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

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.)

110 thoughts on “Nakina / Aroland

  1. Hello all, I stumbled across this website during my research. I plan to visit Nakina in the future for a book I am working on.

    I’m interested in speaking with locals who know a bit about the history of the area, specifically north of Greenstone.

    There was a disappearance of a young man in that area (Sandor Lingman in 1960) and unfortunately, there is no information about this incident. He was supposedly working for KRNO mines at the time, but I cannot confirm that.

    My book aims to raise awareness and remind people of the names of those who were lost in the Ontario bush.

    If anyone has any information, I would love to hear from you.

    • I lived in Nakina in 1976/77 working for CN. Lived at the Corman family home. Met many wonderful people in that little town. All very kind to me. Enjoyed lots of fishing and hunting. Cut ice in winter with Mike Kibsey and packed it away for summer fishing. The North was a wonderful learning experience for me having come up from southern Ontario to hire on CN which turned out to be a great career.

  2. My family move to Nakina in August 73 when my parents bought L & A restaurant from the Mathews and named it Nancy’s restaurant after my little sister. The whole family work there with many wonderful people. I meet my husband a railroad man there him being the customer and I the waitress been 30 ago

  3. Hi Brian – can you confirm there is a reunion in August 2018. I was raised in Nakina (10years) my father was the Game Warden thru the 1950s. Wife and I camped out at Twin Lakes in 2015 – first time back. I would like to attend a reunion.

    • Hello Bill, I see this post was about a year ago. My family and I are looking to travel from Toronto to Aroland this coming October for moose opening. We are having a difficult time finding logging road maps of this area. Would it be in your kind heat to direct us to where we may find somthing online? Any info would be Appreciated. Thanks in advance

      • sorry for the delay I’m not on here very often. I don’t know of any on line info other then Google Earth. I use Topographical maps for accuracy. Good luck

      • This is way late, but for maps of roads (possible roads sometimes) go to the Ontario MNRF e-FMP website and download the maps for the appropriate Forest Management Unit (Ogoki and maybe Kenogami.) These would be your best bet for road maps. Warning – not all roads listed on the map are still roads.

      • Hello Willie Soderman, Nakina”s 95th August 3rd to 6th 2018. The town backhoe dug up a couple of artifacts at Soderman’s farm last year. They were a Singletree (used with horses to pull wagons ect. and a skidding grapple (used to skid trees). We have them at the museum and I will send you photos.
        Sincerely Brian Downey

        • Hello Brian Downey, Happened across this looking for photos of Nakina. Don’t know if you remember us but Wolfgang used to fly out of Nakina – first for Superior and then Austin Airways. We were there in 71 transferred to Geraldton in 73. When White River bought Austin we moved on. We had kept in touch with you Mum and Dad – they visited with us in Calgary in the mid 90s. We were in Nakina in Sept 2013. The mosquitos and black flies were still plentyful , there was zero activity in the town and ” Peterson’s Little House ” was gone …cheers take care Gabi and Wolf Becker

  4. Born Nakina Oct 37, left about age 10/12 (not sure).
    Father owned the Bakery & rooming house.
    Recently had an email from Joyce Borsa.
    Know lots of those there in the 40s!
    Played with them.
    And none of them mentioned me!!

  5. Me, my husband Raimo and daughter Rita lived in Nakina 1969-1972. At the time there were sewen other finnish familys, men working for Kimberly Clarc.
    I remember Doris Tees and Lindemans, Maki family. Hotte was my daughter’s teacher, Dorothy and Jon Hakala our neighbours. I visited Nakina 2010 an hope to go back some day.

