The Temagami / West Nipissing Restructuring Commission established the Municipality of Temagami as a “Town” on January 1st, 1998. The new Municipality is located between North Bay and New Liskeard and is approximately 2400km2 in size. It includes all of the former Township of Temagami, as well as the following former geographic townships: Best, Chambers, Cassels, Briggs, Yates, Phyllis, Joan, Canton, Aston, Banting, LeRoche, Cynthia, Belfast, Riddell, Law, Askin, Vogt, Torrington, Olive, Milne, Sisk and portions of Scholes and Clement.


As noted in The Temagami Experience (Hodgins and Bendickson, 1989), many groups and natural factors have influenced the physical development of the Temagami area.

The Lake Temagami Plan for Land Use and Recreational Development (MNR, 1973), states that the Temagami area was first settled in 1850 when the Hudson Bay Post was set up on Temagami Island. The post was later moved to Bear Island. Early settlement was related to the fur trade and the community existed in relative isolation until 1880 when the Canadian Pacific Rail reached North Bay.

Direct access to Temagami was established in 1904 when the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway was built from North Bay to New Liskeard, touching the east end of the Northeast Arm of Lake Temagami. The year before, a steamship had been brought in by sled and a village soon grew up to serve the visitors coming off the railway and transferring to the steamship or canoes. At this time, the area was truly open for development. There were 4 full-service hotels on the lake as well as canoe camps and cottages.

By the 1930’s there were as many as 10 steamships plying the waters of Lake Temagami. Commercial passenger service declined with the development of reliable, inexpensive outboard motors in the 1950’s and was killed by the opening of a public road to the hub of Lake Temagami in 1968. The economic importance of this recreational activity was noted in a 1949 Government of Ontario mining review publication which noted that tourism had been the mainstay of Temagami for 50 years and would likely to continue to be indefinitely.

During the late 1890’s and early 1900’s, concern increased about the impact of tourism and settlement activity on the previously untouched white pine forests surrounding Lake Temagami. The Temagami Forest Reserve was established to avoid the dangers associated with settlement, namely forest fire. No logging was permitted prior to 1924 except to salvage two minor burns. At that time, Provincial Authorities realized that the forest was reaching mature or over mature conditions and the entire area was open for licensing. By 1926 seven companies were operating in the Temagami area (Lake Temagami Plan for Land Use and Recreational Development, MNR, 1973).

The Lake Temagami Plan for Land Use and Recreational Development (1973), states that the existence of the Temagami Forest Reserve (during the period of early land development) was certainly a major influence in preservation of a “sky-line” reserve on the mainland. A Skyline reserve was identified on the mainland in order to ensure that trees a certain distance from the shoreline were not cut down. This effectively prohibited mainland development. Islands were removed from the Temagami Forest Reserve in 1905 because of the threat of fire on land surrounded by water was minimal and a pattern of “island-only” development began.

Since 1973, a land caution filed by the Teme-Augame Anishnabai prevented the sale of Crown land, and first rights of registration at the Lands Registry Office. Forestry was not affected directly by the caution, because licenses are issued through Order-in-Council. Today it is estimated that more than 95% of the land in Temagami remain Crown Land.

Village of Temagami

The Village of Temagami was developed as a result of the growth of the tourism industry and later provided permanent housing for workers at the local sawmill and mining operations. The village is currently the service centre of the area and the Municipal administration centre.

Approximately 180 dwellings are located in the village of Temagami. Residential development is located west of Highway 11, north of Lake Temagami (Portage Bay), for approximately three blocks. East of the Highway and railway, residential development extends along O’Connor Drive to Snake Lake. Commercial land uses are centred along the Highway 11 corridor and include, but are not limited to: restaurants, a grocery store, a bank, a liquor and beer store, a building supply store, convenience store and canoe outfitters.

An open pit mine located to the north of the village once restricted physical expansion of Temagami, but is now closed. Village expansion is still dependent on a number of geographical factors including proximity of Lake Temagami, Highway 11, the railway bisecting the area and significant topographical variation in certain areas. Vacant land is available, but location is often inappropriate for the intended use. A de-registered plan of subdivision exists northwest of the Municipal building. The Municipality owns the land that corresponds to this registered plan.

