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Settlements Along the Nipissing Colonization Road



Nipissing Road Alsace Commanda Rye

A map of the old Nipissing Road, with former and current settlements marked with yellow dots. The green highlights are approximations of the coverage of airphotos from the late 1920s copied with kind permission of the National Airphoto Library in Ottawa. Click on the highlighted areas to see the airphoto or here for my interpretations of them.

Growing up in Parry Sound District I often had the pleasure of being regailed with tales of ghost towns along the old Nipissing Road, a settlement road pushed through 120 km of bush from Rosseau to Nipissing Village in the 1870s. Over the years my love of mountain biking and historical geography have brought me to every settlement along the road. The road is a wonderful ride, now part of the Trans-Canada trail system, but the so-called "ghost towns" were a bit of a disappointment. Recently historical plaques have gone up to try to demystify the early settlements for tourists, but since the physical remains of some of the places consist of little more than bush covered foundations and graveyards there was no way to get a real sense of where the town was or what it looked like.

Then I got an idea after taking a course in remote sensing in university: since the National Airphoto Library in Ottawa purported to have airphotos of most of settled Canada dating back to the 1920s, wouldn't they contain evidence of what these settlements looked like before time was able to erase them completely?

In many cases there was not much to these "towns" even in the 1920s, suggesting they were little more than shanties in the 1870s that happened to last a decade or two, like the semi-permanent treeplanting camps I've lived in that disappear from the landscape completely when the work runs out. Sometimes, however, there is more evidence to be gleaned from careful examination of airphotos.

CLICK ON HIGHLIGHTED PORTIONS OF MAP TO SEE AIR PHOTOS


**NOTE: The detail of the pictures is quite good, but necessitates large file sizes. Some users will experience lengthy load times. Also, most browsers offer only two scales to view the pictures (zoomed in, and zoomed out). For best results I advise you to download the pictures and use another program to view them closely (the default Windows Picture and Fax Viewer works well).
CLICK HERE FOR MY INTERPRETATION OF THE AIR PHOTOGRAPHS

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