Long Lake

Situated at the choppy headwaters of Long Lake, Long Lake First Nation is just across the bridge from Longlac.

The first thing you notice is the old church.  Sitting majestically on a peninsula that juts into the water, the church looks like the subject of horror movies and scary stories.  You can see that the roof is falling in.  Some windows are missing and the church needs repair.  It’s old but has lots of character, and looks great sitting against the water.  It looks perfect for movies or random exploring, however access from Highway 11 is blocked by a large no trespassing sign.

Long Lake church on Highway 11

The old church at the tip of Long Lake

The town is surrounded by some marsh land to the east.  The Long Lake First Nation General Store offered gas and snacks.  I didn’t go into town, however it seemed that there were about 50 homes and other buildings.

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 highway11.ca

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.)

Lake Helen

A town of about 250 people, Lake Helen is home to the Red Rock First Nation, which hosts its annual traditional gathering from July 14 through to the 16th.
Lake Helen

Lake Helen has a nice beach and some beautiful views out onto the local lake, which is part of Lake Nipigon Provincial Park.

The town is also home to St. Sylvesters Roman Catholic Church.  Built in 1877, the Jesuit mission is clearly historic and is marked by an on-site plaque, and some traditional scared ground on the other side of Highway 11.

Seine River Village

Seine River Village is a small First Nations community but I haven’t been able to find much on it.  Internet searches only revealed weather information and some random results about Parisian history.

Seine River Village is a fairly isolated spot between Fort Frances and Atikokan on Highway 11.  When you look at the map there doesn’t seem to be much around the town.  So I’m pretty stuck for photos.  Hence the photos here, including the one of a bridge about 10 kilometres east of Seine River Village, sent in by Keith.

Seine River Village, highway11.ca, Ontario Highway 11

And then I found this photo of Seine River Village in the gallery of Wiki Commons user P199.

Ontario Highway 11, highway11.ca, Seine River Village.

This is the best I have for photos: a small bridge 10 km east of Seine River Village. (Photo: Keith)