2 years ago
Argentite began as a small hamlet just south of where North Cobalt is today. Two of the first settlers to the area were Mr. Harry Darke and Mr. Andrew Fernholm who arrived in 1890 (est.). In 1907, Mr. Darke subdivided his farmland into lots and named it Argentite.
On August 7, 1903 silver was discovered in nearby Cobalt by two railway workers searching for wood to be used as railway ties. This discovery set off a silver rush that brought prospectors from all parts of the world.
The Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway (T&NO) reached New Liskeard by January 1905. The purpose of the railway line was to allow lumber and other goods to be shipped down to Toronto. This was especially important during the winter when steamers were unable to make the trip into the docks at Mill Creek.
As Argentite's population grew, the hamlet's services expanded to include a general store, bakery, two taverns, inn and the bottling works plant. A post office was opened in 1908 but closed fourteen months later and moved to North Cobalt, just north of Mill Creek. At its peak, Argentite's population stood at approximately 500 residents.
During the winters, bootleggers on sleights would bring liquor across frozen Lake Temiskaming into Cobalt and Argentite. While Argentite was much smaller than nearby Cobalt, it offered something that Cobalt, being a dry town, could not – a legal place for thirsty prospectors to quench their thirst. The Brady Wine Inn served as both a drinking establishment and a local brothel.
In 1910, the Nipissing Central Railway was built from Cobalt to Haileybury to provide a form of economical public transportation using electric streetcars. At 6 a.m. on April 30, 1910 the NCR trolley car made its first debut.
By 1912 the streetcar service had been extended to New Liskeard and on June 20, 1911 the T&NO railway bought the NCR railway.
The streetcar trolley line crossed over the T&NO bridge and made its way through Argentite. Here the railway station and bridge became known as Argentite Crossing. The cost to travel the trolley was 10 cents (3 cents for children going to school).
By 1918 many of the loggers had left Argentite to fight in the World War. The summer of 1922 had been a hot and dry season. It was common practice for farmers to clear their land by setting fires in their fields.
On October 4, 1922 when burning permits were no longer required, farmers in nearby Haileybury were clearing their land with small bush fires. Large-scale winds turned the small fires into a large inferno. People made their way into Lake Temiskaming where they stood holding their children for hours. The road from Haileybury to Cobalt was lined with people on both sides of the road kneeling in prayer.
The fire completely destroyed Haileybury within hours and continued to spread to North Cobalt and then to Argentite. Forty-three people died from the resulting fire.
Argentite was destroyed. The Mill Creek dam was left to rot or was scavenged for its wood. While a few residents remained in Argentite, many of them left and never returned.
As road quality improved and more cars were being driven, the NCR was seeing fewer passengers use their service and in increase in annual losses. On February 9, 1935 the Nipissing Central Railway made it's last run.
Today all that is left of Argentite are the trolley bridge abutments and the Silverland Cemetery. Take highway 11B north of North Cobalt.
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