The Temagami Crisis: A Critical Evaluation
and Proposal for a Sustainable Future

A Report Prepared for the Canadian Parks
and Wilderness Society (CPAWS)

David McRobert (Principal Author)
Anne Champagne
Steve Johnston
Charles McRobert

May 1988

Final Report ($10.00) Available from
CPAWS, 160 Bloor Street E. Suite 1010, Toronto, Ont.

Executive Summary

On January 27, 1988 the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society informed the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources that it would not participate in the public hearings of the Temagami Area Working Group. However, given the importance of the Temagami issue, the Society chose to conduct and submit its own research and recommendations to the Ontario Government. This Executive Summary highlights the conclusions and recommendations of a research report prepared by a 4 member team contracted by the Society to examine the Temagami land use conflict.

The Society chose not to participate in the work of the government appointed Temagami Area Working Group for several reasons: (1) the Teme-Augama Anishnabai were not a member of the Group, nor was the Group directed or allowed to address the unresolved native land claim; (2) the Group was given an unreasonably short time frame of 3 months to resolve this complex issue; (3) the Society concluded the public hearing process was merely a staged publicity event; and (4) despite repeated requests, the Minister of Natural Resources failed to respond to several recommendations made by the Society on the Working Group's inadequate Terms of Reference.

There were three objectives central to the research project: (1) formulate a critique of the various environmental planning and public consultation processes that have been undertaken by the Ontario government to address the growing controversy over development in the Temagami area; (2) develop a series of recommendations that could be made directly to the Ontario Cabinet on the future disposition of the Temagami lands; (3) devise a model for conflict resolution that might be applied to similar controversies in the future.

Five assumptions guided the research project. First, it is assumed that any meaningful resolution of the Temagami conflict necessitates that the Teme-Augama Anishnabai be provided with a substantial role in decision-making. Secondly, it is assumed that northerners must have a greater role in decision-making as well. Thirdly, it is assumed that some industries periodically close or decline, including tourism or forestry, for numerous reasons including shifting consumer preferences or new government policy. A fourth assumption is that new technologies are available which can be employed to encourage more sustainable forestry in the Temagami area. A fifth assumption is that sustainable development can provide single industry towns with an alternative to staples development.

The historical background to the Temagami controversy was investigated and four major dimensions were identified as central to the issue. These included: the Teme-Augama Anishnabai land claim, forestry policies in the area, the history of planning in the area by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the historical and contemporary importance of the area for wilderness tourism. The analysis shows that this controversy has not developed overnight and should have been anticipated by the Ontario Government. While some have tried to suggest that the controversy is merely an issue of wilderness advocates versus loggers, the report concludes that numerous factors have precipitated the conflict including: poor forestry practices, a lack of accurate information on timber supplies and wilderness areas, a lack of government accountability, and inadequate attempts to diversify the local economy.

Regarding the land claim made by the Teme-Augama Anishnabai, it is concluded that the Daniel Inquiry and the Environmental Assessment of the Red Squirrel Road extension largely ignored the issue. Moreover, the MNR and most of the groups that have expressed interest in the Wildlands Reserve proposed by the Temagami Wilderness Society have failed to address the significance of the land claim. After a review of the litigation in the case, the report concludes that no reasonable offer to settle the land claim has been made by two governments involved and that the courts cannot offer a long-term solution. Moreover, it is argued that the Teme-Augama Anishnabai should be granted greater economic and political control over development and powers approaching self-government to expedite resolution of the land claim.

In their examination of forestry practices in the Temagami area, the researchers found that there is a bias against wilderness protection objectives within the MNR. In addition, the researchers concluded that the local economy is made vulnerable because unprocessed trees are exported from the area. A lack of information on current timber supplies and the possibility for reallocation of cutting rights has exacerbated the conflict.

Examination of the planning approach employed by the MNR showed that there is a lack of local control over both policy-making and decision making on land use in the area. Moreover the lack of clear planning objectives appears to have favoured the forestry industry to the detriment of both the natural environment and the local economy.

