A derelict home©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko
In 1885 the Canadian Pacific Railway built a line to western Canada and traversed the one of the loneliest stretch of land, northern Ontario. Between the two divisional points of Cartier and Chapleau, section villages were established at every 20 or so miles. One section village, established around the 1890s, was named Nemegos after nearby Lake Nemegosenda. The site contained a siding, water tower, station, and a few section homes and about 20 residents.
During the 1910s a few locals were labouring in local bush camps and established homesteads at the section village. By 1911 only 28 people lived at the little siding. In 1916, a lumber depot was established to supply the local camps. This resulted in a new influx of settlers, mainly Finns. That same year a post office was opened in a small general store to service the local needs. S. A. Hatch was the first postmaster.
Although Nemegos only had 38 residents in 1921, the remainder of the decade saw Nemegos explode in a hive of activity. After a small lumber mill was constructed around 1924, the population swelled to nearly a hundred residents. A bunkhouse was constructed to house the single workers while additional homes, some mere log tenements, were constructed for the men and their families. A school was also established along with a small hotel. Although the mill closed in the early 1940's most residents were self-sufficient and remained in the hamlet. A large fire burnt over some timber berths in the area, and the Kormak Lumber Company opened a salvaging mill between the village and Lake Nemegosenda in 1945.
In 1957 the mill closed and the population slowly began drifting away. By 1961 only 45 residents remained at the hamlet. The post office remained open until 1964. The section village was dismantled and the population dropped even further, to 25 residents, in 1966. The store closed that same year.
Although most homes were used seasonally the village never rebounded. Some homes were salvaged for their lumber while others just burnt. The station was torn down in the 1970s, followed by the water tower in the early 1990s.
Today a dozen or so structures still remain. A lodge, that still contains a pay phone, operates year round, while seasonal residents still use the former homes. Two to three homes remain occupied year round. In 1999, Nemegos' few remaining residents were evacuated when the region was hit by a devastating forest fire. Fortunately for Nemegos, the fire was stopped just a few kilometres from the settlement. The nearby native lands, just slightly east, were not so lucky. Much of the timber area was completely wiped out.
Nemegos is a scattered, colourful community with a lot to see. Although no traces remain of the railway station, hotel or schoolhouse, one unintentional benefit of recent government cutbacks has been the disappearance of the government bulldozers. About 1 1/2 kilometres south of the village, out of site on the left of the road, one can still fine some rotten timber from the old Kormak mill.