Nakina / Aroland

North of Geraldton you’ll find two towns on opposite ends of Highway 548 – Nakina, and Aroland.

Nakina is village of approximately 500 people on Highway 584. The village is situated approximately 60 kilometres north of Geraldton – making Nakina one of Ontario’s more remote towns on the road network.

Nakina highway ending, Ontario

At the end of one of the most northerly stretches of road in Ontario are Nakina and Aroland

With 500 people today, Nakina is essentially the remnants of an old railway town. The town was founded in 1913 due to the junction of the railway – after Nakina the rail lines branch southwards towards Toronto or east towards Quebec. This made Nakina an ideal spot for a railway centre. In its heyday, Nakina has a fully functioning roundhouse, with fuel, servicing, and train-turning facilities.

The 1940s saw Nakina get a radar base. Built in World War Two, the base was designed to protect the important locks between Lakes Huron and Superior at Sault Ste. Marie. Like many of Canada’s old radar bases, it was operated by the United States, but dismantled soon after the Second World War.

Nakina, Ontairo way up north a fair bit off Highway 11

Nakina, harkening back to the old days of northern Ontario railway towns (Photo: User P199 at Wiki Commons.)

Nakina hit a boom in the 1970s when, in addition to its railway functions, the town was home to a large paper mill. This boosted the population to nearly double what it is today. Currently, however, minerals exploration and tourism are the largest industries today. Nakina is a starting point for many northern fly-in lodges. You can fly to lakes such as Makokibatan, part of the Albany River system. Fish for walleye, northern pike as well as brook trout.With both the pulp and railway industries definitely on the wane, it may be hard for Nakina to stem out-migration and beat the odds of being such a remote, northern town.

Train station in Nakina, Ontario Highway 11 Homepage

Nakina’s train station

Nakina advertizes along Highway 11 with its mascot, the “Nakina Mosquita”… I wish I had taken a photo of one of those signs. Thanks to Keith for sending in the photos of the rail station and of the end of Highway 584.

Aroland is an Oji-Cree First Nations town about 20 kilometres northwest of Nakina off Highway 584 on Highway 643. Approximately 300 people live in the community.

The surrounding area was a traditional camping ground in the late 18th and early 19th centuries due to good hunting, fishing and trapping. The Hudson Bay Company set up a trading post at nearby Kawpaskagami Lake in the early 1900s. The railway expanded to the area in 1911. According to the Chiefs of Ontario website, the Arrow Land and Logging Company, which operated in the area from 1933 to 1941, employed many Band members and contributed to the establishment of a permanent community.

The community is made up of members from many First Nations across the north, including former members from Long Lake, Fort Hope, Marten Falls, and Fort William Bands. The Aroland settlement is within the boundaries of the Robinson-Superior Treaty of 1850 and the James Bay Treaty of 1905 (known across the north as Treaty 9.)

117 thoughts on “Nakina / Aroland

  1. Hello all, I stumbled across this website during my research. I plan to visit Nakina in the future for a book I am working on.

    I’m interested in speaking with locals who know a bit about the history of the area, specifically north of Greenstone.

    There was a disappearance of a young man in that area (Sandor Lingman in 1960) and unfortunately, there is no information about this incident. He was supposedly working for KRNO mines at the time, but I cannot confirm that.

    My book aims to raise awareness and remind people of the names of those who were lost in the Ontario bush.

    If anyone has any information, I would love to hear from you.

    • I lived in Nakina in 1976/77 working for CN. Lived at the Corman family home. Met many wonderful people in that little town. All very kind to me. Enjoyed lots of fishing and hunting. Cut ice in winter with Mike Kibsey and packed it away for summer fishing. The North was a wonderful learning experience for me having come up from southern Ontario to hire on CN which turned out to be a great career.

  2. My family move to Nakina in August 73 when my parents bought L & A restaurant from the Mathews and named it Nancy’s restaurant after my little sister. The whole family work there with many wonderful people. I meet my husband a railroad man there him being the customer and I the waitress been 30 ago

  3. Now human eye all of our surroundings is usually a major problem. The modern day entire world society is unquestionably mounting therefore quickly the truth that group is rather populated. We’re also depleting all of our all-natural options additionally together polluting our natural environment through the use of dangerous toxic compounds. If maybe the majority of people keep on on to start this, each day residing we know of couldn’t are living.

  4. Hi Brian – can you confirm there is a reunion in August 2018. I was raised in Nakina (10years) my father was the Game Warden thru the 1950s. Wife and I camped out at Twin Lakes in 2015 – first time back. I would like to attend a reunion.

    • Hello Bill, I see this post was about a year ago. My family and I are looking to travel from Toronto to Aroland this coming October for moose opening. We are having a difficult time finding logging road maps of this area. Would it be in your kind heat to direct us to where we may find somthing online? Any info would be Appreciated. Thanks in advance

      • sorry for the delay I’m not on here very often. I don’t know of any on line info other then Google Earth. I use Topographical maps for accuracy. Good luck

      • This is way late, but for maps of roads (possible roads sometimes) go to the Ontario MNRF e-FMP website and download the maps for the appropriate Forest Management Unit (Ogoki and maybe Kenogami.) These would be your best bet for road maps. Warning – not all roads listed on the map are still roads.

      • Hello Willie Soderman, Nakina”s 95th August 3rd to 6th 2018. The town backhoe dug up a couple of artifacts at Soderman’s farm last year. They were a Singletree (used with horses to pull wagons ect. and a skidding grapple (used to skid trees). We have them at the museum and I will send you photos.
        Sincerely Brian Downey

        • Hello Brian Downey, Happened across this looking for photos of Nakina. Don’t know if you remember us but Wolfgang used to fly out of Nakina – first for Superior and then Austin Airways. We were there in 71 transferred to Geraldton in 73. When White River bought Austin we moved on. We had kept in touch with you Mum and Dad – they visited with us in Calgary in the mid 90s. We were in Nakina in Sept 2013. The mosquitos and black flies were still plentyful , there was zero activity in the town and ” Peterson’s Little House ” was gone …cheers take care Gabi and Wolf Becker

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