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The Rocks of Ages

Lake Temiskaming, a widening of the Ottawa, has its source approximately 240 km to the east in the province of Quebec. The name ‘Temiskaming’ is an Algonkian word meaning ‘deep water.’ At Dawson’s Point, visible from Haileybury’s shoreline, impressive limestone cliffs stand as remnants of an ancient sea bed. These 410 to 500 million year-old rocks are of the Paleozoic era. They form the lower part of the Lake Temiskaming Rift Valley, a structural feature in which the younger rocks are displaced some 235 to 300 m downwards by massive faults into the Wabi River Valley. On either side of the valley are Precambrian rocks containing a wide variety of fossils.
During the Pleistocene era this entire area was subjected to Wisconsin continental glaciation as ice packs moved southward from Hudson Bay over most of Canada and the northern USA. When the ice retreated Lake Barlow formed in the Lake Temiskaming area and seasonally varved – or layered – clay and silt collected on the lake bottom. Subsequently, when Lake Barlow drained some 8700 years ago, 20 to 45 cm of top soil formed on top of the clay creating a fertile clay belt.

Settlement and Conflagration

Charles Cobbold Farr, chief trader at the Hudson Bay Company’s Fort Temiskaming, in 1883 purchased 30 acres of land known as Humphrey’s Depot. Natives had originally named the site Matabanick – place where the trail comes out – in reference to the end of a portage from the upper Montreal River to Lake Temiskaming.
Farr left the Hudson Bay Company in 1889 and settled on this property which he called Haileybury. With the arrival of the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario Railway, and the subsequent discovery of silver at Cobalt in 1903, Haileybury’s population soared.
By 1910 Haileybury was a bustling community with electric streetcar service, several large hotels, majestic homes along Lakeshore Road known as Millionaire’s Row and a National Hockey Association team – the Haileybury Comets. In 1912 Haileybury became the Judicial Seat for the newly created District of Temiskaming. The Haileybury Court House and Land Registry Office were built soon after.
On October 4, 1922 the Great Fire burned 650 square miles destroying property and communities in 18 townships within the district. Within 3 to 6 hours, 90% of the Town of Haileybury was destroyed leaving 3500 people homeless and $2 000 000 in property damages.