Approximately 98% of the village is hooked up to municipal services however, there are dwellings that continue to use private septic systems (Municipal statistics). Some existing private systems may not meet applicable MOEE or Health Unit standards. Municipal water and sewers do not service the lots within the de-registered plan of subdivision.

The south sewage lagoon has a capacity of 232m3 /day (Certificate of Approval 1-503-77-006). Current data indicates the south lagoon is operating at 194.84m3 /day (1997). The capacity of the sewage lagoon will impact future development potential in the village.

Temagami North

A new community was established in 1965 at Goward, approximately 5km north of the village. Temagami North is often referred to as the townsite because it was constructed to serve the Sherman Mine and a new location, away from the village of Temagami, was deemed necessary because of terrain, space and pollution problems in the village. Temagami North is a residential community comprised of single detached and mobile homes. A small general store, recreation centre, and fire hall are also located here.

Municipal water and sewers service the community. The north sewage lagoon has a capacity of 390m3/day (aerated). Current data indicates that the north lagoon is operating at 311.31m3/day (1997). Road access to the community is via one local road from Highway 11. This access point crosses an active railway line creating a safety concern too many residents.

Economic conditions in the Temagami area over the last several years have created a “house buyers market” in Temagami North. Generally, homes have decreased in value over the last five years. The average three-bedroom bungalow with full basement and recreation room sells for approximately $65,000 (McMillan discussion August 1998). This is a fraction of the replacement cost value.

Phase II of the Temagami North subdivision has not been built.

Marten River

Marten River is a community located at the south end of the new municipality.  Marten River relies heavily on the tourist industry to sustain the area’s tourist lodges. The community also houses some scattered residential and commercial development. A fire hall is located on the east side of the Highway.

Non-Lake Rural Area

Most of the land outside of the urbanized area is vacant Crown Land. Scattered development including residential, commercial and tourist lodges can be found along the Highway 11 corridor. Two Provincial Parks, Finlayson Point and Marten River, are on Highway 11.

There are several large parcels within th non-lake rural area which are, or were once used for resource related operations. The former Sherman Mine and Milne Lumber sawmill sites are prime examples.

Rock crushing activities currently take place on part of the Sherman Mine property and a proposal for a self-storage facility has been presented to the Municipality. The property is subject to a decommissioning plan and will revert back to Crown Land. The former Milne property is owned by the Municipality of Temagami and is currently the subject of planning applications intended to permit development of an Industrial Park for both heavy and light industrial uses. The Municipality may consider leasing or selling portions of this property once planning approvals have been secured.


The form of development on Lake Temagami is quite different from the form of development on the other lakes. There are approximately 1259 numbered islands in Lake Temagami (Lake Temagami Plan for Land Use and Recreational Development, MNR, 1973), and most development takes place on these islands. The “island-only” development pattern was influenced by the Temagami Forest Reserve that was created in 1901. 

The number of cottages on Lake Temagami is estimated to be between 630 and 746, with some islands having more than one cottage. Most private cottages are located on single parcels away from other cottages. In most parts of the Lake it is difficult to identify the cottage building from the Lake because of the presence of mature trees in the Skyline Reserve. There are a number of “subdivision” developments on the Lake which are generally the result of converting old camps, e.g. Camp White Bear, Narrows Island, Camp Chimo and Alexander Island 985. In some cases, subdivisions were created by the MNR to create multiple lots in one location.

Most cottages in the Temagami area are used on a seasonal basis. Access is limited during certain times of the year, due to break-up and freeze up. Some cottages on lakes other than Lake Temagami have road access, but the roads are usually not maintained year round. With improved winter access via snowmobiles and ice roads there is a steady increase in the number of winterized cottages and a slow growth in the permanent population made up of retirees, contractors, and mobile professionals.

In addition to private cottage development, there are numerous youth camps, campsites and commercial lodges serving seasonal visitors on lakes throughout the municipality. Lake Temagami alone is currently host to 9 youth camps and 12 commercial lodges. These numbers have declined since the 1950’s (Municipal statistics, December 1998). Many of the youth camps specialize in canoe trips. In the minds of many camp operators, the quality of the canoe routes on and surrounding Lake Temagami has diminished significantly and many camps only use Lake Temagami as their home base, taking campers further north and east in search of a wilderness experience (Public Consultation Sessions, July and August 1998).