The mill on the Ottawa River at Témiscaming
Vive la Forêt ("Long Live the Forest")
Location within Témiscamingue RCM
|Coordinates: Coordinates: |
|Constituted||March 26, 1988|
|o Mayoress||Nicole Rochon|
|o Federal riding||Abitibi--Témiscamingue|
|o Prov. riding||Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue|
|o Total||718.49 km2 (277.41 sq mi)|
|Elevation||240 m (790 ft)|
|o Density||3.4/km2 (9/sq mi)|
|o Pop (2011-16)||1.9%|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (EST)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
The Ottawa River had long been used by Indigenous peoples, colonial explorers, coureurs des bois, and missionaries as transportation route through the region. Some of the notable travellers passing by Témiscaming were Radisson and des Groseilliers, Saint-Lusson, Charles le Moyne and Pierre Le Moyne, and Chevalier de Troyes. A small chapel had existed there for the trappers and fur traders en route to Ottawa.
The area began to be developed circa 1850 when forestry companies began logging the land. Some of these logging crews had brought their families, and together with some pioneer families, they had formed a settlement of about 13 families by 1880. It was originally called "Long Sault", taken from the name of the rapids on the Ottawa River at this place. From 1884 on, Long Sault became an important stopover for colonists travelling upstream to Lake Timiskaming, leading to the construction of a hotel, wharves, stores, and a railroad to Mattawa. On August 12, 1886, the first train arrived at Long Sault, also called Gordon's Creek by then.
In 1888, the Municipality of Témiscaming was officially incorporated. Its name, also spelled Témiskaming, was taken from Lake Timiskaming and in turn came from the Algonquin tim ("deep"), and kami ("open water"). In the fall of that same year, Alex Lumsden built a sawmill on Gordon Creek and the settlement came to be known as Lumsden's Mill. Around 1909 work began on the dam across the Ottawa River.
The place experienced major growth when the Riordon Pulp and Paper Company built the Kipawa Mills pulp and paper mill there in 1918. It bought the Lumsden Mill as well as all the property in Long Sault. For all the construction workers and mill employees, a new town was built, designed according to a Garden City plan by Scottish architect Thomas Adams.
In 1920, Témiscaming gained town status under the name "Kipawa" but the name was replaced by the original name the following year. On paper, there was a municipal council, but in reality, Témiscaming was a company town. The Canadian International Paper Company, that had bought out the Riordon Company in 1925, had total control by owning every property, appointing the mayor and council members, and even applying the law. No municipal elections were held for 35 years.
On November 1, 1935, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake had its epicentre approximately 10 km (6.2 mi) northeast of Témiscaming. In 1936, the road between North Bay and Témiscaming was completed. In 1956, the Canadian International Paper Company declared Témiscaming as an "open town" and sold all its infrastructure. W.N. Irwin became the town's first mayor elected in a municipal election. In 1972, when the company decided to close the mill, the employees formed Tembec to take over the operation of the mill.
In 1988, the Municipality of Letang, incorporated in 1980, was merged into Témiscaming.
The Tem Times was the city's first newspaper (officially categorized as a country weekly) which ran from 1950 through to 1972. Produced on a Gestener by local townspeople who were members of the Temiskaming Debating Club, and subsidized by the CIP, the circulation at its height was estimated at 1,000. Gord McCulloch, who edited the paper for twenty-two years, went on to become a district editor and columnist for The North Bay Nugget.