Latchford home to short covered bridge
Its slogan is The Best Little Town by a Dam Site!
Latchford has about 400 people and is rich in heritage. I stopped by its Museum of Memories on a Saturday. The congenial longtime Mayor George Lefebvre made the time during a horseshoe tournament and provided more information. He has been the mayor for 42 years and knows his “stuff.
The first gem is the Indigenous family photo taken circa 1890 hanging on the south wall on the second floor of the museum.
The inscription from former Chief Gary Potts of Bear (Makominising) Island, Lake Temagami describes this as a “smoking tent” for wild game. The photo originally hung on the wall of the A.B. Gordon Mill taken by C.C. Farr, founder of nearby Haileybury.
Check out the fossils from Dawson Point, and the lightbulb inventor Thomas Edison’s presence as a nearby mine owner.
When you look around, you find the world’s shortest covered bridge on Mowat Avenue.
“It came to be because we utilized excavated fill from the trench es recovered during the installation of water and sewage in 1975. It was previously a swamp. So utilizing a winter works program grant and local unemployed workers, we created the world’ s shortest covered bridge designed by then Coun. Cecil Conroy.”
Then there is the dedicated highway bridge.
“Queens Own Rifles Branch 344, Royal Canadian Legion Toronto and Sgt. Aubrey Cosens Branch 629, RCL, Latchford supported by the Town of Latchford lobbied the government of Bill Davis to name the bridge after Sgt Aubrey Cosens who had enlisted from Latchford and won the Victoria Cross (one of 16 won by Canadians in the Second World War),” Lefebvre says.
“That government refused because no provincially owned structure was ever named for anyone other than a politician. But when the David Peterson government took over, Branch 344 president Gus Goutowski determined that Transportation Minister Ed Fulton’s father was a member of the Queens Own. The Sgt. Aubrey Cosens VC Bridge in Latchford became the first provincially owned structure ever named for anyone other than a politician. The crowd that day was estimated to be in the range of 3,000.”
You might remember when the Highway 11 bridge collapsed?
“It was January 2003 and Latchford CAO Lynn Godden heard a loud bang and looked out her office window to watch the southbound truck, the last to drive over the bridge. After traffic was re-routed through Quebec and down Highway 144, in a couple of weeks there was a temporary bailey bridge in place. But it was into 2006 before the Sgt. Cosens was open to traffic.”
There is a reconstructed dam spanning the Montreal River.
“The original dam was completed in time for navigation season in 1912 which was the last year the big boats carried freight and passengers between Latchford and Elk Lake. The dam was intended to aid navigation through Pork Rapids and the old dam and the dredging of Pork Rapids (included in the contract) cost a little north of $23,000 and the contract was signed by Wilfrid Laurier, later to become Sir. The new dam cost well north of $25 million.”
What is the story behind the community’s slogan?
“My Grade 1 teacher, Edith Rabillard, entered the slogan in a contest in 1967 and was the handsdown winner. We have used it ever since and were one of the first towns to add a slogan to our entry population signs when the province allowed that.”
Go for a tour and call Lefebvre at 705-648-8298.
Latchford is home to the world’s shortest covered bridge.