We’re detouring off Highway 11 for a bit, this time onto Highway 65.

Kenabeek is a cluster of houses 20 kilometres west of Thornloe on Highway 65 in the Temiskaming Clay Belt.
Kenabeek, Ontario off Highway 11Kenabeek is very very small.

There’s not much of a town, at least on the highway itself, although I assume that there are more houses and farms as you venture off onto the area’s dirt country roads.

As for services, it’s really all about the Kenabeek General Store, which has gas, food, and an LCBO outlet. However, another site I was on stated that the only gas on Highway 65 is in Elk Lake and Matachewan. A few months ago, someone posted on this site that diesel and gas are avialable at the Kenebeek General Store, but I accidentally lost the comments when I was changing some site details. I did see pumps, but didn’t stop in when I explored the area last. There is also Twin Bear Camp Resort offers hunting, fishing, camping, cottaging, canoeing, and even dog sledding nearby
Kenabeek hosts its annual fall fair, the Kenabeek Fun Fair, the last weekend in August.Kenabeek, Ontario

I’ve been told that there is a small conservative Mennonite community, which farms in the Kenabeek area. In order to sustain the community, it has not been unheard of for young men and women to marry into the community, traveling from more established Mennonite centres such as Wellington County in Southern Ontario, and even from Pennsylvania.

I’ve only visited Kenabeek once (in fall 2008), so maybe you can help fill me in on the community. Email me to add to this page at info (at) highway11 (dot) ca.

Oh, and if you can fill me in, how do you really pronounce Kenabeek? Every time it’s come up in coversation with me, I’ve heard (and used) “Ken-ah-beek.” On the Englehart and New Liskeard radio stations, I heard it pronounced “Ken-ah-beck.” If you know, let me know.

35 thoughts on “Kenabeek

  1. MBorton February 2 2024 – I never lived there but I remember visiting relatives there every summer as a child. Late 50’s or early 60’s. I was very young. My mother’s sister and her husband had a lodge. Owners were Maria & Orient Venne. Rented cabins and ran the general store I think. Memories are a little vague. Such a long time ago! Don’t know if anyone remembers or even if still exists?

  2. Matachewan and this entire area is nothing but a shit hole winters suck summer finally arrives and you’re eaten alive by the bugs. I moved to the area because of family I can’t wait to move back to a normal place nothing but drunks and crack heads for the younger generation too bad for the seniors who grew up around here when they were booming towns and life. Matachewan should be returned to its original owners. It’s cursed because of who took it away.

  3. My wife’s family is from kenabeek .we have been back a few times . Her mom grew up their. The great grand mother and daughter you mention are my wife’s great grandmother and great great grand mother. They lived in that house and owned a 50 acre farm. My mother in law is the grand daughter of ruth.

  4. Grew up in kenabeek, and yes its ken-a-beck. We lived down the road by the General Store, (right hand road heading towards Elk-Lake about a 1/4 mile in, could see the “road not maintained” sign from looking up the road from the driveway.
    Grew up on a section of Grandfather’s land (Harry James/James Henry Skinner) “farm.”
    The story goes Aunt Sarah Alberta (nee. Skinner) moved to Canada after working in the royal kitchen saving and scraping enough to move to Canada and make a life in the new world.
    After some time working in canada she sent for her baby brother, who became my grandfather. He worked in the mines in Kirkland Lake for many years before taking a wife and buying property in kenabeek. Here he started a logging business.
    He would cut and gather logs to be transported to the Railway station (no longer present, although through a short walk down one of the old trails you can still find the frame for the old train bridge) not far from the general store.
    Retiring from logging, he gathered and sold firewood, as well as doing small engine repair work from the homestead and his garage out back.
    Along this strip of Sand Ridge Road many of his children (my uncles, aunts and parents) built homes and raised children. This area became known (by an inside joke) as “Skinnerland”, “Skinnerbeek”, or “The Skinner Farm.”
    Along the highway as well as down the side-roads, there are many farms, and several scattered humble homes. General Store which houses all the basic ammenities, e.g. LCBO, Beer Store, Post Office, Small , and recently a fast food/restaurant take out station.
    Down “pump house road” lives a community of menonnites, and along the road between are a Community Center, which houses Holiday and reunion dances as well as a church and thrift shop in the basement. As well as a sawmill.
    Heading further towards Elk Lake sits a baseball field (not used in decades) as well as a FireStation (which took fire burning down the new fire truck, however leaving the old aging fire truck nearly unscathed.)
    While kenabeek is viewed as a town due to the influence it had on the north in its early days, after the Great Fire, as well as reduced business and work in kenabeek, numbers dwindled over the years/decades, and can now be viewed as nothing more than a village with a somewhat close community of likeminded individuals. (farmers and folks too stubborn to move.)

