Despite its small size, Shallow Lake brings joy to many people in the area. Located a few kilometers north of Highway 11 in Mattice, folks go to the lake to enjoy all sorts of water activities (swimming, boating, tubing, skiing, riding moto-marines, boards and kayaks, fishing, and more), to do some ice fishing, camp, relax at the cottage, and to live. As a matter of fact, more than 10 of the 40 dwellings built around the lake are permanent residences. In addition to the cottages/homes, the two camping parks, the road allowances that transform into great ATV and snowmobile trails, and the proximity of the river turn Shallow Lake Road into a rather busy access route throughout the seasons!
A river we proudly call our own
Located in northeastern Ontario, the Missinaibi river runs in a northeast direction for 426 kilometres. Less than 100 kilometres from Lake Superior, the river travels from Lake Missinaibi, north of Chapleau, all the way to Moose River. The confluence of this river is less than 100 kilometers from James Bay. It is approximately in the middle of this route, in the heart of the Missinaibi, that the small community of Mattice – Val Côté can be found.
As one of the longest free-flowing rivers in Canada, this magnificent river corridor reveals striking rock formations along its shorelines, rapids and falls. The Ministry of Natural Resources gave this river the Provincial Park status in 1988 and it is part of the Canadian Heritage Rivers System. The river is renowned for its intact panoramic beauty, the diversity of its natural characteristics, and for the major role it played in Canadian history as an important fur trade route.* The Missinaibi continues to offer its visitors the opportunity to take part in prolonged canoeing and backcountry camping experiences. To those who live close by and who enjoy fishing, camping, and snowmobiling, the Missinaibi provides hours of leisurely exploration and pleasure.
*For centuries, the Missinaibi was used for transportation by First Nations. During the fur trade era, many fur trading posts were established along its shores.
The name Missinaibi is probably of Algonquin origin where the word "Masinabi" referred to the trace left by water. Another possibility is that the name comes from the Cree language where Missinaibi means "pictured waters," which is believed to refer to the pictographs drawn on rock faces along the river.
At Thunderhouse Falls, which is actually a chain of relatively small waterfalls connected by violent rapids, the river drops 40 metres, part of its descent from the Canadian Shield to the Hudson Bay Lowlands.
Canoeing & Kayaking
While experienced canoeists and kayakers can travel the entire length of the Missinaibi, most will choose to paddle one of its two main sections: the upper Missinaibi, which runs from Lake Missinaibi to Mattice, a journey of 236 kilometres, with 28 portages, lasting from 10 to 12 days; or the lower Missinaibi, which runs from Mattice to Moosonee, a journey of 320 kilometres, interrupted by seven to 10 portages and lasting from seven to nine days.
The book written by Hap Wilson, entitled "Missinaibi - Journey to the Northern Sky" is on sale at the municipal office.
Commemorative Monument Holy Sacrament Church
This commemorative monument was erected in the summer of 2009 in recognition for the generosity of the numerous volunteers and parishioners who, through their work and financial contributions, built and maintained the Holy Sacrament Parish church until its closure in September 2005.
A first church erected in 1928-29 was expanded in 1941 and was later destroyed by a fire on February 8, 1962; it was rebuilt by volunteers in 1962-63 and was torn down in October 2007.
Situated a short distance south of the railroad on the west bank of the Missinaibi River, the cemetery was used from the early 1900s until 1945, and then it was gradually abandoned. According to records kept by the Anglican Church, which managed the cemetery for several years, 21 people have been buried between 1919 and 1945, mostly natives, but it is believed that other graves not listed are probably there.
After being more or less abandoned for many years, in the fall of 1987, Laurent Vaillancourt, following a site visit with Fred Neegan, sent a series of photos and a site plan to the municipality - prompting the Municipal Council to undertake the restoration of this historic site.
During the summers from 1989 to 1991, work totalling approximately $26,000 and financed by Nord Aski, the provincial government (Environmental Youth Project) and the municipality, under the supervision of Fred Neegan, allowed for clearing the site, building fences around several burials and around the perimeter, the erection of a cross, a bronze plaque listing the known dead, and two signs identifying the site at the entrance of the parking lot and along the river for canoeists, as well as an access path and parking space for visitors.
The inauguration of the restored site took place October 5, 1991.
In 1996, Fred Neegan was honoured by the Ontario Heritage Foundation for his dedication to the restoration of this historic site; his sister Clara, who died March 8, 1945 at age 23, and his brother Lawrence who died June 2 of that year at the age of 18, were the last two people buried in this cemetery before it was abandoned.
The Missinaibi Traveller
This monument was erected in October 1997 by the Municipality of Mattice – Val Côté with financial assistance from the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario. Realised from an original drawing from Florence Dupéré, this sculpture called “The Missinaïbi Traveller” is the work of sculptor Denys Heppell of St-Jean-Port-Joli, Quebec.
Why do many people think of dinosaurs when they think of Mattice?
For many decades, when traveling west on Highway 11, people knew they had arrived in Mattice when they drove by the dinosaurs.
Located in front of the Mattice Motel, on the east side of the village, a tyrannosaurus and a stegosaurus greeted passersby!
These huge concrete creatures were built by the brothers Serge, Jean and Paul Dupuis*. The boys inherited their artistic tastes and talents from their parents, Claire and Armand Dupuis, who then operated the Mattice Motel.
While the motel was sold and converted into a residence before being destroyed by fire in October 2018, the tyrannosaurus is still standing. Note: it is currently located on private property.
Before moving away, Mrs. Dupuis had occupied the position of postmaster in Mattice for numerous years. She lived with her children in the building that housed the post office, located at 250 King Street. Following the demolition of this building, the Municipality used the vacant land to expand Brisson Park. In December 2019, the Municipality installed a small metal T-Rex on this property, both to attract visitors and to recognize the contributions of this family.
*The Dupuis brothers eventually transformed their fascination for prehistoric animals into an amusement park by building and operating the site known as "Prehistoric World" in Morrisburg, Ontario.