The train station in Newaygo

The train station in Newaygo, circa 1940
Source: BAnQ

Long before the arrival of Europeans to the Laurentians in the 19 th century, people came to hunt, fish and enjoy the sunsets on the shimmering surface of the lakes. Of this part of prehistory, we have few witnesses. Among the rare artifacts, there are these Huron and Iroquoian vessels dating back 500 and 700 years respectively, found in the nearby Lac des Seize-Îles. These almost-intact pots tell us of an ancient aboriginal presence in our valleys, as do some of the place names that describe the Laurentian landscape.

We are here near the hamlet of Newaygo located on the shore of Lake Saint-François-Xavier. There is speculation as to the origin of this name; one hypothesis is that the word “Newaygo” is an Algonquin term meaning 'much water'.

It should be noted that a county in Michigan is also named Newaygo and accordingto their research it comes from the Chippewa chief, Nawago, signatory of the Treaty of Saginaw in 1819. 

The creation of a hamlet

Advertisement from the 'Standard Illustrated' supplement of February 1908.
Source: BAnQ

In the early 20 th century, lot owners in Wentworth Township formed real estate companies to build cottages and summer villas. To attract prospective buyers, they took out newspaper advertisements offering free land, highlighting how easy it was to get there by train and promoting fresh, clean mountain air.offered free land since the mid-19th century, Montreal had had its share of public health problems: cholera (1832), typhus (1847), smallpox (1885), and Spanish flu (1918). It was enough to convince city dwellers to buy a second home in the country.


View of the Newaygo train station, its post office and general store. Circa 1930s.
Source: BAnQ

Newaygo had a post office in 1917 and Joseph Bodfish was the first postmaster. The hamlet quickly became a popular destination for vacationers, many of whom were brought to the lakefront by train. A 1932 tourist brochure praised the affordable cost of lodging. Several cottages were available for rent and A. R. Morrison's Park Inn, situated just 274 meters from the train station, offered about thirty rooms with full board.

The pleasures of summer

The Newaygo wharf.
Source: BAnQ

Social activities organized in Newaygo also attracted vacationers from other lakes. Regattas and dances provided an opportunity to meet and compete in a friendly manner. Fishing and small game hunting were popular, but access to the lake was restricted to club members only. The cessation of rail service between Saint-Sauveur and Lac Rémi in 1962 radically transformed small hamlets like Newaygo, whose prosperity depended upon tourism. Its shoreline is now lined with private properties, peacefully nestled at the foot of the Laurentian Mountains, and the railroad tracks have given way to the Aerobic Corridor where valiant cyclists test themselves against the region's terrain.

Extract of
Historical Tour of Wentworth North

Historical Tour of Wentworth North image circuit

Presented by : Municipalité de Wentworth-Nord
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