Category Archives: Projects

Update-August 2016

Read the latest news and updates in the society newsletter.

Newsletter 2016 I

Also, please note that the 2016 edition of History Day is coming up on Sunday, October 2nd from 1-5pm at the Silver Mountain Station. More details to follow.


Update-December 2015

It’s been another very great year for the society and we look forward to continued success in 2016. You can read all about some past events and the latest news on our projects in the society newsletter:

Newsletter 2015 II

Have a safe and restful holiday season.

Update-June 2015

Here is the latest news from the society.

CN Caboose

As all of you should be aware, the society was examining the possibility of acquiring the caboose, which currently resides in Prince Arthur’s Landing in Thunder Bay. Several meetings were held with members of city administration, followed by a deputation to council on May 4th. At the time we were very confident that the city would donate this piece of history to the society so we could relocate it to Silver Mountain to serve as a historical attraction and museum.

If you followed the local media you would be aware that our plans and subsequent deputation caused quite a stir among local residents. There were many people who spoke out against city council for not maintaining its cultural heritage; others were concerned about the loss of the caboose from the Marina and the city. It certainly created a lot more controversy than we anticipated.

With this in mind, the subject of the caboose was discussed at length at the May 27th meeting of the board. There was a lot of concern among members of the executive that the animosity currently directed toward city administration and city council would eventually turn toward the society for “stealing” a piece of Thunder Bay’s history (in spite of our repeated statements to the contrary). Our sole intention regarding the caboose was to save this great piece of history and give it the care and attention it needed, even if it was from Silver Mountain. Other concerns revolved around the expense and complications of moving such a large, fragile object 60 kilometres outside the city.

With much reluctance, the board decided to ask city council to rescind our request for the caboose. We were required to submit that request in writing to the City Clerk’s office to satisfy all the legal requirements of the process. This accounts for the delay in notifying the membership of our intent as we wanted to give council an opportunity to receive our letter before it went public.

It saddens us that we had to make this decision, but the whole process was becoming too political for our organization. We are very grateful for the assistance we received from city administration and the opportunity we were given to speak to council. We hope that a group does step forward with a plan that will ensure this great piece of history receives the protection it deserves. The board has begun looking at other options for a museum at Silver Mountain and we will share that information as soon as it is prudent to do so.

New board member.

At our May 27th meeting, the board ratified the appointment of Brett Starrs as the society’s secretary for 2015-2016. This position was left vacant following the AGM in March and it allows society Vice-President Kyle Duckworth to return to his normal duties after wearing two hats for the past few months. Brett comes to us with experience from the Lakehead University Historical Society and brings a little more youth to the society board. We look forward to working with him for the next two years.

CN Caboose Update

Here is the latest news from the CN Caboose acquisition project.

Due to some scheduling conflicts with the City Clerk’s Office, our deputation before council has been rescheduled to Monday, May 4th (pending confirmation).

This past week society treasurer Shelley Simon had the opportunity to tour the inside of the caboose with Paul Fayrick, Manager of the Parks Division. The interior appears to be in good shape and it also gave us more information regarding the history of this particular piece railway rolling stock. Caboose “78175” was built by the CN Transcona Shops in Winnipeg in 1929, which certainly dates to the period of the PD. It’s current paint and configuration reflect a 1950’s appearance; it is the society’s intention to restore caboose, should we acquire it, to a 1930’s livery.

CN Caboose Interior, April 2015.

CN Caboose Interior, April 2015.

CN Caboose Interior, April 2015.

CN Caboose Interior, April 2015.

CN Caboose Interior, April 2015.

CN Caboose Interior, April 2015.

CN Caboose Interior, April 2015.

CN Caboose Interior, April 2015.

CN Caboose Interior, April 2015.

CN Caboose Interior, April 2015.

CN Caboose Interior, April 2015.

CN Caboose Interior, April 2015.

CN Caboose Interior, April 2015.

CN Caboose Interior, April 2015.

We will post more information as it becomes available.

Update-April 2015

Here are some highlights from March 29th’s General Meeting.

