It’s weird.  The vast majority of my time in northern Ontario was spent in Timmins. Yet Timmins is one of the last places I’ve ended up blogging about.

Timmins, Ontario sunrise, care of Wiki Commons User P199

Timmins, Ontario sunrise, care of Wiki Commons User P199

Maybe Timmins kept falling down the priority list as I focused on towns that are actually on Highway 11 and Yonge Street.  Maybe it’s because it’s a little easier to get down your thoughts when they’re relatively limited to the basic impressions of someone passing through town.  Maybe it’s because Timmins is closer to my heart than some of the other places I’ve written about, and that I thought I had to do it justice.  Or maybe it’s that my observations kept shifting, influenced by the distance of time.

It has been years since I’ve been to Timmins.  Six or seven years to be honest.  But, writing this, it doesn’t feel that way.

Ontario’s “Real” North

In writing about my travels along Ontario’s Highway 11 and Yonge Street I’ve blogged about ~120 communities, more than half of them being in northern Ontario.  So sometimes it’s difficult to avoid playing all hokey-jokey with northern stereotypes.  Of course, Timmins has no shortage of these.

So lets get it over with.  You know you’re in northern Ontario when…

  • …the smell of lumber permeates the air.
  • …the major streets are named after trees.
  • …there isn’t just one fast food place exclusive to poutine, but two.
  • …everyone smells like gasoline from either snowblowing or snowmobiling, but no-one else notices but you.
  • …the town’s former claim to fame was being the largest land area of any city in the province.
  • …the town’s current claim to fame is having the most bars per capita of any city in the country.
  • …the town builds a big tourist attraction around a famous singer that grew up there (Hello, Shania Twain Centre)
  • …and then sells that big tourist attraction to a mining company because the ore underneath is worth more than the attraction (So long, Shania Twain Centre).
highway11.ca, woodpile in Timmins, ON

Hands down the most beautiful woodpile photo on highway11.ca (Credit: Harriet Carlson)

Really, though, it is not about the stereotypes.  Though residents of Thunder Bay or Sudbury or wherever would likely disagree, to me Timmins will always be the heart of northern Ontario.

Thunder Bay and areas west tend to gravitate toward Winnipeg.  Sault Ste. Marie has its American twin across the river in Michigan.  North Bay is too south – that’s why they call it the “near north”.  Sudbury is too big – it lets you opt out of northern Ontario, like living in Windsor or St. Catharines minus the Carolinian trees.    Kirkland Lake is too out there – a frontier town hanging by the thread of the boom-bust cycles of local mines.  Geraldton is too small, too isolated, too anglophone.  Hearst and Kapuskasing are too small, too isolated, too francophone.

But this isn’t just some personalized process of elimination.  There is something about Timmins that is intangibly reflective of the north as a whole.

Timmins, Ontario:  Putting the “other” in mother tongues

I first noticed it standing in line outside in the slush in -17 degree weather at the Tim Hortons on Algonquin (which is way too small for a city this size and this cold) not more than 20 minutes into my time in Timmins.

“Deux cafés – une grande, une extralarge, both two cream une sucre.”

My ears perked, but I quickly slid back into my early morning stupor.  A few days later, I heard it again.

« Youse guys veux jumper sur la tramp? »

Right then and there I knew that I was gonna love this place – for two reasons.

I’m the grandson of immigrants to Canada.  One set are from Italy and, after 50-plus years here, bits and bobs of English have permeated their Italian.  I grew up hearing Italianized words like “chickena” and “carro” and “trucko”, hearing “shitta!” yelled from the basement each time a mason jar is dropped, and, most inexplicably, the couch constantly referred to in both languages as the “chesterfielde”.

But what most prepared me for Timmins was being a product of Ontario’s French Immersion school system.  The one thing that every French Immersion kid knows is that though the program aims to make you fluent in two languages, it leaves you master of only one – franglais.

Mines, mines, everywhere a mines

Timmins, Ontario – Mines, mines, everywhere a mine

Whereas most of the northern mines hired either anglophones or francophones, but not both, Noah and Henry Timmins had a francophone mom and hired people of both backgrounds.   So, thanks in part to the legacy of the Timmins brothers, just over 50 percent of people in Timmins are raised as anglophones and just over 45 percent as francophones.

That being said, I’m sure that 80 percent grew up in a home where franglais featured prominently.