With respect to preservation of wilderness, the researchers concluded that current economic development patterns have not taken into account the importance of wilderness values for several reasons. A systematic study of wilderness areas in Temagami has not been undertaken. MNR's articulated priority for the area, habitat protection, has been ignored. Finally, no objectives for protection of the wilderness outside the Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Park have been established.

Recent attempts by the Ontario Government to address these aspects of the Temagami conflict have failed. The Report of the Daniel Inquiry (also known as the Temagami Area Working Group) is a case in point, partly because it was only signed by the Chair of the Inquiry (and possibly one other person) but also because it did not examine alternatives for the Temagami area in a comprehensive manner. The EA prepared on the Red Squirrel Road extension also failed to consider alternatives, and the broader social and environmental impacts that will follow road construction. In addition, the EA downplayed the importance of wilderness values and the long-term significance of tourism for the area.

Five different alternatives that could be implemented in the Temagami area in the near future were examined. The alternatives identified were: A) The Forestry Option; B) The Modified Forestry Option; C) The Limited Management Option; D) The Sustainable Development Option; and E) The Wildlands Reserve Option. Each option was analyzed in a systematic way in keeping with good environmental planning practice.

The researchers concluded that the preferred option is sustainable development, (D), the approach to development promoted in the World Conservation Strategy  and endorsed in the recent Bruntland Report, Our Common Future. Although no successful large-scale projects promoting sustainable development have been implemented in Canada to date, some of the principles that have been applied by the Yukon Government in the past three years as a model were considered.

Having reached the conclusions that sustainable development should be applied, the researchers investigated how the concept might be applied in the context of land use conflicts such as those evident in Temagami. As recommended in the Bruntland Report, it is argued that the concerns of aboriginal people must be granted an important, if not primary, role in decision-making on development. Thus, the report suggests that the Teme-Augama Anishnabai should be invited to begin to participate in land-use planning and wildlife management in the region as soon as possible.

Some of the principles and policies that should be adopted to ensure that more sustainable forestry practices are decentralization of forestry operations, encouraging greater forest diversity, and intervention in the current market. The last principle would require the province to become more directly involved in planning. In addition, these principles might also translate into encouragement of greater participation of the Teme-Augama Anishnabai in small scale forestry.

The researchers also developed a proposal for a Temagami Land Management Commission (TLMC). This Commission would provide residents in the region with a vehicle for ongoing participation in management of the development conflicts evident in the region. A relevant precedent is the Niagara Escarpment Commission because the planning approach which was implemented in that case was premised on the view that the Escarpment is a rare and special place, a sentiment which appears to motivate the opponents of development in Temagami as well.

According to the proposal, a ten-member commission would be established representing different interest groups such as the Teme-Augama Anishnabai, the forestry industry, the tourist industry, the regional labour interests, environmental groups, youth camps, cottagers, and municipal officials. These interest groups would nominate representatives to the TLMC and the final appointments would be made by Cabinet. A priority of the TLMC would recognize the importance of protecting a core wilderness area and promote a sustainable local economy.

The proposed TLMC would have an arms-length relationship with the MNR, although its funding could be derived from the Ministry. The planning model would allow Cabinet to overturn decisions made by the TLMC but otherwise the Plan developed by the TLMC would be the guiding principles behind the future development in the Temagami area. It is assumed in the model that Cabinet lobbying would still go on, but hopefully at a lower intensity.

In conclusion, the researchers assert, and CPAWS concurs, that the Temagami conflict presents an unparalleled opportunity to apply the principles of sustainable development. Building new roads and logging old growth pine trees in the proposed Wildlands Reserve will not provide a long-term resolution of the conflict. Temagami's future rests with the preservation of wilderness values and the development of a sustainable economy based on diversification.



