The railway played a key role in the history of Malachi Lake: In 1905 construction began on the National Transcontinental Railway (NTR) to run from Winnipeg to Moncton as part of Canada’s third transcontinental.
The Canadian Shield posed an extremely difficult construction obstacle as the railway forged past Malachi Lake, across Ontario and through Quebec. The NTR was largely completed in 1913.
Railroad construction opened up access to Malachi Lake and the work crews and their families brought a need for the first general store and trading post.
By the spring of 1911 the first Campers’ Special train arrived at Malachi from Winnipeg loaded with passengers.
In 1915, the NTR was placed under the umbrella of the Canadian Government Railways and then folded into the Canadian National Railway, which was created in 1918. The original NTR line past Malachi is now part of CN’s transcontinental mainline, and is also used by Via Rail.
In years past, Malachi has been home to a station master, post office, ranger station, two general stores, bakery, butcher shop, chicken farm and a mobile schoolhouse. The lake has seen its share of tragedy: the Campers’ Special heading home on September 1, 1947 crashed outside of Winnipeg killing 31 passengers.
For about 80 years, the Campers’ Special carried passengers in summer months to the lake on Friday and back to Winnipeg on Sunday. It was a social and community event in itself.
When VIA Rail reduced running the ‘Campers’ Special’ over 50 years ago, a volunteer Road Committee began improving the rough logging/hydro road trail into what it is today.
(The historic station still stands at the north end of the lake. A limited-service passenger train schedule can be found at www.viarail.ca)
Today, The Malachi Campers’ Association maintains the road from Trapper Ron’s to the Malachi landing, with the heavy machinery assistance of Devlin Timber. Our volunteer team oversees grading, replaces culverts, trims safety sight-lines, and forms work parties for emergency repairs. Each grading done throughout the season costs several thousand dollars.
Since 1990, the Association has spent over half a million dollars building, repairing, and improving the road for everyone’s benefit.