The Towns and Cities
of Northern Ontario
Espanola Ontario -
small paper mill town of Espanola has a colourful history. It was
originally founded by a group of men who created the Spanish River Pulp
and Paper Company and chose the site only as a second choice after
learning that the owners of land in Webbwood (father west on the river
and already a booming settlement) wanted too high a price to sell their
land. They chose instead Webbwood Falls and Espanola was born.
One of it's interesting periods was
during the Second World War when the mill becoming a POW camp (Camp 21).
The prisoners had recreation programs, learned to play hockey, had
dances, and had gifts thrown to them by the young women in town.
Espanola proved to be as accommodating to it's visitors then as it is
Espanola also boasts an early history of
dealing with the French separatist issue. Not long after Espanola became
a proper town many French speaking people began to move into the area,
most choosing to live within one area of town. This section became
known, unofficially, as Frenchtown and still is to this day by long time
local residents. What I find fun is the fact that as early as 1927 an
attempt was made to incorporate Frenchtown separately from Espanola. It
seems this is an issue that has been around for Canadians a long
Maxwell, James Bond's faithful secretary Miss Moneypenny, lived in
Espanola for 18 years and stared in the locally filmed series Adventures
in Rainbow Country. Only 26 episodes were filmed during 1969-1970 but
the short run series proved more popular internationally than locally
and was shown throughout Great Brittan, Europe, and Australia. As late
as the 80's I watched weekly reruns in the United States and I'm told
you can still catch it today, three times a day, on the DejaView
Espanola quickly became known as the
Gateway to Rainbow Country. As it's fame spread more of Northern Ontario
claimed a part and today Rainbow Country includes much of the North
Shore and the Sudbury area. For me Rainbow Country will always be the
area starting in Espanola and running south toward Manitoulin Island.
Spend one day in that area in late September and you'll understand why.
Espanola is still very much a paper mill town. It's population has
continued to hover near the 5000-5500 number for the last 30-40 years.
It has a beautiful golf course that lies along the Spanish River,
several motels, camp grounds and restaurants for visitors, and is the
largest shopping area between Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie. Here you can
find the old stand bys like McDonalds, Wendy's, Dairy Queen, and Tim
Horton's, the only town between the two larger centers that can say
Espanola sits at the heart of one of the
world's great beauty areas. Lakes are everywhere and a walk from
anywhere in town can find you deep in "the bush" in a matter of minutes.