The society just passed its second year anniversary of incorporation. We are growing and will continue to do so as the message gets out about who we are and what we do.

Our financial situation continues to improve as time passes and we become more stable. We currently have over $900 in the bank and are looking into an operating grant from the government that could see us receive approximately $900 to $1500 per year to cover our expenses.

Membership-A reminder that 2015 membership fees are now due. In response to several inquiries regarding an online registration form, we have now added the option of submitting fees via Paypal. Please visit the following link: Membership

Project updates:

  • Highway 593 Dedication-We are one step closer to see a portion of Highway 593 dedicated to the memory of Dorothea Mitchell. All the approvals from the local roads boards have been received and now it is in the hands of the MTO. They will let us know where the boundary of the dedication portion will be, along with any cost we will incur as a result of this project.
  • Historic Plaque-The society is still committed to erecting a historic plaque for Silver Mountain, but we are examining our options as the process is very time consuming and expensive.
  • North-Gunflint Lakes Historic Corridor-The preservation of historic sites in the area, the process of which was started in 2012, continues very slowly but progress is being made. The society is working with a cultural heritage specialist in Toronto and it has been decided that the first step must be an inventory and mapping of the area. This will require the assistance of a licensed archaeologist and some question has arisen as to where the funds will come from to pay for this work. We are looking into accessing funding from various government agencies as well as MNRF whose land many of the sites reside on.
  • Museum-Exciting news! Since our incorporation, the society has been examining options regarding the establishment of a museum at Silver Mountain. Last summer we learned that the City of Thunder Bay might be interested in divesting themselves of the CN Caboose, which currently sits at Prince Arthur’s Landing. After a number of emails, we met with Darrell Matson and Paul Fayrick from the Infrastructure and Operations Division who stated that the city needed to move the caboose due to the next phase of construction at the marina and there was currently no place to house it. There is also no funding or support to maintain it (it does need a little work). The next step is to make a deputation to city council to get their formal approval, which will take place on Monday, April 13th at 6:00pm. Anyone wishing to come and listen to the deputation is encouraged to do so.
CN Caboose, April 2015.

CN Caboose, April 2015.

CN Caboose, April 2015.

CN Caboose, April 2015.

Fundraising-To help fund some of our ongoing projects, we are looking at various options to raise some money. There were a number of ideas discussed at the AGM and we will explore them more in the future. In any case, we have added a donation area to our website where people can give whatever they can via Paypal. Donations can also be made in person at the station. Donate


  • High Tea-One of our fundraising ideas, which we hope will turn into an annual event, is a High Tea event to take place on Sunday, April 26th at 2:00 pm. All proceeds from the tea will benefit the society. Please spread the word and plan to attend. We will also be looking for some folks to help out, so if you’re interested, please let Dave or Shelley know.
  • Hymers Fair-Our presence at this long-running event will now become an annual occurrence. The experience of the past two years has been fantastic and has given the society a lot of exposure to the thousands of people who pass through the gates. We already have our booth for the 2015 instalment and it will be in a much more visible location.
  • History Day-We are already looking forward to the 4th annual edition of this event which will take place at some point in October. More information will be forthcoming.

Elections-The terms for our present executive were at an end and so voting was held to select a new board for 2015 through to 2017. All the nominees were acclaimed and there has been a slight shuffle in responsibilities and one new face on the board:

President-Dave Battistel        

Vice-President-Kyle Duckworth

Treasurer-Shelley Simon       

Secretary-vacant (current filled by Kyle)

Director-Elle Andra-Warner  

Director-Jeff Benedict             

Please check back regularly for the latest news and information.


Why not join us?

The society has been in existence for more than eight months and it is now time to expand and publicize our organization. While we do have a solid core of supporters, we are looking for more people to back our efforts. In addition, the financial contributions of members are critical components of our operations and projects.

Several society events are in the planning stages for this summer. A horseback ride along area trails is scheduled for the beginning of July. In August, the society is sponsoring the 2nd Annual History Day at the Silver Mountain Station. Please check back for more details as they become available.