Executive Summary i
Contents iv
Preface v
Introduction 1
Chapter One -- Historical Background 12
A) The Teme-Augama Anishnabai Land Claim
B) Forestry in the Temagami Area
C)The Planning and Policy-Making Framework
D) Wilderness Values and Preservation Proposals
Chapter Two -- Alternatives for the Temagami Area 47
A) The Forestry Option
B) The Modified Forestry Option
C) The Limited Management Option
D) Sustainable Development
E) The Wildland Reserve Option
Chapter Three -- A Framework for Sustainable Development 61
A) Dealing Fairly with the Teme-Augama
B) Policies for Sustainable Forestry
C) Proposal for Temagami Land Management Commission (TLMC)
Conclusions and Recommendations 79
References and Materials  
Notes on the Authors  


Note: This document includes the Executive Summary,
Contents, Preface, Conclusions and Recommendations only.




This research report is the product of a short period of intense research on the Temagami controversy in Northern Ontario. The principal author was contacted by Kevin McNamee, Conservation Director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), in early March. In turn, the author sought out colleagues in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University to help him with research and writing since all had some knowledge of the Temagami situation and possessed expertise that strengthened this research report.

A deadline for the report was established for the end of April. This deadline was set with a view to making an input into the Ontario Cabinet decision on the future disposition of Temagami lands. Those people who are following the issue closely expect this decision to be made in May, 1988. An inquiry into the issue was formally launched in December, 1987, by the Hon. Vincent Kerrio, Minister of Natural Resources (MNR) to extend a road through a buffer zone adjacent to Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Park.

For reasons too complex to explain here (see Appendix I of this report), CPAWS decided not to participate in the Daniel Inquiry. Despite this decision, CPAWS felt they should make some kind of input into the Temagami planning process. In part, the goal of this project was to undertake some of the research that CPAWS felt would not be undertaken by the Daniel Inquiry because of its limited mandate and short time frame.

The key objective of this report was to formulate a critique of the various environmental planning and public consultation processes that have been initiated with respect to development in the Temagami area. In turn, this required an examination of numerous issues that have attracted considerable media attention over the past year in Ontario. These issues, include the planning and policy-making framework employed by the MNR, the forestry practices in the area, aboriginal rights and self-government, and the viability of the Wildlands Reserve proposed by the Temagami Wilderness Society.

Examination of any of these issues would normally require a longer period of time than was available to the researchers. Fortunately, all of the researchers on this project had undertaken research on one of these areas before beginning this project (for details, see Note on Authors) and this allowed our work to proceed more rapidly than otherwise could reasonably be expected.

A second objective of this study was to develop recommendations that could be made directly to the Ontario Cabinet with respect to future disposition of the Temagami lands. The authors and CPAWS agreed that an important assumption behind these recommendations should be that the Teme-Augama Anishnabai should have a meaningful and significant input into any future major planning decisions that are made about development in the area, including the proposed extension of Red Squirrel Road.

The third objective of this report was to develop a position paper on development in the Temagami area that might serve as a model to be applied to other similar kinds of controversies in the future. Many environmentalists fear that conflicts such as those evidenced in the Temagami area will continue to drain the energy and financial resources of conservation groups if a new approach to their resolution cannot be devised.

In preparing this report, we have relied on the cooperation of many individuals. Without the help of these people, this project would not have been completed. We gratefully acknowledge their help but add the traditional proviso that any errors in this report are solely are own.

In conclusion, it should be noted that two of the authors, David McRobert and Anne Champagne, have spent many hours in the area canoeing and hiking, beginning about ten years ago. As graduates of Trent University, many of our ideas and values were influenced by conversations with local residents, teachers such as John Wadland and Bruce Hodgins, and fellow students. With all these people we have shared the splendor of Temagami, and it is for these people that we have written this report.

David McRobert
April, 1988


Chapter Four -- Conclusions and Recommendations

This last Chapter of the report outlines our conclusions about the Temagami crisis and makes several recommendations on actions that should be taken by the provincial government. It goes without saying that we recommend an agency modeled on the TLMC should provide the basis for resolution of most future land-use conflicts in the region.