    • Did you know the Ruttan’s they lived north of the general store my grand parents lived in the train station

  5. my sister and her partner perished in their house fire on May 8, 2018 nothing has been published in any papers other than a short blurb to Crime Stoppers in the speaker following the fire WE KNOW NOTHING

  6. I have pictures some were of kenabeek, we have bunch of family in that road and could tell lots of story’s email me maybe I can tell u more

  7. My hubby has a bunch of family members in Kenabeek and they all still live there and hubby used to live there when he was young (skinner)

    • My name is Linda Skinner who is the Skinner from Kenabeek I’ve lost touch with all family up that way but I’m traveling up that way this summer in August. I’m also going to visit Matachewan for a few days. I lived on a farm the Skinner’s farm Thomas and Mary Skinner
      We walked to school all winter below zero weather. This site certainly brings back memories. I’m sure there are skinners still living in the area. My sister was Sarah Alberta. Great site.

  8. Well, my grandfather (John Smith) lived at the top of the sand-hill just East of Kenabeek on 65, for most of his life.

    I have been summering there now since about 1946. The things I might be able to add here are …
    – its “Ken-a-beck”!! never it otherwise from anyone there
    – as to “a group of houses” — not really, it was a town because the general store had a post-office.
    – general store, Miss-Love’s house (years ago, a missionary who tended the locals for many years)
    – a small house behind the store, most recently owned by Henry Bynch and family (until a few years ago)
    – a volunteer fire station
    Everything else was a 160 or 80 acre farm with a farm house, a few perhaps with a house for a parent or a grown grown child. I think its about the smallest town I have ever run across. I wouldn’t miss going there for a few weeks in the summer nor would my 3 grown children.

  9. Well, my grandfather (John Smith) lived at the top of the sand-hill just East of Kenabeek on 65, for most of his life.

    I have been summering there now since about 1946. The things I might be able to add here are …
    – its “Ken-a-beck”!! never it other from anyone there
    – as to “a group of houses” — not really, it was a town because the general store had a post-office.
    – general store, Miss-Love’s house (year ago, a missionary who tended the locals for many years)
    – a small house behind the store, most recently owned by Henry Bynch and family (until a few years ago)
    – a volunteer fire station
    Everything else was a 160 or 80 acre farm with a farm house, a few perhaps with a house for a parent or a grown grown child. I think its about the smallest town I have ever run across. I wouldn’t miss going there for a few weeks in the summer nor would my 3 grown children.

  10. I was born on my Grandmother’s [Peever] farm about 2 miles north of the Kenabeek General store–” the Shellies”[sp] used to own it before Tobins– 70 years ago and spent many summers on the farm. My paternal grandfather was section foreman of the ONR and we used to go visit them using the hand car to go up the tracks to the section house where they lived near the trestle bridge which I remember crossing with trepidation as a kid I remember the black smoke and loud train whistle from the old train engines–I expect they were coal driven trains. Many of my kin are buried at the lovely Rosegrove Cemetery in Henwood township south of Kenabeck on hwy 65

    • just some memories, i own the old Peever property , it bordered our original farm to the south. I was young, when they owned the farm, I used to take wagon rides with Mr Peever (Ralph) when he visited grandfather at our farm. In later years after they left, we used to explore the abandoned house. We have been clearing the property for the last few years, mostly all workable now.

  11. I grew up knowing it as
    Ken-a-beck, having lived there from 2 years of age to 24.
    I am proud of this community. My grandfather , who also lived in
    Kenabeek always pronounced it as

    Different generations have their unique way of saying
    Kenabeek, although
    Ken-uh-beck sounds like
    Bob and
    Doug Mackenzie’s version of it.

    Don’t get me wrong, their show was really good, but they never lived there either.

    • Hello Rob, just read your post on the fire department. The fire department was started in 1978, as a portable pump team with the equipment supplied and owned by Northern Development and Mines Ministry. in 1986 a rapid attack pumper was added by the OFM . the fire department covers 2 full townships and part of 3 others, it is an unincorporated area and is under the OFM northern fire protection plan, strictly volunteer with no renumeration whatsoever, the department must rely on fundraising and donations to keep running as the community is an unorganized area which means no council to supply funding, hope this helps a little bit on your research

      • Hi Jean-Louis,

        Thank you so much for replying to my request. Unfortunately I wasn’t given any notice of the reply, hence the delay in responding. The information you have supplied is very much appreciated and gives a little more colour to the department. I will update my website with this data sometimes this week.

        Happy New Year and thanks again

        • My grandfather was a member of the volunteer fire department for many years. I remember often being told he was the “best man on the roof” when they were fighting a house fire. He worked with them from my grandparent’s early years in Kenabeek, until he was forced to “retire” due to age/safety issues. My grandparents (Mike and Lee Prisner) lived in the area, on one of the original 160 acre plots, from about 1980 until the early 2000’s. My uncle Kurt lived down the road from them.

