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June 29, 2007

Sweetman Garden has historical significance


On Saturday June 16 a group of concerned citizens held a rally in a big tent in the back yard of Murray Sweetman’s home at McIntyre and Cormack streets in North Bay.  His garden started in the 1960s eventually extended along the old CNR railbed behind his house and on down the line behind four other houses.  Over the years it became a remarkable enclave of flowers and walkways that brings pleasure to many.  There were many visitors at the event, many with cameras. 

Visitors at the Sweetman Gardens’ Rally

Of historical interest is the fact that there was a native portage through the site from Trout Lake to Lake Nipissing at Timmins Street along an ancient shoreline for centuries.  This was brought home with the singing, drumming and sweetgrass ceremony at the event.  I would be nice if a plaque could be erected recognizing the portage, the railway and the ancient shoreline at the site.  The portage swung north and the south shore of an ancient lake.  Fur traders undoubtedly used the route baring their goods on carts over the route.  It could be erected as a part of the plan by whoever takes the lead on the gardens preservation.  For much more information log on to the interesting website by Roy Summers.

In the tent there was an art show, poetry reading, story telling and music plus a plea by organizer Stuart Bailey and others for phone calls and emails to city hall to save the location.  Support has extended to a Facebook internet site with several hundred entries.  It will be interesting to see if it survives and grows. 

Captains of the Clouds 

A large group of people came to the Capitol Centre in North Bay on Saturday June 16th to see the WWII movie Captains of the Clouds partly shot on Trout Lake in North Bay.  Rudy Mauro who has written extensively on the film was present with a display of photographs shown before and after the film that showed the activity around the making of the film.  Numerous people had stories to tell about a connection with the film.  The showing was part of the Empire Living Centre’s 10th  anniversary celebration.  James Cagney and some of the other stars stayed there in 1941 when it was a hotel.  Scott Clark briefly interviewed Rudy Mauro, me and Ab Josephs, a resident of the Centre prior to the film.  In his remarks Rudy Mauro dedicated his display to a friend who died overseas in the war.  Afterwards relatives approached Rudy to share some memories of their families.  Congratulations to the Centre for making the event available. 

Rudy Mauro and Leigh Dalgleish Empire Living Centre Activity Coordinator at the Captains of the Clouds display at the Capitol Centre.

Bonfield’s First Spike Porject 

Everyone knows about the CPRs last spike but not about the first spike in Bonfield 125 years ago in the spring of 1882.  The event was inducted into the railway hall of fame in 2002.  Bonfield wants to use the first spike event as a tourist attraction and had a 2 day event June 16-17 to do just that.  There is talk of a railway museum and information centre. 

I couldn’t attend the event because I was at the Sweetman Garden and Captains of the Clouds events.  I was at the unloading of the Bonfield caboose a couple of years ago and am pleased to see there is funding from the federal government  to make it a centerpiece for the museum.  Anyone with artifacts, photos or stories should contact project historian Elmer Rose at 776-2673. 

Commanda Museum 

The Commanda Museum is not only a museum but an artifact in its own right with a great history.  As an old building and no municipal financial support the small community, in spite of had work by volunteers, has not been able to keep up with repairs and had to close last summer.  There is still great enthusiasm for the future and some significant roof and basement repair has been done by a generous contractor Roger Desmaris.  With the museum on the heritage trail system which will be a route for the 2010 Olympics Torch Run hopefully the museum will be up and running long before then. 

The Commanda Museum is part of the Near North Heritage Group that developed a touring package for the Commanda, Nipissing and Powassan Museums.  Burk’s Falls, The South River Train Station and the Magnetawan Museum have since come on board making for an interesting six part historical excursion through the area. 

Powassan Public Observatory 

The exciting astronomical observatory, after some stellar collisions, is still alive on a smaller scale with the signing of a possible partner.  The Commanda Anglers and Hunters have an interest in developing the greenspace around the observatory site as an education and recreational venue looking at fish stocking, wildlife, outdoor skills and trails.  The Anglers and Hunters group, a chapter of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters will meet with council on July 3 to provide details of the proposal.  Hopefully this outstanding project will develop and provide recreational, educational and economic potential for years to come and put Powassan on the map.

Hummel School 

A reunion of former students and teachers of SS#3 Powassan known as the Hummel School, will take place at the Trout Creek Community Centre 07/07/07.  The school at Hemlock Road and Weiler Line in Powassan closed in 1962.  Former students and spouses have many events planned and will display a special guilt and a model of the school made for the event. 

The school roster lists many names of people still living in the area. Things have changed in the 45 years since the school closed but many old memories will be stirring. 

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