Well, it’s been a good run for me; hopefully for you as well. However, this will be the final column I write for the Nickel Belt News and Opaquia Times. I have penned this column each week for a little over 12 years for the Nickel Belt News, close to 11 years for the Opasquia Times, and a little over 13 years for the Flin Flon Reminder. I think the editors of each can attest that I never missed an edition or a deadline in that time. And … I can honestly say that it never seemed like a job. Each time I sat down to do it, I was filled with a sense of excitement at getting my thoughts down on paper and a feeling of accomplishment each time I hit the send button after proofing the week’s offering. It will be an adjustment for me, not having to contemplate the subject of each week’s column, and it will undoubtedly hurt a bit every time I sit down to a computer without the focus of that task before me. I thank each and every one of you for taking the time to read anything that I have ever written.
I have lived in Snow Lake for 48 years and my wife Leone has lived here all her life. We raised our children here and made lifelong friendships that we cherish and will keep with us for the rest of our days. However, move on we must. Two of our children live in Alberta and two in Nova Scotia. We will move west and in doing so have immediate access to an airport that can take us east. At this point, those children and our grandchildren are the most important things in our lives; as a result, we feel the need to be closer to them and hopefully play a bigger part in their lives.
Nevertheless, leaving Snow Lake and the position I’ve played in bringing you stories about the town is bittersweet. I moved here from Thompson at the age of 13 and I hated it immediately. Inside of a year, that hate turned completely around and my love for this town has not waned since. Snow Lake has the best of everything … amazing people, wondrous access to everything outdoors, a booming economy, and a sense of safety you only get from being around good friends and a great surroundings. I’ve made a lifetime of memories here and I know I will spend many future days replaying them in my mind’s eye.
I’ve also written a good-sized hard drive full of stories on Snow Lake, not just for the aforementioned papers, but also within a local newspaper that we ran for 21 years – the Underground Press – and two books – The Nor-Acme Gold Mine Story and Headframes, Happiness, and Heartaches. Over that period there were stories and issues that were notable. I think the stories that stand out the most for me were the ones written about the boom times and the low tides in Snow Lake’s ever-changing history. I recall writing with a broken heart as the New Britannia Mine was shuttered and as the community’s Northern Store closed for good but also scratching out some pretty enthusiastic prose when news of the Lalor Mine hit the coffee shop. I have also written numerous articles about the many interesting people who reside within Snow Lake and its outlying areas. A lot of those I interviewed said that they didn’t know why I wanted to talk to them … that they’d never done anything important or that was worthy of writing about. Oh, I disagree. I’ve said it many times: “Within every person there is a story, worth telling and worth reading.” I’m so grateful that I was able to coax them out and in a way preserve them for their own and the North’s posterity.
And so, it has come to this … we leave an area we have inhabited all our lives, and a community where we have spent much of it. There will be times when we miss Snow Lake so badly it will bring tears. There will be songs, and smells, and sounds, and of course, people who remind us of home. The memories that all these things evoke will sustain us until we are able to return for a visit, or when our ashes are carried back home for that final rest. So long Snow Lake … it’s been a slice.