  6. I remember spending my summers in Nakina and Auden as a child around 1979-85 I am looking for information on my grandparents they lived at the corner of railroad a little white house in front was the large oil or water tower. my Grandparents were George and Irene Johnson. Any info would help please email Marianne nicoll

  7. Anyone out there, have any pics of the Radar Base and Grant, ON….I managed to dig up an aerial photo of Nakina from 1945 and it does show the radar base across the Pump House….If anyone does, I would like to get hold of them… can e-mail them to Thanks, Beaver

  8. I grew up from age 3 to 13 in Nakina. My father Stewart McLrod was a fireman and then a loco engineer.I remember swimming in Codingly Lake skating in the rink and the pot belly stove in the rink shack. Also many hours of picking blueberries and fishing off the bridge at Twin Lakes. My best friend was Betty Ann Broad and I remember her sisters Joyce and Lois and Bobby. Mr Weiss owned the drugstore and had 2 sons Barry and Bradley. We lived on the hill across from the tracks and next door to Gunns. Dougie Gunn taught me to ride a 2 wheeler. Every Sat we would usually go to Aubreys Theatre. What wonderful childhood memories. I remember going to the Kiwanis Music Festival and singing in the choir from the school. It was a big trip to go to Geraldton.I also remember Ivor and Edie Lassie and babysitting their 3 girls Diane Barbara and Charlotte. My brother Max McLeod was good friends with Billey Kibsey, Pud Hatchard and Alvin Hawkinson. Many friends come to mind and have lost track many years ago bout still think I had such a wonderful childhood growing up in Northern Ont in the bush. Back then only way in was rail and we did get some planes landing at Cordingly Lake.our Dr. Was Dr. Mccillop.

  9. I spent my young childhood years in Nakina. My Father Stewart McLeod was a fireman and loco engineer. I recall a wonderful childhood Cordingly Lake and skating in the old outdoor rink. My best friend was Betty Ann Broad and I remember her little brother Bobby. Mr weiss owned the drugstore and their sons were Barry and Bradley what fun we all hadwe moved the end of of 1952 to Hornepayne.

  10. My family moved to Nakina back in 1966 when I was only 2 years old. My father worked for the CN until he was transferred out 10 years later. Our family moved to Barrie, Ontario where my parents still live. Nakina was a great place if you were a kid growing up. Beautiful hot summers (even though they were too short), and long cold winters. I can still remember biking out to Cordingly Lake. As a child I loved it all. This tiny little town holds a special place in my heart as it was our family’s first home when we moved to Canada. I will never forget the people, the scenery and the peacefulness of this little town. Hope to get back sometime and relive those childhood memories.

    • My name is Susan Scott.
      My parents are Bruce and Del Scott
      We lived in the house at the top of the hill in the picture posted as you arrive in town.
      Mom passed away several years ago , however dad is 94!! Lives in Oakville near me in an assisted living home.
      He still talks about nakina!
      Sheryl ,Ken myself and my late brother Murray Scott were all delivered by dr. Mckillop.
      We owned rental cottages on twin lakes Delawana cabins. so many wonderful memories there, fishing ,picking blueberries,
      Driving into town in the back of dad’s truck to return pop bottles and then buy penny candy at the Kena grocery store.
      My sister lives in Thunder Bay, me in Oakville, Ken in St. Catharines .
      Dad worked for the CNR and then lands and forests.
      Still remember the old outdoor skating rink! Also the Hudson’s bay store we we could walk in and put groceries on a tab.

  11. My parents, Henry Duquette and Madeline Simon were married in Nakina in 1935. Sister Laurette and I were born there. We moved to Kitigan in 1939 and eventually to Kapuskasing in 1952. However, I did return to Nakina, once in July 2012 with sister Lucille and son Barry and again in 2013 with sister Laurette and son Barry. Both times we spent time at the CN train station for a lunch and thought about the place where the family left when I was just a year old — and both times we spent time at the cemetery where Grandfather Romeo Simon is buried. Oh yes, loved the CNR-Rail-Museum by the train station.

  12. I noticed an error on my first blog. The youngest,Claire,was born Dec. 1933. As I read the blogs I see many familiar names-either I remember them or I heard my parents talk about them. They had many friends in Nakina.

  13. My parents moved to Nakina when they were married in 1928. Dad was a locomotive engineer. The four of us were born in Nakina from Jan.1930 to Dec 1931. Dr. McKillop was the doctor. My parents friends were the Downey Families,the Dunns, the Aubrey’s, and the Dr. McKillops. In 1936 Dad was taken off the mainline because he was colour blind. The following year we moved to Hornepayne where Dad was fireman on the yard engine.
    I remember well the rivalry when the baseball teams and hockey teams came to Hornepayne from Nakina. I remember the Gibsey sisters.
    Some may remember my brother,John. He was in Nakina installing telecommunications. He died in January of this year.