  12. My friend is trying to find his friend. He knows that friend lives in Kenabeek, Ont Friends name is Al or Albert Gerber. I thought that since Kenabeek is a small town that someone may know Mr. Gerber. My friend has lost Mr. Gerber’s phone nbr. Thanks for any help

  13. Ah Kenabeek!! (definitely Ken-a-beck) Four generations of my family have made that beautiful little community their home…my great grandparents (Eddie & Sarah Alberta), Faye & Bill Faulkner (my grandparents), Bill & Donna Faulkner (my parents) & my brother Kieth & I. Personally, I moved south for work opportunities but I miss that area greatly. When I was growing up, Lorne Ried owned the general store. My memories include – encounters with moose, bears, wolves & many other critters, blueberry picking, amazing fishing (compared to the sad offerings of these southern lakes), family gatherings (complete with guitar playing & bon fires) & chuckling at the southerners who showed up in June with snowmobiles asking “Where’s all the snow?”. Hahaha! The dog sledding mentioned above was/is offered by my cousins Ralph & Tammy Robertson, I believe. 🙂 Now that I’ve stumbled upon this site, I feel a strong urge to return home for a visit.

  14. My grandmother was from McCool. She always told me it was near Kenabeek. Does anyone know know if McCool is a part of what we call Kenabeek today? I’ve never been able to get anymore info on McCool.

  15. I have lived in kenabeek for 3 years now, we came from northern bc, telkwa in fact and the two towns are similar, my whole family loves it here, great people and place

    • Hi, can you tell me anything about the local general store in town that is for sale? We live in Northern Ontario and would like to get back into a small business like this. We owned one several years ago in Thunder Bay. Does it seem to be a viable business.
      Dec, 21, 2014 Thanks

  16. As if there is a site for this little village. My grandparents, Peter and Lily Beneke farmed there since I was a young child. My brother Paul spent every summer up there helping them and hanging out with Aunts and Uncles, and the neighbors down the road. Me, I was not that venturesome. Was a little spooked by stories of the wildlife. And of course, little girls weren’t to ride on the tractor. Thank God for the Highway Book Shop in Cobalt where my poor Dad would sink oodles of money into books for me to read while we were visiting. Still, the people were and still are the most friendly, welcoming bunch. I have had occasion to hit the old schoolhouse for anniversaries and funeral luncheons. I remember fondly the Baxters who own the Kenabeek store. My Great Grandma Robertson and her daughter Ruth lived in the little green house beside the school house. It’s good to go back and visit. It’s like time has stood still.

  17. My wife and I have made Kenabeek our part time home for 6 weeks a year for the past 7 years on our 160-acre property with a cabin. We have fallen in love with the area and our hearts ache when we are not there. The remoteness of our cottage and the friendly people that live on our road have made it wonderful place to be. We visit the General Store / gas station / LCBO with post office now in an outside building beside the store several times a week for supplies. We got to know the previous and the new owners very well and found it a pleasure to hear the stories of the area. We have yet to see a moose on the property, only signs of their passing on the trails. Encounters with bear, lynx, porcupine, grouse, raccoon, ground hogs, wolf, beaver and many types of birds have shown themselves to use for our viewing pleasure. We hope to see moose when we make Kenabeek our permanent home in several years.

    Janice and Tony

  18. My ( parents john and Jean Tobin} once owned the General Store and Post office there,My Grand parents before them . Mail came in with two spellings but the correct way is Ken ah beck and derived fro m Hiawatha.reffering to a crooked snake or dragon like creature .Loved the people from this village who were always engaging and interesting ,When I lived there there were several teams of horses and a black smith (Joe King)

  19. I too am from Kenabeek. I know Don Byerlay. Hi Don. Haven\’t seen you since about 1985. Kenabeek is in fact pronounced: Kenuhbeck, or Kennabeck. It\’s very strange to see that someone who is not local would have a site about this remote place. I liked it so-so as a kid, but then I was glad to get out of there. It’s very hard to meet people in Kenabeek because there is no central point of contact.

  20. I,just ran across this brief blog on Kenabeek,interesting to see what outsiders can see from a small visit. I was raised here and still run my farm there.From your visit Kenabeek looks small , it actually covers a stretch of road far beyond and past the signage,6 maybe more townships,lining the highway,north and south.

    However you pronounce the spelling, people know where it is,it is actually on the map, and according to the history, the name was apointed by a railroad worker, which was reading the book of Hiawatha, during the building of the rail line in the early 1900,s.This comunity holds deep roots for many.

  21. I grew up in kenakeek and i loved it, however i moved to alta in 2001 now but im hoping to go back this summer of 2010, and as for how its said, its is most definatley “Ken-uh-beck” someone should correct the radio stations. lol

  22. It is pronounced Ken-a-beck! Born and raised there and having a reunion this summer, will write more to you when I can!

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