Mine Centre revisited

    Looking so lost now, lonely and hopeless, Mine Centre stands today like a complete collapse compared to the thriving village I knew in its gold mining era.
    Picture Fort Frances today allowed to go back to nature, with all businesses and industry vanished. Brush takes over and in the case of Mine Centre, where my daughter drove me last week to end my nostalgia.
    There are not that many rocks around us here, but those were not the most conspicuous part of the village I left so long ago.
    Mine Centre today has no community appearance at all, whereas I remember the collage beside the railroad tracks about 50 miles eat of here as humming with activities: two grocery stores, a hotel, and large boarding house for its visiting miners because all could not stay at the mines.
    Yes, Fort Frances depends on Rainy Lake, just as Mine Centre formerly appreciated lakes such as Bad Vermilion, which had the greatest beach.
    Last week I never saw that beach, once an essential part of my boyhood, winter for skating and summer sports also. And not far from the growing village, either.
    Only one small business remains there, the filling station started by Harold Dennis and managed by his family.
    Another business name familiar to everyone whoever visited the area is Joe Bliss, eldest son of several left behind by Ed Bliss, who once ran the post office and a grocery in the former village close to the long-gone Prideau store, which sat close to the Mine Centre hotel by the tracks.
    My mother ran that dining room before we returned to Fort Frances.
    But I’m remembering the start of town with streets which you cannot find anywhere there today. Aside from the scattered homes, trees, and rocks, visitors like me would wonder whatever happened to that tidy community beside the railroad—quite a distance from that filling station.
    Nothing resembling those businesses anymore.
    Remember, I’m describing a site that conceivably could become another Nestor Falls or Sioux Narrows, and attracted just as many summer travellers.
    As we went up and down that highway to find Mine Centre, there was very light traffic whereas those northern towns are kept teeming with tourists. Mine Centre merely fell asleep after its promising mines all closed down.
    Located on the route to the Lakehead, our old home lacked an awareness of tourist potential evidently! Forget its mines, there was bush in abundance to create a continuing lumber supply, as did J.A. Mathieu and Shevlin Clark.
    Mind you, those firms got there early, but the trees we saw are still plentiful.
    They say don’t beat a dead horse, yet Mine Centre missed or messed up badly somehow and, to me as a former resident there, it seems a rotten shame.
    As a boy, I saw tugboats from Fort Frances on Bad Vermilion Lake and I’ve heard the fishing and hunting were as good there as anywhere else.
    Fortunately, a small colony of Mennonites occupy a corner of Mine Centre today and those industrious people could prove to be just what’s needed to bring the old mining village alive again.
    There was no shortage of workmen on that scene when I was a boy and I can remember my dad becoming involved in a bee to erect a substantial dance hall of logs at the west end of the former downtown, up a hill from the hotel, and this was an attraction for Saturday nights!
• • •
    Veribu Batiuk is a new nurse with “Comm Care,” the organization that provides so much valuable health assistance. I’ve now met at least eight of those nurses, beginning with Lynn Dolk, whom I admired for her skill and persistence.
• • •
    The late Peter Makarchuk, though still a rookie, may have meant more to the older Canadians than generally realized because they have been using only two lines of forwards before he came along and gave them a third line with two other youngsters.
    His arrival was well-appreciated as it took the strain off the other two lines in that final all-important series at Owen Sound for the Allan Cup in 1952.
    Gordie Calder was another member of that third line!
• • •
    Wal-mart definitely doesn’t need any help from me, but we got such a good deal  on photography there that I’m impressed.
    When my daughter used her camera to snap a series of family headstones this past week, she found that store was the place to take the camera.
• • •
    It’s been too hot, blistering hot, but I’ve got to keep bragging about our district’s weather, anyway! The longer the hot sun stays with us, the more rain we can expect as a result!
    And when the rain comes along, we realize we are not living in any desert.
    Many parts of this world undoubtedly are wishing they had our luck with the weather—summer or winter! And remember to buy those sunglasses if needed. I never felt the need until this summer.
• • •
    Meanwhile, we do not see “Nutty” so often lately. He’s no doubt busy with his new family, but that’s not to say he refuses any peanuts coming along!
• • •
    Something else: Wherever gold has been found, there also may be diamonds and prospectors have been on double alert ever since South Africa proved that point.
• • •
    This may be my final column, number 500 perhaps, because my eyesight has been failing.

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