    • What kind of information are you looking for on the Hakansson family. My husband Darcy Hakansson is the son of Alvin Hakansson and Rosemarie Hakansson (nee Hatchard)

      • I have photos of Hilding (Alvin’s father) as a young man, as well as Hilding’s family in Sweden. My grandfather was Hilding’s older brother Edwin.
        I’ve traced the Swedish family back to the 1770’s on
        Just look up Hilding Håkansson on the site. His code is LB9V-5T3

  14. Lived in Nakina from 1950 to 1960 and would like to receive information about some of my childhood friends. Does anyone have any information about Jimmy Murphy, Sharon Murphy, Tommy Mcue(sp), Karen Mar, Thompson brothers, Bates sisters, Robert Mitchell, Sonia Duonivitch, the Redgrift brothers. There are many more but I can’t remember their names. I missed the 90th last year but hope to visit in 2015.

      • Many thanks Ryan. We haven’t got back there yet this summer but will before the snow flies. Yes- please tell your Dad I said hello and I hope he’s well. I would love to get together with him and reminisce (sp) about the good old days. Two old farts and a pot of coffee! Thanks again. Take care.

    • I was born in Nakina in 1945. my name is Helen Wareham, father Howard (nickname Dewey) mother Olga, brother Howie. Dad was a conductor on the CN, we moved in 1956 to Toronto when dad finally was able to transfer as he had enough seniority. We lived beside the Marr family, across the street from the Nadon and Hakala family. My uncle Walter Krystolovich lived there as well and my grandparents also. Peter and Helena Krystolovich, my grandmother owned a restaurant on the street where the railway station is. it was called Christie’s….they moved to Toronto in 1951. Grandma was also a seamstress My godparents were Elmer and Lilian Ruddick. Warrens owned the butcher shop.I have fond memories growing up there. I only went back once 1958 or 59. I was a teenager and had become very citified….I remember sitting in the Molly’s ? restaurant and a native woman came in and was breast feeding her child….I was horrified…too funny now. I remember the old Hudson Bay store where the natives came in and did their trading….sitting around the store or outside. I was brought to this site because I was looking for a photo of the Nakina hospital where I was born and Dr. McKillop was our doctor. other names come to mind…Luxton, Halli. The principal at the school was Chochla…he wrote me several years ago and sent some photos of that time I was in school. Wow what a trip down memory lane.

  15. Not sure if many people still read this blog but I’m trying to dig up some info about my great-grandfather James Cordingley of who the lake is named after. He worked as the general manager at the train station during the 20’s and 30’s. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

    • My great grandmother was Jim Cordingley sister, who lived in Shallow Lake On. Minta Cordingley married Robert Young who was the druggist. Her brother Ab Cordingley had a general store in Shallow Lake.and was the first reeve.I believe james and Ab were born on a farm between Teviotdale and Palmerston in Wellington County.In 1884 the family moved to Holstien then to Parkhead to run the rail station

    • In response to: Denverhayes Quebec try the Facebook group “Nakina Anniversary”. I believe I saw info on your great-grandfather James Cordingley there. You can always post there and ask the group.

  16. Hi, I’m looking for any information about marion p Doherty .. She was born in nakina ont in 1915 … Please contact me at the above email address …

  17. I lived in nakina in the early 70’s. my father John was a school teacher and my mother Maria was the town nurse. she ran the clinic out of the house beside the railway lines across from the restaurant. i have vivid memories of living there. my favourite ones are of going to cordingly lake in the summer, picking blueberries climbing trees, and of course sunday night at the dump to see the bears. to this day i still find it hard to pay for blueberries. i remember playing with my friend Deanna Pederson, her parents Eno and Helmi ran the fly out fishing tourism at twin lakes. good times.

    • I stumbled unto your Nakina comment on this blog. Eino Peterson was my dad’s first cousin. Eino’s family Minnesota for Canada in about 1926. Reading about a relative in print (Deanna and her parents) stimulates the desire to be better acquainted.

