Marten River Lodge History

Marten River Lodge dates back to 1925

The history of this camp dates back to 1925, with the erection of cabin number six, the dining room and the main lodge. At that time the entrance road (now our driveway) and the old piers, still standing in the river, were part of the main highway north (Old Fergusson Highway) from North Bay to the rich mining fields of Cobalt, Kirkland Lake and Timmins.

spruce grouse marten river ontario
ontario bird huntingThe gravel road leaving North Bay was cut through a remote area with nothing but bush for the first eighty miles up to Latchford. It was decided that a half way station should be built at Marten River for construction purposes. In 1925 the present cabin number 6, dining room and lodge were built as office, eating and sleeping quarters for personnel of the Department of Northern Development (later named Department of Lands and Forests) which supervised the road construction.
Traffic, on leaving North Bay, passed through a gate and each driver’s name and vehicle license number phoned ahead to Latchford, a town about 40 miles north of the camp. Vehicles were then checked for gas, oil, spare tires, etc. and drivers allowed to take their chances on being able to complete the first forty miles to Marten River. Very few were able to complete the trip non-stop and they usually arrived in groups of three to five machines. Latchford then phoned North Bay giving clearance as each machine checked in. each trip could take anywhere from five hours to five days depending on the road, weather and dexterity of the driver. It was common to take the ditch two or three times in this stretch and uncommon to complete the trip non-stop.
As the fishing at Marten River became well known, the Department decided to build some 15 tent bases and tables for the public in the area behind where our fueling station is now. This then was the beginning of the Marten River tourist area.
In 1928 as construction progressed north, the cookery (dining room) and bunkhouse (lodge) were abandoned and cabin number six remained as a telephone exchange between Wicksteed Lake, Field and North Bay.
view from the air temagamiThe camp was reopened on May 26, 1933 by George and Audrey Beach as the first licensed tourist camp in the Temagami region.
Of such things is history made, and small things still remain to link us with the past. The old harness maker’s vice at the corner of the dining room and the marvellous adze and axe work which can be seen in many of the original buildings; also the bridge piers in the river and the remains of the road – the size of which overwhelms those that stop and consider its vastness.
The Lodge, over time, has been part of the lives of several owners, each adding their mark to this historical place. Each proprietor enhancing the infrastructure, making it better than it was before – though never losing the charm and beauty of its classic beginnings.

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