Mix that in with some of regional quirks of northeastern Ontario French – using pièces instead of dollars, or pronouncing moi et toi more like mmmwhy et ttttwhy – and this franglais leads to some of the best sentences this French Immersion kid has ever heard, such as:

« Le parkingCa cost cinq pee-ass? J’ai pas le cash.  »

or the French conjugation of English verbs, like

« Il snowera demain.  »

or the ultimate in franglais, which can apply equally to your used car, your boss’s latest email, or the state of your marriage …

« …c’est fucké.  »

There’s more to Timmins than mangled languages

Timmins - Dante ClubTimmins is deceptively diverse.

You see it in the Dante Club, the Croatian Society, the Club La Ronde, the White Eagle Hall, the Obji-Cree Centre, the St. Andrew’s Society, the Chinese Benevolent Association, not to mention churches for everyone from Baptists to Mormons.  It’s in the First Nations population.  In the businesses like Bucovetsky’s or Feldman Tire.  The Persian mechanic who fixed my car after blowing my bushings trying to avoid a crater on Airport Road.  The Congolese lecturer I met at the local Université de Hearst campus.  The Tamil chef who ran the Italian restaurant that used to be in Timmins Square.  The Venezuelan doctor that convinced me that I had not pulled a muscle exercising at Rehab Plus, which is, by the way, probably the only gym where you can run laps in the glow of stained glass – it is located in a re-purposed church.

I was surprised to find that this diversity is supported by stats.  Timmins, North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie have visible minority populations that hover around 10 percent.  That’s twice as diverse than similarly sized cities in southern Ontario, such as Brantford, Bellevile, Orillia, Welland, Woodstock, Stratford, or the Kawarthas.  Timmins is more diverse than Thunder Bay or Sudbury.

I used to always say that multiculturalism – both as a concept and as a policy – foresaw the rise of globalization.  But when you learn that the mines were the only places that hired during the Great Depression – drawing immigrants from across the globe – you realize that Timmins, Schumacher, the Porcupine and Kirkland Lake were Canada’s original melting pots.  Long-before we fashioned the urban street, beset by storefronts emblazoned with different languages and alphabets became our collective image of multiculturalism, northern Ontario was multicultural Canada.

Timmins - Orthodox - Harriet Carlson, highway11.ca

Timmins, Ontario church. (Credit: Harriet Carlson)

Like Ontario, Timmins is kind of a mixed bag

At first you see the little things – an empty shelf in the A&P, left bare because the trucks didn’t make it up Highway 11 thanks to a bad storm.  Or the sad, wilted produce in the supermarkets during the winter.  Or the size of Giant Tiger’s frozen foods section – it practically fed me while I was up in Timmins.

You notice the signs for independent stores and long-standing family businesses, and compare those to the shuttered windows of Harvey’s or Arby’s or some similarly ubiquitous national franchise that, in most southern Ontario towns, only serves to print money.  Yet, just outside town, a Wal-Mart has sprung up.

But what’s most visible is the diversity in the neighbourhoods.  Most Ontario communities are relatively economically homogenous.  If they’re not, they’re usually large-enough to make economic variety seem like different shades of a similar colour.

highway11.ca, Timmins, ontario Algonquin Ave

Timmins, Ontario streetscapes – Wiki Commons User P199 on the left, mine on the right. It is OK to like his better.

But towns like Timmins don’t have outer and inner suburbs into which to stash their rich and shunt their marginalized.  You might not expect visible signs of homelessness in a town of 45 000.  You definitely don’t expect the homeless in Timmins, as a proportion of the population, to be quadruple that of Toronto.

And that’s when you realize that even in a place as sparsely populated as northern Ontario, Timmins functions as a regional refuge for the enormous hinterland, no different than London or Kingston for their surrounding rural areas.  In a way, Timmins is a microcosm of a larger urban centre.

Hotels, bars, hotels with bars, bars with hotels, hotels with lounges, lounges with hotels…

For a time, I wanted to write about the hotels.  I had stayed in enough of them to learn their quirks.

But what I truly remember best are not the dank bedrooms or non-descript conference facilities.  Instead, it is the people.

I remember registering with the Elections Canada official, wishing andhoping andthinking andpraying that I’d be assigned to a voting booth void of any volunteers from other parties.

I had volunteered as a scrutineer for a local election.  When you’re from out of town, there are only so many evenings and weekends you can spend with your coworkers.  I was desperate for something to do other than bowling. Or eating.

