Nakina / Aroland

North of Geraldton you’ll find two towns on opposite ends of Highway 548 – Nakina, and Aroland.

Nakina is village of approximately 500 people on Highway 584. The village is situated approximately 60 kilometres north of Geraldton – making Nakina one of Ontario’s more remote towns on the road network.

Nakina highway ending, Ontario highway11.ca

At the end of one of the most northerly stretches of road in Ontario are Nakina and Aroland

With 500 people today, Nakina is essentially the remnants of an old railway town. The town was founded in 1913 due to the junction of the railway – after Nakina the rail lines branch southwards towards Toronto or east towards Quebec. This made Nakina an ideal spot for a railway centre. In its heyday, Nakina has a fully functioning roundhouse, with fuel, servicing, and train-turning facilities.

The 1940s saw Nakina get a radar base. Built in World War Two, the base was designed to protect the important locks between Lakes Huron and Superior at Sault Ste. Marie. Like many of Canada’s old radar bases, it was operated by the United States, but dismantled soon after the Second World War.

Nakina, Ontairo way up north a fair bit off Highway 11

Nakina, harkening back to the old days of northern Ontario railway towns (Photo: User P199 at Wiki Commons.)

Nakina hit a boom in the 1970s when, in addition to its railway functions, the town was home to a large paper mill. This boosted the population to nearly double what it is today. Currently, however, minerals exploration and tourism are the largest industries today. Nakina is a starting point for many northern fly-in lodges. You can fly to lakes such as Makokibatan, part of the Albany River system. Fish for walleye, northern pike as well as brook trout.With both the pulp and railway industries definitely on the wane, it may be hard for Nakina to stem out-migration and beat the odds of being such a remote, northern town.

Train station in Nakina, Ontario Highway 11 Homepage

Nakina’s train station

Nakina advertizes along Highway 11 with its mascot, the “Nakina Mosquita”… I wish I had taken a photo of one of those signs. Thanks to Keith for sending in the photos of the rail station and of the end of Highway 584.

Aroland is an Oji-Cree First Nations town about 20 kilometres northwest of Nakina off Highway 584 on Highway 643. Approximately 300 people live in the community.

The surrounding area was a traditional camping ground in the late 18th and early 19th centuries due to good hunting, fishing and trapping. The Hudson Bay Company set up a trading post at nearby Kawpaskagami Lake in the early 1900s. The railway expanded to the area in 1911. According to the Chiefs of Ontario website, the Arrow Land and Logging Company, which operated in the area from 1933 to 1941, employed many Band members and contributed to the establishment of a permanent community.

The community is made up of members from many First Nations across the north, including former members from Long Lake, Fort Hope, Marten Falls, and Fort William Bands. The Aroland settlement is within the boundaries of the Robinson-Superior Treaty of 1850 and the James Bay Treaty of 1905 (known across the north as Treaty 9.)

97 thoughts on “Nakina / Aroland

  1. My wife and I spent the summer and fall of 2010 in Nakina, fell in love with the place! Well, as fate would have it, or maybe destiny, after almost 3 years elsewhere, we’ve returned. And yes, just as others have mentioned, it’s VERY friendly, the water tastes great, the air is fresh and the fishing is fantastic! Now if only the ice on the lakes would melt!

    • Born in Nakina and now retired in Nakina. Love our north country….fresh air, clean water and quiet. Our winters are my favourite, lots of sparkling white snow, northern lights and cold brisk air. My father was Sid Rutherford and he was the principal of the public school in the early forties. We own a house in Nakina and a camp on Lower Twin.

  2. I am from Nakina, I moved to Winnipeg about 40 years ago. I look after my Mother Gerry Lassi 97 in February. I will be 65 in January. I am still working for WRHA. I am a very busy person. I have been back once about 30 years ago. I imagine Nakina has changed in that length of time.Most of the Lassi family,s are all gone. My mom and I are the only 2 left in our family.

