Continuing our detour off Highway 11, Virginiatown and Kearns are two villages (population approximately 800) northeast of Krugerdorf via Highway 624. V-town is just a tad west of the Quebec border on the northeastern shore of Larder Lake.Built in the shadow of the great Mount Cheminis, the area known as Virginiatown is comprised of three different villages – Kearns, North Virginiatown, and Virginiatown proper. I would have done separate pages for all three but a) I don’t have a tonne of info, and b) I’m not sure where one village ends and the next one begins on a map. I think North Virginiatown is north of Highway 66, Virginiatown is south of it, and Kearns is just a kilometre or two east.
Virginiatown is actually much closer to Rouyn than Timmins or any other larger centres in Ontario. Therefore, (and I might be wrong, but) I’m pretty sure that V-town, as it is affectionately called, is a largely francophone community which had its heyday with the northeastern Ontario mining boom in the early half of the 20th century. So, I checked this fact. Statscan tells me that Virginiatown and area is largely francophone. But emailers and posters (before I lost all the posts) tell me that nearly no one speaks French in V-town. So, I don’t know.
Virginiatown sprung up with the expansion of the mineral rush which began in Cobalt in the early 1900s and drove north founding towns like Kirkland Lake and Larder Lake. V-town was famous for the Kerr Addison Mine, which at one time was the richest gold deposit in North America. The gold from the first Canadian 5 ounce gold coin was mined from the Kerr Addison. Today, a coin monument stands to commemorate this Virginiatown achievement.
Like all boom towns, this had to come to an end eventually. The Kerr Addison Mine shut down in the 1990s, and while there is still exploration and some smaller gold ventures in the area, Virginiatown is pretty sleepy nowadays. Check out the link to Louie Palu’s photos below, it contains some fantastic shots of mining life in Larder Lake and Virginiatown mines.
There is a boat launch to Larder Lake, and you can access nearby Labyrinth Lake where you can catch northern pike, bass, and walleye. According to google, there is a ceramic shop in town as well. You can visit the Virginiatown Heritage House for a history of the town and its mining past, or hike the Heritage Gold Trail to view underground mining equipment.
Mount Cheminis is, in my opinion, the coolest thing in the area. Shooting up from the trees like the bum of a thick marker, it rises majestically above V-town and is visible from Highway 66. You can hike up the summit from local trails. Check out some of the nice pictures in the links below. Andre emailed to let me know that Mount Cheminis (known as Mont Chaudron in French) is techhnically in Québec.
Services in town include gas (Guy’s Service Station), a small grocery store, and the usual small-town-northern-Ontario stuff like the Bear Creek Bait and Tackle shop and a curling club. Chez Lucie is a drug store, convenience store, and video rental in one, and Armando’s “Le Bar” is a local diner and watering hole. The Cheminis Lodge provides bed and breakfast facilities and lodging, as does the Hilltop Inn.
The only time I drove through Virginiatown was en route to Rouyn. I was on a schedule, so I stopped to take a picture with the big coin and that’s it. Please help me add to this page – send personal anecdotes, history, photos, and advice to info (at) highway11 (dot) ca.
For an archive of the 30 comments that were posted to Highway11.ca’s profile of Virigniatown/Kearns between 2008 and 2012, please click here.
Kinghorn Scotland I came from England to VTown when I was nine we lived at Connell Ave and I went to the catholic School MY DAD worked at the mine and like a lot off you I had a lot of lovely memories . I am coming to Canada in 24 and have asked my friend if she will come with me to see VTown My name then was pat Thornton we left in 1960.
Born in Matachewan, grew up in North V-Town, Kearns. I have fond memories of roaming the woods, climbing Mont Chemins, playing hockey and fishing. Was not found of taking the bus to KLCVI for high school…..
I was born in Kearns. My dad worked at the Kerr Addison mine back in 1941. Alex Melnychuk. Did anyone know him? He died at 57 years of age.
I came to Virgiatown in 1957 .Worked on the cage For almost 8 years ,I got to know many good people .I curled with steve Stratford and worked for him .Great man and family Jim Turner was a good friend of mine and so were the poulin boys joe and Jim and there were many boys I was friend with Phil oehring ,Tommy Doran The Arthur boys ,I stayed at the Winsor Hotel 4 a while and after 8 years I knew almost every one in Town .trps to rouyn were almost daily weekends 4 sure .Dancing in the night clubs in Rouyn was lots of fun They called me Rock and Roll Charlie !!!Anyway I loved it in Vitown and Always considered Vi-Town my hometown We did have a soccer team in those days and played in Vi-town .Noranda ,Kirkland Lake an d Timmins .Best time of my life !!!
Growing up in Vtown was very special and I have such fond memories of my growing up years there.
