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Dec. 13, 2002

A Second Look at the Vanished Village of Klock

There is nothing left of the village of Klock, which existed for decades  sixteen km east of Mattawa on the Ottawa River.  I wrote an article on the  village a few weeks ago based on the material I had at the time.  Sine then,  I have had various people come forward with additional pieces of information  and photographs, some of which I will share today.

The village of Klock with the sawmill in the background and the Guilbeault store in the centre.  Isabelle Rainville photo.

In terms of chronology, it appears that there was a lumberman by the name of  Richard Nagel at the Klock site before R.H. Klock who had a much larger  interest arrived.  R.H.'s two sons James B. and Robert A. carried on his  work into the turn of the century when they moved on and other smaller  companies moved in.  Two of those companies were the McLachlan Bros. and the  Algonquin Lumber Company.  James Marshall Souter bought the Algonquin  operation and made cedar basket bottoms for the basket industry for many  years.  By the 1930s and 40s, very little remained except the station and  bunkhouse, with various station agents including Valda Backer and Laura  Nazarchuk.

James B.Klock was the first Reeve of Cameron Township in 1887 at he age of  thirty-one.  In 1896 he was elected the first Federal Member of Parliament  for the new district of Nipissing.  He was a conservative, and the Liberals  under Wilfred Laurier won the election, limiting Klock's effectiveness.   Dwayne Backer, son of station agent Valda Backer, who is interested in the  history of Klock, sent me a clipping from the Sudbury Star newspaper (1979)  recounting James B.'s election fight.  That clipping led me to a second  clipping courtesy of the Sudbury library about the next election, which  recorded that James B. and his people messed up on his nomination forms,  which were not completed in time, and the Liberal got in by acclamation.   James Klock is the only Klock mentioned in the 1901 Mattawa Census and he  soon disappeared from the area, living until 1927 in Preston, Ontario.

James Bell Klock, the Nipissing District's first Federal Member of  Parliament in 1896.  Joy Jenveau photo.

Streets and townships were named after MPs and MPPs in those days,. And  James's name adorned Algonquin Ave. in North Bay until the street became  known as Algonquin in honour of the Algonquin Regiment.  Klock Township near  Temagami is also named after him.

The minutes of the Mattawa Area Masonic Lodge from the 1890s where Robert A.  played a major leadership role, describe Klock.  The minutes state that  "even the greatest luxuries may be had there on the shortest notice, all but  one thing: there is no intoxicating drink at Klock's Mills, and while there  is an excellent boarding house, there is no hotel, tavern, or beer saloon."   The minutes also state that "when the limits were finished at Klock's Mills  everything, including the mill, moved to Quinze Lake Quebec, where they  carried on the same kind of operation for years.

A newspaper called the Tribune reported some interesting additional  information on Klock in 1896.  It states that "in everything that has to do  with the wealth of Mattawa, the name Klock has always been intimately  associated.  The name R.H. Klock has been identified with every movement for  the advancement of this town and indeed the whole district as far north as  civilization reaches."  The Tribune report describes the Klock limits "along  the upper Ottawa and beyond the Quinze, the latter covering three hundred  square miles.  The have an alligator and a steamer on the Quinze, and a  leased mill at Aylmer, which added six or seven million feet to their cut  this season."  The report also states that "in the near future, under the  direction of the brothers, Klock's Mills promises to become one of the most  attractive points along the river, as it is now one of the busiest and most  prosperous."  Klock's farm and buildings were described as "facing the river  and of excellent construction, the dwelling house looking more like a villa  than one of the largest lumbering businesses in the country."

The Cameron history book (1973) has a brief profile of Klock and mentions  Anthony Guilbeault's store (see photo).  His daughter Isabelle Rainville  remembers her trips there from Mattawa when she was just a child.  Mr.  Guilbeault had moved there from Klock to establish a large general store.   Isabelle's brother Romeo was an altar boy at the chapel at Klock and later  became a highly respected missionary priest.  Isabelle recalls that Romeo  used to return to Klock for meditation and reflection when in the area.

The family of Valda Backer, station agent at Klock - husband Clarence and sons Gerald, Paul and Dwayne in front  of the Klock flagstop  station in the 1940s.

The Souter Lumber Company mentioned above had a fine home on the shore of  the Ottawa.  Kathleen McMeekin, who still lives nearby, recalls a pleasant  visit to the beautiful Souter home when she was a child with her aunt who  was a music teacher and excellent pianist.  They played for the Souters and  especially for Mrs. Winnie Souter who played herself and had a beautiful  piano.

Mrs. Nazarchuk, the last station agent, raised five children for several  years at Klock.  Her daugher, Jeanine Bell, recently recalled her teenage  years there.  She went to high school in Mattawa on the train five days a  week, and came home by bus, taxi or the late train, depending on the  circumstances.  She recalls the Souter house on the river, where she and her  siblings played regularly.  She remembers that the house was later owned by  Harold Bell, the Mattawa hardware merchant, and that it burned accidentally.    Jack Bell, Harold's son, a retired school principal and Justice of the  Peace, recalls the time that he spent there as a child.  Jeanine remembers  that there was another small house at Klock with a young couple and a child  living there.  The priest used to come regularly, and numerous local people  would gather in the living room of the station for mass.  I talked to Mrs.  Real Lamothe who came from the Larente family of eleven sons and four  daughters who lived on a farm on Highway 17 and walked to Klock for church  service regularly.

Jeanine also remembers an incident where one of the men on a CPR repair crew  staying briefly in Klock showed her and her sisters a thousand dollar bill  to their amazement.  A few days later the RCMP swooped in and arrested the  gentleman for a big recent bank robbery.  This is one of the many stories  that make up the history of Klock as it existed and is now gone into the  records as another vanished Ontario village.

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