Ear Falls History

Ear Falls Planes

Ear Falls Town History

Ear Falls Water Dam

Retreating glaciers formed these four great rivers which developed this district well before recorded time. Nomadic Indians followed the waterways in search of new fertile hunting and fishing grounds.

In the early 18th Century, fur traders came to the district by river to harvest the rich abundance of fur bearing animals the north had to offer.

We owe the town's name to the natives that first inhabited the area. Long before white men settled this area, the English River rapids, which is now the Hydro dam, were the cause of much superstition among the natives. They believed a monster or spirit in the shape of a beaver lived in the rapids. Sometimes when the beaver was swimming its ears broke the surface of the river, frightening any passers-by. The rapids became known by the natives as, Otahwaka Powitek, which translated to English means Ear Falls.

In 1926 freighting in the area hit a high when gold was struck in the Red Lake and Woman Lake areas. Goldpines then became a beehive of activity, but the first step in the development of Ear Falls came in 1928 with the building of the English River dam. The dam itself was constructed to control the amount of water entering the Winnipeg River to help prevent flooding in Northern Manitoba. The first volt of electricity was generated on Christmas day in 1929 from the new Hydro Electric dam, enabling the first gold producing mine to go into production on the shores of Red Lake.

Until the construction of Highway 105, shortly after the Second World War, communications to Ear Falls depended solely on boats and bushplanes. The highway linked the mining district of Red Lake with the Trans-Canada Highway at Vermilion Bay and crossed the mighty English River over the Ear Falls dam.

With the new Highway came a new type of explorer, the tourist. Tourist resorts began to pop up on beautiful lakeshore locations that were now accessible by road. The waterways were no longer a mainline of communication, but remained a constant source of beauty, sport and adventure for the vacationer. Along with tourists the Highway brought local lumber and logging operations. Chukuni Lumber Company, which had been located at Snake Falls, was moved to Ear Falls, on the site of today's Weyerheauser Ear Falls Sawmill operations.

By 1946 a permanent community on the south side of the hydro dam was established to accommodate the Hydro workers. With the ever increased demand for hydro electric power Ear Falls generating station grew to its present size with the adding of a fourth generator in 1948. In 1953 a second generating station was constructed at Manitou Falls to keep up with the ever increasing need for power.

Ear Falls stayed a cluster of homes and businesses around the highway until, in 1967, the Stelco Mining Company decided to develop the large iron ore deposits on and around Bruce Lake. The townsite grew larger with the increased amount of miners and businesses that the mine brought to the area. A C.N.R. line was laid from Amesdale and a natural gas pipeline was constructed into the Bruce Lake ore body, which became known as the Griffith Mine.

In 1970 Ear Falls was incorporated as a municipality and for several years the local economy revolved around the mining industry. However, the economy changed drastically with the closing of the Griffith Mine in 1986.

Through hard work and innovative leadership Ear Falls has recovered and continues to strengthen the community through projects that included the development of the Ear Falls Waterfront and expansion of the Recreation Centre, the Town Hall and the Golf Course. In 1993 the Township of Ear Falls, in cooperation with the Red Lake Board of Education and the Wabauskang Reserve, opened a Native Transition School.  The School was open from 1993 to 2007.  However, the most exciting development to come to this small town in recent years was the Weyerhaeuser Sawmill, which officially opened in 1993.  Weyerhaeuser did close their doors in 2005, then Eacom Timber bought the Sawmill in 2015.

Although more holiday resorts have been built and logging operations expanded through the years, Ear Falls still has potential for industrial growth. The community wants to ensure that economic development will continue and that it can continue to provide opportunities for its residents. The enjoyment of fishing, hunting, boating, golf and snowmobiling continues to enhance life in the community.