When you enter Mattice from the east, you’ll be greeted by a dinosaur.

T-Rex has no cultural significance to the town.  There isn’t a museum around.  He’s not the town mascot. To my knowledge no dinosaur bones have been found in the area. It’s just decoration on someone’s front lawn.  Think of it as an especially eccentric garden gnome.

T-Rex in Mattice, Northern Ontario, Highway 11

Mattice does its bit to continue Highway 11’s many “WTF? moments.

I’ve been told by a Mattice resident that the T-Rex was built by the owner of the Mattice Motel to attract tourists.  There used to be a stegosaurus in town, as well.  It turns out that the stegosaurus was destroyed by a new owner when the previous owner left to pursue his dinosaur dreams elsewhere.  Seriously.  It turns out he left to build a concrete Jurassic park in the Ottawa region.

A francophone town in the heart of French-speaking Ontario, Mattice (rhymes with ice) is one of these small northern towns (population approximately 500) on Highway 11 that has a little bar, an a full-blown LCBO, and a skidoo repair shop … but only the tiniest of grocery stores that would barely qualify as a fruit stand in more urban areas in southern Ontario.

Fur trading monument, Mattice, Highway 11 Ontario

Mattice used to be the launchpad for old fur trading expeditions

Set on the Missinaibi River, Mattice used to be a starting point for Voyageurs heading downstream for the fur trade.  There’s a historical plaque and one of Highway 11’s classier statues to commemorate its history.  About two kilometres upstream, there’s a traditional Aboriginal burial ground.

Mattice emergency service skidoo, Highway 11

Ambulance northern Ontario style

If you go north on one of Mattice’s side street you’ll find the nice riverfront park.  It’s actually quite a nice park, with a boat launch, a picnic area, and an inexplicable pile of rocks (that, it turns out, were used in the refurbishment of the Missinaibi Bridge.  And then left there for posterity’s sake.)

Rock pile, Mattice, Highway 11

Lacking a woodpile, this pile of rocks will have to do

16 thoughts on “Mattice

  1. I’m from a small town just west of Rochester New York. I use to come up to Matice every spring to hunt black bear. On my first trip in the early 80’s we stayed at the Mattice Motel. I do not speak French, and the owners barely spoke English but a gentleman sitting at the bar eating breakfast that first day named Carl Leblond (not sure on spelling) did and not only helped us get settled in but also took us to his home , and not knowing me from Adam let me use his Honda 3 wheeler to travel the back roads to hunt that first trip.We became friends and for the next few years when I came up I stayed with Carl and his family, though I lost touch with him and his family through the years, I have never forgotten his kindness to a complete stranger.
    I was saddened to see that it looks like the old motel burned back in 2018..
    It use to be quite the adventure to travel back into the bush on some of the roads with their wash outs, and log bridges. I have lots of fond memories of Mattice and its little motel with the dinosaurs in the front yard.

  2. Is there anything left where the Trans Canada Pipeline place is? There used to be 8 houses between Mattice and Reesor

    • Hi Cathy. The TCPL Station 92 is still there and functioning although the old original A-plant has been removed. As technology improved the stations all became more automated and the need for employees to live on the sites decreased. There are no houses left there as they began removing them in the late 70s and early 80s I believe. The last ones left were for the supervisors. You can see the station on Google Maps street view!

  3. Still looking for Bonnie Dennison, formerly Wessman, married to Bill Dennison. Bonnie is a native of Thunder Bay and moved to Mattice with Bill many years ago. I’ve lost touch with her and would love to hear from her!

  4. My story, is when I first join the US Air Force, went Basic training, and Radio School to learn Radio and Morse Code then sent me to French Morocco and to Operate a Radio Station, call sign Pronto, part of 6 0ther Radio Station in a net.
    Loved my job, 3 shifts, day, night and midnight to Morning, each of us had rotation in these Shifts. Did the samething in Capuskasing, Ontario, Canada

  5. We drove through Mattice last Sat (Sept 6th/14). I wanted to tell someone that I appreciated that someone is trying hard to beautify this little town. I noticed the nice new street lights as we approached from the south, the plants in the planters and felt that someone was taking pride in this town. I missed seeing trees in the towns I passed through as we headed north on Hwy 11. The lack of trees around the houses make the towns look so bleak. Good job, Mattice.

  6. In Mattice, there is a pretty nice waterfront park. Im told its ok to camp there and is the starting point for groups of canoers to organize ans set out on a northern trek that can eventually end in James bay, Theres even indoor showers at this park, a very kind consideration for the designers of this facility and much appreciated. Some of the parks in this part of southern Ont. could learn a thing or two from the people who put this facility and park together. Oh, I was wondering about that big pile of rocks, thanks.

  7. I used to live in the train station when I was a little girl. I attended the French Catholic school there and later the one-room school on the reserve. I can’t seem to find any record of the train station being there or whether it is still there now?
    I don’t remember a dinosaur from the time I lived there. Lots of bears at the dump, near-by.

    • The family who owned the motel had 2 sons, one was slightly handicapped. They built the dinosaur, and in the winter, the most incredible ice sculptures! This was around 1965 ish!

  8. I grew up between Mattice and Reesor. There was a family with handicapped sons who ran the motel in Mattice. The sons built the dinosaur and also had the most amazing ice sculptures. This is back in the 1960’s somewhere.

  9. Your town looks lovely – quiet and peaceful, hope I get to visit one day! Meanwhile, if anyone knows Bonnie Dennison, please have her email me! I miss her! Thanks,


  10. the inexpliquable pile of rock is there for a lack of management….the township should be able to pus it somewhere else…the river is suppose to be a national park…its not suppose to be there…

  11. The Dinosaur is actually on the front lawn of mattice’s hotel .. The Rex … just to clear that up 😀

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