Webbwood, Ontario, circa 1913

We doubt the welcome sign was just for them, but in 1909, Thomas Henry Brinsmead and his brother William left Toronto to start new businesses as a jeweller and a newspaper publisher in Webbwood, Ontario. There, he published the Webbwood Divisional Record. Webbwood is a small town in North Eastern Ontario, just outside Espanola. It was then in Hallam Township, Sudbury District and is on the main Canadian Pacific railway line.

There is an excellent web site devoted to the history and geneaology of Webbwood. My thanks to Christine Bot who maintains that site for providing some of the information on this page.

The Sault St. Marie newspaper contains a couple of mentions of the Brinsmead family in the social pages:

Aug.7, 1912

Mr. Hugh Brinsmead has returned home to Toronto.

Whilst the male members of the family were away on a fishing trip, burglars broke into the residence of Mr. T. Brinsmead on Friday night and stole a large gramaphone and records and other articles.

Many of our townspeople viewed with much pleasure during the last week a number of stick pins and brooches made up from gold nuggets by Mr. Brinsmead, our local jeweller.

Saturday August 10, 1912

Mr. H. Brinsmead of London Ont. is visiting his parents, Mr. & Mrs. T. Brinsmead, on a short holiday.

Mr. Jas. Brinsmead of Toronto, is spending his vacation in this vicinity. With his two nephews Bert and Horace, he is putting in this week at the clubhouse at Cutler Lake. Mrs. T. Brinsmead and daughter Isabel are also with them.

When looking through her father's records of Webwood, Christine Bot found the following card from Tilde (Isabelle) Brinsmead to Harry Brinsmead in St. Thomas, Ontario. It is significant to our history because it is the only positive proof of a connection between Hugh Brinsmead's family and that of his cousin Henry who came to Canada about twenty years after Hugh's arrival.


Mr.H Brinsmead, 85 Curtis St. St. Thomas Ont.

Well Harold, How are you enjoying yourself. The painter has finished and we will soon be settled comfortably. Can you come home for Xmas? Jim wrote that he wants to come up for winter, also Harry (chum). Tilda Brinsmead.

The railway bridge crossing the Spanish River, Webbwood, Ontario, circa 1913

Thomas Edward Brinsmead was a photographer, presumably part of his vocation as a newspaperman. He took many photographs of the town and its citizens. Some negatives survive, but without names. These include a series of photographs of ladies, some of which were clearly taken in Webbwood and others which were taken later in Saskatchewan. If anyone can identify any of these people, please let us know.

The biggest event to happen while the Brinsmeads were in Webbwood was the Spanish River Train Crash. On September 22, 1910 a CPR train going from Montreal to Minneapolis hit a broken rail on the CPR main line which forced the rear end of the train off the tracks and into the Spanish River. One coach struck the bridge at high speed and split in two. Half fell into the frozen river, drowning all aboard. The other half stayed on the bridge but caught fire, burning the passengers alive. Another coach fell into the river, drowning all those within. The dining car plunged from the bridge but only partly submerged and most on board survived. In all over 50 people died and many more were injured.

The Spanish River BridgeThe Brinsmeads were the newsmen on the spot. While the papers only mention "Special Correspondents" family folk law is that they filed the first dispatches for the major Canadian newspapers. The Toronto Star carried the story on its front page for several days. It is quite likely that the Brinsmeads were the source since Thomas Senior had worked with J.J. Crabbe of the Toronto Star in Webbwood where he was the publisher of the Argus. This photograph of the collapsed bridge is from the Brinsmead's own collection. It appears to have been taken in the spring and it is not known if this was the result of the crash, although it is certainly the exact location.

Here are some additional pictures, mostly taken by the Brinsmeads, from their time in Webbwood. Click on the thumbnail for a full size picture.

Camp near Webbwood

Inside the Spanish river Pulp and Paper Mill

The Shakespeare Mine

Train passing through Webbwood

Main Street, circa 1913

Bert Brinsmead on Main Street in Webbwood before World War 1.

The CPR Roundhouse

A Webbwood baseball team.

Bert Brinsmead is first on the left of the back row.

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