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Nov. 1, 2002

New Novel on Kiosk Opens Old Wounds

Left: Kiosk residents watching the ten-acre Staniforth mill burn in July 1973. (Nugget photo) Right: The mill's water tower was the only thing left standing after the fire.

The 10-acre Staniforth Lumber Company mill complex in the town of Kiosk where the Amable du Fond River leaves Lake Kioshkokwi, just inside the northern boundary of Algonquin park, burned to the ground on Friday the 13th, in July 1973. The new Management Plan for Algonquin Park, banning communities in the park, came out, by coincidence, the same month and prevented the re-building of the mill and led to the eventual death of the town. The Management Plan was based on five years of consultation with all concerned, leading to progressive plans to accommodate the burgeoning use of the park. There was a real fight by the citizens and the woodworkers union at Kiosk to save the town, both before and after 1973, but they were ignored. A twenty-five year review and update of the Master Plan was recently completed and included improvements in Kiosk for tourists.

Many Kiosk residents felt that they were settled for life, and resented that they had to move, lose friends and find jobs elsewhere. Many did get jobs at the new veneer mill nearby at Rutherglen, and at the Booth Company in Temiscaming managed by the Staniforth brothers. Now, almost thirty years later, some of the former residents still feel there was an injustice done, and object to the current trend towards revitalizing Kiosk for tourists when they were summarily booted out against their will. The Ontario Living Legacy is currently asking for public input on the boundaries of the new parks and conservation areas in the area between North Bay and Mattawa. The Bonfield Municipal Council has some serious concerns about the Living Legacy's impact on the people currently owning land in the area.

Now, almost thirty years later, author Richard Gould who lives near Kiosk, has written a novel built around a man who decides to take a stand like the Algonquin First Nation, and seek justice for past wrongs. Gould has written the history of Calvin Township north of Kiosk and has published a well-received novel called Red Fox Road in 1999, built around logging protests in Temagami. The new novel has a protest theme as well and is full of vivid, well-developed characters, confrontation, chases, intrigue and murder. I read the book recently and couldn't put it down.

The cover of Richard Gould's new novel set in Kiosk.

The book is available online from  the Past Forward Company Store.

My son and I have been researching the history of Kiosk for the past five years and are currently finishing a video. With this background and familiarity with Kiosk history through interviews, photographs and visits to the area, I found the book especially of interest. Others who live there or who use it as an access point to the park will find the locations and flashbacks to the actual events fascinating. Not knowing the history does not detract I am sure from a powerful story of one man's struggle, with some help from his friends, to seek justice.

The book is called Lake of Gulls and is named after Lake Kioshkokwi, the Algonquin name for the lake. Kioshkokwi, Manitou and North Tea Lakes are tied together by the Amable du Fond River. The Amable du Fond heads north to the Mattawa River out of Kioshkokwi, and all of these bodies of water are very much a part of Gould's story.

The book's main characters Ken Campbell and Pat James grew up in Kiosk, went to school there, and learned to love the bush. When reunited in the late 1990s Ken, with the help of Pat, decides to protest the previous injustice and claim some of the land back. The protest escalates and another past friend, Suzette Labelle, who is now a TV news reporter and a former teenage girlfriend of Pat, appears on the scene. Their getting to know each other again is a pleasant romantic sub-plot among the confrontations and chases.  Many former Kiosk residents living in the area join in the protest.

The politics of the protest are heightened when Francine Roussel, federal Member of Parliament and Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, gets involved and sends her assistant Armand Gingras a former Kiosk resident, to influence the events. The French and Native connections with Kiosk are well represented and played out. Much of the book is built around the actual dialogue of the characters, which makes the people become very real to the reader.

The town of Kiosk before the fire.

Gould talked at length to many of the former Kiosk residents, and their suspicions about the fire and their hurt on being moved out was very evident. This point of view has been worked into the story. The 400-page book, designed and published by Richard-he even did the cover-was printed by the University of Toronto Press and is available now. Richard will do a book signing at Coles in Northgate on Saturday November 23rd, and at Gullivers on Main Street in North Bay on Nov.30th, 1-3pm. It is available through Richard's website www.canadianpublishing.com or by contacting him at 415 Bronson Lake Road, Mattawa, P0H 1V0. 

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