Longlac

Longlac is approximately half way between Toronto and Winnipeg, and is 320 kilometres from Thunder Bay. So for me, on one particularly longish trip, making it to Longlac was kindofabigdeal.

There is nothing between Hearst and Longlac save for maybe a gas station (and I mean maybe) and the Klotz Lake washroom/swimming combo rest station on the side of the road.  The drive seems. to. take. for. ever. (ok I think I got my point across, it’s probably not that bad.)

Longlac welcome sign, Highway 11

Longlac’s fur trader welcome statue was somehow both cheesier and cooler in person

So, for me at least, the oncoming arrival of Longlac was a big deal – finally, the end of this 200 kilometre stretch of nothingness…! It’s no surprise that the town’s Protestant church is named St. John-in-the-Wilderness.  And it wasn’t founded in the fur trading days either – this was founded ‘in the wilderness’ in, wait for it, 1943.

Today, Longlac is a former paper and forestry town trying to reinvent itself in a difficult economy and represents the westernmost edge of northern Ontario’s francophone belt – just under half its residents are French-speakers.  Hence the local  caisse.

Not immediately evident that this guy is supposed to pull logs

Not immediately evident that this guy is supposed to pull logs

When you get into the town you’re immediately greeted by a horse statue and two beached boats.  The horse is pulling logs (which you can’t see unless you climb up the little hill to the statue itself.)  I think the boats are supposed to carry logs too. They seem to be the remains of a former miniputt course.  It’s too bad it can be a bit confusing to the visitor.

Loggin boat, Longlac, Ontario Highway 11

Also not immediately evident that this is supposed to pull logs too

Longlac has a long history.  Prior to 1800 the town was a North West Company trading post.  In 1814, the Hudson Bay Company set up a rival post, and in the spirit of modern commercialism the two merged in 1821. There is a historical plaque with a statue of two guys in a canoe, representing the role of Aboriginal peoples and fur traders in building Longlac.  There’s also a town history board back at the tourist office/former mini putt site.

Longlac used to be a mill town but today, no mills operate in Longlac.  All three have shut down in the last few years. “Founded on fur, sustained by the forest” is Longlac’s motto, and considering that the forestry industry is contracting in northern Ontario, you have to wonder what a town of 1200ish will find to sustain itself. What other jobs can there be in the area? How long before parents have to start working in Alberta? It is communities like Longlac that you really feel for – they’ve survived this long.

Longlac, Ontarios main drag...don't hit the light posts!  (Credit: User P199 at Wiki Commons)

Forestry Road – Longlac, Ontario’s main drag…don’t hit the light posts! (Credit: User P199 at Wiki Commons)

Longlac’s main strip is Forestry Road, which runs perpendicular to Highway 11.  It has a row of streetlights right in the middle of the road, which practically invites you to play a game of bumper cars with your vehicle.  What happens if you have to swerve for a dog?

Longlac has the requisite truck stops and third tier franchises of a Highway 11 town, with places like Robin’s Doughnuts and 2 for 1 Pizza.  There’s an LCBO outlet, a bed and breakfast (Lily’s), and what seems like the newest Rexall pharmacy in Canada.  (It is so shiny and suburban that it looks a bit out of place.)

Abandoned mini putt in Longlac, Highway 11

Abandoned mini putt in Longlac, Highway 11.  I thought the horse and boat belonged to the mini putt!

Apartments in Longlac, highway 11

Seriously? This is northern Ontario after all.

I hope to visit again. Maybe someone can send me an email and let more know a bit more so I can add it here.

93 thoughts on “Longlac

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  2. Hi my name is Sadie Jolie and my mothers name was Pearl Jolie we lived in Caramat Ontario until my mother had to testify in court about the children that were murdered after that we had to leave . i was just trying to find out more about the case and also my brothers Billy Jolie is buried in Longlac im tryinv to find out how to get a copy of his obituary any help would be truely appreciated ty

  3. I worked for Kimberley Clarke in 1971/73 and frequently visited Longlac. It was a lovely self-contained community. Since it was impossible to get anywhere the locals always said that you either had a hobby or were an alcoholic. My contact was the IT guy, whose name I unfortunately forget. He was a great conservationist having produced detailed local maps of the lakes and surrounds and plotted where fish and game were located. He hunted for food and kept his freezer stocked with all the fish and meat he and his family needed for the year. He always varied where he hunted so that the animal population remained in a healthy state. Love to hear from him or any other residents of Lonlac at that time

  4. I lived in Longlac for a couple of years, around 1958/1959. My brother and I were adopted by William (Bill) and Ann Labbe. Bill (our father) died of a sudden heart attack in either 1958 or 1959. My brother and I then were returned to the children aids society. While living in Longlac, I believed we lived on the Ojibwa reserve. My mother’s mother was Ojibway my father Bill Labbe I believe was of French background. I was trying to find a map of Longlac from that era, 1958′ish. I think I’d be able to pinpoint where we lived and went to school. My name at the time was Wilfred J. Labbe. I do not know my mother (Ann’s) maiden name, that would be helpful if someone remembers them. My mother’s mom, was Ojibwa, but her father was white. She had about 5 brothers (our uncles). I visited Longlac about 25 years ago, but it had changed so much already, I could recognize it enough to find my way around. I’m glad I found this chat page about Longlac. Can anyone give me any leads? Many thanks Jim

    • Hi I lived in Longlac from 1957 to 1969. Moved in small town near Ottawa. That little white church is called “Church of the Infant Jesus”. It is situated on a land point going onto the lake, which was also a Native reserve and there were houses surrounding the church. That was the church the Longlac used to attend before a church was built in the town of Longlac. Now this church was abandoned several years ago and suffered a lot of damages. I was there in October 2016 and took pictures of it. I tried to include the picture in this text but saws unable. Sad to see the state it is in now. I have siblings who were baptized in that church.

