History of the Ingram River and Surrounding Area
10,000 Years Ago: The Ice Retreats
As mile-thick glaciers recede with a warming climate, a stunningly rugged landscape is revealed. Shaped by ice that carved through granite bedrock formed 300 million years earlier, the contours of the future wilderness area take shape. Over the ensuing millennia forests and wildlife colonize the hills and valleys. Fish and aquatic life spread through the lakes and rivers. Nature takes hold.
The First Peoples
Discoveries of Mi’kmaq artifacts in the future wilderness area are testament to the traditional use of these lands by First Nations people. Overland routes of rivers and portages are
established to move seasonally between the interior and the coast; they endure for centuries and some can still be followed today. The waterways provide alewife, salmon, trout, and eels for sustenance. Moose and caribou are hunted. Towering forests of spruce and hemlock are abundant.
The Ingram River area provides a bounty of riches for the new arrivals, beginning with Charles Ingraham who settled at the head of the bay in the 1760s (while the Mi'kmaq are relegated to a "reserve" of a few hundred acres on what is today known as River Lake). The transformation of nature that would continue for the next few centuries begins with forest cutting for ship masts and sawtimber behind the villages on the bay. As cutting moves further inland, waterways are used to float logs to a sawmill at the mouth of Ingram River. Eventually logging camps become established in the interior, where the men will disappear for weeks at a time. A tradition of guiding begins, where local woodsmen take adventure seekers into the backcountry to fish and hunt.
The Mersey Paper Company acquires most of the Ingram lands from various lumber companies in the 1940s. The development of a roads network and advances in mechanization allow logging to proceed quickly and efficiently after World War II. Much of the wood goes to supply the Bowater Mersey newsprint mill outside of Liverpool. As clearcuts transform wide swaths of the landscape into denuded terrain local employment and benefits gradually dwindle. With low newsprint demand worldwide Bowater folds in 2012. Here and there intact pockets of forest escape the saw and become the building blocks for the potential recovery of the area.