Opasatika is a former mill town with about 300 residents set on the Opasatika River.
Opaz (as it is commonly called along northern Highway 11) used to have its own mill (and supposedly, from what I was told, its own dance club), but changes to the forestry industry in northern Ontario have meant that a lot of the smaller mills are being closed. This means that communities like Opasatika, Smooth Rock, and Longlac are losing their mills, and fighting for their lives in the process. I was told that it used to be that there was a little mill in each little town from Hearst through to Smooth Rock.
Of course, Opasatika has its “some weird big thing” as you enter the town. There’s a random fish statue . There’s also a mini logging boat sitting in the field. Normally there are plaques for these kinds of things but not here – I guess everyone around here is just in-the-know. A resident emailed me to tell me that the fish was supposed to have a commemorative plaque, and be the start of a historical site. However, progress was delayed when the town mill was closed – and subsequently, all civic efforts have gone into finding a solution for the mill. That’s understandable, and unfortunate.
Opasatika (pronounced locally as Opa-set-ticka) also has a nice little waterfront park with a boat launch to the river, and two marshes – du Village and des Lambert. Sixty kilometres south of Opasatika you can find Christopher Waterfall which leads into Rufus Lake.
As for businesses, Magazin Martel is a depanneur with a little LCBO outlet. Mandy’s Beanerie serves coffee and meals as well. There might be more for food and services, but I’m not sure. I haven’t been back in a while.
There used to be a mushroom farm in Opasatika. I’m not sure if it is still running. I don’t know if it gives tours, but you could enquire – I’ve always found visiting any kind of factory/workplace type thing to actually pretty interesting. The farmhouse you see on the right is actually in Val Rita, and has some personal significance to its owner, a testament to the agriculture that used to occur in this area.On a personal note, Opasatika is the first place where my car was chased by a dog on the journey. Imagine, if you live on Highway 11 and you have a dog that chases cars or trucks? Boy are you in trouble…
Thanks to Anick for help with Opaz.