  5. Hi does anybody know the adress of Rex Webster he lives in Geraldton On. i have his box number only..can somone please help me with his adress. please send to my Email..i use to live with him for 5 years but had to move back to Toronto On., to my daughter who was struggling…i need this info..thanks.

  6. I lived in Longlac for more than 19 years until i moved away from there 27 years ago and i had been looking for a special friend of mine that i lost all them years ago trying all sources to find her and still no luck, we were young way back then and i wws wondering if any one would know where she went all this time, i was sad to have lost a friend then and now wondering where and what she’s up too. Her name was Marlene Begin and she went to mmps or the margarie mills public school, which i know now it has moved and rebuilt, and i want to contact her and see how she’s doing and how she’s getting on with life, any one have any ideas….

    • Longlac, Ontario
      on June 5, 2016 at 8:44 pm said:

      Hello Robert, I see that you are looking for Marlene Begin. Well she still lives in Longlac but is an old married lady now. She goes by the name of Mitchell. Marlene and my oldest son are cousins. Actually she lives just around the corner from me. If you have face book you will find her very easy….good luck…

  7. I grew up in Geraldton, 20 miles up the road. I played hockey in the outdoor rink Longlac had before the Longlac arena was built. I remember passing over the Highway 11 bridge seeing logs as far as you could see, being moored to pilings ready for the mill.
    I remember the Walkathon that started at a Hotel that once stood on the highway across from Long Lake.
    I drove north to Geraldton this year and looked out to the church that stood at the point, with the little red light glowing inside. It always creeped me out when I was a kid. I thought it was haunted.

    • Hello Robert, I see that you are looking for Marlene Begin. Well she still lives in Longlac but is an old married lady now. She goes by the name of Mitchell. Marlene and my oldest son are cousins. Actually she lives just around the corner from me. If you have face book you will find her very easy….good luck…

  8. QUIRIONS!! Some of you must know a couple. Down here in Saskatchewan theres only a handful , My family is originally from that area

    • Melissa and Danny Quirion red heads, bothe of them, they were raised by their mom, Ginette, god rest her soul. But I just saw Danny and his son at Victoria ville mall in Thunder Bay, two weeks ago.
      melissa and her kids live in Cobalt, Ontario.

  9. I was raised in Longlac until I was about 10 and we moved to Sk. If you know who Shannon Hietanen or Robert Hietanen are then you know my dad and Grandpa.

  10. anyone interested on an update on the Lionel Veilleux family? well after turning their backs on Longlac and foreclosing on a number of homes that Lionel made loans on that could never be repaid they moved to Ottawa where each son Daniel, Michele and Stephan were each given a million dollars to buy a business. Well within 10 years Stephan cleaned out all the money out of his business and had to close the doors because Gisele was paying for stock and salary out of her own pocket. Michele got into the Coke and pissed away not only his business but also his marriage. And well big shot Daniel Veilleux, well he just screwed so many people that no one would do business with them anymore. Mack Trucks took the dealership back from them and the bank took the building. Michele ended up in the looney bin with multiple addictions, Stephan is sucking cock for wooden nickels at the bus station and Daniel and family went back to Thunder Bay since no one in the trucking industry would hire him. to read more of the Unauthorized Biography of the Veilleux family please join me at face book under Dan Marchand. As of now, Daniel and family are being sued for the theft of 250,000.00$ life insurance policy and wrongful death suit.

  11. wow, haven’t been back in a while, but I remember living on Main St. in the 70′s when it was just a dirt road. My dad owned the Texaco gas station, I have a couple of old pictures of the garage I would like to share somehow

  12. If you look closely the big horse is missing it’s ears. They got stolen and they added a skate park where you call the mini putt. The Rexall is very new, they built that along with the light posts in the middle of forestry road. If you go to Longlac you must go to Skinner’s Acre and talk to Tim. He has many old stories of Longlac and is the best place to buy fishing/hunting gear.

