Powassan is kind of funny because if it was north of North Bay it’d be considered a
freakin metropolis fairly large town. When I first wrote up most of this website, I was in my northern traveller mode. When you’re used to places like Latchford or Jellicoe, Powassan seems pretty big.
We had been staying at Piebird Farmstay B&B, just west of Powassan in Nipissing Village. But five-plus years removed from my northern Ontario adventures, just having finished a short hike in Restoule Provincial Park and promising the ravenous wife a reasonable diner meal, I headed 40 minutes east to Powassan based on hazy comparisons of Powassan to places that truly were dots on a map. It must have a place we can get a sandwich. A Tim Horton’s maybe, even.
I distinctly remembered a two story building in the downtown. So it had to be pretty “big”, right?
There was the China Garden, and the Hawk n’ Eye Pub and …well…that’s it. Strange for a Saturday, for this urbanite at least, the café was closed. There wasn’t much else. Jugding by the packed parking lot, everyone, it seems, was spending their Saturday lunch at the arena. Despite being the largest town between Huntsville and North Bay, Powassan is really just one of many small towns found along Highway 11. (If you can, arrange a dinner at Piebird. You won’t be disappointed.)
Powassan is a First Nations word that means “bend.” I’m assuming that’s not a command but a description of a place on the river. I’m not sure exactly how it is pronounced, but I sure hope it is old-school Adam West Batman-style.
Anthony was kind enough to send in some info about Powassan. First, yes, the name Powassan means “bend in the river”. Second, that river is Genesese Creek, which flows into the South River, eventually making it to Lake Nipissing. And third, Powassan is the only place in the world named Powassan.
Founded in 1905, Powassan soon became the site of a lumber and grist mill. Today it is focused on power generation, lumber, maple syrup and some small scale agriculture. It is also the unfortunate namesake of Powassan Encephalitis – a tick-spread virus I used to joke about on here until I found out that it could kill you. It’s killed 40 people in the US alone since 2008.
I adore small towns. Each time I’ve been here Powassan has had that feel. There are some nicely restored buildings on Main Street. In the summer there’s a small farmer’s market. There are two seasonal fairs – the Agricultural Society Fair on Labour Day Weekend and the Maple Syrup Festival (with ‘Sappy’ the mascot) in the fall.
Powassan is also home to a lookout on Powassan Mountain, (which I’m sure is a “mountain” in the same spirit of Hamilton’s “mountain”.) A space conservatory is in the planning stages for Powassan. I have to be honest, I’m not sure what a space conservatory is. A planetarium maybe? I dunno. Maybe they can pick up the Dunlap Observatory, drive it 307 kilometres north, and plunk it down in Powassan?