My parents and I moved to Virginia Town from England in 1957 when I was almost 3 yrs old and we stayed for 5 wonderful years. We lived in Coleman street in a little wooden house with a porch on the front, and my dad work at the gold mine, and in his spare time along with his mates, he helped to build the church.
I remember having many friends mostly German and French Canadian, my best friend being French Canadian. We played out all summer long, on the street, and in the winter, when we could manage to get out we’d play with sledges. My dad made me a little ice rink in the back yard and me and my friend Estelle would play and try to skate. My mum made a lot of friends too and became a member of the bowling team, I used to go and watch her and remember her in her sneakers and rolled up jeans.
When we returned to England I was dreadfully home sick for Virginia Town and missed everything about it. I am now 65 and have lost both my parents and right up to my dads death last February we spoke about Canada. I always thanked him for taking me there and giving me that experience. Perhaps one day I may go back.
Just learned today that our old friend Booby(Dimitri) Kowbassa passed away today from cancer. Born and raised in Vtown and returned after living in Toronto during his career as a policeman. Such a good human being and a great loss.
Nice to see the name Oehring! I was born and raised in V-town – my older brothers Michael and Johnny and I all had an Oehring sibling around our age and I remember Ann was the telephone operator. I’d pick up the phone (with the earpiece hanging off the side) and say “Hi Ann. Where’s my mother?” and she’d put me through to the Kendricks or some other neighbor. My Dad was Mining Geologist at Kerr Addison and then travelled around Quebec and Ontario as a consulting geologist. The town was vibrant in the 40’s and 50’s – Santa came to Locke’s hardware, we could get ice cream cone at McCall’s drug store, a hamburger at Hubbard’s grill, lifesavers at Nugent’s, pick up Christmas packages at the post office behind Jeffrey’s hardware, the McGarry and Windsor hotel bars (phone numbers 123 and 88, respectively) were hopping, lunch at Joe’s, groceries at the G & P (?), go to Dr. Pollock or Dr. Haggerman, swim in the lake (until it was so polluted I couldn’t see my toes when I was ankle deep), and skate in the arena (where there was curling and figure skating lessons). We moved away in 1953 and went back sporadically to visit.
RIP Kobassa, finally found website, had a great time in Kearns
A young man – only 17 – lost his life on Mt. Cheminis 2 weeks ago Sunday. We learned the trails are no longer maintained. Heartbreakingly sad. 🙁
I was born in Kirkland Lake in 2004, I am currently 15. I lived in Larder Lake all my life, Virginiatown being my second home, my grandparents live there and I visited every weekend.
So many many memories here, the area remains to me the most beautiful place in Canada. The people, the country, the peace is so wonderful.
Having a nearby lake to swim in (beware of leeches, i recommend swimming in the lake of larder, it gets taken care of) one little drug store which is now closed, a restaurant 2-3 km away in Kearns. I gotta admit, I thought I lived in a hole but it’s until I moved that I realized what I have lost.
Virginiatown’s people are so friendly and everybody is willing to help you out and the schools in the area do field trips and tournaments often, keeping us active and a sense of team spirit.
In a large town like Toronto, you do not get that here. I miss the snow, I miss the people, I miss everything and I am no longer the person I used to be because my heritage has been ripped away from me, I will do anything to go back, I am currently working a job and will buy a 120$ bus ticket to come back to the wonderful northern town which is V-town.
Hi, I grew up in Kearns from grade 1 to grade 4 & attended Ecole St Louis in Virginiatown. This was roughly 35 years ago. The community back then was very much francophone, however, I would say it was billingual. Very few people only spoke english. If you are going up towards Virginiatown, Kearns ends just as you start going up the hill past the old chip stand on the right. V-town starts just before the arena & Virginiatown starts right before the french catholic school on the right side of the hwy, but yes, v-town is on the right side of the hwy & Virginiatown is on the left side. Kearns was a great place to grow up. I have many good memories & long for the quiet days of my childhood. We knew everyone & you never had worries about your neighbours. On Sundays everyone would drive out to the dump near Mont Cheminis to watch the bears & wild cats. Man, I miss them days.
I too went to École St-Louis, from 1974 to 1979. I went on the Virginiatown-Kearns Website but I rarely hear from people who lived there during the seventies.
1581 3A Hwy
Are you Susie and Lorni’s Son? If so, you would remember my brother, Bruce and younger brother, John.
I worked in VTown at the Kerr during the Summer of ’58,my uncle George was the electrical foreman there. Myself and another student lived in the mine bunkhouse,quite an experience ,quite a Summer. Went to Rouyn with other student workers for party time. Stayed at the Radio hotel in Rouyn…..great memories..
