April 2009

Photographer: Alex MacLean

Photo of the Aubrey Cosens VC at Keewaydin Camp in 1956

When the boat lines were the lifelines

Until 1960, the boat lines plied Lake Temagami from the docks in town, transporting people, cargo and the mail. They maintained daily schedules to lodges, youth camps and the Hudson's Bay Post on Bear Island. If you were a cottager you could take a run to any of the regular stops or get dropped off at your dock, if it could handle a large boat.

The Aubrey Cosens (above), flagship of the fleet in 1956, is unloading campers at the start of the season at Keewaydin Camp. The boys are still wearing suits and ties. You could buy a train-and-boat ticket to your island stop from New York, Boston, Montreal or a host of other cities. 

Cottagers, often called islanders, would make daily sojourns to the post office at the nearest lodge or camp to pick up mail or supplies. The arrival of the boat, or steamer before WWII, was a social event. As passengers flocked to the mooring-side rail to watch or chat, the Aubrey would lean with them.

Alex MacLean of Haileybury, widely regarded as the dean of northern Ontario photographers, loved Temagami. Many of his photos survive as postcards that chronicle the golden tourism age from 1910 until his death in 1959.

Steamers on Lake Temagami

Aubrey Cosens

Post office on an island

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