Overcoming Disaster

Map showing path of 1957 fire.  Photo courtesy of "Skead, Ontario, Canada: 1924 - 1999".Devastation struck the small settlement of Bowland's Bay on May 7, 1957 when a large fire literally destroyed the entire village. Only two homes and the local hotel managed to survive the fire thanks to the efforts of some brave men who hosed down the structures to keep the fire from taking hold. The event began on May 6th when a fire broke out in Garson Township. Not three hours later, a second fire started a few hundred yards from the first one. These two fires joined together to become one large, fast-moving inferno heading straight for Bowland's Bay and Skead. By 2:30 p.m. on May 7th, the fire had reached Bowland's Bay and, with 60 mile-an-hour winds propelling the blaze forward, it took only a matter of hours for the fire to destroy the small community. Residents fled the area by car and by foot. Some sought refuge in the cold waters of Lake Wanapitei to avoid the blaze. By the time the fire had passed through the town, there was almost nothing left but burnt rubble and acrid smoke. Miraculously, no one was injured or killed in the fire.

When word of the devastation reached other communities in the area, a relief campaign was started. Money poured in from neighbouring towns, the lumber companies, and the Ontario Government (who matched every donation dollar for dollar). By the summer of 1958, the town had been completely rebuilt and the residents of the community had better homes than they did before the blaze. Today, the forest has returned to its original fullness.

The history of Bowland's Bay is interlinked with that of Skead because of the relationship shared by the two communities. Today, that relationship still exists and residents of both communities share a close kinship unlike any other within the City of Greater Sudbury.


Material compiled from Skead, Ontario, Canada: 1924 - 1999 and Nickel Centre Yesterdays.

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