I remember when one could acquire practical control over 160 acres of crown land merely by filing some simple papers, and actually own it once a house and a field for growing stuff were established. The province cancelled this program, instead buying up existing homesteads, thereby shrinking northern agricultural communities, and destroying many of them.
I remember a trip to Sioux Lookout to deliver a cow to a farmer. There was an active farm community there, also in places like Upsala, Nipigon, Shebandowan, Hearst, and so on. Kapuskasing was quite a large farm area. All were abandoned, at least in part due provincial action or inaction.
I remember when a friend wanted to establish a summer place on an undeveloped lake, no problem; he was able to lease a chunk of lakefront on an indefinite lease, for something like $20 per year. Now there are no new leases on any reasonable terms, and the yearly payment on leases already in place has been raised to thousands per year. Folks are in danger of having to give up their place, and if they do, it is withdrawn from public use.
I remember regular lotteries at which one bid to buy a lot in new waterfront subdivisions being established on our beautiful local lakes. There have not been any new waterfront subdivisions for decades.
I remember when tourist camps and outpost cabins were springing up like mushrooms, hundreds, perhaps thousands, across the north, no problem to acquire the land for such a commercial purpose. Similarly service businesses sprung up along the highways in unorganized areas. Land is not available for any such purpose now.
I remember when one could go out into the bush and stake a claim, thereby acquiring mineral rights, and, if desired, even outright ownership of the 40 acres involved.
I remember going to the ministry for permission to cut some crown land cedar for fence-posts. No problem, just call them when I am done, and they will scale my pile and charge me a nominal fee ($3 per cord?). The scaler suggested next time I just go get what I need, as the cost to scale my little pile was more than what I paid. Crown wood is now completely unavailable; recently a friend was made a criminal for taking some firewood for his house, from a pile in the bush destined to be burned as waste.
I remember commercial fisheries on most area lakes. Just try to get into that business now. Even trapping is being hemmed in by more and more restrictions, and the writing is on the wall.
I remember one would see a regular procession of small aircraft on skis or floats, coming and going, a rare sight in Dryden now. Regulations now require small aircraft to be fitted with electronics suitable for a 747 but absurd in the context of flying out for an hours fishing, making recreational flight unaffordable.
One of the benefits of our area was access to wilderness, canoe routes maintained by Junior Rangers, now disappeared; bush roads all over, now closed and bulldozed when the forest company is done. Snowmobiles were everywhere, but now are rare because of regulations appropriate for the counties where all the land is privately held, but absurd in the north and making snowmobiling unaffordable for casual users.
When the TransCanada highway was built in the 50’s, it was to a similar standard all across Canada. Now our northern Ontario section is a primitive cow path compared with the rest of Canada, it is a national embarrassment. Most traffic goes through the United States, and Ontario’s share of federal TransCanada highway money is going to a new bridge at Windsor/Detroit, to ensure highway traffic stays out of the north.
Economic development of any kind, even mineral finds as rich as the Ring of Fire are stalled due to absurdly excessive deference to ‘environmental’ anti-development groups and aboriginal land claims. Even mineral finds rich enough to survive these hurdles can only be developed on the basis of fly-in crews, the jobs must go elsewhere
Construction of road access to remote reserves was stopped, even though demonstrably a very sound investment compared with traffic by air and ice roads.
The Provincial Planning Policy provides that there will be no new communities in northern Ontario, case closed, which means that the frontier is frozen where it is at now. Well, except that the actions discussed above are about rolling back the frontier and returning northern Ontario to wilderness.
In short, official government policies have changed from building up the north, to depopulating it, the change starting as far back as the 60’s. What has all this to do with Dam the Dams? Wait for part 6.