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In the Heart of the Missinaibi

Our slogan, In the Heart of the Missinaibi, perfectly describes the charming community of Mattice – Val Côté. For thousands of years, this majestic river was the main transportation route for nomadic First Nation communities. They travelled the vast territory irrigated by the river and its tributaries and installed camps, notably summer camps at the location where we now find the Missinaibi municipal park. The arrival of Europeans in North America would thereafter make the Missinaibi a central element of the river network required for the fur trade in Canada. In 1905, the Hudson’s Bay Company established a fur trading post on the banks of the river. The construction of the National Transcontinental Railway (which later became the Canadian National and is now Ontario Northland) began during that same year and reached the Missinaibi river in (circa) 1910-11. In honour of the railway engineer who gave the community its name, this area is now known as Mattice.   

The advent of the railway opened up the territory and facilitated the arrival and settling of people of European descent. Mr. John Christianson, of Swedish origin, was the first pioneer to settle in Mattice in 1913. Other Swedish families joined him thereafter. In the early part of the 1920s, many people from the province of Quebec began to settle in this newly born community. Most of them had agroforestry backgrounds and travelled to northern Ontario, looking for wood lots that they could cut to sell the lumber while also practicing enough farming activity to meet their basic needs. These first Francophone settlers constitute the core around which the village took form. In the following decades, many Francophone families migrated towards Mattice, looking for a livelihood and hoping to improve their way of life. Throughout this growth period, the village gradually set in place the services required to function as a community (church, school, parish, businesses, post office, sawmills, forestry companies, financial institution, ice rink, community center, etc.)*


Val Côté also owes its existence to the arrival of the railway and was first called Côté Siding. In the early 1920s, families of both Finnish and French-Canadian origins established the settlement and formed the core of this northern Ontario Francophone community, which is also dependent on the agroforestry sector. As it grew, the hamlet obtained the services required for the wellbeing of its inhabitants.


In 1975, the two villages united to form the Corporation of the Townships of Eilber and Devitt. This new entity included the territory on which were once located (but no longer exist) the villages of Fryatt, Glenomo, Parthia and Reesor. As of January 1st, 1984, the regrouped territory officially became known as the Corporation of the Township of Mattice - Val Côté.  

Over the last few decades, the face of Mattice - Val Côté changed gradually to become a residential community of approximately 650 residents where one can enjoy a good and simple life. The Missinaibi still lures people with its charms, including both summer and winter outdoor enthusiasts. Every year, canoeists from all over the world camp in the Missinaibi municipal park on their way to James Bay. During the winter, snowmobilers travel long distances on its frozen surface, sometimes as far as Moosonee. Named the Voyager of the Missinaibi, the monument located on the east side of Mattice reminds us of the importance, both past and present, of this great river for the Municipality of Mattice - Val Côté. 


Text written by the Mattice born-and-raised historian, Danielle Coulombe

* For more information on the subject, refer to Tome 1 of "Si Missinaïbi m’était conté"

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The Hudson's Bay Company establishes a fur trading post on the Missinaibi River, where the community of Mattice is currently located.


Mattice welcomes its first settler, by the name of John Christianson.


Mattice welcomes its first French Canadian settler, by the name of J.H. Dallaire.


Construction of the first public school in Mattice.


Construction of a church in Mattice.


Mattice has its first baseball team.


George Côté, the first postmaster, names the community of Côté Siding (will become Val Côté).


Construction of a church in Val Côté. Destroyed by flames in 1962, it was rebuilt in 1963.


A bridge crosses over the Missinaibi River, using the small island as a section.


The first telephone arrives in Mattice and a telephone switchboard is installed.


Côté Siding is renamed Val Côté.


Passing of Gregor Lenox Mattice, the civil engineer responsible for the railway construction between Cochrane and Hearst. The village of Mattice is named in his honour.


Opening of the Caisse Populaire.


The bridge over the river is once again swept away by ice and must be rebuilt.


Reesor Siding tragedy.


Incorporation of the Municipality of Mattice – Val Côté.


Construction of the municipal complex.


Construction of the sports complex.

Unveiling of the cenotaph, a monument commemorating the people of our community who died in both World Wars.


Construction of the Val Côté Fire Hall.


Opening of Villa Missinaibi.


Installation of road lights.


The Municipality purchases its first computer, a Commodore PC-10 with an accounting program, for the sum of $10,000.


First edition of the Spring festival "Réveil du Printemps" in Val Côté.


Opening of the Missinaibi medical clinic.


Paving of the roads in the village of Mattice.


Repairs made to the old Indian cemetery.


The internet arrives in Mattice.


The Voyageur monument is erected.


The year of the famous hail storm in Mattice.


Opening of the new water treatment plant.


Purchase of a new garbage truck.


A monument commemorating the St-Sacrement church in Val Côté is erected.


Presentation of a play entitled "Si Missinaibi m’était conté" (If the Missinaibi could talk).


Unveiling of a plaque in honour of Fred Neegan, the Guardian of the Missinaibi.


Purchase of a new fire truck.


The Missinaibi winter carnival celebrates its 50th edition.

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