Pine plantation at the mill site©Copyright: Yvan Charbonneau
The site at Kiosk was always historically linked to the forest industry in one fashion or another. As early as the 1870's when the great timber lands were thrown open for sale, William Mackey had purchased every berth adjoining the Amable-du-Fond River up to Lake Kioshkokwi. He established camps along the lake and the river, and cut timber to be floated down to the Mattawa and Ottawa Rivers. The logs were then turned into squared timber and shipped to Europe. In 1883, Mackey built a small sawmill near the Canadian Pacific Railway at the site of a rapid by Smith Lake. The spot was initially called Mackey's Mills (later renamed Eau-Claire Station). In 1902, he sold out to J.R. Booth.
Booth also left his mark on Lake Kioshkokwi. In 1902 after purchasing the timber limits, he built an office, boarding house, store, and warehouse on the lake situated in Pentland Township. Although the settlement was never large, 30-60 residents would remain there on a seasonal basis. Supplies were shipped up river from the Eau-Claire Station. In 1915 the Canadian Northern (Ontario) Railway was pushed through the northern end of Algonquin Park and subsequently through Booth's depot. Near the depot a small station, siding and two section houses were immediately built and named Coristine. By 1930 the depot was abandoned and sat unused except occasionally by the Department of Lands and Forests (later the Ministry of Natural Resources).
After resigning from his position at the Fasset Lumber Company, Sydney Staniforth was looking for timber stands to start his own milling interest. The company had refused to rebuild the mill at Fossmill after it burnt down in 1934, and Staniforth was more than anxious to recoup the lost business. In 1935 he consulted the heirs of JR Booth's lumbering empire in order to purchase the same stands Booth had bought in 1902. After negotiating successfully with the Booths, Staniforth organized the Staniforth Lumber Company in 1936.
At the site of Coristine, or the old Booth Depot, Staniforth hired men from Fossmill and set out to rebuild the mill. A circular saw was established on a large flat point to cut timber for the mill and installations. At first, the only buildings on the site were the Staniforth lumber office, a boarding house, and cookery all situated in the old Booth Depot buildings. A post office named Coristine opened that year in the company office. Plans for a large lumber yard were put in place and camps were established in the bush to supply saw logs for the new mill. By the following year the mill was fully operational and some of Fossmill's former residents began to relocate to the newly renamed Kiosk PO.
In 1941 Kiosk was established as a small lumbering settlement within the Algonquin Park's borders. By this time the settlement had grown to include a store, a station and about 100 residents. The mill had been enlarged significantly and expanded to add a dry kiln and planning mill. A veneer plant was added and operational by 1949.
By 1950 Kiosk was definitely a hub of activity. The site included a large wooden Catholic church, a French Separate School, warehouses, recreation hall and an outdoor rink. There was a small power and water plant on the Amable-du-Fonds River that supplied water and electricity to every household. The village had grown to become a self-sustaining community with at least 186 permanent residents, half of which were children. Within six short years the population would increase to 228 residents in addition to an additional 60 men who lived in the boarding houses.
Throughout the 1950's the mill was modernized and the facilities were enlarged. An extensive boarding house was built, along with a new cookery. The most significant development was the formation of the union. Under the auspices of the International Woodworkers Union, a local branch was formed in 1950. Although there were two strikes, (one in 1950 and a second in 1955) the union was able to negotiate better wages and more bargaining power for the workers.
In 1958 Kiosk's architect Sydney Staniforth was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 73. His sons carried the torch for years to come. The mill was profitable and the enterprise ran well for many years. By 1961 the community had grown to over 350 residents, and had added a new brick school. A decade later the population had grown to nearly 600 people and the mill was employing 230 workers. By this time there were 80 buildings on the town site. In the same year, 1971, the mill was sold to Universal Oil Products and the firm officially changed its name to Staniforth-Goodman Lumber Company. The future looked very bright for Kiosk. However two incidents, which occurred in rapid succession, changed the future of Kiosk forever.
The first incident took place on the evening of Friday, July 13th 1973. At 11:30 pm the mill caught fire and burnt down. In 90 minutes the fate of the town was set. The second event came the following year, when the provincial government unveiled its master plan for Algonquin Park. The plan did not include the rebuilding of the mill in Kiosk. Adding insult to injury, the government also wanted the residents to leave the site. Although the Kiosk Community Association fought their case to the bitter end, the best that could be achieved was a compromise. It called for all residents to vacate the site by 1996. Compensation was offered but the longer the residents remained in Kiosk the less compensation they would receive.
By the close of the 1970's, 150 residents remained still in the site. The bulldozers came rolling in as soon as a building was vacated. By 1986, the population had been reduced to 97. Of the 27 buildings that still remained, four were privately owned, three were CNR section houses and 20 were owned by the MNR. By 1985 the school had closed and the post office was the last institution left in town. By 1992 no one remained and Kiosk had become a ghost town.
Today all that remains of the settlement is the ranger's cabin. The site is now an access point for Algonquin Park and is also used as a camping ground. The church was removed to a nearby farm just north of Kiosk outside the park boundaries.