At the same time there are ancillary ideas that must be dealt with outside of the formal discussion presented in Chapter Three. This last chapter is intended to tie up some of those loose ends that have arisen from the discussion in the report.

As a preliminary matter, it is essential to reiterate that we do not believe that a just resolution to land use conflicts in the Temagami area can be arrived at without substantial participation of the Teme-Augama Anishnabai. The failure to recognize this seriously undermines the validity of both the Daniel Inquiry and the work that has been undertaken by MNR and MOE on the proposed Red Squirrel Road extension and prejudices the aboriginal rights of the Teme-Augama. Accordingly, we make the following recommendations:


1. The Ontario government should attempt to initiate tripartite negotiations with the federal government and the Teme-Augama Anishnabai to facilitate a settlement of the land claim in the area as soon as possible. We do not believe any major construction projects or other significant initiatives in the area should be undertaken until the Ontario government has obtained the consent of the Teme-Augama.

2. We recommend that the provincial government begin to investigate the possibility of substantial involvement of Teme-Augama Anishnabai in land-use planning and wildlife management in the area.

3. We recommend that a condition of any disposition of wilderness reserve lands be that non-Native decision-makers and land managers must seriously consult with native people on the disposition of archaeological sites in the areas and further attempt to understand Indian beliefs about the value of wild land.

It is not customary to plan preservation together with sustainable economic development. But it should be. With this perspective in mind, we believe that it is time for MNR to begin to adopt a more progressive approach to development that reflects the principles articulated in the Bruntland Commission report.


4. MNR explore the viability of establishing a wilderness reserve in the context of a plan for sustainable development in Temagami area.

5. In considering whether MNR should establish a wilderness reserve around Lady Evelyn Park, alternatives that can be implemented to replace lost jobs should be more fully explored. We believe that such an analysis must be done in a systematic fashion, one that is more comprehensive and thorough than any of the key documents produced thus far by MNR. It should be recognized in such a planning exercise that job creation may require intervention in normal market processes through procurement policies and decentralization of existing forestry operations. If this type of development planning is not compatible with the existing jurisdiction of MNR, then it could be undertaken by the Ministry of Northern Development in conjunction with responsible ministries.

6. A public education process intended to promote awareness of the problems faced by single resource communities be initiated by the Ministry of Northern Development in conjunction with MNR. This process could be modeled on the project begun at Lynne Lake, Manitoba.

7. A series of dispute resolution seminars, which could be run by experts in environmental mediation together with northerners should be held to allow different interest groups to articulate their concerns and communicate their values and attitudes to each other. This could be one of the first projects undertaken by the proposed Temagami Land Management Commission and might encourage a renewed dialogue in the area.

8. Public education must be undertaken to inform all of the people in the province about the benefits and costs of withdrawal of lands for non-consumptive uses. It should be clarified that such a a disposition will ultimately affect the standard of living that all Ontario residents, present and future, experience and the way some socioeconomic activities are practiced in the future.

If forestry is selected as a part of a future sustainable development operation in the area, we believe that some attempt should be made to reallocate forestry rights as advocated in the Daniel Inquiry report. In our view the proposed road extension is not required.

While reallocation is a messy and difficult task, it is not impossible. To our knowledge, MNR has facilitated successful reallocations in the past, and as chief steward of the Crown forests, we think MNR is in the best position to find other sources of wood. Perhaps the difference in costs, arising from increased hauling expenses, could be offset by the TLMC from funds sequestered from the Ontario government for the purposes of encouraging more balanced economic development in the area. We further believe that if the area mills were encouraged to utilize other species, i.e. jack pine and spruce, then the necessity to cut trees in the proposed buffer would be reduced somewhat. Again, as noted in the first Chapter of this report, the lower value of these alternative species could be partially compensated for by the TLMC.


