History


In 2001 - Dorion's Centennial Homecoming - the Dorion Public Library published a detailed account of Dorion's History. In Dorion's Roots & Branches: One Hundred Years Remembered (1901-2001), much of Dorion's treasured past is captured in 437 pages of detailed historical accounts and information about Dorion's many social, political, cultural, religious and economic establishments, events and eras. In order to summarize the vast amount of quality information given in the text of Dorion's History book, a lot will be left out for the purposes of summarizing its rich history. All information used in this summary has been taken from Dorion's history book which can be found in the Dorion Public Library.

The Early Years (1893-1949)



The Township of Dorion was named after the Honourable Sir Antoine Aime Dorion, Canadian Lawyer and Statesman. On October 11th, 1893 the township was offically declared open for settlement allowing the first settler, John Stewart, to file location papers on a property just west of the CP railway on the banks of the Wolf River. In 1901 the population had reached 21 people, and by 1911 just 10 years later, the population had reached 216 people. The years covering 1893-1910 saw alot of social and economic infrastructure development from the establishment of Dorion's first public school in 1904 to the opening of the Dorion Post Office in 1906. Dorion's economy during this era mainly consisted of farming/agriculture, logging (sawmill), fishing and mining. By the time WWI had hit in 1914, unmarried men between the ages of 18 and 40 were forced to enlist in the Canadian army. By 1922 the Dorion Consolidated School was completed with a price tag of $33,000 and highway access to the "Lakehead" (Thunder Bay) was now open. By the 1930's the famous Wolf River log drives had started: "Weather and local conditions controlled the movement of the logs in the early years of the river drives but as operations expanded and areas to be harvested became scattered, dams were built so the water levels could be controlled in each section of the river" (108-109). The Ontario Government began construction on the Dorion Fish Hatchery in 1931 which has forgone many renovations and upgrades since then including the current upgrade valued at $15,000,000. By the late 1940's as WWII had already begun, the Dorion Credit Union had been established and Dorion had started to receive hydro powered electricity. The early years of Dorion saw great successes and hardships having experienced the growth of its community through both World Wars and the epidemics that accompanied early rural living. By 1951 the population had reached 440, eight less than the population 10 years before.

The 50's and 60's


In 1951 Dorion became the Improvement District of Dorion. The 50's saw a lot of infrastructure development in Dorion. By Labour Day in 1954, the new community hall had been completed. In 1958 construction had started on Ouimet Canyon Road leading to what is now Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park. Also in that same year, a new bridge was built on Highway 17 over the Wolf River and the Trans Canada Pipeline was built and tested in Dorion. The 60's was a socially vibrant era for the Dorion Community, as the first phone lines were developed in 1960. The early 60's saw a lot of firsts for Dorion's social clubs and events, from the establishment of the square dance club in April of 1960 to the first Fish Derby held at Pawluck's Dock in June of 1960. The ability to communicate over the telephone with local friends and neighbours made social events a lot easier to plan. By 1961 Dorion's population had reached 557, the highest it has ever been. In 1963, the Public Library was established and on September 14th the first kindergarten classed was formed. The Dairy industry was established in 1964 as farmers started to ship their milk to Thunder Bay ("The Lakehead"). That same year a "tornado like storm" ripped through Dorion leaving debris scattered along the country side. In 1965 Canada received its new red and white maple leaf flag. The late 60's saw the Community Hall burn down and built up again, and by 1969 Dorion officially became an organized Township.

The 70's - Present Day


Dorion started out a little rocky in the 1970's as a torrential downpour demolished eight local bridges and culverts, one being the Brunner Road Bridge that connected the Dorion Loop to Ouimet Canyon road. By 1976 however, the community was well on its way in many other positive developments. The Community Recreation Centre was established in 1976, this same year the Township took over the management of the community cemetery. In 1979, the Municipal Office was relocated to Dorion (from Thunder Bay) in the form of a trailer along side of the community centre. By 1980, the Township of Dorion was 10 years old and still as socially vibrant as when the first settlers arrived. Evidence of this points to many events that took place in the 1980's such as the establishment of a committee to increase awareness of penalties for drinking and driving and Dorion's participation in the North Shore Fitness Challenge. In 1983 construction was authorized by council to make an addition to the Municipal Garage/Fire Hall at an estimated cost of $89,829.00. By 1987, plans were in place to purchase land to build a new municipal office. The 90's were fast paced and productive in Dorion, due to the building of the community centre, public school and municipal offices and due to the advancement and realization of an ever increasing telecommunications culture. By May of 1993 the construction on the new Community Centre and Public School and the new Municipal Offices had finished and were open for students and municipal employees, respectively. 1994 saw a great technological advance as Bell had established the first fibre-optic cable through Dorion. In 1996 Dorion had received cellular phone service from Thunder Bay to Nipigon from a tower built in Red Rock. And finally, in 2001 Dorion celebrated its Centennial Homecoming.

Since 2001, Dorion has experienced difficult times economically with the downturn of the Northern Ontario Forest Industry. Many small logging and milling operations closed leading to out migration patterns and decreasing student enrollment rates. Througout history however, Dorion's resilient character and vibrant volunteer base will continue to shine regardless of the economic circumstances. In 2007, Dorion hired its first economic development officer (intern) to help coordinate the capacity of the economic development committee and to help move the community forward on economic development iniatives. This is seen as a postive step for the community and has followed many other positive developments, events and eras in Dorion's treasured past.