And as luck would have it, I arrived at my poll to find to find it permanently manned by someone representing a rival.  And that someone was a much older man, dressed conservatively in slacks and a cardigan, shirt fully buttoned to his adams apple.  He raised his head in suspicion from his book, eyes peering at me over semi-circled librarian specs topped by wild, muppet-like eyebrows.

The silence was pretty weird.  The age gap made it even weirder.  The election atmosphere just made it insufferable.  I had to say something.  So I asked him about what he was reading.

And then it all changed.  Instantly friendly, we talked about our love of non-fiction, his criticisms of Jared Diamond, my skepticism of early North American “discovery” theories, and are mutual interest in popular geography.  I soon forgot to report back on my poll.  He forgot to report back on his.  We were scolded by Elections Canada staff for talking.  Two or three hours slipped by, with no thought to the fact that we represented candidates whose values, policies and priorities couldn’t have more opposite.  And when I arrived home, three months later, there was a book waiting for me in the mail – with numerous clippings and photocopies of similar articles.  I still regret not writing him back.

Northern Ontario hotels – always looking for ways to add value

Driving up to Timmins for the first time on my own, I stopped just outside Kirkland Lake.  Having underestimated my travel time, I was going to get into Timmins very, very late.  I had a standing offer to stay with a coworker, but I wasn’t going to take him up on that.  Not past 11 pm, some stranger knocking on his door, waking up his wife whom I had never met.

I stopped in at the gas station just west of town and asked the woman behind the cash if she knew of places to stay in Timmins.

No idea.  But if you were to ask my boyfriend,” she said, “I bet he’d say the Muh-tog.”

I vaguely remembered some black and purple sign from my latest stint in Timmins.  So I headed out to the pay phone and, finding the only place in the phonebook that could be that Muh-tog place – the Mattagami.

The phone rang without answer.  I tried the Travelodge – booked.  I tried the Porcupine Motor Hotel – no answer.  So back to the Mattag.

On my fifth call, a woman finally picked up.  Exhausted, I laid it out.  I’m from southern Ontario.  From the burbs.  I’ve never driven up before.  Even went into the bit about the coworker.  I just need a place to stay for one night.

I think The Senator is more for you,” she said, “but you’d probably have a better time here,” she deadpanned.  And then she hung up.  The Mattag, an establishment of only marginally-better repute than Kirkland Lake‘s famed “Red Door”, was torn down in 2009.

highway11.ca, Timmins, Ontario Mattagami Strip Club

Quick test – if you had to guess which was the local strip club, would it be the “Mattagami Motor Hotel” or “The Senator”?  If you said the latter, you’re definitely from southern Ontario.  Or anywhere else in the world.

Good luck finding “The Senator” in the phone book

I was going to babble on about how towns of an impermanent nature, including resource-oriented Timmins, often grasp for permanence through names.

Because, the night I arrived into Timmins for the first time by myself, I wasted two hours driving around searching for “The Senator.”  I pretty much drove from Kamiskotia through to the Porcupine, and back, at least twice.  Gun-shy after my experience with the Mattag, I wasn’t about to ask anyone for any help.

I finally had to give in and ask the guy at the 7-11.  When he insisted it was just down the street, I just about gave up.

I walked down Algonquin and stopped into the first business that was still open – a Days Inn.  It was late, and a tall woman just a few years older than me was staring mindlessly at a computer screen that I couldn’t see.  I gingerly approached the desk…I nervously apologized in advance for asking her about a competitor…but could she direct me to The Senator?

“Oh, that’s us,” she smiled.  She knew I was new.

I passed her almost every Saturday.  She was ending her shift, and I was on my way up to their hot breakfast buffet.  She smiled every time.  It was the only day of the week I had a breakfast that wasn’t a stale bagel from Giant Tiger.  Having exhausted my travel expense allocation, I hadn’t stayed at The Senator for months.

And each time, all she did was smile.

highway11.ca,poutineland, Timmins ON

Yes, this is for real. Chez Nous / Poutineland is a variety store that sells poutine 24-hours a day. Timmins is awesome. (Credit: Harriet Carlson)

Yes, I can confirm it, Timmins, Ontario definitely has the most bars per capita of anywhere in this country

I was going to write about the bars, like The Maple Leaf, which was torn down in 2009, 30-plus years after it gave Stompin’ Tom got his start.

