John Charlton,  Charlton Lake namesake 1884 - Derek Coleman

Harold & Charlie Golden With Happy, 1945 - Harold & MaryLou Golden
Harold & Charlie Golden With Happy, 1945 - Harold & MaryLou Golden
1943 movie at the Willisville School with students from Willisville & Whitefish Falls. Teachers Mrs. Anderson & Mrs Stump (back row) - Harold Golden
1943 movie at the Willisville School with students from Willisville & Whitefish Falls. Teachers Mrs. Anderson & Mrs Stump (back row) - Harold Golden
Green's Camp (Widgawa Lodge) Hugh Cummings Photo - Tim Gallagher
Green's Camp (Widgawa Lodge) Hugh Cummings Photo - Tim Gallagher
Boats at Raby's Store 1940s - Neil & Jane Pruden
Boats at Raby's Store 1940s - Neil & Jane Pruden
Willis Homestead circa 1915 - WILLIS Family Archives
Willis Homestead circa 1915 - WILLIS Family Archives
Alena Merial Willis 1926 - WILLIS Family Archives
Alena Merial Willis 1926 - WILLIS Family Archives
Namesake, Ernest Willis 1924 - WILLIS Family Archives
Namesake, Ernest Willis 1924 - WILLIS Family Archives
"The Corner", George & Kathleen Willis Smyth, 1938 - WILLIS Family Archives
"The Corner", George & Kathleen Willis Smyth, 1938 - WILLIS Family Archives
Willisville Docks circa 1940
Willisville Docks circa 1940
Looking left from Willisville Docks at the Willisville store circa 1940
Looking left from Willisville Docks at the Willisville store circa 1940
Looking right from Willisville Docks at Lawson Quarry circa 1940
Looking right from Willisville Docks at Lawson Quarry circa 1940
Looking across the channel from Willisville Docks at Kinsman Camp circa 1940
Looking across the channel from Willisville Docks at Kinsman Camp circa 1940
Diddy Bags circa 1943	 Eva Leach, Pat Spry, Geraldine Bond, Audrey Glanville, Frances Golden, Marjory Glanville, Mae Golden, Madeline Witty, Helen Golden, Sheila Glanville, Reva Witty
Diddy Bags circa 1943 Eva Leach, Pat Spry, Geraldine Bond, Audrey Glanville, Frances Golden, Marjory Glanville, Mae Golden, Madeline Witty, Helen Golden, Sheila Glanville, Reva Witty
 Willisville Christmas 1944 - Melissa Courtemanche
Willisville Christmas 1944 - Melissa Courtemanche
Harold & Charlie Golden With Happy 1945 - Harold & MaryLou Golden
Harold & Charlie Golden With Happy 1945 - Harold & MaryLou Golden
Jane Pruden on the old mine roaster 1940 - Brad Pruden
Jane Pruden on the old mine roaster 1940 - Brad Pruden
The turkey truck incident on the widgawa hill 1944 - harold golden
The turkey truck incident on the widgawa hill 1944 - harold golden
waiting for the train at Willisville 1930s - rockwood collection
waiting for the train at Willisville 1930s - rockwood collection
willisville post office 1919 - willis family archives
willisville post office 1919 - willis family archives

'One of the many pretty scenes near Willisville' mailed from Willisville in 1937. A hugh Cummings photocard.
"Say don't you know how to write letters. I have only received one. Alma you ought to be here. The grasshoppers are just thick. Every time you go to the Miss Jones they fly up like bees. Don't know when I'll be home."

