Saturday, 18 August 2012


With the Fall Fishing Festival coming up on Labour Day Weekend it is a fitting time to re-print E.C. Everett's account of a 1929 carnival. circa 1966.


It is just 37 years ago, July 1,2, &3rd, 1929, that Nipigon had its biggest and most successful 3 day carnival, put on by the Nipigon Canadian Legion, and directed by Zan. Zantolas an Ex-Circus man.

The time and place was very opportune, since Nipigon was always looked upon as being a Tourist-Natural Mecca for hunting, fishing and natural relaxation. Our District was well supported by the Lakehead New media.

The second Hydro Electric project had just been started at Alexander Landing on the Nipigon River and now Nipigon was emerging from the trappers' trails and pulpwood camps to construction and Highway building.

The Trans Canada Highway had been opened from the Lakehead as far East as Nipigon in 1925 which trips took from 3 to 5 hours to make from the Lakehead and was considered more of an adventure than a pleasure trip. Construction horses were always on hand to give the motorist a pull out of the swamp.

Nipigon generally had a good baseball team; competition was keen between Hydro, Hurkett, Murillo, Port Arthur, Rossport and Schreiber. The local fans follow their team with enthusiasm.

The Nipigon Plywood's Mill is located on the old baseball grounds which was then chosen for the Carnival grounds. Most stores bought concessions and erected booths to display and sell their holiday goods in Midway style.

On display was a live sturgeon weighing 134 lbs. five feet ten inches long, which was caught in Lake Helen, also a young fawn. City bands were in attendance, Fortune telling, Ice-cream, Pop - at 5 cents - was sold out clean. Baseball games were competing against our Reeve and Councillors at quoits  & etc.

All stores were decorated with flags and bunting. Votes for the Carnival Queen were given with all purchases for weeks in advance. Competition was keen between the Finnish and Canadian girls, which was finally won by Miss Mona Hill sponsored by the Consumers' Co-Operative Store in Nipigon. Her reward was a free trip to Toronto to be honoured there with a  letter from the Reeve of Nipigon.

On the second day the food in Town ran short, no wieners, buns nor milk. Special trips had to be made by train to the Lakehead to get more supplies which were again soon used up.

Then, Alas! The sleeping accommodations was overtaxed, many slept in the corridors while dozens walked the streets all night. Some store stayed open most of the night entertaining the people with gramophone music and serving coffee. Some slept on the counters. The C.P.R. sent 3 sleeping coaches for the final night spotted by the water tank on the siding.

The weather was ideal, hot the first two days, straw hats was a sell out. The third day was cool and all turned to sweaters. What a boon to Nipigon.

In all, Nipigon was booming that summer, while the depression hit many other places. Locally the depression started in 1930 and continued until 1933 when the mining boom started in Beardmore and Geraldton.

Nipigon has had many ups and downs and no doubt it will continue that way for some time yet; but it never fails to come back.

The Carnival finally ended up with a monster dance and the crowning of the Queen and a scramble for any loose change that was left.

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