Photo series from Temagami

May 9, 2023

Temagami is a forest region located 400 km north of Toronto. An internationally recognized ecological site, the region contains nearly 50% of all remaining old-growth pine forests. These ancient forests now only exist in 1% of their pre-colonial range, and therefore constitute an endangered ecosystem. The Wakimika Triangle is the largest stand of old-growth pine in Temagami; it has majestic trees that are 15 stories high and more than 300 years old.

Lake Obabika, Temagami ON

Temagami is also home to the Teme-Augama Anishnabai whose history and culture is interwoven with the land. Several sacred sites still exist in Temagami, along with an extensive system of traditional trails and canoe routes called Nastawgan, which have been used for thousands of years.

Earthroots began as the Temagami Wilderness Society, established to protect the Temagami region from logging. Earthroots played a pivotal role in the Red Squirrel Road blockade in 1989, when environmental and First Nations activists, as well as the public, peacefully resisted the logging of Temagami’s old growth pine. The action prompted the Ontario government to take measures to protect the region. At that point, the blockade was the largest act of peaceful civil disobedience in Canada history (later to be surpassed in size by the protests in Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia). Over 300 people were arrested for blockading the Red Squirrel logging road extension.

First arrest of nonviolent blockaders at 4:00 p.m. on September 18 (
1989 Red Squirrel Blockade
Several miles of access road had to be cleared by the police to get to the blockade site.
Demonstrators built a bridge timber “cage” that made extrication by police difficult.

Soon after the blockade, the Ontario government initiated the Temagami Land Use Plan. By 1996, the planning process was complete, and several provincial parks and conservation reserves were established, protecting just under half of Temagami’s old growth.

Since 1996, Earthroots has worked hard to preserve Temagami’s remaining unprotected old-growth, and Indigenous sacred sites. It has also promoted low-impact recreation in the region, such as hiking and canoeing, and has raised public awareness about this unique region.

Temagami is known for its archaeology. Diamond Lake pictographs refer back to the battles with invading Iroquois in the mid 1600’s
Clear cutting in the Temagami

Today, 34 years after the Red Squirrel Road blockade, Temagami still isn’t fully protected.

We are fighting for protection in the Temagami. We want to see key areas within the Temagami protected for good from logging and mining exploration, starting with Wolf Lake. We want to achieve this goal by working with Indigenous communities and decision makers, government officials, and the public to raise awareness of forest management and mining exploration issues and come up with solutions to protect vulnerable areas once and for all.

Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting campaign!

Click here for the latest updates on Wolf Lake

Wolf Lake by Rob Nelson

About Hap Wilson

International Fellow of the prestigious Explorer’s Club, fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, recipient of the Bill Mason Award for lifetime achievement in river conservation, co-founder of the environmental group Earthroots, author, artist, wilderness guide and photographer, Hap Wilson has paddled more than 60,000 kilometres across Canada. Often referred to as the modern day “David Thompson” Wilson’s artistic maps and explorations have covered more than half the country, brought alive in his best-selling guidebooks and short stories. Wilson has more than a dozen books to his name, including “Voyages” – Canada’s Heritage Rivers, which won the Natural Resources Council of America Award for best environmental book in 1994. His current book, “Mapping Canada’s Canoe Route” (Firefly Books), traces a 1,200km. Trans Canada Trail canoe path across northwest Ontario, from Thunder Bay to Manitoba. On the lighter side, Wilson taught Pierce Brosnan how to paddle a canoe and throw a knife for the movie “Grey Owl” – a Richard Attenborrough production. He lives in Rosseau, Ontario, with his wife Andrea and Oban (collie named after their favourite scotch).

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