But what’s more memorable is hearing from some of the old timers about when Stompin’ Tom sang about the area in the mid-sixties – most notably about the Hollinger Mine Fire – he outsold even The Beatles in Timmins and the area.

I was going to talk about becoming too-well acquainted with the Franco-Ontarian centre, both through breakfasts upstairs at La Chaumière and downstairs in the basement bar.

Really, though, the memory that sticks out is the night I become inextricably embroiled in a local festering controversies.  Did I take my poutine at Chez-Nous or Chez-Vous?  Chez-Nous, hands down.  The Victory or Albert’s?  Neither.  Was I a Toffanello’s person or a Colasacco’s person?  Colasacco’s – almost as good as my own Nonna makes it.  (I’m sure the wings at The Moneta and Mrs. Colasacco’s home-made gnocchi accounted for most of the 20-plus pounds I gained in Timmins.)

highway11.ca, Maple Leaf Hotel, Timmins, ON

Not just home to Stompin’ Tom, but a young Shania too. (Credit: Timminspress.com)

I wanted to wax on about my Friday afternoon lunches at the The Moneta, with its crispy wings and beer mugs fresh from the freezer every time you ordered a draft.

But what’s more meaningful is the afternoon in early August that my table was approached by a stranger.

You”, he pointed, picking me out from the two other guys I was eating with.  “If you’re from around here you’re here too much.  If you’re not, let me tell you about this place.

That’s when he told me about how The Moneta used to be a highgrading tavern, the place where miners used to sell the contraband gold they smuggled from their shifts underground.  And about how highgrading could be a ticket to a better life, or, if you happened to be in the bar at the wrong time, it was a ticket to jail, a beating, or worse.  It’s still an apt metaphor for northern life.

Three weeks later, after finishing my last Friday afternoon lunch, I found there was no bill to be paid.  And not just for me, but for my friends too.

I don’t know who covered it, but I have a hunch.

highway11.ca, Moneta Hotel, Timmins, ON

The Moneta Hotel in Timmins, Ontario.  Awesome wings, ice cold beer in frosted mugs. Doesn’t get any better. (Credit: highgradermagazine.com)

Timmins:  It’s really about the people

Sometimes extremes share unique similarities.  One of those is this independent streak that often runs through the Ontarian psyche – regardless of whether you’re urban, suburban or rural.

Urbanites often become emboldened by anonymity in the face of life surrounded by so many people.  The suburbs let you become sheltered by through an independence in which interaction with others is relatively optional.  The independence of space and relative isolation of rural life can lead people to live relatively solitary lives.

It’s understandable that these conditions, over time, can lead you to believe in your own self-reliance.

highway11.ca, Timmins, Ontario airport welcome sign

Welcome to Timmins, Ontario!  I have never ever had a greasier meal than the breakfasts I took at the Timmins airport, though a lot of local restaurants sure gave the airport a run for their money.

But Timmins in different.

It is in the way that Timmins celebrates its sons and daughters.  Everyone I ever talked to didn’t begrudge Shania Twain for not visiting regularly.  Instead they were proud of the fact that someone from their hometown did so well for themselves that they could afford to live in a Swiss castle.

This is a town where the houses empty in early December for the Timmins Santa Claus parade.  A relatively modest celebration by most standards, in Timmins the parade regularly draws almost a quarter of the community to its streets.

I thought I would be lonely and bored.  But I couldn’t get people to leave me alone in Timmins.  I was invited on fishing trips.  I was taken on family trips to Cochrane to see the Polar Bears, to Cobalt to see the old mines, to Kamiskotia to hang out at their cottages, to Fred’s Northern Picnic where I saw Serena Ryder play to an audience of 60 people, long before she shot to prominence.  And there is the bowling.  I don’t know what it is with people from Timmins but geez they love their bowling.

Night after night, weekend after weekend, I was invited into their homes – not just for food, or a warm bed, but to be part of their daily routine.  To play with their kids.  To look at their photo albums.  To drink Green Candy Apple liqueur while watching Columbo.  To “help” them work on their snowblower or lawnmower or xmas lights or ice fishing shed.  Or to just listen to classic rock, drink beer, and …well…I’ve already talked about it in the South Porcupine blog post.

That’s how it is.  Because you can’t get by on your own in a place like this.

And in a way, that sentence sums it up best.

I’m not sure why Timmins had such an effect on me.

Maybe it’s just because I was there during an impressionable and interesting stage of my life.  Or maybe it’s because I’m getting old and falling prey to nostalgia.