  18. Whom ever the author of this Nakina story…..They should get the facts staite….

    Below the first picture para 2….it stats….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.

    Not true….Nakina never did have a radar base….It did have a Low Frequency radio range and an air strip. The purpose of which was to provide an air navigation system and emergency landing strips for aircraft transiting from the east to the west coast carrying cargo in support of the war effort, (WW2). It was not dismantled in the or decomission after the war, in fact I was station to Nakina in 1960 by Transport Canada as a radio operator/ weather observer. I’m not sure when the federal government shut down this station but am aware that it carried on for a good part of the sixties and was then taken over by I believe the Province as a lands and forests base.
    I suspect that who ever wrote this history may have been confused with perhaps the Pagwa River radar base which was collocated with another Low frequency radio range about 60 miles down the track from Nakina. This radar site was one of the many radar sites on the Pine tree Line and formed part of the early radar warning system that was established in the early part of the cold war…The Pagwa river site was operated by the U.S. Force 913th squadron and later by the Canadian Airforce.
    The early warning system consisted of three line of detection the first being the the DEW line, the second, the pine Tree line, the third, The Mid Canada Line…..All these systems have now been replaced by new satelite technology

    • Dale: You are correct about the Department Of Transport air strip and radio/weather tower being operated into the 60’s and the entire property was turned over to the Township of Nakina in the early 70’s. There was in fact a radar base located on a rock outcrop south of the rail line and just west of the town water supply which we called the pump house. It would have been less than a kilometer from the CNR station which would have had a restaurant in it when you were here. The base was operated by the Americans and was only there for a few years during the 40″s. There are a couple of large pieces of concrete still there.

    • As a youngster I remember climbing the rock pile close to the pump house with my pals and I was always told that it was the site of a WW 2 radar station.

  19. I’m working on a project on the history of the railways throughout northwestern Ontario. I had been told a story about a train carrying a cargo of coins from the Canadian Mint. At or near Nakina, the wooden boxcar’s floor broke open and the coins spilled out. I’m unsure of the time period. Sometime from the ’40s to ’60s? Does anyone else know of this incident? Dates? Reports? Please let me know. Also anyone who would like to be interviewed regarding the railway in Nakina or anywhere else between White River and Kenora, I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at

  20. My family and I lived very briefly in Nakina between 1978 and 1980. My father was OPP and was stationed there to patrol Nakina and the surrounding areas. I don’t remember very much as I was only 3 or 4 but I do remember sledding around one of the schools. I am currently writing a paper on my early history and have enjoyed doing a little history search on Nakina; if anyone has information they would like to share in and around that timeline, it would be much appreciated!

  21. Sweet blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!
    Appreciate it

    Feel free to surf to my web-site: viajesmaritimos

  22. Many of you probably already know about Virtual Turnpike but, for anyone who is not familiar with the site, you can enter almost any address and it’ll take you to any town you want and you can ‘walk’ along the streets and see how the town has changed. For example, go to:

    and you’ll find yourself on Keefer St in Nakina. Another way to move is to move the little orange man icon (in the window on the right) to whatever location on the map you want (so long as it’s coloured blue).

    I’ve never been to Nakina but I’ve been perusing the web looking for info on Nakina because I’m thinking of buying a house and retiring in Northern Ontario (from Southern Ontario).

    Enjoy the tour.

  23. I was born in Nakina in a 2 room Red Cross hospital in 1953. Dr. Mckillop delivered myself, my brother and sister. My grandfather Roy Broad was a locomotive engineer, and my father Larry Wayne worked in the train station. he met and married my mother Joyce Broad in Nakina. My parents often talked about their life in Nakina. We left the area when I was 5 as my dad transferred with CN to southern Ontario. I’ve enjoyed reading these comments and must go and see this little town that was my birthplace.

    • I too was born in Nakina. At home. The house beside the railway station that no longer exists. 1956. Dr. McKillip delivered me into the world. I’ve read the comments here and it comes as no surprise how this little place in the middle of nowhere enchants us all.