9. The proposed extension of the Red Squirrel Road should not be built at this time. In view of the strong opposition that has been expressed by environmentalists, wilderness advocates, and other interests in the Temagami region it would be a mistake to go ahead with this plan with the limited information base now available to planners and decision-makers.

10. MNR should find alternative sources of timber to supply the Milne and Liskeard mills and to subsequently encourage the use of alternate species in milling processes at these mills in the future.

Increasingly, hardwood trees are becoming the dominant species in Ontario forests. As well, utilization of hardwood fibers in the production of pulp and paper products is increasing all over the world, and new technology is available for this production. Switching to greater hardwood utilization and encouraging the use of these new technologies would accomplish three things with respect to the Temagami issue. First, area industries reliant on foreign markets would become more competitive and viable. Secondly, there would be more complete utilization of the hardwood resource and a reduction in the apparent need to control the encroachment (by artificial methods) of hardwood forests in previously softwood areas. Thirdly, logging activity would be diverted from softwood (i.e. old growth pine) forests to hardwood forests and reduce the conflicts with alternate land uses.


11. The MNR encourage greater utilization of hardwood forests in the Temagami area and other parts of the north. This would require shifts in processing technology to reflect global trends and likely require some government assistance plans to help smaller mills make conversions.

Past logging practices have often prevented proper regeneration of forests in areas that have been cut-over. As a result, poor rehabilitation, poor utilization of cut forests, environmental degradation and alteration in the structure of the forests have been evidenced in most of Ontario's northern forests. At the same time, little clear information is available which shows the long-term implications of current trends. In our view, baseline ecological data is essential for determining the potential impact of logging and the potential success for regeneration efforts with different tree species or rehabilitation methods. The collection of this kind of information should be a priority for MNR.


12. MNR should study and document the impacts of logging on the potential for reforestation and clearly document the consequences of current patterns of exploitation. In preparing their analysis MNR should take into account the impact that privatization of tree planting may have on the future of the forest.

In view of this comment, we must think that if more forestry is undertaken in the area there must be an inventory of the different forests in the region to determine and set aside sensitive areas that would suffer irrevocable damage from any logging activity. Areas with shallow are no soils and wet areas that would not respond to silvicultural treatments would be prime candidates for protection. In addition, the old-growth pine forests should receive special status because of their scarcity, importance to wilderness and recreational enthusiasts and the significant role they play in the ecological make-up of the forest mosaic.

Though this kind of approach is supposedly part of MNR's current Forest Resources Inventory, it is unclear that it is working. Moreover, such an assessment is essential because the intense land use conflicts that have become evident in the area over the last decade.


13. The TLMC must delineate areas that will not withstand logging or must be protected for ecological, aesthetic or scientific reasons.

14. Some old-growth pine forests should be protected from exploitation for scientific, ecological and aesthetic reasons.

Another issue that should be addressed is the equity of staples development over the long term. Research by Eco-Vision has found that most of the jobs in the mining and logging sectors are held by men and conversely that 50% of the jobs in the tourism sector are held by women (Glenn, 1988). Thus, overdevelopment in one sector at the expense of more balanced development in another may very well have disparate impacts on either men or women who live in the Temagami area. In view of the equality provisions in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the recently enacted pay equity laws in Ontario, it could be argued that women should have a greater role in future decisions on development in the area. It is feasible that a wilderness-based tourism economy would also facilitate sustainable human development, based on greater gender equity. This is an area which should be researched.


15. Women must be more fully involved in the planning and policy-making activities undertaken in the Temagami area.

Most wilderness values cannot be judged through quantification. Thus careful research which attempts to show the intrinsic value of wilderness must be undertaken. An excellent example is the 4000 year-old Indian pictographs in Temagami; intensive tourism would lead, as it already has in some cases, to vandalism of these sacred sites. However, if these sites are not properly mapped and studied then they could be destroyed before they are considered worthy of preservation. We believe that the overriding principles behind wilderness protection must reflect archaeological and ecological concerns, not recreational planning objectives. A related point is that ecological values cannot be estimated, and adequate planning cannot be done, when MNR has not even seriously studied them.


