Mill alumni dinner enjoyed

Nicholas Donaldson

The fifth-annual dinner for former paper and kraft mill workers here was held Thursday evening upstairs at the Fort Frances Legion under its new name, The Mill Alumni.
About 100 guests attended the social hour and dinner formerly known as the Quarter-Century Oldtimers’ Club.
This is the first year the club has gone by its new name–a change made to draw in more members.
“It used to be anyone with 25 years of service,” said event co-organizer Herman Pruys.
“Now anyone who has ever worked at the mill is welcome.”
Organizers also hoped to attract younger members and those who did not like the “old-timers” label, along with anyone else hesitant about attending the annual dinner.
“It doesn’t matter how long you worked there, or whether you were salary or union,” Pruys stressed.
“Now everyone can just get together and chat,” he noted.
Pruys added they are trying to attract as many members as possible because with the mill now shuttered, they aren’t getting any new retirees with 25 years of service.
He said the organizers understand the significance of the event and hope to continue with it for many more years.
“We will run it as long as people keep coming,” Pruys vowed.
Club president Bill Morrison was instrumental in forming the club several years ago when the event lost support from the mill.
“Abitibi would run the event for everyone who had worked for 25 years, then they stopped and for four or five years we had nothing,” he recalled.
Morrison revived the event because he wanted to get everyone together again.
He noted that because the event no longer is sponsored by the mill, guests purchase their own ticket to pay for the meal and the venue.
Last Thursday’s event began with a social hour to give everyone some time to catch up and reminisce.
Robert Schulz also did the annual roll call–a tradition that honours members who have passed away since the last meeting.
This year, 26 members were on the list of names read by Schulz and honoured with a moment of silence.
Then the organizing committee was recognized for their work, receiving a hearty round of applause as they assembled in front of the mill alumni on hand.
Besides Morrison, Pruys, and Schulz, the committee also included Ed Haglund, Al Smith, Jean Camirand, Rudy Gustafson, Rick Macedon, Stan Hoard, Sylvia Johnson, David Whalen, Don Dickson, and Ed Bogacki.
Following a prayer led by Dickson, the alumni enjoyed a cutlet meal prepared by the Legion Ladies’ Auxiliary.
Then they continued socializing with old friends and former co-workers.