    • As a youngster I remember climbing the rock pile close to the pump house with my pals and I was always told that it was the site of a WW 2 radar station. I remember the Broad family ( Bobby Broad ?) and my sister was born in the Nakina Hospital (Dr. Mckillop). I would like to firm up my recollection of family names 1945 – 1955 with anyone’s help.

      • For Ernie
        Bobby broad is my uncle. He lives in Vancouver BC. He has talked very fondly of growing up in must also remember his little sister Wendy, also my aunt.

  24. my grandfather and grandmother and their 3 children lived in nakina. my father was born there. their last name was janoff. my grandfather Evan, worked on the railway and my father Alex, left when he was 16 for a job in montreal on the railway. i would love to learn more about this town and the heritage.

  25. I lived as a child with my family in Nakina from 1955-1962. My grandparents, the Hietanens, lived down the street from us. We lived on the corner of First and Quebec(?) St. The Aubrey’s lived next door. My father Toivo Hietanen, worked for the CN railway back in those days. Still remember going to Corningly Lake to have picnics and picking wild blueberries and strawberries.

    • Mary,Toby,Terry,Trudy,Marlee Hietanen born and lived in Nakina until 1961 then (Karen born in Thunder Bay) corner of railway and Quebec street. Obries,then Leuninbergers lived next door. As a kid
      living in Nakina was awsome! Leuninbergers had a fisheries operation out of their garage packing trout in crates. The dad gave a baby sturgeon to us which we took to school in a wash tub for show and tell! Toby and I used to go around trading comic books!
      We would collect pop bottles and egg cartons and bring to the Obries store for candy! Those were the days my friends!

  26. My Uncle Mikey Brown was an engineer on the Cn trains and lived in Nakina many years on Quebec St.
    I attendend public school in the last half of gr 6 1962.
    We lived next door to the Marrs,karen and Collen and John JR,
    I was friends with Trudy Buchannen
    Skated at the outdoor rink.
    Went to Warrens grocery store and was introduced to the Beatles on the jukbox at Dollys resturant /drugstore.
    Went out to the Lake many times and enjoyed the steam baths at Cy’s.
    Have always wanted to go back.Very fond memories.
    Maggie Sargent (Adams)

  27. Born in Chapleau while family was just moving to Nakina. Spent my first 4.5 yrs there. My memories go back to being 2 or 3 there. My Mom was a nurse, my dad was the principal of the catholic public school, his first teaching gig. I do remember a fair bit of the town and the people. I recall spending a lot of time on the lake going to the water slide, buying bottle caps at the canteen. I remember my dad building our house next to the airport. I am 41 now, but some day I would like to take the train there and stay for a few days. Great place for the formative years.

  28. Lived in Nakina from 1952 – 1962. Absolutely loved it. I remember Mrs. Bates, my first grade teacher. Visited with her several years ago on Vancouver Island. Was back to Nakina a couple of years ago. Cordingly Lake still has the charm (and blackflies) that it did in the 50’s.

    • Mrs. Bates was also my first grade teacher in 1950 ? Her husband was the Manager of the Hudson Bay store. I recall natives still trading furs at that time.

  29. Hi
    I have lived here for many years. Just want to pass along that Nakina is celebrating its 90th anniversary. If you are thinking of visiting us this summer, pick the long weekend in August 2,3,4,5. We have a committee who are busily organising events for that weekend. It will be a fun time for all. There is a site on Facebook as well as a separate site for the anniversary itself. There is a craft agenda in place right now. Saturday evening will have 2live bands, the Hot Rods and the Hoolies. Look us up and Come see and be seen-2013 in NAKINA.

  30. My father was Sid Rutherford who was principal of the Public School from Sept.1939 to June 1945. I was born there but spent most of my growing up years in southern ont. Returned in 1973 for the 50th reunion and never missed a summer vacation spent at our camp on Lower Twin. Bob and I retired in 2000 from GM Oshawa and bought the Vanderbeck farm on the edge of town. This year on the long weekend in August Nakina will be celebrating their 90th. We both living here in the north.

Everyone has a story to tell. Share yours.

Your email address will not be published.