I was born and brought up in Kirkland Lake. My dad had Breland’s Men’s and Boy’s Wear.
I remember Cliff Lamoureux in V-town – used to buy some pretty funky furniture there. I once bought an old barber’s chair as a gift for my husband who later passed away.
Deb Manseau was a dear friend of mine and I participated in several “Me You and The Rest of the Crew productions with Al Manseau and Art Gutmanis also from V-town.
In later years I used to get my hair cut at Eddie’s barber shop – my hair was really long and Eddy was the only person who would trim my hair without scalping me!!! (I was a bit anal about my hair)
Wow – so many memories.
I haven’t moved far from Ottawa. Since my retirement for air traffic, my spouse Louise and daughter Réjane and I now operate a horse farm near the village of Hammond, Ontario, about 30 km east of Ottawa.
I saw a reference to Morley. Regrets.
I hope this finds you well. It was a delight to go down Memory Lane, even briefly.
All things bright – DouglasmSylvester
Elaine Breland! Hope you are doing well!
We are on the west coast now. Mayo
Give me a call. I’m in Prince George BC Patrick Michiel
I am Clifford’s grand son. So cool to see memories of my grandpa dad and aunt.
I new Grace and Cliff very well, always did my hair cuts, both were such nice and gracious poeple who will always be remembered.
Cliff Lamoureaux cut my hair all through school years and until we left V-Town in 1953. (We of course called him “Mr Lamoureaux”. His son Edward was a mate at school. I can remember when Ed began to apprentice with his dad. AND I remember the cost of a haircut was 25 cents. I could have gotten 60 haircuts for what I pay now!
I recall you John as I, too, lived a number of years in Virginiatiown – now live in Kelowna. I am Lorraine Munro (nee Farrell). You might recall visiting and hanging around with my older brothers, Dennis and Laurie. We were a family of 8 kids and lived on Reddick Ave, then later on Connell before leaving in 1953 to live in Moose Jaw.
Nice to see someone else from Virginiatown is living in Kelowna, Bc. I believe I did know Ed and I recognize many photos of children I grew up with in Vtown. We lived on Reddick Ave for a number of years then moved to Connel. Moved from Vtown in 1953. Two of my sisters and one brother and I drove to Vtown and Kearns about 6 years ago, so sad to see everything gone!
Fond memories of people and awesome scenery as well. Been in St. Thomas for 30 years now. Would love to touch base with Elaine if possible. Would like to send my regrets for her Dad and Morley. Her Dad was one of my favourite people ever (Morley was pretty nice too).
Hi Elaine: I would love to hear from you again…would love to rekindle our friendship!
I started my life in Virginitown, we lived a block behind the fire station which was located across from my grandpa Clifford’s barber shop. we moved to Kirkland lake when I was 5 but I still remember spending time with grandma Grace and grandpa Clifford. I am now living in Kelowna BC and have published my first book which chronicles my life starting in Virginiatown. On a seperate note,there is a movie I think it is called highway67 that was filmed in Virginiatown. They used my Grandpa’s shop and he made two cameo appearances. Bye for now, Richard J. Lamoureux, Kelowna BC.
I to lived in the north,.Cheminis!, the north in v town, .kearns was my fondest times of my life and miss so much.i am now 73 and spent 17 years playing hockey in v town and Normandy befor joining the service.I will probably make one more trip home befor I get to old. Now living in peterboro.ok
I new cliff so well, a great barber, friend, conversationalist, dressed to the nines always and such a nice gentleman.such fond memories of him.
Just read your note, we went to school together. My husband and I are actually going to Vtown the weekend after Thanksgiving. Such wonderful memories
In the ’50s I taught music in the schools in Dobie, V-Town and Kearns. The picture above of Hwy 66 east is Kearns and not V-Town. Virginiatown is actually off the highway a bit. With my wife mother and sister-in-law we took a picnic lunch and climbed Mount Cheminis. Somewhere I have pictures from that expedition. Such views!
I produce and host a radio show on Saturday mornings in the Shuswap in BC, called ‘Driving Through My Memories’ as I spent over 50 years as a long-haul trucker traveling North America. This week I am doing a bit on a trip from Nipigon, Ontario to the Quebec Border at Cheminis. Another week we will continue through Quebec to Montreal and eventually the east coast.
You can hear it by going to our website http://www.voiceoftheshuswap.ca and follow the instructions for streaming on your computer.
Gold coins were one of the oldest forms of money. This was later followed by silver coins. Gold coins were in circulation in the United States from 1838 to 1933. The design was the Liberty Head bust but this was only made until 1907. The design was then changed to the Indian Head and Saint Gaudens motifs and was used until 1933 when the Great Depression began. This prompted the recall of gold coins which makes them very difficult to find today..*
My very own blog site