Or maybe it is because Timmins is oddly reflective of both the Ontario we used to be, as well as the Ontario we could become.

highway11.ca, Timmins, ontario, hollinger park

Hollinger Park in Timmins, Ontario

highway11.ca, Timmins, Ontario winter fire downtown

Winter fire on the main drag in Timmins, Ontario

highway11.ca, Timmins, Ontario City Hall and Chamber of Commerce

Timmins City Hall (left) and Timmins Chamber of Commerce (right)

35 thoughts on “Timmins

  1. I grew up in Timmins, son of Italian immigrants and have very warm memories of our own “Little Italy” aka Moneta. The many grocery stores-Mazzuca’s, Scullino’s, Zillioto’s (To name a few), Sacred Heart Church, with two Italian language masses every Sunday (remember Fathers Leonard and Fontana?), Spadafaore’s gift shop, the Dante Club where many an Italian wedding was celebrated, the sounds of different dialects being spoken on the street, bocce ball games on hot summer nights at the Moneta Hotel. As a child, I could not have asked for a more enriching environment and upbringing. Alas, Timmins tends to forget or even destroy its rich cultural history (how many of you remember the Jewish synagogue on Cedar Street?). Why haven’t our municipal leaders named a public space to honour the once vibrant Italian community who helped build the city and mined its gold? What about naming the little park at the corner of Pine and First, the erstwhile entry point to Moneta, Piazza Italia? How about naming streets in new subdivisions after the various regions from whence our immigrants arrived? Abruzzo, Calabria, Friuli, Veneto? Schumacher at least has Croatia Street…

    • Good idea to give some streets Italian names in honour of the many Italian immigrants who helped build Timmins. I attended school with many of their children/grandchildrean etc. I especially like the idea of naming the park at the corner of Pine Street and First Ave., Piazza Italia.

  2. Enjoyed the read on Timmins, but I’m amazed that in the mention of destroyed landmarks no mention was made of the art-deco Thomson bulding. This was an historic site. Roy Thomson’s empired began there. The Timmins Press and Radio station CKGB were housed in that building. The radio station was equipped wth the most up-to-date equipment of the time. The Press was an important part of the north, but so was the radio station. I began my broadcast career there. Roy went on to become Lord Thomson of Fleet. I didn’t make it to those heights, but I did okay in Toronto.

  3. I enjoyed the Timmins story very much. I was born and raised in Timmins moved away in 1958. Most of my Friends were from Immigrant Parents,Italian,Ukrainian,Polish of course French and English.Loved going to their homes and letting their Moms stuff me with different types of food (of course they liked letting my Mom feed them to ) I attended Moneta School and in the 40’s some of the Men were put in our classes as they could learn English faster.At recess we fought over the Men to be on our team to win whatever sport we were playing that day. Can’t even imagine any thing close to that happening in this day and age. and that is so sad as we all had so much fun.OH!! My Parents were born in a small Town near Ottawa. moved to Timmins in 1923

  4. We do have one of the most colourful small cities in northern Ontario. For me it it has been my inspiration to paint. Among my favourites are the sleigh ride at cedar medows in the winter. It beautiful to the moose, buffalo, deer and elk in a natural environment along with the ducks and swans that roam the property freely. Its one of our gems. I found it interesting that you you shared photos of many of the local churches and buildings and landmarks that inspired me to paint such as the greek orthodox church and the bar that Shania used to sing in after hours as a girl. We might fly south for the winter or part of it, but for some reason we always return to enjoy the fresh air and scenic beauty of this friendly little city.

  5. I was born and raised in Timmins. I moved to Windsor after I married. I recall the outside rinks at the schools where we skated and the boys played hockey. I went to a school called Don Bosco for grade nine, then they built Notre Dame College for my last years of high school. Notre Dame College has been changed many years ago and is no longer a college but a residence. Timmins High and Vocational school was a popular school in it’s time but is longer a school today.
    During my teenage years, we used to drive up the hill to CFCL television and spoke with an announcer to have our favorite songs played on the radio. There was always a lot of snow growing up but we enjoyed the outdoor activities. I worked at St. Mary’s hospital. Timmins was a great place to grow up.

  6. I was born and raised in Timmins, left for college and came back! You really pinned our city. Moi j’agree with your comments…lol…and although nothing has really changed, you should come back for a visit! For Joan, TH&VS is still a school as is Don Bosco! Our city has so much history to share!