    Bobby Lassi

  3. Not many people know this, but I owned the first radio in Nakina. Not much on the air then, just Edison reciting the alphabet over and over. “A” he’d say; then “B.” “C” would usually follow…

  4. I had lived in nakina for 21 years, I love it! The water tastes great from the tap, the air is clean and all you smell is the nature that your surrounded by. It is such a great place to grow up and raise a family, you feel at ease knowing where your kids are, and not to mention you know every person who lives here! Such a great place to live if your into four wheeling, fishing, hunting etc!

  5. for Isabelle (heise)
    Dr. Mckillip is my grandfather.
    My father, Edward Mckillip worked at the Nakina airport from about 1950 until we left in 1963

  6. I am hoping Barbara B0udreau will find my message and get in touch with me. I was born in Nakina in the two room Red Cross Hospital in 1943. Dr. McKillip delivered me as well as my older sister and one of my younger brothers. I find it quite a coincidence that Barbara is still in touch with the McKillips. My father was a Radio Range Operator on the airport there. My first babysitter was a man who worked with my father and his name was Johnnie Boudreau–quite a double coincidence, eh?
    Isabelle

  7. I am 67 years old and have just learned that I was given up for adoption by a young lady from the Geraldton/Nakina area. My birth father was a taxi driver at the time in Geraldton. If anyone recollects the family name of Emslie I would certainly appreciate any information you could provide. Thank you in advance. Sorry, the year of course was 1946. Thanks. joe_yeoman@hotmail.com

  8. Hi! I lived in Nakina from 1972 to 1977. I went to the St-Bridget’s Catholic School for 4 years. Then, my family moved away to Quebec and I haven’t returned since. I hope that I will find some friend that I went to school with. My E-mail address is france1966@hotmail.com is anyone would like to contact me. Thanks! I have great memories of that town.

  9. Just received this site from Bill Malloch. We were neighbours in Nakina (our family at the airport)
    We now live in Meaford. Small world. Was in Nakina a couple of years ago with my sister, Donna, for Dennis Cichelly\’s memorial.
    Brought back many memories. Only thing we missed doing was going to the dump to see the bears.
    Left Nakina in 1963.

  10. I lived in Nakina from 1950 till 1960. My father, Ralph Malloch, was the first permanent Game Warden stationed there. My younger brother was born in Nakina. I had to go to high school so we sadly had to take a posting in southern Ontario. I haven\’t been back since since my wife and I briefly stopped there on a cross country trip in 1998.

    • my father was born in nakina, as well as his 2 brothers. he left about 1942 or so. his name is alex janoff my grandparents were nickolina and evan janoff

  11. We discovered Nakina while looking for lakefront property in the fall of 2008. Fell in love with Cordingley Lake and our little cabin on the beach. For two years we were weekend warriors but we are now lucky to call Nakina home! It is a special place, feels like your on vacation every day! Nakina residents are a group of the friendliest people you will ever find. Just like in the days gone by, we have visitors drop in without having to call first and we do the same. Our friends and neighbours are continually surprising us by bring us home made bread, pies, jam, beef barley soup and smoked fish. To sum it all up, the people are great, the air and water is clean, and the scenery is beautiful. Why would you want to be anywhere else?!

  12. My parents and my brother and i moved to Nakina in 1959 when i was 12. My dad worked for Kimberley Clark. I went to school there for 2 years before returning to Thunder Bay. Many good memories, I’ve been back once ( 1970 ) however, i shall return probably in 2013.

