Township of Casey

History of Casey

The Township of Casey was established in 1909 and is situated in the District of Timiskaming. Casey is bordered by the Township of Brethour to the North, the Province of Quebec to the East, the Township of Harris to the South, and the Township of Harley to the West.

Casey is considered a balanced community with its agricultural base preserved mainly in dairy farms. Approximately 40% of the population resides in the beautiful Village of Belle Vallee.

In 1903, cobalt and silver were discovered in Cobalt, and about 3 years later when the same minerals were unearthed in the Township of Casey, a flurry of activity boomed with the development of the Casey Mine. A lot of ground was staked, and a lot of trees cut down for mine timbers, but the mining fever waned, and Belle Vallee became an rural community of mostly farmers.

Casey Mountain spreads over Lots 5 and 6 on Concession 2 of of the Township, south of Lake Temiskaming. This mountain slopes south east from a plain of clay, 200 feet above another plain which has an elevation of 600 feet above sea level. The plain occupies almost all of the North part of the Township of Casey and spreads to Lake Temiskaming like a long peninsula edging along the Blanche river and Sutton Creek.

Casey is well known for its numerous bridges (18 altogether), mainly due to the Blanche River and other, smaller creeks which flow through the Township. Some of these creeks are: Burwash, Moose, Pontleroy, and Wright. Sport fishing attracts many tourists during the spring season.

The Blanche River is a very important part of the Township. The water wells dug around and near the river indicates that the river is much more than 200 feet above the bedrock region of the soil.

Nearby, Person's landing was a favourite stopping place for the Oblate Fathers, working their way from Ville Marie through to Wendigo Lake, Larder lake, and then on to Northwestern Quebec and Hudson Bay. Land-hungry Quebecers began to settle around Belle Valle in 1905, leading to the French-Canadian thrust across the rich forest area that is now the prosperous dairy farming centre of Earlton.

Belle Vallee was municipally organized in 1909. The first Reeve of this small community was Mr. William Judge, one of the first pioneers to live in that locality. Mr. M.C. Chapman was the clerk-treasurer for the municipality. During those first years, they would have a monthly meeting and because of the limited (or no) budget, there were no plans to make improvements in what is usually incurred within municipal responsibilities. The monthly meetings were held at the reeve's home, clerk's home, or one of the homes of the councillors.

In 1910, Mr. William Judge stayed on as the Reeve and Mr. Hugh Keais replaced Mr. Chapman. In this second year of municipal office, the monthly meetings took place mainly at the Bolger School House. This remained their main meeting hall for some years to come.

The heart of the community, back when it started and still today, is the Church. Notre-Dame du Bon Secours Parish was founded by Father Joseph Genier, one of Northern Ontario's most remarkable and least known pioneers. He came to Belle Vallee in 1929. He had some construction and mining experience before he became a priest, and when he went to the little village, the farmers didn't have the money to build a church, and it is said that the architects didn't believe the soft clay would support such a heavy building.

"I shall float it like a boat," said the Father, and sketched a huge basement, supporting an arched structure. Construction started in 1938. He selected every stone in the building, scouring the area's rock quarries and dumps. The building is ringed by a rosary set in the stonework. The altar is surrounded by naturally striated granite that Father Genier found on the shores of Lake Temiskaming and had carted on farm trucks by volunteer labor. It is a very impressive building, and is still "floating" as Father Genier had quoted back then.

At one time, Casey was a busy place. There was a general store in Belle Vallee, a gas station, a creamery, a machine shop, a Caisse Populaire (which was, from July 1952 to October 1963, operated by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph St. Amant in their private home), the Notre-Dame school, the municipal office and garage, the cemetery, the Notre-Dame du Bon Secours Church and a post office. Casey has its own landfill site and now has a recycling program with blue boxes.

The Recreation Committee has always been a very important and lively part of the Township of Casey. They have organized winter carnivals, countless dances, workshops for kids and adults, mini-Olympics, baseball tournaments, Volunteer of the Year Award, pancake breakfast or spaghetti supper, miscellaneous activities and entertainment for the young and old.

Casey has a Volunteer Fire Department, which has consisted of an average of about 16 volunteer firemen since its beginning.

There are different groups in the Community such as the U.C.F.O. (Union Culturel des Franco-Ontariennes) and the Old Age Group. The parish still has its own Council and Finance Committee.

There are a lot of young families in the Community. People like to meet and socialize through recreational or pastoral activities. If you like a nice quiet friendly place to raise a young family or retire, the Township of Casey is the place to be.