Skip to content

Lots of snow was a relief in The Porcupine's early years

It helped prospectors expedite their journey to the gold camps
This image from the H.P Davis Collection shows a group of men travelling on the winter route of the Porcupine trail in December 1909. One big advantage of an abundant snowfall was that folks could drag their heavy packs behind them rather than shoulder the heavy pack — that had an average weight of 75 pounds — all the way to Hill’s Landing, their first stop on the journey.

Currently in Timmins, mid-March is looking a lot like mid-December.

A collective grumble and grunt at inclement weather is to be expected as we reach for our shovels and scrapers to dig ourselves out once again. Our prospecting forebearers arriving in their thousands from all over the world in search of riches had a very different outlook. In fact, snowfall actually helped expedite their journey to the gold camps. In this edition of Remember This? we take a look at why this was the case.  

The Porcupine Trail, as many of you may already know, was the hard road to the promised land here in what’s now known as Timmins.

By 1910 the camp’s population swelled to 3,000, thanks to eager folks arriving from all corners of the earth to participate in the last great gold rush of the 20th century. After stepping off the TNO at mileage 222, a muddy, sodden and miserable 11-kilometre wagon road awaited them. Did I mention the constant cloud of blackflies following these intrepid rainbow chasers across the land?

In winter, however, this plague of pesky fliers was a non-issue. Not only that, the overall trip was cut by half since folks could travel on the frozen Frederick House Lake and Nighthawk Lake, eliminating the need to portage altogether. Our abundant dumpings of snow weren’t always greeted with such annoyance but rather relief!

The Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre regularly provides TimminsToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.

Find out more of what the Timmins museum has to offer here and read more Remember This columns here.