[Home page] [Who is Past Forward ] [Contact Us] [Publications]

Past Forward is now on Facebook "LIKE" us to keep in touch


April 28, 2000

South Himsworth Township has rich history

Photo from South Himsworth’s 1990 Centennial History Book: The People of South Himsworth shows the Bingham and Dey Lumber Yard.

*When this article appeared the municipalities of Trout Creek, South Himsworth and Powassan where autonomous but have been now amalgamated under the name Powassan.

South Himsworth Township (now with 617 households) was surveyed in 1876 as a part of Himsworth Township and became South Himsworth in 1890. 

This Township, like many others, was named by the provincial government for people, usually politicians, who served the province well.  In this case it was W.A. Himsworth, a lawyer and long standing provincial civil servant at the time, who got the nod. 

Two and a half percent of South Himsworth is taken up by the two municipalities of Powassan and Trout Creek.

Excellent overview

South Himsworth’s 1990 Centennial History Book: The People of South Himsworth, provides an excellent overview of the Township’s first hundred years with an emphasis on the early years. 

The book profiles the settlement patterns and the growth of business along with profiles of early families.  It also provides a sense of what life was like in those days throughout the north.  Any library with a local history section would be well served by a copy of the book, if they don’t already have one, and copies are still available at the Township office (705 724-2740). *The extra copies of the South Himsworth History Book were sold to the Powassan Historical Society when Powassan, South Himsworth & Trout Creek amalgamated. The books are now $20 & can be purchased by contacting Gladys Piper in Powassan at 705-724-2206

Logging and some settlement took place prior to the establishment of the township in 1890, especially after the passing of the railway through the area in the mid-1880s.  Settlers came in from the Nipissing Colonization Road and up the road beside the South River from Lake Nipissing. 

By the turn of the century most of the land had been granted to a wide variety of immigrants from around the world.  Powassan (1905) and Trout Creek (1912) became centres of economic and social activity. 

Highway 11 brought better transportation, more people and improved business opportunities when it went through in the early 1930s. People receiving land grants were required to clear 15 acres and build a small home within five years to maintain their property.  Many chose to stay close to the South River, the Trout Creek or the Genesee Creek because of the water and the roads left along their banks by loggers transporting their logs. 

One small group of settlers gathered in the south-west corner of the township on the road from Commanda.  It was known as the Barrett settlement after one of the key families there. 

It became a temporary stopping place and had a post office, school and church.  Many of the well-known families such as the Corkerys, Weilers, Hummels, Geislers and Conrads settled there.  As nearby Trout Creek developed the settlement faded. 

As the farms began to have produce, logs and tanbark to sell to supprt their expanding families, commerce began to develop in the township. 

The Corkerys, for example, set  up a sawmill on the South River at a point that is still known as “the Corkery chute.” 

Water power was used to make shingles and to run a grist mill to make flour.  This chute, like several others on the South River, has now been tapped for hydro electric power. 

Henry Montieth established a successful sawmill on the Genesee Creek in the south-east corner of the township, purchasing many of his logs from nearby Chisholm Township. 

Bingham and Dey

At the original site of Powassan on the South River, Bingham and Dey built a large lumber mill and shipped their lumber down the South River and across Lake Nipissing to the Canadian Pacific Railway. 

The later flooding of the valley at this location for an Ontario Hydro dam and power plant forced several families to relocate.  The area is still referred to as the “Bingham Chute.”

A perusal of The Centennial History Book provides many insights into those pioneer days.  Not only were there large families but there were numerous marriages among these families, most of which worked out well and provided many offspring. 

One remarkable example is the marriage of four Kunkel brothers to four sisters from the Rick (Rich) family.  Kathleen (Kunkel) Stockhill, one of the children of Joe Kunkel and Helena Rick, gave me a copy of a 1950 Toronto Telegram featuring a story of these marriages which at the time had produced 63 grandchildren and 41 great-grandchildren.  It would be interesting 50 years later to look at that family tree.

Important roles

The Centennial History Book also shows how life in South Himsworth fused with life in Trout Creek and Powassan.  For example, the roster of Reeves shows that Milton Carr and Gilbert Trussler who played such an important role in Trout Creek were Reeves in South Himsworth.  Similarly, W. F. Clark and W.J. Trenouth from Powassan were Reeves in South Himsworth on other occasions. 

It appears that the current amalgamation talks among Powassan, Trout Creek and South Himsworth will create a new municipality on January 1, 2001. 

If the friendly relations and marriages of the past are any indication, this “marriage” should be a happy and productive one, even though it appears to be a bit of a shotgun wedding.
Photo from South Himsworth’s 1990 Centenial History Book: The People of South Himsworth shows the mill gang at the lumber yard.

Heritage Perspective Home Page


Past Forward Heritage Limited: 

330 Sumach St. #41, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5A 3K7   Tel. (416)-925-8412


Copyright © Past Forward Heritage Limited