Old board bridge©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko
At the turn of the century, the site at Ludgate was a mere timber depot, where great pine stands were cut and piled until the spring thaw. As the snow melted these huge piles of lumber were loosened up and floated down the river to the Georgian Bay, and onward to their respective sawmills. After the arrival of the Canadian Northern Railway in 1908, a flag station was established to supply surrounding lumber camps.
The name Ludgate, was taken after one of the timber contractors, James Ludgate, who harvested timber in the surrounding areas. Ludgate, who had a small mill in the McKellar area moved his operations to this little siding and station stop around 1917-18. This move was precipitated by the additional purchase of timber reserves in Mowat Township.
The little sawmill village was established 2.8 kilometres (two miles) south of Pakesley, where the Canadian National Railway (CN) crosses the Key and Little Key River, east of Portage Lake. It was conveniently located near the intersection of the Canadian Pacific Railway and CN lines. James Ludgate was also the manager of the Schroeder Mill and Timber Co. operations in Ontario, who operated a large mill and town site in nearby Lost Channel.
Apart from the mill and spur line, the village included a blacksmith shop, cookery and office, that later became a store, a slab and sawdust disposal yard, a clerk's cabin, flag station, foreman's cabin, Ludgate's house, and eight dwellings for employees. One of these homes would later house a school. The post office was situated in the store, which operated from 1927 to 1954.
At the very least, the mill seemed to be a profitable operation. Yet by the late 1920's Thompson had sold out to Charles Harris. Operations in the mill continued for an unknown period of time. In 1925, Thompson sold 250 acres of farmland to David Mitchell, who in turn supplied the community with staples and supplies.
Today only three original structures remain; an office, one home and a bunkhouse. The structures are located on privately owned land, which contain several newer and older buildings. Permission is required to enter the former town site.