    • The old Timmins High in the south end was converted to apartments/condos some years ago. A new TH&VS was built in the north end on Theriault Drive, right next to the French Highschool, Ecole Secondaire Theriault. We used to take the children to the museum in South Porcupine, but it has since been closed I think due to water and mould issues and has been relocated in Timmins, near the gorgeous new public library. I taught at the old “monetary” school, later renamed Flora MacDonald ( Flora Mac, really), Queen E) and Coronation. Those three have since been conflated into one school…Centennial. You missed out on the pursuits other than bowling….Timmins has a thriving community orchestra, at least two theatre companies, an amazing community choir, arenas and a wonderful pool.

  7. I was raised in Timmins as well. I have very fond memories. My parents owned a corner store on Tamarack and Seventh, it was called Terry’s Boutique. The drive in was always a busy spot as well as Hill Top Rendezvous on a Saturday night and of course Charlebois lake where we partied a lot! Winter being the longest season was always an adventure from skating on an outdoor rink at the park down the street to snowmobiling to school (Theriault). I’ve just recently inherited Northern Ontario as part of my territory for the company I work for. It’s awesome to travel North through towns I remember visiting such as Cochrane, Cobalt, Iroquois Falls, Kap….many great memories, however, Timmins is by far still very dear to my heart. I laughed at your comment regarding “franglais”. I thought I was good at it until I worked in Moncton NB, they have Timmins beat hands down! Thanks for sharing your story, I truly enjoyed it. Be safe in your travels and keep writting.

    • Ha! I don’t doubt it about New Brunswick. I had a friend that moved to Mirimachi. The guy was fluent in both English and French and at first he truly was convinced they were speaking some odd, regional third language.

      Work travel generally stinks…being away from the family, eating poorly, sleeping poorly in hotel rooms, etc. But every once in a while there’s a silver lining, and for me, that was discovering northern Ontario. In my work travels, I’ve been fortunate enough to have free-time to do some exploring – hence the blog – but there have been some places where I haven’t made the most of my time there (e.g. northwestern Ontario – thought I’d be back frequently, and haven’t been for almost ten years.) Timmins, however, was one of the places I got to explore the most and I was never disappointed.

      Thanks for visiting the site and leaving such kind comments.

  8. I was born & raised in Timmins until turning 18 and running off to join the Navy. It has been almost 40 yrs and I have been very lucky to have had a wonderful career and travel all over the world. The one thing I can say is that though I have seen places that people dream of there is nothing like home (Timmins). Though my visits back to Timmins over the years have been limited due to call of duty, I have looked so forward to come back and see family (who still live there) and friends and see the changes to the once growing city I grew up in. After reading some of the stories mentioned, yes, there has been some good & bad things that have changed, but once getting off the plane and that first drive around town and to the old places I grew up with, I can not say enough of the fond memories it brings back to me. In my travels around the world and the people I have met I can honestly say that I have always been and will remain proud to call Timmins my favorite port.

  9. I moved from Holtyre to Timmins when I was seven. My favorite memories are of winter sliding. My school was StAlphonse and near the school grounds there was a house owned by the Bisson family, they were so gracious to allow kids use their hill for pleasure. The hill was baptized (LA cote de Bisson). I remember being so cold my eyelashes stuck together,but the thrill of being with one hundred other kids taking turn coming down this big hill squealing and laughing made it OK. Even if our fingers froze. Summertime memories were of picking blueberries by the basket full. Eating many. How can you tell I ate so many I asked my friends? My smile. My blueberry teeth. Haha. Good times. Rhea (Levesque) Cardinal.

  10. I have read this wonderful story,with so many good laughs.i must say I was raised in Sudbury,moved to Windsor in the 70 s and now live in Schumacher.I have to say that Timmins is everything a middle aged to older persons home.This City has got to be the most friendliest place,where it seems to me like every one here is so helpful and caring.Your right about the Shania Twain Centre.would really be nice if one day soon some real nice attraction would start up here and make people want to come this far,fora weekend of family fun..How about a really nice motel family friendly,reasonably priced with a pool, slide,whilpool,activity centre like a bowling alley,mini putt, poolside with lots of window where you can take a n lounger and a drink and watch your little darlings and friends having fun in the pool areas.Chatham Ontario had a very lovely place similar to what I m describing ,called wheels Inn .We def could use an awesome place to feel good during the long cold winter weeks looking for something holidayish locally to relieve such anxietys of the working week.Anyway I suppose the idea is planted so I ll say good day for now and see what you s all think.have a wonderful franglais day.

