Latchford

With the town motto of “The Best Little Town By a Dam Site”, Latchford signals the end of Temagami and the beginning of Temiskaming. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page for more photos.)

Like Smooth Rock Falls, another tourist guide I saw advises that Latchford is “the perfect stopover place for food, fuel, and tourist information” however I couldn’t really attest on my first visit – I was in a rush, Latchford was small, and you can’t stop everywhere each time you take a roadtrip. I’ve since visited and can confirm that, while tiny, Latchford is clean, quiet, and has some nice river access and good hiking nearby.

Aubrey Cosens Bridge, Latchford Ontario, Highway 11

Like a mini Skyway Bridge made of big mechano

Latchford was founded in 1902 as a logging town on the Montréal River.  Steamboats used Latchford as a home base to pick up passengers on their way up the Montreal River to Elk Lake. Today the river is crossed by the newly restored Sergeant Aubrey Cosens Bridge. (And this is the second thing named after this guy – there’s also a heritage plaque near Iroquois Falls.) The bridge buckled in the winter of 2003 after it rusted to an unsafe state.  It was closed for months, cutting off all of northeastern Ontario from he Highway 11 artery it so relied upon. Trucks were forced to detour east through Témiscamingue, Québec, up and over Lake Temiskaming and into the Tri-Towns, or west through Sudbury, Gogama, and through Timmins – until a temporary bridge was built. Thankfully, it has now been fixed.

More interestingly, Latchford used to be the home of a big casino during the Cobalt mining boom.  Many miners and prospectors would come to Latchford to party and increase their fortunes, and of course to visit the dancers and prostitutes that called the casino home.  I think the town has quieted down sufficiently since then.

Latchford, Shortest Covered Bridge in the World, Highway 11

Latchford’s “some small weird thing” – The World’s Shortest Covered Bridge!

In Latchford there are tours along the Montréal River.  There is a little town museum (called the Latchford House of Memories) which opens in the spring and closes the second week of October. Latchford is also home to the Ontario Logging Hall of Fame, which has an old blacksmith shop, an icehouse, some old logging equipment, and a restored turn-of-the-century sawmill.  I’m surprised some environmentalists haven’t defaced the logging museum. Latchford is also known for having the world’s shortest covered bridge.  Every August they have their annual canoe and kayak races on the river. If you’re into hunting, the area around Latchford is good for bear, and is located in two prime moose areas. The whole of Highway 11 from North Bay to beyond Latchford is postered with “watch out for moose” signs everywhere.

Latchford is pretty small, but it has a decent spate of amenities. The town has its own tourist info centre (located in the municipal office) however it was closed in October when I was there last. There are many lodges, campsites, and RV sites nearby for accommodation, as well as a diner, a Chip Stand (LA Fries – it is for sale), a variety store, and a gas station in town. Latchford is home to an LCBO agency outlet which stays open until 8 or 9 PM. Wilks Restaurant (also called the Café Log Cabin Café) is housed in a trailer just north of the tourist information centre, and serves homemade food at reasonable prices. Wilks Restaurant has been highly recommended to me by people who live in the area.

Highway 11 Ontario backcountry near Latchford

An ode to Fergus. My trusty, gas-sipping steed is now longer

I’ve stayed at Bay Lee Mac Camp, which is within Latchford’s southern limits, about halfway between Latchford and Temagami. While rustic (no electricity – all lights, the stove and fridge ran on propane) the cottage was clean, quiet, and serene – I don’t think I’ve ever been in a quieter place in my life. Located right on Rib Lake, Bay Lee Mac has water access for swimming, boating, and canoeing, provide organized hikes and hunts, and is located close to the Ottawa-Temiskaming Highland Trail.

Additional outdoors activities include the fishing derby in July – check it out here if you’re interested – and WJB Greenwood Provincial Park.

13 thoughts on “Latchford

  1. We as a Family came to Latchford when I was young, Mom and Dad found Latchford on the map and we decided to Vacation there in 67-68. Dad met an Indian by the name of Neil and was in the Canoe race in 68 for the Centenial. We returned in 77-78. That was our last trip North as Dad passed in 92, and wanted to so badley to come to the 100th anniversary. We have very fond memories of our trips there and hope to return one day..

  2. Hi;
    I lived in Latchford until 1955. I was one of the Grozelle’s and my parents were Roy & Margaret Grozelle, I still have the greatest memories of Latchford & all the fun we had as kids.
    Only half of the skill testing question is on the screen so I couldn’t see it all to answer it. I hope this will go through anyway.
    Daintree

  3. My Dad moved to Latchford in 1983.
    I was thirteen at the time. I didn’t really think that a town with a population of 500 people would be the best place to be.
    I quickly learned that it was the BEST PLACE TO BE!! We have lived in alot of different places be LATCHFORD is the only place that I really enjoyed. So much to do as a kid. Old home week, teen dances, swimming with your friends at the lake.Working in Paiges BP doing dishes, knowing that when your done…..you get the best fries & gravy…oh ya!!
    Talk about a great town.
    Which I miss so much :(

  4. I visited the Town of Latchford when I was a child. My father took us up to visit his cousin who lived just outside of New Liskeard. We went to the museum in Latchford to find out how the town got it’s name. My great-grandfather Jackson Latchford was a sheriff in New Liskeard. Unfortunately we found out the town was not named after him or our family. Latchford was a nice place to visit and I loved the covered bridge.

  5. i was in latchford a few years back, wanted to know if the museun was fixed the roof leaked and it was closed as my great grandfather and grandmotherlived there pictures of them are there rohemia & william mitchell they died there but heard the grave stones are all gone heard he was the local baker and named the street after him any info would be greatly welcome glen mitchell

  6. hey i remeber when the bridge was out i didnt have to drive the detour but wish i had been able to get a t-shirt that said “It was so cold we froze our nuts off ” in refence to the bridge and the nuts did freeze and snap i believe
    where cna i get one still ??

  7. Latchford was a safe place to grow up – the only worries walking at nighttime were running into bears or wolves. Life does move at a different pace and takes getting used to after having lived in larger communities. I plan on going back for a week of relaxation this summer, once the herds of mosquitoes have been been before I get there.

  8. In 1953 I worked at the AB Gordon Lumber Mill and spent the day at the end of the line hooking large timber to be re-sawn. When the logs ran out in the river I spent a few more weeks in the stacking yard. It was a summer job and I appreciated the money. After a long day at the mill, as we tramped back to the lodgings, an old man always used to say to me, “Another day – another dollar.”

  9. I grew up vacationing near Latchford and at one time lived there. In fact, I still have family there (Hi Rob and Lynn). I have lived many places since then but I have yet to breathe fresher air, drink cleaner water, or witness anything as beautiful as fall on the Animanip road in Latchford. It will always feel like “home” to me.

  10. I visited Latchford in the summer of 2009. We enjoyed swimming at the beautiful beach then had a great meal at Wilk’s. We were welcomed by friendly staff and a warm atmosphere. Latchford is an excellent place to just unwind, relax and enjoy the scenery.

  11. Latchford is the home-town of my lovely and beautiful wife, Candace. Any town that could produce such a wonderful woman is a-ok by me.

    I really love it up here, as it’s such a contrast to Toronto. Things move at a different pace, and there is time to contemplate here. Plus the lakes and trails are fantastic for kayaking, cycling and hiking.

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