masthead image

Arpin/Pyne

History

In 1908 the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway had reached its terminus at Cochrane. The railway established a large railway yard and town site. A few short years later in 1913, the National Transcontinental Railway (NTR later CN) built by the Federal Government, intersected the T&NO railway. After 1916 Cochrane was firmly entrenched as a regional centre, colonization of the surrounding land was already begun by the provincial government.

To entice settlers to populate the surrounding townships, the government sponsored a few township roads from various stations along the line. One such road was pushed south of Norembega Station, east of Cochrane, on the NTR. A few settlers, mainly Finns and French Canadians established about 20 farmsteads within the Township of Pyne. By 1921, the township's population stood at 116 residents. For the remainder of the decade, more settlement was encouraged and within 10 years (1931) the population had grown to 259 residents.

During this period, in the centre of the township, a small hamlet grew to service the surrounding farmers. A general store and school were built along with a few homes. The settlement took the name of Pyne after the township. In 1927, after a post office was opened in the store, the hamlet's name was changed to Arpin. Although never large, the small hamlet counted, at its peak, nearly a hundred residents in the surrounding area. Arpin's fortunes however were short lived.

Although the great clay belt of northern Ontario was rich and fertile, the short growing season gave rise to many difficulties, one being frost. A single late frost in spring or an early freeze up in fall meant that an entire crop could be lost overnight. Whenever this happened, the farmers had no choice but to cut enough pulpwood so that the family could be fed during the long winter months. With the advent of the Great Depression in the 1930's the local pulpwood market collapsed, taking with it the farmers' only means of sustenance if the crops failed. Midway through the decade, after two consecutive years of early frosts, a large number of settlers left, rather than face starvation. By 1941 only 144 residents remained in the township.

At first, Arpin wasn't entirely abandoned. A small nucleus of 30 residents still remained at or nearby the hamlet. However during the fifties most of the permanent residents had left, replaced by a number of seasonal cottagers. The school also closed during that decade. In 1961 there were only 24 people who resided within Pyne Township. By 1966 the population had dwindled even further to a mere six. The store and post office had closed in 1961, and by 1971, not a single resident remained within the township.