Shell of a former dwelling©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko
Tophet was a small First Nations reserve in Algoma Region, established in 1948 by the federal government. It began with 24 homes, followed by a schoolhouse and a band office. Amenities were poor. There was no sewage and running water. Nevertheless, shortly after it was constructed, nearly 100 residents called Tophet home.
Tophet was located in a isolated part of the region already plagued by high employment. Although some residents were fortunate enough to obtain work with the railway, or earn a living by trapping, the vast majority were unable to secure any type of stable work and lived under subsistence conditions. Following protracted legal action in 1958, timber rights were transferred over to the band. Unfortunately by then much of prime timber had been harvested.
In 1972 the band and the government negotiated a land swap. This allowed the residents to relocate to a new town site near Chapleau, which offered better amenities and employment opportunities. Although most residents left shortly after, a small handful remained in Tophet for a number of years.
Today all that remains of Tophet are a large number of ruins, and a small cemetery just outside the entrance to the town site.