    • The Wheels Inn was famous in southwestern Ontario! A great place for the whole family. I should check and see if they are still up and running and take my kids there. Thanks for commenting.

  11. What a great article. It brought back a lost of memories. We spent 15 years in Timmins. Our boys were born there and they were fortunate enough to be able to make snow forts on the gigantic piles of snow at the end of our driveway, get a ride to their school a block away because it was -46. But like so many others that weren’t born in Timmins but moved there because of mining, we always said that we wouldn’t be there long, “it’s just a stepping stone to a better place”. But when I look back, they were 15 wonderful years, years we will always remember because of the friends we made, the experiences we had and the culture we were exposed to and it was a great place to raise children. If I were forced to choose between moving to an overpopulated city and Timmins, I would choose Timmins.

  12. I hate this dead end town. Unless your a miner there are no real career opportunity’s here. Taxes are ridiculously high. We just blew our million dollar snow removal budget and the season is not over anytime soon. The archie dillon sportsplex is getting outdated. Smaller northern towns have much better pools and sports facilities. I can go on… I hope the mines close up shop and timmins sinks into the holes beneath its grounds.

    • You obviously didn’t grow up hear. I love this town for whatever it is or will become! I would die for my town as well as my country!!!! Just a suggestion go back to where you may have come from cause you need to be tough to see the true beauty of what Timmins is. I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Timmins will be in my heart forever!!!!

    • We moved to timmins for my husbands work. It was horrible. The lakes STINK and have no good swimming, the town is completely beat and run down. There are ZERO decent restaurants, nothing to do on a winter day, and the facilities are completely run down. I had to wait on the pool deck with my two freezing toddlers to get access to the overloaded hot tub. The siding preference for people is generally typar paper, or plastic wrap and the homelessness is brutal. For the taxes they collect and the income they make from the mining corporations; they should SERIOUSLY invest in infrastructure. The roads are unbelievably bad, with HUGE potholes on the main drag. Yes, you have to be tough to live here…tough and a glutton for punishment. ANYWHERE is better than Timmins – get out and see the world. We left after 8 months and 2 years later I still get miserable flashbacks. We celebrate the day we left. Ugh. Shivers.

  13. I wanted to send you a photo of the Hollinger houses but your email as posted below is not valid, so says my server.
    Good article on Timmins. You should make a book.

    • Yikes! All this time I just thought that no-one was emailing me. I will try and fix it. Thanks for letting me know.

    • Hi Philip, I am Peggy Day. Your parents were good friends of my parents, Bert & Marg Day. Laurie was one of my best friend. Believe it or not, I am racking my brain, trying to remember your grandfather’s last name. Dr. S_____? from Kitchener (I believe) Jim was in my school year. Your parents took me in your station wagon to kamiscotia skiing. Kathy was just 2 yr old.

  14. It’s funny but nothing is posted about Tim Horton. He was born and raised in Cochrane. He is definitely a symbol of success in Canada and world wide. He played backyard hockey. A true Canadian

  15. Your article brought back many fond memories of Timmins. Thank you for writing it.
    We probably used a tank of gas waiting to get to the top of the hill so we could dedicate a song to “Tout la gang”!!!
    I’ve been away for many years but I still have people stop me on the streets of Toronto asking if I am one of the Scullino girls.
    thanks again for the memories.

  16. I lived in Timmins for 19 years, raising my son and daughter and then becoming a reporter, then editor at The Daily Press. One of the earliest stories I wrote when I went full time was a feature article on the old Daily Press building. I loved the look and was sorry when it was torn down. I enjoyed eating at the Dante Club and various Chinese restaurants, Italian food from Toffanello’s, even going to a Chinese New Year celebration complete with dragons. The wide variety of ethnicity was awesome and most of the people were very friendly. It was a wonderful time. My daughter and her family live in South Porcupine and I’d like to go back to see them after 15 years in Arizona. Thanks for the memory prompt.

    • Great Stories! I was born in Timmins many years ago then moved to Sudbury in 1980. My family roots go back to one of the first saw mills in Timmins….so one can say I have definitely have Timmins “sap” running in my veins. SIMPLY….great people and great memories in Timmins!