The society continues to push ahead with two important historic projects in the area. Progress has been made in the Dorothea Mitchell Highway 593 memorial dedication-we hope to have some updates in the very near future. Efforts continue in the North-Gunflint Lakes Historic Corridor preservation, albeit very slowly. Other projects are in the works, and they will proceed as time and funds allow.

Please consider joining us. If you are already a member, please let your friends and family know about the society. Help us preserve history!

Dave Battistel

SMHS Spring 2013 Newsletter

SMHS Membership

It’s official!

If you haven’t heard, exciting things are happening!

On Wednesday, February 6th the society Board of Directors met at the Silver Mountain Station to ratify our proposed constitution. The vote was unanimous among the assembled members and it was then passed along to the Ontario Historical Society (OHS) for their approval. Copies of the constitution will be available electronically and in print prior to the next society general meeting.

In a key development, correspondence from OHS indicated that contrary to previous information, our society could have more than one president. At the last society meeting in December, Shelley Simon was acclaimed president and Dave Battistel acclaimed vice-president to satisfy the incorporation requirements. This arrangement was based on the previously noted information from OHS, which did not suit the intentions of our group. Therefore the Board decided to designate Shelley and Dave as co-presidents for the duration of their terms.

At this meeting a number of other important issues were brought up and discussed. At the top of this list is the attempt to designate a portion of Highway 593 (which runs from the station southward to Highway 61 at the border) as the Dorothea Mitchell Memorial Highway. Shelley led the discussion on the matter, and presented all the paperwork involved in this process. There are quite a number of requirements that must be satisfied; in particular there must be support from the road boards of the townships the highway bisects. This will require some effort as this project does affect several neighbouring townships.

Dorothea Mitchell, c.1910.

Dorothea Mitchell, c.1910.

Another point of discussion centred on the length of the memorial highway. It was finally agreed that the society should ask for the dedication of the entire route, from Highway 61 to Highway 588. This will certainly make the task more simplistic, and hopefully by having signage directly on Highway 61, help promote the station and tourism in the area.

A second project on the table is an attempt to erect an Ontario Historical Plaque somewhere near the station. It would celebrate the importance of the mines and subsequently the station in the history of the area. Shelley once again is leading this project and is currently working on the application to the Ontario Heritage Trust. A 1000 word paper must accompany the request and the deadline is September 15th. Hopefully we will see some results in the near future!

Located just down the road from the station at the intersection of Highway 588 and the Northside Road is an abandoned cemetery known as the Silver Mountain Cemetery or the Walker-Bessant Cemetery. This overgrown cemetery dates back to the early 1900’s and apparently saw its last burial in the 1970’s. It is dotted with several crosses and headstones. The society would like to undertake an effort clear and rejuvenate this long forgotten site. We may be looking for volunteers to assist in the effort soon.

Our efforts to preserve and protect the historic sites in the North-Gunflint Lake corridor continue. Led by Dave, the society is working diligently with the Ontario Government to make headway in what is turning out to be a very challenging endeavour. The key to this project is the former railway ghost town of Leeblain on Gunflint Lake. Many rock ovens dot the site, and recent information has suggested that there were many more structures located there than previously thought. We will provide more updates on this situation as it becomes available.

So the final piece of news for this entry is the most exciting. After receiving our ratified constitution, the Ontario Historical Society  met on Saturday, February 23rd to incorporate our organization. With all of our paperwork in place, this process was a mere formality; OHS President Rob Leverty immediately called Shelley to pass on the good news. On Thursday, February 28th, representatives from OHS met with the Ontario Ministry of Government Services and were given our corporate number. All of this means that we are a real and true non-profit organization in the eyes of the Province of Ontario. Hurray for us!

Look forward to a society general meeting in the near future. In the meantime, the society will have a presence at the annual Thunder Bay Home and Garden Show at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition on April 5-7. Stop by the Silver Mountain Station booth to say hi or even sign a membership card. Hope to see you there!

Dave Battistel