Tag Archives: Port Arthur Duluth & Western Railway

History Day 2013

History Day is almost upon us!

On Saturday, August 10th, 2013 the society will be hosting this great event at the historic Silver Mountain Station, located 45 minutes southwest of Thunder Bay at the intersection of Highways 588 and 593. The formal portion of the festivities will begin at 2:00 with greetings, presentations and music. A dinner buffet is available afterwards for $25 per person, $5 of which will be going directly to the society.

Please join us and learn more about the history of our area. For more information, please call the station at (807) 475-4406 or email info@silvermountainhs.ca

History Day 2013

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Our next big event!

August 10th, 2013 1-5pm.
Take a drive out to the Silver Mountain Station and learn about the history of the Silver Mountain Area at our 2nd Annual History Day. Come and join local historians, enthusiasts, artists and musicians as they celebrate our unique story in word and song. Greetings, presentations and music will take place between 2:00 and 3:30 (dinner buffet is available for an additional cost).
The Silver Mountain Station is located approximately 54 kilometres southwest of Thunder Bay at the intersection of Highway 588 and Highway 593. It was built in 1907 and is the last remaining station along the historic Port Arthur, Duluth and Western Railway.
More information will be coming soon. Stay tuned! In the meantime, please visit the Facebook event posting:

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


A Great Weekend!

This past weekend the society made its first big public splash at the 15th Annual Thunder Bay Home and Garden Show. This three-day event attracts tens of thousands of visitors and was an excellent opportunity to showcase our organization.

Our presence at the show was made possible through the efforts of society Co-President Shelley Simon. Shelley had rented a booth for the Silver Mountain Station and graciously offered to allow the society to share the space. We had a bit of a mad rush the week before to get materials ordered for this event with our new logo, such as a banner, brochures and business cards. With the help of expedited service, everything thankfully arrived well in advance, though I did have to hustle on Friday after work to get it to the show on time.

Shelley, like the trooper she is, manned the booth all weekend. I joined her for a good part of the day on Saturday and society Director Kyle Duckworth stepped up on Sunday. I can only speak for the day I was there, but there was a steady stream of traffic by our location. We quickly went through our supply of brochures and had to fall back on using business cards!

The people who stopped by were genuinely curious about the Silver Mountain and Area Historical Society, and we did get a lot of folks who were eager to share their stories of the area. If anything, the show raised our awareness in the community, especially since we are such a new organization. Hopefully this will lead to a larger membership base in the future. I’m already looking forward to our upcoming events!

The society banner goes up, April 2013.

The society banner goes up, April 2013.

SMHS and Silver Mountain Station side-by-side, April 2013.

SMHS and Silver Mountain Station side-by-side, April 2013.

The start of Day 2, April 2013.

The start of Day 2, April 2013.

Visitors to the booth, April 2013.

Visitors stopping by, April 2013.

Manning the booth, April 2013.

Manning the booth, April 2013.

Very shortly there will be a board of directors meeting and following that, a society general meeting. This will allow everyone to be brought up to speed on society news and developments. At this time, existing members will have the opportunity to pay their dues and new registrations will also be accepted. Stay tuned for the date, time and location.

Dave Battistel


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


Our first step forward!

So I was sitting here trying to figure how to start this post. When I write my own personal blog, I usually have something funny or witty to say. However, since this is something official, I guess I need to keep it more formal (or at least somewhat formal?). Maybe congratulations is a good way to start, since this is our first real, substantial post. Three cheers for us then!

All kidding aside, it is a great honour to be able to write this first of many posts for the Silver Mountain Historical Society. We’ve only existed for a few months, but I’m sure we will have a long and prosperous existence. It is the beginning of an exciting period for those of us involved and for the rich history of this area.

On Sunday December 9th we held our second ever meeting, this one to start the process of incorporating the society. The meeting was held in the historic Silver Mountain Station, a building that dates back to 1907 and is the sole remaining station on the Port Arthur, Duluth and Western Railway. A fitting location for a group committed to preserving history. The current owner and society founder Shelley Simon was gracious enough to allow us to meet in such a treasured place. The hosts for the meeting would be the then co-chairs of the society, Shelley and yours truly.

Silver Mountain Station, December 2012.

Silver Mountain Station, December 2012.

Sunday dawned snowy and grey, the weather threatening to put a damper over our event. After a 45 minute drive along scenic Highway 588, I arrived just before noon to get myself set up and help Shelley with any last minute details. Despite the conditions outside, there was a pretty good turnout for the meeting, with about 25 people in attendance. There were many new faces present, which was a good sign for the society.

Dave Battistel and Kyle Duckworth ready to greet guests.

Dave Battistel and Kyle Duckworth ready to greet guests.

After a few welcoming words and some introductions, we got down to business. I began the agenda with a quick presentation about the railway for those who were unfamiliar with it. The railway had such a huge impact on nearly every piece history in the area it is impossible to not talk about it. The challenge is however how to say it all in 10 minutes!

Almost ready to roll!

Almost ready to roll!

From there it was a little talk about how the society got started. It was a merging of like goals; Shelley, with her desire to preserve and promote the history of the Silver Mountain area, and myself trying to protect the former railway grade along North and Gunflint Lakes.  It was something that was made to happen. Certainly this marriage of ideas has given the society the first of its many goals. There is definitely no shortage of history in the area and no shortage of places that require our attention. So much to do and we’ve only just begun!

Shelley Simon and Dave Battistel addressing the audience.

Shelley Simon and Dave Battistel addressing the audience.

Obviously the most important reason for our gathering was the incorporation of the society as a non-profit organization. This would be accomplished through the auspices of the Ontario Historical Society. Curiously, in order to file the papers with the OHS, we would need to select a society executive. That would present a bit of a catch 22; ideally we would like to wait until we legally exist to select this group, but those names had to be on the incorporation papers. Bizarre! Also, we would be asking people to vote when some of them had just signed membership cards that day.

Shelley and Dave speak about society priorities.

Shelley and Dave speak about society priorities.

At the society founding meeting on October 14th, Shelley and I had been appointed as interim co-chairs. The two of us would form the core of the executive, but who would volunteer to join us? Thankfully some individuals stepped forward to get the organization rolling, and it was particularly great to see some younger folks involved. So for at least the next year, this is the current executive: President-Shelley Simon, VP-Dave Battistel, Treasurer (acting)-Leonard Kantola, Secretary-Daryl Cano, and Director-Kyle Duckworth.

Shelley speaks about the incorporation process.

Shelley speaks about the incorporation process.

Once that important task had been completed, attention turned to the issue of society membership. While more than 60 people have signed on to join us and we have not charged anyone yet, it came to our attention that membership fees would need to be included in our constitution and by-laws. This generated a lengthy debate, but the gathering finally decided on a $10 individual and $20 family fee. These moneys will probably be collected at the next general meeting following our successful incorporation.

The meeting adjourned at close to 3 o’clock and was an unqualified success. The executive will be meeting in early January to complete and file the incorporation papers. The whole process may take anywhere from weeks to months, depending on what happens at OHS.  Stay tuned for more details on the society and our projects as it becomes available.

Dave Battistel