  17. My family moved from Timmins to Windsor in 1967 and I always thought it was a great place to grow up. I went back in 2010 and was surprised how much had changed. The town was run down and sad looking and I realized how fortunate I had been to escape when I did. If I never see the place again I will be quite content.

  18. I have lived in Timmins for 45 years, I have a lot of fun memories as a child, but as an adult, living in Timmins is a huge disappointment…with one of the highest tax rates in Canada, almost the worst gas prices in Canada, “0” activities, I have to go to the small neighboring towns to watch hockey and to see a concert….Wonder why the Shania Twain Center flopped…Our Council chased everyone away with this operation plan ( How to ruin Timmins)

    • You know what, that was one of my few northern Ontarian disappointments. Growing up in southern Ontario, minor hockey was a recreational sport for the middlingly affluent. Nobody came to watch unless they were related to the players. Aside from Oshawa, OHL teams in urban or suburban settings are just places to let the kids run wild on a Saturday afternoon. So I was expecting some good, tough, packed-to-the-rafters junior hockey in northern Ontario and just never found it. Maybe it’s the population distances, the economies or scale, or the costs involved in outfitting your kids every year, but no competitive, high-level youth hockey in places like Timmins was a huge surprise.

  19. Born and Raised in Kapuskasing

    the Heart and Soul of a region belongs to the People of the region,
    whether or not their town is too small , or too Anglophone or too Francophone

    Yes Timmins has always been the largest community in North Eastern ONT. I remember shopping trips to Timmins and the thrill of the escalator trips at Woolco in the 60’s.

    But no community has claim to the heart and soul of the region. It is the people of the region that are the heart and soul and not a town

    BTW , nice site


  20. I was born and raised in Timmins, my dad worked at the Hollinger, mom a seamstress, two brothers, Gerry (London) Phil (decease). Loved the article and now I realize why I love walking through Lowes and Home Depot, the smell of lumber gets me every time…..often wonder what happened to Jeannie Pecile and Nellie Del Col….. Lived on Birch Street for many years and then on Wende.
    Graduated TH/VS, went to teach in Niagara Falls. Retired, living the life of a well deserved hard working, wife, mother, and teacher. Timmins natives ( born and bred) are the best you can ever encounter bar none.

    • Hi Lorraine
      I remember you but do you remember me?
      My name is Irene Flinsky Bonner. My beautiful sister was Mary, a one time Miss Timmins High.Sadly Mary passed away at the young age of 62.
      You were wondering about Jeannie Pecile and Neli DelCol. They were my very dear friends.
      Jeannie passed away in Toronto in 1995. She was an excellent , much loved teacher. It was thanks to Jeannie that I too became a teacher here in Ottawa.
      Neli , too passed away in May in 2016.. Neli and I were best friends to the end visiting each other several times a year. We shared so many memories and our interest were so compatible.
      I moved to Ottawa to teach , met my wonderful husband now deceased, gave birth to 4 sons,who are now married and I am a grandmother of 5 and great grandmother of 2..Of course retired after 35 years of teaching.
      Timmins will always be home. My cousin from Sudbury and I make a yearly trip to Timmins, to visit my parents who are now residing at the Timmins cemetery . We then head to Cobalt to pay our respects to our grandparents at the Cobalt cemetery.
      Yes Timmins has sadly changed but that is where I had such a great childhood and look forward to my yearly visit and visit my good friends Anna and JoAnna .
      Irene Bonner

  21. Born (1947) and raised in Timmins until 1963, attended Holy Family school, O’Gorman and TH&VS, never graduated. Sold papers on the street and collected boxes in the alleys and got a nickel from A&P, while in gr 11 worked as a bellhop at the Empire. Played outdoor hockey mostly at Central school and swam at Gillis Lake while hitchhiking to Schumacher to see Mahovlich and wrestling at the Mac. Played pool at the Uptown (Dennis Carnovale) and led a very mischievous upbringing, in trouble a lot. We lived on both Balsam N and Birch Street S, a block from the Maple Leaf. I went back in 2011 with my brother and it was so sad to see how things have changed, run down and quite sad looking. Legion was a ‘dry-legion’ could you believe it after all Timmins had 27 hotels with a population of 27,000 growing up. Mayor Leo Delvalano and policemen Stevens and Michaud were ‘familiar’ to me. Was in sea cadets for one year but then we moved. At the end of the day, I have many more memories of Timmins as it was an exceptional place to grow up in and proud to say I came from there.

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