16. We recommend, as did the RCNE, that MNR conduct an in-depth inventory of wilderness areas remaining in Ontario. In particular, we think that the special feature of the Temagami area should be investigated in detail as soon as possible.

17. We further recommend that if road extensions are built in the future, in spite of the conclusions reached elsewhere in this report, naturalists, concerned local residents and environmental scientists should examine the path of each proposed forest access road and alternatives to assess potential environmental damage. Given variations in local ecology, each road must be custom-designed with full participation by people who are sympathetic to environmental protection. Moreover, roads should not be built in designated wilderness areas.

Although there may be specific areas where logging and some nature protection are compatible, some wilderness areas cannot be compromised by merely tacking a thin "skyline reserve" around traveled areas, and logging whatever is behind these strips of trees. The result is a cardboard cutout image of nature, with nothing behind it -- the equivalent of painting a natural scene on a highway billboard and calling it real nature. Such arguments are based on the idea that wilderness lobbyists are promoting preservation for recreational ends only. However, often the motivation is ecological and, in other cases, a profound intuition of the intrinsic, spiritual value of nature.


18. The MNR, and especially senior management in the agency, should recognize that the concerns that motivate wilderness preservationists are not related solely to selfish interests in wilderness canoeing and bird watching Moreover, these concerns cannot be accommodated through planning and management alone. What wilderness advocates desire is that large parts of the Temagami are be preserved for citizens all over the world who will one day recognize the importance of wilderness protection, even though the exigencies if daily life may prevent many people on the planet from doing so today.

These recommendations are only part of the long-term solution to the land use conflicts in the Temagami area. We believe that the underlying philosophy behind these proposals is largely compatible with the existing policies of the Ontario government. The challenge is to implement a sustainable development project for the Temagami area which will show other nations that the principles articulated in Our Common Future can be translated into meaningful initiatives at the local level.


19. The federal and provincial governments begin to explore the possibility of establishing a sustainable development demonstration project in the Temagami area, and effectively implement one of the key recommendations of the National Task Force on Environment and Economy.


Notes on the Authors

David McRobert is currently an LLM Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School and a Fellow in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. He holds a B.Sc. in Biology from Trent, an MES from York, and LLB from Osgoode. As a graduate student, he undertook field research in the MacKenzie Delta with the MacKenzie Delta Dene Regional Council on socioeconomic development and land use planning during the Environmental Assessment and Review process for Beaufort oil and gas development. In 1984, he worked on a project assessing the socioeconomic aspirations of Yukon Indians. Since then he has returned to the Yukon once to study the recent initiative in that territory with respect to sustainable development. He has published numerous articles on aboriginal rights and environmental policy in Canada and authored similar sections of this report.

Anne Champagne is an MES Candidate in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York. She has been interested in wilderness issues for more than a decade since she attended Trent University, majoring in English and Environmental Studies. She has worked extensively for numerous environmental groups in the past decade. She has been an editor for Parks News and a regular contributor to Peterborough newspapers on plant life of the area. As a graduate student, she has written books for children on nature and animal behavior. Anne contributed sections on the history of the wilderness proposals for and tourism potential in the Temagami region.

Steve Johnston is a recent graduate of the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University and obtained a B.Sc.F. from Lakehead University in 1984. His graduate work focused on a critical assessment of forest policy in Canada. In 1987 he visited Sweden to undertake an analysis of the practices in the country and compare the factors that have shaped forestry policies in the two countries. Steve was the author of the sections on forestry policy in this report.

Charles McRobert is currently an MES Candidate at FES, and holds a BES from the Faculty of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo. His interests and expertise are primarily in the areas of planning and regional development policy. As a graduate student he has investigated aspects of environmental policy making, particularly assessment and planning. Charles was the author of the sections on planning and MNR policy-making.