Now what have I gotten myself into?

16 Oct

Hey Dave, what do you think about doing some more railway related stuff? You’ve got lots of spare time on your hands right? My response of course was “sure, bring it on!” Good Lord, I must be a losing my marbles! If my life wasn’t busy enough, I’ve obviously decided to take on more things to do. I’ll explain it all very shortly, but it leaves me feeling like the schlep that Bugs Bunny eloquently describes as a “maroon!”

As usual, it has been a very hectic, but productive week. The travel meeting for the 2014 Europe trip was very successful, with about 21 students in attendance. This was exactly the number we were looking for; hopefully most of them make it out to the parent meeting happening next week. That will give us a true indication of our numbers. The kids seem pretty excited and I can’t wait to “touch” history with them!

Football of course has been busy, with both teams in action. The boys played their second game of the year on Saturday and came away victorious again. It is really neat to watch these 5, 6 and 7 year olds in action, with all of their passion and energy. Yesterday our team practiced with the “big kids” (12 & 13 year olds) and they had a blast! Great to see the older players working with and mentoring the younger ones…what an awesome way to promote the game.

Last Thursday was the third game for our high school junior team and we made it two wins in a row with a convincing 30 to 7 decision over Churchill. Responding to the previous week’s lackluster performance, the defence put in a great effort. We had two picks, two forced fumbles, a few sacks and limited their offence to a handful of first downs. Hopefully we can maintain that momentum heading into this week’s game against Westgate, whom we haven’t beat in the last five meetings.

So anyway, I guess I should say some stuff about the railway shouldn’t I? Well, there has been a flurry of railway related news this past week. I did manage the post the video of the trip to the Paulson Mine to YouTube; it and several others have been getting some good exposure thanks in part to the folks at and their video labs project. They post links to videos about and related to the Cook County area. In recent weeks the Paulson video, as well as the Gunflint Narrows videos have been featured.

Speaking of great exposure, I came across a great plug for the railway and my work today in the writings of Sue Prom. Sue, along with her husband, own Voyageur Canoe Outfitters at the end of the Gunflint Trail. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Sue, but she has written about my railway research several times in her blog. I came across her latest mention this morning, describing a visit to the rock ovens of Leeblain (ironically enough the same day I was at the Paulson Mine). I certainly appreciate the free promotion and hopefully I can give her a tour of the railway that she is looking for someday!

The most interesting railway news however came on Sunday, and is the inspiration of the title. For many weeks I have been looking forward to celebrating the birthday of the last remaining significant building on the line. In 1907, Canadian Northern Railway (the then owners of line), decided to replace the 10 x 20 log freight shed at Silver Mountain with a more substantial structure. The project was announced in March of that year, and shortly thereafter a 25 x 50 station was in place. The pattern for this station would later be copied 40 miles to the west at North Lake.

North Lake Station, circa 1918.

So anyway, Sunday was the 105th birthday of the Silver Mountain Station, which is now a restaurant owned by local entrepreneur and friend Shelley Simon. Since moving here from southern Ontario several years ago, Shelley has worked tirelessly to promote the station and the area. There is a lot of history in that building and this was the second event hosted there in the last few months (remember the August “History Day”). It was supposed to start at 11:00am with brunch, but I almost missed it as I had to hustle from church that morning (Ethan had his first communion induction). Fortunately I was able to partake in the delicious spread Shelley put out and I even had a chance to sit and chat with Whitefish resident Helen Cooper whom I met this summer.

Silver Mountain Station, June 2012.

The ceremony began shortly after my arrival with a cake-cutting, as well as a plaque presentation by local Ontario MPP Bill Mauro. I did get a few minutes to speak to Mr. Mauro regarding the historic preservation on Gunflint Lake since he has been very helpful in our efforts. This brief conversation has led to some subsequent emails and additional assistance by Mr. Mauro. Hopefully this will lead to further understanding of the history of the area and what we are trying to protect.

Shelley Simon and Bill Mauro, October 2012.

Silver Mountain Station plaque presentation, October 2012.

On that note, a group of us stayed behind and agreed to launch what will become the “Silver Mountain Historical Society.” The stated purpose of this merry band is to preserve the history of the station, as well as to try to promote and preserve the railway. One of our first tasks, once we get rolling, is to work with the government to protect the railway in the North-Gunflint Lake corridor, and all the historic sites in that area such as Leeblain. This is going to be a huge task, not including getting the society off the ground. I volunteered to serve as interim co-chair with Shelley; hopefully more people step forward to help as I don’t think I can handle everything on my plate, hence the title of today’s post. It is exciting to be part of something like this, but when I started researching how to start a not for profit organization, it made my head hurt. Way too many legal and procedural hoops to jump through.

Speaking at Silver Mountain, October 2012.

Anyway, I guess I should wrap this up. I’m sure I’ll have more news to report on next week. Until then…

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Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Travel, Writing


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