is the largest town on Highway 11 between Kirkland Lake and Thunder Bay.  It’s even has its own spot on the North American professional lumberjackery circuit.  Every July the Kapuskasing Lumberjack Festival is broadcast live on television across Canada, and maybe even into the States. (Heck, Canada doesn’t even have a soccer league, but it has a lumberjack circuit?  And is sustainable with stops in towns like Kap?  Who would have guessed it…)


Kapuskasing POW memorial, Highway 11I was surprised to find, by accident, two little memorials just west of Kap.  There’s one for Ukrainian-Canadian detainees tha

t were interred near Kap during the First World War (the photo of the guy with the hat.)  Further in off the highway there’s one for German/Austrian/Turkish Prisoners Of War (the photo with the little crosses) that died while being imprisoned.

I found out from some locals at the site that during the First World War Kap was the site of a POW camp.  It was decided that

Kapuskasing POW camp memorial, Highway 11 Ontario

Kapuskasing POW camp memorial

Kapuskasing was perfect because at the time the only way in and out of town, at that time, was by train.  In other words, everyone detained there was stuck – there was no way to escape and nowhere to go if you did.  They used their labour to clear land for Kapuskasing’s experimental farm, which is right beside the 24 graves of the POWs.

In addition, Paul emailed me to tell me about Kapuskasing’s former life as a station on the ONR rail line. Every time a train derailed, the local foreman of the track maintenance crew at Kapuskasing was required to file a report with the head office of ONR in Toronto. His reports were apparently quite lengthy and detailed. After receiving many of these “eloquent” and “descriptive” reports, about train derailments the foreman (named Flanigan) was advised by the head office people to write reports that weren’t so lengthy. So, after the next derailment, the following telegram was received in the head office, as follows:

Re: ONR train derailment at Kapuskasing:
”Off again – on again – gone again” (Signed) FLANIGAN.

Farm near Kapuskasing. Highway 11

Still farm country this far north

Kapuskasing Today

Like all the francophone towns (it’s about 30/70 anglo/franco) of the north, Kapuskasing is really quite nice.  Although a James Bay tourism brochure bogusly claims that Kap is a town of “street dances” (who wrote that thing?), there is a fair amount to do for a city of its size.

Kapuskasing train station

Kap’s train station is pretty magnifique, with a museum and gallery

There is a farmer’s market in the summer.  If you can make it past the downtown traffic circle in the direction of your desire, you’ll find a really nice lakefront park and some good walking paths.

Kap has a bunch of services that are too long to go into detail here.  What’s important is that there is a Tim Horton’s.  There’s a McDonald’s too.  There are some honest-to-goodness northern Ontario Chinese food restaurants.  There is a Walmart but no Giant Tiger.  Apparently Kapuskasing also has the most productive Casey’s restaurant in all of Ontario.  Take that, Front and University (the downtown Toronto location.)

Pub Max, right on Highway 11, also has good food, especially the chicken salad sandwich.  There are two touristy stores on Highway 11 in Kap, namely Marbleworks and the Moonbeam Country Store.

Agrium Mine, Kapuskasing

Aerial view of a mine, near Kapuskasing

13 thoughts on “Kapuskasing

  1. I moved to Kap in 1976.My husband was employee at woodlands offices as forest engineer.I practiced in Kapuskasing, as MD between 1976 til 1989 at Sensen Brenner hospital ,until my husband retired due to health reasons.We lived in many parts of Canada since our immigration ,from east cost ,to west cost.
    But Kap has captured my heart,with its lovely people,good friends,loyal patients. Still remember ,the babies I delivered,when I look to old albums.Some of those boys and girls (they are now students at UOT or graduate.) came to visit me at my Toronto office ,asking me ,to take pictures with them .As a matter of fact now I am retired,we are planning to go visit,Kap,with our friends from Toronto.I thank you all the people of Kap,I wish I could live there again.
    love to all of you.

  2. 評価以上に綺麗な商品で大満足しています。

  3. Kap is the best city I’ve ever lived in! Honesty is completely wrong about the french and english, its about 50/50 in town. I lived there for over 6 years and never had problems with any of the english or french people, not like hearst, that’s a town that you have to be french to live in! Its a great town all around, if you like small towns this is the place for you!! I’d recommend moving to kap unless you want to work at the mill. Lot’s of great hunting and fishing to be done up in Kapuskasing…also Moonbeam.

  4. i was born in Kap @ went to good old d.j.p.s from 44 to 51 my uncle jack Elliot owned the esso & the gravel pit @ clear lake & uncle Morley Elliot was the public works forman for years his daughter molly still lives there it’s a great place to be from 10 months of winter & 2 months of bad snowshoing & the bugs are still there gerald clayton

  5. Just wanted to say hello to the people of Kap, I used to live there in the late 50’s early 60’s around 62 my parents moved out to Kitigan. We built a drive inn restaurant where people from Kap could go to and have a burger and fries, I used to peel potatoes and my mom used to bring the meal out to the cars and put it on the window\’s, in 1964 we mover to Oakland Calif, I now live in Cabo san Lucas Mexico my school in Kap was diamond jubilee public school it’s been awhile
    Les K Patchin

    • Just read Les Patchin’s comment. I grew up in Kap and left after graduating KDHS in 1972. I remember Les from grade one. My father taught at Diamond Jubilee. Kap was a great hometown and those were the Golden Years. I returned, with a friend, this past July, after an absence of 39 years. Was sad to see how many of the buildings had deteriorated. Park looked great, though.

        • My father and his grade eight boys were responsible for the skating rink at DJPS.We lived across the street from the school. I used to spend a lot of time over there and my friends used to use our porch to put on their skates. Could be we went skating together…

        • Yes we did! Sorry for the long reply! I do remember you! Please email me a valeatcabo@yahoo.com
          I think we spilled the thing we were carrying and went back to pick it up! Correct me if I am wrong! That is a long time ago…no more cold for me, I now live in cabo San Lucas Mexico……it is perfect!

  6. I make it to Kap sledding 6 or 8 times a year. I most always bring a friend or a group of friends. I have never had a bad experience in Kap, and everyone has been wonderful to me. I barely speak a word of French, and it’s never been a problem. See you soon!
    I’ve bought my last 2 sleds from Luc at Dallaire!

  7. Marbleworks is gone.

    As for Kapuskasing, I wouldn’t recommend anyone to move here, from what I have experienced people don’t accept you if your not French and if you don’t even sound Canadian its worse! I’m tired of always being asked where i’m from with a sarcastic tone to only find out I’m Canadian born and raised and they drop their mouths. People need not to judge like a book and here I find it bad. I have a huge heart. If your driving and don’t speak french keep trucking on. But if you do, go in and say HI to PHIL in Esso hes great and always has a SMILE!!!

  8. nice little blurb on kapuskasing. only thing is you said its the biggest town on hwy 11 between kirkland lake and thunder bay. KL is not on Hwy 11, it’s New Liskeard (Temiskaming Shores)

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