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Desaulniers

Introduction

Town site photo

Abandoned building

©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko

Desaulniers was small farming hamlet in northeastern Ontario, first settled in the 1890s. The community was one of a number of communities colonized by French-speaking priests, hoping the boost the Francophone population in Ontario. The community was established by Father A.L. Desaulniers, however it wasn't named for him. Technically the village was named Sainte-Anne-de-Desaulniers, the same as the future church.

Desaulniers began with a post office and general store, opened in 1895. It received a big boost with the arrival of the Canadian Northern Railway (later CN) in 1913. Railway structures which included a station, agent's home, section houses, and a water tower were quickly added. There were two schools, public and separate, a cheese factory, and for awhile a second store.

The construction of the church in 1915 was highly controversial, as the bishop refused to consecrate it. Discrimination against Francophones was alleged and the local Francopone priests began holding regular masses at the church.

Desaulniers thrived as a small farming hamlet until the 1950s. By then business was moving to larger centres and Desaulniers had nothing left to sustain it. Over the next few years, the buildings began to come down, piece by piece. Later road realignments erased some of the original community. Today the area contains a number of ruins and foundations, along with a few original homes, still in use.