The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.
TIMMINS – Every community, from Paris to Timbuktu, from Toronto to Earlton, has its fair share of, for lack of a better word, “colourful characters” and eccentrics.
Kirkland Lake had Roza Brown (a woman way before her time who sure knew how to live). Elk Lake claims John Munroe (war hero, mining man, mayor and surely someone who could have been the first candidate for his own reality programme).
We here in the Porcupine seem to have an unending supply: Tommy Jack, Maggie Leclair, Sandy McIntyre, and, although not purely from the Porcupine, a celebrated priest known as Father Charles Paradis.
Notorious, revolutionary and with a blazing zeal to see the Northland colonized, Paradis has left his mark from Temiskaming up to the Porcupine. Recognized or not, we still live with his influence and his controversial views on land and river management.
Charles Paradis was born in Kamouraska, Que., in 1848. He completed his studies at the seminary in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière and headed to Ottawa where he taught art.
He was ordained in 1881 and was soon sent to the Temiskaming area as a member of the Oblate Congregation, at the express request of Monseigneur Duhamel, archbishop of Ottawa. The Roman Catholic Bishops at that time were eager to see the area developed and put under the plow.
They had, after all, built a small mission opposite Fort Temiskaming in 1863 and started a farm on the site, which was expanded to the Quebec side at Baie des Pères (later renamed Ville Marie), just above the fort.
Add to that the extension of the Canadian Pacific Railway to Mattawa, and the region was deemed “prime for the picking.”
Father Paradis wrote of his experiences in a pamphlet entitled “From Temiskaming to Hudson Bay.”
He along with others (notably Edward Haycock, a civil engineer from Ottawa who had stakes in a number of claims in the Temiskaming region), extolled the land he saw as rich in minerals and farming potential.
However, this meddling priest, who wanted to divert waterways and start talking about reckless lumbering practices did not impress the Ottawa lumber barons and the brass at HBC. They petitioned the Order to have him moved out of the region. They obliged, and Father Paradis found himself in Plattsburg, New York.
His confinement there was short lived as he was moved “behind walls” to Buffalo. Saying nuts to all of that, Father Paradis left the order and high-tailed it back to the Temiskaming he loved.
He took it upon himself to encourage French Canadian families (particularly many living in Michigan) to settle in what is now the Verner area, an act of defiance to his Order.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Timmins Daily Press website: http://www.timminspress.com/2013/01/27/history-mine-mishap-caused-a-stir