August 2015    
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AUGUST 7, 2015      

CANOEIST ADVISORY UPDATE

More clearing of downed trees, part 3

Parks reports portage clearing of icestorm damage continues. The following have been done:

1. Bob to Obabika lakes

2. Some Obabika old-growth trails

4. Solace area

  BACKGROUND: Part 1   Part 2

  FORUM THREAD: Portages

 

Photo: Maple Mountain fire tower
Maple Mt. fire tower
JEFF TANZ

AUGUST 6, 2015   Revised: SEPT 24, 2015

Adios to fire towers

Ontario's abandoned fire sentinels are coming down, one by one. With no notice, the Ontario goverment is dismantling and removing them wherever they are on Crown land.

Three from the Temagami region are now scrap metal somewhere:

Tower Location Date dismantled
  McConnell east of Dewdney Lake Sept. 2013  
  Roadhouse west of Makobe River Oct. 2013  
  Pinetorch north of Pinetorch Lake Sept. 2014  

With the exception of Caribou Mountain*, a municipally-operated tourist site, above the town of Temagami, the rest of Ontario's towers are on the chopping block. That includes two in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Wilderness Park: Ishpatina and Maple Mountain, both popular backcountry destinations.

For several years, MNR has been hunting for the towers. It has no records of their locations. It doesn't know many are still standing, how many have come down on their own, how many are being used for other purposes or even, where towers were erected. 

Most of those found were located through local sources.

All the towers were built prior to 1970. That year the tower detection system was completely shut down and replaced by aircraft patrols.

In the 1970s, dismantling began, by hand, piece by piece. Ferguson Mountain was one of those. As a low priority, when funding tightened, it stopped. In the 1990s, the towers were targeted to become part of MNR's communication system, so removal became counter productive.

 A helicopter collision with Roadhouse Tower near the Makobe River in July 2010, resulted in two deaths. This, and new technology that made the towers obsolete for communications, brought new urgency and funding to the abandoned program.

At one point, Parks had hoped to maintain Ishpatina and Maple Mountain as heritage sites, but has been unable to raise maintenance funds. Ishpatina may be in the worst shape as one its footings is crumbling.

Visit any you are near while they still exist.

*There is a municipally owned lookout tower in Dorset, east of Huntsville, built on the same site as a former fire tower. The 1967 replacement, according to Laila McGuire at the tower, is a radar tower that had been destined for the Arctic and never used for fire detection.

   EXTERNAL WEBSITES:   Ontario's heritage fire towers

                                 Caribou Mt fire tower 

  RELATED:  Photo: Caribou Mountain panorama from top

                  Photo: Ishpatina tower 

                  Photo: Maple Mountain tower 

                  Obabika fire tower (PDF)

   
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