The Old Nipissing Colonization Road was one of the routes opened up by the province under pressure from the logging companies to encourage settlement for the purposes of providing labour for the industry. The soil was thin and rocky and most farmers abandoned when the lumber mills closed. For this reason, the road is now referred to as the Nipissing Ghost Town Trail.
Commanda is the second to last town, north, named for an Ojibway chief. There is very little evidence remaining of what was a very busy and vibrant place. The mill is gone and most of the houses. What remains are a few old buildings, a church and the old General Store. Originally built in the 1880’s by James Arthurs, the building was moved to the intersection of the Old Nipissing Road and highway 522 in the late 1980’s and restored as a museum. There is a great link to the history of Commanda here.
When my husband and I arrived, the museum was closed, however, some volunteers were dropping off some cabinets and generously offered to give us a tour of the building. Below is a picture of the inside of the General Store in 1910 and as it appears today below that.
Walking through the town, we spoke briefly to the residents and visited the old mill site on Commanda Creek. There is nothing remaining except a small waterfall.
The church is still in use on alternate weeks and a couple of very old buildings appear to be used as cottages. One appears to have been recently abandoned and is up for sale. It is beautiful and deserves restoration.
The museum is open all summer from 10-5 until Thanksgiving. Here is a link to the museum’s page for more information. If you are going to be heading in the direction of North Bay – the Commanda Museum is very worth the visit!
For more pictures of Commanda, Restoule and Nipissing, visit my Flickr page.