masthead image

Kormak

History

Town site photo

Well at a former home

©Copyright: Yvan Charbonneau

Although Kormak is still marked on roadmaps today, only three homes remain. However at one time Kormak was a thriving mill town that contained over 200 residents.

In 1942, Oscar Maki and Charles Korpela formed the Kormak Lumber Company and established their first sawmill. The site they chose was at mileage point 107.5, on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), 35 kilometres east of Chapleau, in the newly renamed Eisenhower Township. The firm built a bunkhouse and a cookery to accommodate the single workers. Others with families built their own homes. Observing this unusual phenomenon, the Kormak Lumber Company supported the move by constructing a few additional homes and furnishing cull wood to be used as building material for newer structures. Maki and Korpela decided to add a large company store to service the new settlement and applied to the government for a school. A post office was opened in the company offices in 1949 and the CPR built a large flag station to accommodate the new influx of travellers.

Kormak contained an interesting mixture of cultures. Finns and French Canadians worked in the mills and bush together, while their children grew up played with each other. Many French children grew up understanding Finn while some Finnish children learned French. The only difference was the French children were bused to Chapleau to attend a French Separate School, while the Finnish and the tiny English minority attended the new public school in the village.

During the 1950's and 1960's a few mobile homes were added to compensate for the lack of family lodgings. In 1956 the small settlement contained 166 residents but only five years later the population had dropped to 124. The planning mill burnt down in 1964 and was promptly rebuilt on a larger scale. In 1966 the Kormak Lumber Company reorganized as Westmack Lumber Co. Ltd.

During the next decade the number of residents remained steady at 131. In 1971 the population totalled 144. Like all lumbering companies however the Kormak Lumber Company was beginning to show signs of winding down and the gradual demise of the village had already begun.

The post office closed in 1974 and the store soon followed suit. The mill was still in operation but by that time only 60 residents remained in town. The mill had been modernized to some extent but both its production figures and the number of employees had been reduced. When the mill finally closed in 1979, most of the remaining residents left, with the exception of a small handful. Company homes were torn down, and the mobile units were relocated, mainly to Chapleau. Today one home remains occupied, while the other two homes are now used as seasonal dwellings. They lie just before the bridge south of the main town site.