From the exhibit 'Through The Camera Lens; La Cloche 1900 - 1950' curated by Jon Charles Butler & Kerry Butler at the
Art Gallery of Sudbury in 2018.
In 1889, John Charlton developed Timber Berth 11 with The White Fish River Improvement Company. This company built the first dams and timber slides on the Whitefish River and in later years Manley Chew Lumber Company of Midland, Ontario maintained a Timber Office at Willisville.
The dams allowed winter cutting and the river transfer of timber for process and use in southern markets. The last recorded log drive on the Whitefish River was in 1932.
The Willis Family provided room and board to some these lumbermen, however, most stayed in the company lumber camps and moved onto the next job site, never to return again.
The 1913 completion of the Algoma Eastern Railway facilitated mining activity in the Willisville area.
Howry Creek Gold Mine was explored from 1911 to 1921, a test shaft was sunk, but due to poor results it never went into production. A few investors, such as the Bull Family, were charmed by the landscape and decided to build cottages in the Charlton Lake area.
The Bousquet Gold Mine, on the north side of the Howry Creek, was staked in 1911 by John and Charles Bousquet. This mine and mill was active from 1936 to1938 and produced 4,672 ounces of gold. The Bousquet family established a farm on Howry Creek so they could work their claims and some of their miners lived in log cabins near the mouth of the Howry Creek.
McMillan Gold Mine on House Lake was explored from 1910 to 1920 and was in production from 1934 to 1937, producing 10,593 oz. of gold. Bunkhouses and homes were built at West River for the miners and their families.
Hydro - electric power came to the area in 1930, when John Deagle began harnessing the Whitefish Falls. He secured a 10 year franchise agreement and provided wholesale power to the town of Little Current. By 1941, Little Current switched to provincial Hydro.
Deagle continued providing power until the early 50s for the village of Whitefish Falls, INCO’s Lawson Quarry, Willisville and Lang Lake, which included the Laberge Family Property.
Deagle is remembered for being a one man show. He manned the power station, maintained the lines and collected accounts. Deagle provided Whitefish Falls with free power for its streetlights, two churches and the school. Families who had a new baby were charged half price and if they had twins, they got free power for a whole year.