Jane Pruden at the Willisville station 1930s

A Brief History of the Ernest Willis Family
By Dawn Hicks
Granddaughter of Ernest Willis
The Willis family’s lineage originated in Wiltshire, England.  Ernest Willis was the third son of William Willis and Mary Simmonds.  The family immigrated to Canada from the Isle of Wight, where they were living at the time, in 1875, aboard The Vicksberg, landing in Quebec City.  Interestingly, The Vicksberg sank on the return trip. 
They settled on  Manitoulin Island, Howland Township. 
Ernest and Ada met and married on the Island. Ernest remained on the family farm for a time after his father’s death in 1889. Here, Violet, Grace, Harry, Ada & Jessie were born. The family moved to Thessalon, then West River where Clara, Alena & Ernie Jr. were born and Kathleen was born in Willisville.
Ernest was a Forest Ranger and he and Ada used to portage with canoe through the back lakes as far as Killarney checking the area for fires.  Before Cameron’s opened a store in Whitefish Falls, Ernest would canoe and portage to Espanola to purchase supplies for his family.  When the Algoma Eastern Railway was opened from Sudbury to Little Current, Ernest opened a store at Willisville and stocked supplies for sale to the residents and cottagers and for their own use.  In 1919, Ernest assumed the role of Postmaster and continued until his sudden death in 1928. 
Ernest was interested in education for his children.
In the early days of St. Augustine’s Mission in Whitefish Falls, The community around the Mission consisted of mostly native people and two white families, namely the John Cameron and the Ernest Willis families.  At the beginning of WWI, more white families were moving into the area and it was decided that there was a need for a school in the Mission area.  Chief Keshigobiness, known as Big John and Mr. Ernest Willis who assisted him greatly, worked under great difficulty in procuring a school.  They were guided by Bishop Thornloe and finally were able to open a school for those who wished to attend. 
The first school was in the home of Big John and opened Friday, October 13, 1916, by Rev S. H. Ferris of Garden River.  Mr. Duncan Bell was the first teacher.  The school continued until a fire burned down the log house, but a new building was soon found and some 20 children were gathered and taught until a proper school was built.  Big John and Ernest walked from one lumber camp to another and begged for lumber or money and the new building was erected in 1917. 
The Willis, Golden & other children from Willisville would walk along a path to the horseshoe curve and down the track to Whitefish Falls to attend school.  In 1931, Kathleen Willis and Dewey Golden were the first two students to pass their Entrance exams at the school.  Both went on to further studies.
“Condensed from an article by Mrs. R. W. Stump” 
The following is copied from and article in the Manitoulin Expositor dated 03 Jan. 1929. 
DEATH
Mr. E. Willis 
On Xmas Eve about noon, Mr. Ernest Willis had gone into the woods to cut a little kindling wood to see him over the Christmas holidays, he had just cut a dry tree and in falling it, it broke off, & falling back struck Mr. Willis on the temple, and he fell into Mr. Ernest Spry's arms.  It killed him instantly.  Such was the sad news received in this distict almost immediately after everyone felt stunned, then bowed down with grief.  Mr Willis and his family have from the beginning been keen and zealous workers for this Mission and the school, and we deeply deplore our loss.
He was laid to rest on Wednesday last in Willisville, near his home, beside two of his loved ones.  The Rev. E. Weeks performed the last sad rites.  Indians and whites all mingled their tears for him.  Nothing that has occurred here in years has so stirred everyone living in this district.  Everyone fell stricken with grief, and we pray that God will sustain Mrs. Willis and her devoted children in there irreparable loss.
“ Article compliments of David Botting, great grand nephew of Ernest Willis” 
After Ernest’s death, Ada assumed the role of Postmaster and about 1932; she married Henry Bennett, lovingly called “Bento”.  Ada passed away 13 Nov. 1943 while undergoing surgery.  Before her death, her daughter, Mrs. Jessie Spry had received word that Inco was taking over the property that the Willis family had leased for 99 years.  It is said that if she had known this news, it would have killed her, as this place was her whole life.  Henry Bennett assumed the role of Postmaster after her death until late 1943. 
From the family of nine children, only Kathleen remains alive.  There are many descendants of Ernest and Ada Willis.
 Information from the Willis Family Archives

Posted on May 9, 2013
For all of you who knew any of the Willis Family, Kathleen Florence Willis, youngest and last surviving daughter of Ernest and Ada (Humphrey) Willis, passed away 21 April 2013 at West Parry Sound Health Centre at the age of 95 years and three months. She married George Henry Smyth of Allen Twp. Manitoulin Island in 1937 and after running the snack bar and a couple of cottages at “The Corner” across from where the road goes into Willisville, they moved to the Parry Sound area. After about 6 years in partnership with Kay’s sister Alena and her hubby, Alex Raby, they purchased a cottage and sleeping cottage on the shores of Big Lake, now Giroux Lake. They worked diligently and when they sold in the 1960s here were 9 cottages and the main lodge, all of which George built. They moved into Parry Sound and purchased a house there, which they later sold and moved to a smaller one just two doors away. George passed away in 1983 and Kay still resided there until her death. Over the years she had been involved volunteer with various charities and was pastoral visitor with her church. She loved her family and all her nieces and nephews and was a very hospitable person. She will be missed!
The last of the original Willis family.
Dawn Hicks
History of the Webbwood/Little Current Subs and the Nickel Spur
By Rick Brown
Courtesy of the
CPR Archives
Environmental Engineering Group

.

In 1871, exploratory surveys for a trans continental rail line had been undertaken south of lake Nipissing to Ste. Marie from Mattawa. The Canadian Pacific Railway was committed by the articles of incorporation in 1881 to build an all Canadian route to the pacific coast. However, until a feasible route could be determined north of lake Superior, water transportation between Sault Ste. Marie and the lake-head was employed as stop gap measure.

