March 2012

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MARCH 29, 2012

Cold snap stops ice-out progress

Since March 26, temperatures have barely topped freezing during the day and stayed below at night, bringing the thaw to a near halt.

Clouds have obstructed the satellite view.

The Temagami First Nation's airboat is running steady and conditions are dangerous for snowmobiles.

MARCH 27, 2012

Break-up record: 1946

Elders on Bear Island say the earliest break-up was just after the end of the Second World War in early April.

The archives of the Temiskaming Speaker confirm how accurate their cultural memory is. It reports Lake Timiskaming's record-setting break-up in 1946 on April 9.

Temagami generally goes within a day or two of Timiskaming.

   BACKGROUND:    Break-up dates 

MARCH 27, 2012

Lake-side photos:  Lake Temagami

St. Germains at Camp Wabikon on Temagami Island report the sounds of jet fighters coming off the ice.

   PHOTOS:    March 26

MARCH 22, 2012

Break-up: open water on big lakes

Big changes: large sections of the big lakes, except Temagami, have opened.

   SATELLITE IMAGE:    March 26


Photo: T&NO train on Lake Temagami, 1930s

T&NO passenger train steaming out of T-Station on Lake Temagami, 1930s.

MARCH 26, 2012

Ontario selling ON railway

The railway that was the catalyst for the settlement and development of Temagami and northeastern Ontario, will be sold by Ontario.

Ontario is budget cutting and the railway loses money. The passenger train service will be replaced by buses, but the fate of the rest of the operation is unknown.

The railroad began service to Temagami in the summer of 1904, and was the lifeline to the north. It kicked off the discovery of silver in Cobalt that fueled the gold discoveries in Timmins, Noranda and Kirkland Lake.

Ontario Northland Rail was then called the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario (T&NO). It was granted the land on which the village now stands and sold off lots for the next 50 years.

In 1944, it bought the primary boatline operating on the lake, when the boatlines were essential, and constructed a terminal. But by the mid-1950s business began to decline.

It ran the boats until 1966 after years of losing money. They were sold but the new owners eventually shut down the services altogether.

 EXTERNAL LINK:    Nugget story

                            Toronto Star story

MARCH 23, 2012

Canoe route rescued from clearcuts

West Willow Island Creek canoe route will escape the maws of the forest industry after years of legwork by Friends of Temagami.

The route was slated to be flattened, down to the water of the creek and lakes along it, during the current Timiskaming Forest Management Plan operations.

When the plan was finalized last fall, MNR gave FOT a year to obtain a work permit that would trigger its recognition. This would provide buffers from the clearcuts: a minimum of 20-metres on the portages and 30 metres along shores and creek banks.

In January, FOT applied for the work permit. MNR announced approval.

The route is located between Anvil and Skull lakes, and runs parallel and to the west of the main Willow Island Creek route.

It is also an ancient nastawgan, but MNR would not protect it for its aboriginal heritage.

"A canoe route is an awful damn hard thing to protect these days," says Alex Broadbent of FOT.

This is the first in an FOT campaign to protect 14 unrecognized routes from the forest industry.

It is also part of a larger strategy. "We are reasserting our presence in the Timiskaming Forest," says Bob Olajos. "They've been getting away with a lot without oversight. We're back."

   RELATED STORY:    FOT expands logging oversight  

MARCH 22, 2012

Aerial photos: wilderness park

Helicopter pilot Andy Stevens' snaps shots during flyover of Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Wilderness Park.

   PHOTOS:    March 22

MARCH 22, 2012

Aerial photos: Sharp Rock, Sturgeon River

Helicopter pilot Andy Stevens' great shots of Sharp Rock Inlet and Sturgeon River.

   PHOTOS:    March 21

MARCH 21, 2012

Line of ice-free lakes moves north

The line of ice-free lakes across southern Ontario, setting records on the way, melts north toward Lake Nipissing.

   SATELLITE IMAGE:    March 21

MARCH 20, 2012

Photos: winter treks to Ishpatina

Even in winter the rooftop of Ontario, Ishpatina, beckons the intrepid. Photos from three expeditions from Lure of the North in Sudbury.

