||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.
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.
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,
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.
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