Pickerel Landing Village
An original building©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko
Pickerel Landing Village got it's start when a Mr. McDougal from Toronto formed the Pine Lake Lumber Company. McDougal purchased the mill, formerly owned by the Ontario Lumber Company in French River, in 1910. It took another two years before all the equipment and machinery was shipped to Pine Lake (Pickerel River), reassembled and ready for operation.
The first store and post office weren't located in the landing but could be found a mile or so away. The Wanikewin Lodge was situated on the North shore of the Pickerel River on the newly constructed Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) line. In 1910 Martin Henry Fenton opened a store, hotel and resort, and added a seasonal post office in Wanikewin Station. Residents had little choice but to travel by boat to Wanikewin in order to pick up their mail. In 1911, the post office was converted to a permanent office, which it remained until 1918, when Pickerel Village received its own post office. The Wanikewin post office reverted back to a seasonal operation, finally closing in 1925.
Another mill named the Tie & Lumber Co was situated farther west of the landing. Both mills had spur lines. The Tie & Lumber had a short spur, while Pine Lake Lumber's spur almost encircled the two town sites, and contained two long shunting yards.
Pickerel Village was effectively divided into three separate town sites. The first was situated directly south of the landing, surrounded by the spur to the north and the west. The yards were squashed behind the row of houses and businesses, while the mill stood to the east. The row aligned the Catholic Church, Greneau's store, and five dwellings. A boarding house, office, barn, wharf, pump house and a home were erected nearby the spur.
The second site was located north of the main line separated by a small pasture and bush. Clustered somewhat in a "L" pattern, it contained the school, a boarding house owned by the H. Lotie Co., a barn, icehouse and about twelve homes, three of which were duplexes. Later on, in 1922, Dean Udy moved to this location from French River and established a second store. The church was relocated beside the store years later. Slightly east on the CPR mainline stood the water tower and sheds, and farther down the station belonging to Pickerel CPR.
The third site consisted of Newton town, which was situated east of the Pine Lake mill, below a ridge. Approximately six homes, haphazardly erected, all belonging to the Newton family, stood nearby. Later on, there was a store and dance hall that operated until the 1970's.
The post office was first opened on February 2nd 1918, and was operated by E.G. William and his brother H.E. William until 1929. It was relocated to Udy's store that year and then it moved again in 1954 to the Trottier's store at the landing. It still operates to this day.
The Tie & Lumber Co was the first mill to close in 1928. The Pine Lake mill burned two years later and was never rebuilt. The Trottier Mill, though small, was built later, in 1941, and ran until 1950. Although a steady string of villagers left during the depression years, a few continued to remain. By the 1950's many were able to commute and by 1961 the population stabilized at 116 residents. The summer cottage boom filled the area with tourists and seasonal residents.
Today some structures still stand at the landing and are used permanently or seasonally. A trailer park also stands at the former "first" town site, at the landing. Extensive foundations remain from the mill site and the upper village still contains two structures, one still used as a boarding house or lodge. The station foundations also remain and are situated on the right hand side of the crossing just before entering the settlement.