  13. I lived in Nakina from 1950 to 1961 .My brothers and I still reminice over the fun times sledding skating playing at poly
    wog pond and ofcourse swimming at Corrdingly lakeMy mom always teased us that we were camping year round and make sure we had our fly dope on when we played outside especially after supper.Hello to everyone who lived and still live in the madgical little town called NAKINA

  14. I worked with Safari delvelopments in 1977-78 and we built the 3 story apartment building (and 5 houses) in Nakina. I was 16 years old then and i remember the Popvics also.(They also ran the hotel)Back then the bank sat out front of the hotel and was open on Wednsdays from 12pm till 3pm only.
    My father was the site supervisior and i will never forget the day he went across the street from the aptartment building to the water plant and asked the workers there why they were digging so deep in the ground? (they were down 12ft) The fellow told him there was a frozen water pipe.I’m sure this was in August.Sure enough it was.WE stayed in a 12ft house trailer on the site(winter and summer)My first week there in March1977 we did not start our car for 3 days and one morning when i went outside my father had made a fire and we pushed the car over the fire to heat up the oil pan so we could start it.I did not see my dad most of that day because he went to Gearlton for a block heater.I have been back a few times over the years (2007 the last time).The best people,the best fishing,great airport!

    • The road most certainly is paved! And it’s a great drive! Did it Wednesday and one of the many great sights was a bald eagle perched in the spruce by the side of the road.

  15. My whole family has grown up here in nakina. From the salmonsons, warrens, and the cichellys. I go there every summer and everyother time I have the chance to, and I absolutely love it! If I could pack up and move there I 100% would!

  16. Sign on the door, back in the nineteen eighties on the door of the OPP station: “This station is manned only on Thursdays. On other days use the payphone to call the OPP station in Geraldton.

  17. I too worked for OWRC spent four summers in and about Nakina (1971-74 remember Carl Booodman and Myra Mackie

  18. I’ve got a question for Richard Cameron or anyone else who’s familiar with the NTR trackage between Senneterre, Que, – La Sarre – Cochrane – Hearst – Calstock – Nakina – Savant Lake – Caroll Jct. – and, finally, Winnipeg. In the winter of 2012-2013 my brother and I have set ourselves the rather ambitious task of skiing across the continent, from Quebec to B.C. And for the aforementioned section we were hoping to follow the old NTR route. From Richard’s post above I gather that most, if not all, of the track between La Sarre and Nakina has been torn up. Can anyone give me an idea of what the surface is like? Is it overgrown at all? Do people use it for X-C skiing/snowmachining? I’ll take any information I can get. If you’re interested in reading about our project, have a look at http://www.bigski.org. If you live in the area and want to ski a few km with us, that’d be great too. We’d love to meet you.

  19. Oh dear Nakina! My husband and I lived there between 1975 to 1978, he was employed by the HBC and I summer staff with Natural Resources. We have too many sweet memories, there is not enough room on this site. Both of loved the outdoors, so it was a prefect place and we took every chance to be out there enjoying the outdoors. The people were so wondurful! I got to visit with many of the oldtimes, hearing their stories of their early life in Nakina. We were back in 2005 to visit the Hoffs, there were many changes. But, still could sense that young adventures gal I was in the 70′s still there. The place will always hold a special place in both of our hearts. This is way found this site,as we were just talking this evening about our days there.

  20. My grandfather Johan “Jack” Lingman was a locomotive engineer who lived in Nakina from 1923 to the mid 1960′s with my grandmother Ester. My mother Ethel Lingman was born in Nakina. I lived for a short time with my grandparents in Nakina and after he retired and moved to Thunder Bay we returned several times to visit his brother Axel Lingman and family. I have many fond memories of Nakina and Cordingly Lake. Would love to return for a visit one day.