   PHOTOS:    Winter treks 2011-12

MARCH 19, 2012

Break-up watch begins

We have never started break-up watch so early. Already a record is set.

With the snow gone and the leaves still off the trees, this map neatly reveals Temagami's coniferous forest. Once a massive ecosystem, it is now a dwindling remnant as the forest industry's clearcuts consume it.

   SATELLITE IMAGE:    March 19

MARCH 18, 2012

Where is the regional boundary?

There are no convenient landmarks or watersheds to neatly enclose the Temagami region. So the boundary is lines drawn across the forest. And some of those lines have changed over time.

To add to the complexity, there is more than one boundary to choose from. Temagami is a state of mind that varies with your perspective. The First Nation, backcountry travellers, recreationists, bureaucrats and municipal residents all have their own.

Mayor John Hodgson of the Municipality of Temagami should, through his office and as his duty, know these lines. He should know what Temagami is, or isn't. 

But a recent letter to the editor of Timmins Today on the Wolf Lake issue makes obvious his ignorance, the lack of knowledge ignorance. He signed the letter as mayor of Temagami so he is speaking for council and the municipality.

Either they do not know where Wolf Lake is or they do not know Temagami's boundaries. If the latter is true, that would be cultural and historical shallowness. Inexcusable.

So here are four maps. Call them Hodgson's 101.

   MAPS:    Four angles on Temagami region 


MARCH 16, 2012

Birch-bark canoe building on Bear Island this summer

Some birch-bark canoe builders intend bring the skill of birch-bark canoe construction back to the Temagami First Nation this summer.

 EXTERNAL LINK:    Canoe building dream


MARCH 13, 2012 10:07 am

Ontario backpedals on Wolf Lake, but no mining ban

After a massive public outcry, Ontario backtracks on plans to halt protection for the Wolf Lake old-growth forest.

The public protest, which peaked going into the Christmas holidays, forced Ontario to back off its plan to remove all obstacles to mining within the ancient forest, thereby reneging on a 13-year commitment to create a park.

Mining leases cover Wolf Lake and predate the commitment to a park. No commercial showings of minerals have been found after decades of prospecting on the 1,200-hectare site.

Protection is what the Minister of Natural Resources calls his decision, however, mining and mineral exploration is still permitted.

"We are taking a balanced approach to support the economic development of the North while protecting treasures like the Wolf Lake Forest Reserve," says Michael Gravelle, Minister of Natural Resources.

When a cabinet member calls mining in endangered red pine old-growth forest to be balanced, then something is unbalanced.

“We are pleased to see that Ontario is responding to the thousands of people who have spoken out for the protection of Wolf Lake,” says David Sone of Earthroots, speaking on behalf of the Wolf Lake Coalition.

“Now it is time to finish the job of permanently protecting Wolf Lake by including this unique forest as part of the Chiniguchi Waterway Park."

The Wolf Lake Coalition is not done.

   EXTERNAL LINK:   Ontario's announcement

                            Ontario's press release

                            Wolf Lake Coalition's press release

 BACKGROUND: Sudbury Star: front page story

Coalition forms as opposition spreads

Toronto Star: Ontario breaks pledge

   Followup Dec 13: Not a done deal

Sudbury calls for protection – again

Camps: business will suffer

Ex-mayor Sturgeon Falls: bad surprise

Minister overwhelmed? Target: premier

Old growth threatened at Wolf Lake

Video: Protect Wolf Lake



Photo: Cover of Hap Wilson's Temagami: A Wilderness Paradise

MARCH 10, 2012

Temagami Canoe Routes newest edition

No longer called Temagami Canoe Routes, though it should be, Hap Wilson has issued a new edition — is that four now? — of the bible.

This is the same book as the previous large-format edition, but with a new cover, the addition of a map of the route through Lorrain Lake, and a new name, Temagami: A Wilderness Paradise.

Two drawbacks: the paper quality has been downgraded and the route-index map remains buried on page 42, rather than being upfront and handy.

It has been a perennial seller for a reason. That hasn't changed.




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