  13. I am a hunter and fisherman of Ontario Canada here I live in Simcoe Ontario Canada Norfolk County and even tho I have been to Long Lac Ontario Canada in two years for my beginners moose hunt and fishing and Bird hunting And also bear hunting I can deffenetly say Long Lac is the place to be for all those things for fall session like I am kind of a green horn at it but hey it’s the place were my grandfather Tom Bezzo and his Brothers and relitives went and started at and got thier picture taken with all of each other at Doc Skinners rest his soul old Doc Skinner there but even now I hear story’s of my grandpa Tom and them and my Pa now.. It’s been add lest 20 years of the Bezzo crews have been in Long Lac for hunting fishing and bear and bird hunting but I mean It is clean crisp and injoyable and camlbing and sometimes relaxing lol :) and if you want to know more hit me back I will tell you a lot haha ;) about Long Lac Ontario Canada I will even supply Old picture if you what to see and show my name is Alex Bezzo 3d generation of a hunting fishing out door family haha

    • What’s that rock face or mountain range between longlac and nipigon? I forgot what It was called and the town. It was a long drive

  14. I grew up in Longlac and escaped after the eighth grade to Thunder Bay Ontario. I had a great childhood there. I’d love to catch up with childhood buddies Alan Wright and Danny desrochers.

    • wow, alan wright and danny desrochers. I know that Danny is on facebook but not sure about Alan. who did we hang out with, Johnny Howe, Johnny Holopinean, Danny Desrochers, Mark Pever, Anne Torkyo, Eva Karpinski, Danny Malette, Andre Breton and the chip stand. Mike Skinner, Bernard Ballgeron, Elvis St. Pierre. shit I could go on and on. My dad’s garage is long gone but the memories will always be fond.

  15. I want to contact the lady who worked at the LCBO in Longlac in August 2010.I was there with my niece and they were talking becouse I was not speaking English.

  16. Hi , Those anybody know where about the kids of the Demers family that lived in Longlac in the 70′s. I like to get in touch with Susan Demers.

  17. On response to your request looking for information on your uncle Stanley McLeland….he is buriend in the Geraldton Grave Yard. Hope this helps you You oould contact the Geraldton Municipal Office at 808-854-1100 and ask any questions you may have and they should be able to direct you to the proper agency…Good Luck in your search.

  18. My grandparents Bob and Carol Hicks owned and operated Flint River Camp on Klotz Lake for years and have many great memories of Longlac and the area. I haven’t been back since he passed away but definately plan to go soon.

    • Hi, I don’t Know if this is relevant but a Joy Hicks of Ottawa , lived in Geraldton as a child died two years ago about age 67. Her father was the Baptist paster in Geraldton in the 1940′s. Andy.

  19. To G. Premack: concerning your post asking if your granfather’s (Bill Patterson) replica of the Robert W tugboat that he was presented upon his retirement, would be of interest. That would be a definite yes. There would be a space and desire to have it returned to it’s place of origin. The Longlac Historical Society museum would be the place where it would be displayed and surrounded with relevant artifacts and photos.
    Thanks, you may contact me if you would like any assistance.

    • Did you find Sherry Johnson? She is my aunt as well Kristin is my sister was just curious I mean it looks like she applied above because it says her name but, then the question is the same if so and u want to email me dovesangel82@hotmail.com I am sure I can help you out

  20. Longlac is a great place for the outdoors. I was born and raised there until I was 18. I am going back for fishing and camping next month like I usually do every summer. (Rosemary used to be my neighbor)

    • Dear John,Our paths have crossed wtuioht my having the opportunity to meet you. as a young child I lived in Texarkana prior to moving to Dallas. I attended the University of Oklahoma were I am a proud Beta Kappa member of Sigma Chi. I was there many years before your arrival. I was a member of the class of 62. My Beta Kappa number is 1098 to give you an idea of how many have come later. If you plan to attend the Beta Kappa 100 event in Norman next month I look forward in meeting you. If not I wish you well in this election.Our nation needs many like you.

  21. I was born and raised in Longlac. We moved to Alberta for work 5 yrs ago, we have resently moved back here to raise our 2 children. I love this little town and its a great place to raise kids. My family has also been here for many years (blouin) my grandfather has built a lot homes and building here.

  22. Re: Claudia Teilborg from Anchorage, Alaska

    Hello, May I have your email address? I am looking into the Switzer Lineage myself as Andrew Lewis Kenneth Switzer was my maternal grandmother’s brother.

    jenni[dot]sager[at]gmail[dot]com

    Reply to:
    on 2012-01-07 16:38:54

    Andrew Lewis Kenneth Switzer had lived in Longlac. He had 3 sons.I am looking for names and locations of these 3 sons. Kenneth had done alot of genealogy research which I am now also doing for the Switzer family. If anyone has information please contact me. Thank you

  23. In October of 2010 my b/f and I travelled along Highway 11 until I couldn’t drive anymore (17 hours) and it was getting dark. We made it to Longlac and stayed at a motel along the highway. While there we were impressed with this small town and what it had to offer. We stopped there on our way to Montreal and on the way home, we wound up staying there again due to some accident that took place on the highway that prevented any form of traffic from passing through. I hear how the job situation is in the area and it’s too bad. This is a great community that deserves a great future, but preferably not at the expense of it’s untouched surroundings. If I had the money and the means, I’d certainly move there and run some kind of business that’d help boost it’s economy.

  24. Andrew Lewis Kenneth Switzer had lived in Longlac. He had 3 sons.I am looking for names and locations of these 3 sons. Kenneth had done alot of genealogy research which I am now also doing for the Switzer family. If anyone has information please contact me. Thank you

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