  21. I was last in Nakina in 1999, while I was researching tyhe history of the National Transcontinental Railway. The old station had a nice restaurant, and the old CNR bunkhouse was being operated as a hotel of sorts. Nakina started as a section station of the NTR and in 1923 it became a major railway point for the CNR when the Lonlac cutoff was built, to connect with the Canadian Northern Railway, another CNR acquisition. This cutoff effectively routed most trains southward and all but denuded the NTR trackage east through Hearst, Kapuskasing and Cochrane. In 1986, the old line b etween Hearst and Calstock was closed and the tracks torn up. Similarly, in 1996, the rails between Cochrane and LaSarre, Que., were taken up. About 16 miles east of Nakina was Grant, then a division point for the NTR. With the Lonlac cutoff completed, everything at Greant was moved to Nakina. The duplex houses in Nakina once stood at Grant. They were moved on railway flatcars. One railway building still remains at Grant, a house, privately owned and used as a camp for hunting.

  22. Every summer of my childhood, my mom and dad would pack us into our small plane and fly up for the best fishing ever. Back then it was no-man’s land. I remember the Popovics who owned the fish camp we stayed at, I remember the outhouses, did not like that too much but it was family! I remember beting eaten up by black flies, the worse, and picking wild blueberries by the road. I remember hanging out with their children and eating my first french fries in a cone cup with vinegar, it was sooo good! I also remember the beauty of twin lakes, being caught in thunderstorms and dad portaging us up to the upper twin lake, catching 20 pound picke and 15 pound walleye. Now, almost 50 years later I am planning another trip up, by RV and cannot wait to visit again, go fishing and hopefully enjoy the same beauty I enjoyed as a child, in the summer, with my family!

  23. I wanted to make a comment to Carl Boodram. Just wanted to let you know that I remember you from the summers that you spent in Nakina. Hope all is well with you. After living in Southern Ontario for 16 years I returned to the north (Thunder Bay)22 years ago. Hopefully we will be able to touch base sometime soon.

  24. I grew up in Nakina and have many wonderful memories of that time. I go back often to visit my brother and his wife who still live there. Although I left in 1973 to attend university, Nakina will always be my hometown.

  25. Spent 3 of the best years of my life living in Nakina. I’m still in contact with the McKillips who also no longer reside there. It was a wonderful place for 13 year olds to grow up.

  26. When I was in High school, there were a group of geologists in Labrador (1963/\\\’64) & I got to know them and one is from Nakina Ontario. I often wondered what Nakina was like.

  27. I spent 3 summers in Nakina from 1970-1972 while working for the Ontario Water Resources and still have fond memories of the clean air, great people and very close friends. I am trying to locate people who may remember me.

    • CarI I was also part of the OWRC crew in Nakina from 1971-74, I’m still keep in touch with Art.

  28. I was born and raised in Nakina. I was born in 55 and enjoyed every minute of life while living there. I would like to point out a couple of errors in the bio of Nakina posted on the home page. Nakina was formed in 1923 and the mill was a slasher site located at Exton.

  29. arrived in Nakina via rail fall of 1959 on my way to Lansdowne House as HBC employee.Plans changed ,went on to Pickle Lake.Spent day in Nakina working at HBC store.Short visit.

  30. I have been to Nakina in 1962, my father a carpenter from Kapuskasing, had a contract in Nakina, when he had to retreive his tools from Nakina I was asked to go along for the ride. At 4 years of age I remember drifting to sleep only to be awakened up by Dad urging to look out the window there it was my very first sight of a big buck. I have always associated moose hunting with Nakina, Ontario

  31. I was part of the company that built the 3 story apartment building (and 5 houses) in Nakina in 1978. I met a young family close to the end of my 2 year stint there, and my last 2 days there i went to aroland to help them build a new home for them out of railway ties. We just started the roof and i had to go to another job. I have been back a couple of times since and 2007 saw the new school under constrution.Looked great! I cant remember the couples name but we became fast friends.Some of my best memories are of that area.

  32. This is the area, west of Nakina, where, in the summer of 1979, a few Junior Rangers were tragically killed by a prescribed forest fire. Peers of mine. There is a solemn memorial there.

    • I was there that summer working for the MNR as well when the fire happened. I worked a few times with one person that was killed in it. I moved to Alberta about 3 years later, I’m glad to hear a memorial was set up.

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