The Old Mission cover

The Old Mission
by Florent Héroux

We all have heard of the Old Mission but few knew it was called Mission Saint Claude.

Located down Scenic Lorrain Valley Way at the Narrows on Lake Temiskaming it is a historic site. Built in 1863 it was abandoned in 1887 and the personnel moved to Baie des Pères now Ville-Marie, The author was allowed to search the daily journals of the Oblates Missionaries and the chronicles of the Grey Sisters for that period.

The mission built across from the Hudson Bay Company Post was more than a mission, it was an oasis of hospitality, a centre of devotion and evangelization comprised of a church, a school, a hospital, an orphanage and lodging for the passers-by and arriving settlers. From the original documents the author was able to describe the daily living at the mission and even make a scale model of the site and buildings. It also provided a window on the life of these courageous and dedicated women and men surviving in the wilderness without communication other than by canoes in summer and winter by snowshoes with populations to the south.

There are descriptions of the people living around Lake Temiskaming, the Oblates Sugar Shack and the Hermit of Lorrain Valley as well as the points of interest on the Valley Way and upstream on the mighty Montreal River. The book is a real source of knowledge about the mission and people of that era.

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ISBN: 978-0-9880630-7-5 | WMPub#1108 | 8½" x 11"
178 pages; 146 photos, maps and diagrams; trade paperback | $32.00

Table of Contents

8 Acknowledgements


Lake Temiscaming, the key to the Great North 9

One lake, two Temiscaming, three languages: Algonquin, French and English.

A unique location to serve the Great North.

The route of the First Nations, Anichinabes, of military expeditions, of the explorers, of the missionaries and the entrepreneurs.


Historical Overview 1863 - 1910 11

During the short presence of 24 years the mission fulfilled the evangelization needs of the peoples and provided support to the settlers.


An ardent desire to evangelize 33

The travelling missionaries.

The Saint-Adalbert chapel.

The birth of the Catholic faith in Temiscaming.


The mission at the centre of the action 1863 - 1887 37

Peoples and events.


The mission and surrounding land 63

The surveying of the land.

Peoples and places around the lake.


The mission buildings 81

The construction and history of the buildings.


Self-sufficiency of the mission and prosperity of the settlers 89

Transportation for the lumber camps and sale of settlers' produce in Quebec and Ontario. The Oblates farm at Baie-des-Pères, the distribution centre at La Loutre River and the sawmill at Martineau Bay.


The missions in Ontario North 99

Matachewan, Temagami, Bay Lake (Latchford), Belle Vallée, New Liskeard, Haileybury and Cobalt.


The sugar bush and the hermit of Lorrain Valley 1877-1904 107

The Oblates Sugar Bush in Ontario.

The new life of Brother Aristide Pelletier, the hermit at the Sugar Shack.


Going south on the Valley Way 117

Highway 567 and points of interest.


Upstream the Mighty Montreal River 129

The dams and hydro power generating stations.

The lumbering route to Latchford and Elk Lake.


An assemblage of old photographs 133



A - The surveying of Lorrain Township 143

B - The Township of South Lorrain, Unsubdivided 149

C - Early boats and docks on Lake Temiscaming 151

D - Five bishops serving on the Ottawa River dioceses 163

E - Dioceses from Quebec New France to Temiskaming 1658-1922 165

Bibliography 171