A Shift in Fortunes

The railroad began a huge undertaking in 1913 when it started working on straightening the railway line. This project was very beneficial to the residents of Dowling Township because the abandoned trails provided the growing community with a roadway. This road was improved for use by horse and buggy and the citizens worked to extend the road towards Chelmsford. The rerouting of the railway also enabled a road to be established linking Larchwood to Levack.

It should be noted that the Township of Dowling was known by many names including the Flats, Larchwood, and Rheaume Flats. Eventually, it became known simply as Dowling.

Throughout the beginning of the First World War in 1914, life continued as normal in Dowling Township. The Mond Nickel Company was operating in Levack and some farmers were enjoying prosperous times. In those days, men whose farms were on the smaller side would often work for the railway or for logging companies in the winter and work their farm in the summer. Often these men did not own their own farms and this was the best way to save up enough money to purchase their own land.

By 1915, Dowling Township was becoming a solid community complete with a general store (run by W.O. Wilson), a hotel, a sawmill, churches, and a school. The main focal point in those days was the Larchwood Railway Station (established after the straightening of the railway). The post office was located near the station (in Wilson's Store) and a telegram office was part of the station. Doctors and veterinarians could be sent for by telegram by locals in need of medical services and, since the station contained the largest room in the community, the waiting room would on occasion be used as a meeting hall.

Things began to look grim in 1915 with the logging industry coming to an end in the area and workers being left without jobs. These men would beg for work from local residents and often would work all day clearing land just for a hot meal and place to sleep. Some of the desperate men decided to join the army just for the benefit of three meals a day and a comfortable bed. Despite the hardships faced by some, other more fortunate individuals continued to live as before, throwing house parties, dances, and other social activities. Often these social activities involved reading books in the evenings, playing cards, making rag dolls, or wishing for items in the Eatons and Simpsons catalogues. On the weekends, neighbours would visit one another. While the children were playing, the adults would discuss local news and share information obtained through letters and discussions with other area residents. When the war was finally ended, conditions began to improve in Dowling Township. Farmers and lumbermen could finally sell their goods and new homesteads were being established.

In the early part of the 1920's, Dowling Township faced the destruction of its agricultural industry as the fumes from the smelters in Sudbury decimated the once rich and fertile farming land. Although farming continued in the area, it was no longer a prosperous enterprise.


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