In 1881, a line was located westward to near the mouth of the Spanish River or Algoma Mills and as matter of expediency, temporary port facilities were begun there instead of at S.S. Marie. This routing was considered a portion of the main line until the all Canadian route was fixed as diverging from Sudbury junction.

In 1882, a rail line (later called the SOO branch) was begun between Algoma Mills and the main line at Sudbury. The Soo branch. completed in 1884, wasn't needed and remained languid until 1888 at which time it was brought up to standard and extended eighty four miles to S.S. Marie, Ontario, where an intermediary on behalf of the CPR had just acquired the rights to a financially troubled American line, the Minneapolis, St. Paul and S.S. Marie who had a track constructed to S.S. Marie, Michigan. A bridge jointly constructed by the CPR and the American railway company across the St. Mary's river, was completed and opened to traffic in 1889.

Consequently, what was once presupposed to be the CPR's way to the west coast of Canada, became their route to acquiring a major share of the eastbound traffic emanating south of the 49"' parallel. CPR took over the Soo line in 1890 when the intermediary ran into. financial difficulties.

About the same time, in 1888, the Manitoulin and North Shore Railway Co. (M&NSR) was empowered to build from a connection to the CPR at Sudbury, along the north shore of Georgian Bay to Manitoulin Island. In 1900, they were authorized to extend the line via Little Current to Owen Sound. The idea of course was to obtain a southern outlet to Toronto independent of the CPR from Sudbury. At the same time, the railway was projected from near what is now known as McKerrow on the CPR Sault Ste. Marie branch (Webbwood Subdivision) to a connection with the Algoma Central Railway, north of S.S. Marie.

To serve the INCO (formerly known as the Canadian Copper Co.) smelters at Copper Cliff. the M&NSR began construction in 1900 from a connection to the CPR at Sudbury. The junction with the railway of the INCO and the M&NS was called Clarabelle. The line was pushed beyond Clarabelle to the Elsie and Gertrude mines comprising a total of fourteen miles of railway.

A large pulp and paper mill was erected at Espanola on the Spanish river and in order to provide rail services to this facility, a two mile spur was built under the M&NS charter from Espanola to the CPR at Mckerrow and leased to the CPR. Although financial problems in 1903 forced the closure of the two aforementioned mines and halted construction of the M&NS railway, by 1907, conditions had improved and the M&NS railway and Algoma Central Railway extended their lines.

Due to the fact that both railways (although separated by 170 miles) were under the same management, in 1911 the M&NSR became the Algoma Eastern Railway (AER). The rails were subsequently extended to join up with the Espanola spur at mileage 47.6. Although a repair shop was maintained at Sudbury, all heavy repairs were done by the Algoma Central at S.S. Marie, reaching that point by way of the CPR.

The railway was extended another thirty nine miles by 1913 from Espanola to a point on the mainland across the channel from Little Current where a yard and docking facilities were constructed (Turner Yard). This was the end of the line, and though conceived as hauler of ore and ore by-products in the beginning, the Algoma Eastern was to do a lucrative business hauling coal to the smelters at Sudbury in the ensuing years.

In 1930, the AER became a part of the Sault Ste. Marie branch of the CPR when it was leased to the latter for 999 years. Due to the duplication of trackage between Sudbury and Espanola, the abandonment of the Algoma line was imminent. The AER shop and yard at Sudbury were closed down and in 193 1, the trackage between Espanola and Turbine was abandoned. The following year, an additional 19.6 miles from Turbine easterly was taken out of service. In 1935, the track had been lifted to 17.5 miles from Sudbury. Today, this stub is known as the Nickel Subdivision (spur) running 11.8 miles from Creighton to Sudbury. The remainder of the AER from McKerrow to just before the bridge to Goat Island 3 7.8 miles is known as the Little Current Subdivision. Presently, railroad operations use only the first three miles of track.

Ernest willis family in willisville 1918

Ada & ernest willis, fire ranger, and children circa 1918

The Corner Store which became the Tower Hill Cabins & Store on Hiway 68 (now 6) across from the Willisville road.

The Corner store of George & Kay Willis Smyth.

The Corner Store which became the Tower Hill Cabins & Store on Hiway 68 (now 6) across from the Willisville road.

Kay Willis Smyth and her brother Harry Willis and his girls Jean, Gwyn and Joy.

Angus Campbell, Henry Beaver, Charlotte Beaver, Helen Clark at Stith's cabin on Howry Creek circa 1941.

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