Current River (Ontario)

Current River seen from the Black Bay Bridge

The Current River is a river in Northwestern Ontario, Canada which empties into Lake Superior. It rises out of Current Lake, north west of the city of Thunder Bay, curves through a number of small lakes, including Onion Lake (which appears as more of a widening of the river than an actual lake), before heading north to empty into Thunder Bay at the northern edge of the city of Thunder Bay.

The river's name is the English version of the name given it by early French explorers: "Rivière aux courants", referring to the river's currents. In 1859 Lindsay Russell, Surveyor-General for Canada, followed the river from its mouth in Lake Superior towards its source, reporting that:

"Current River, having a general course of north, winds about among steep, rocky hills, which sometimes rise straight up from its edge; from the top of one of these, about 6 miles from its mouth, we could see its course for a long distance through an exceedingly rough country. It is full of rapids and falls pouring through clefts of up-heaved granite and slate. Opposite the second mile of the line it passes through slate, but higher up, granite."

Two other sizable rivers—the Neebing and the McIntyre-- run between Current River and the Kaministiquia River to the south, but in 1859 only these two were of sufficient interest to be identified by name. Previously Current River had been referred to as "First River" and the McIntyre continued for some time to be known as "Second River".

Early references to development along the Current River include mention of John McKenzie's acquisition of land along it in 1857, and William Petit Trowbridge's 400 acre (1.6 km²) purchase of patented mineral lands at the river's mouth in 1865. About 1867 brothers Peter, John and Donald McKellar discovered silver deposits near the river, and their Thunder Bay Silver Mining Co. operated near its mouth from 1866 to 1870, when fire destroyed the buildings. The Shuniah Mine also operated in this area from 1867-1881, and an 1875 editorial in Prince Arthur Landing's newspaper the Thunderbolt mentions factories and mills on the Current River.

In 1901 a dam was built near the mouth of the river, resulting in flooding which created an artificial lake known as Boulevard Lake. The land around the lake was developed as a municipal park. Industry has continued to build at the mouth of the river—predominantly pulp, wood and newsprint mills, along with rail and lake shipping facilities—but numerous parklands follow it inland. Eventually it disappears into roadless wilderness, reappearing from time to time near roadsides and at dams constructed along its course.

See also



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