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Visiting the sculpture, The Family, Timmins: the suffering and triumphs of mining families in Northern Ontario
Laura Brown-Breetvelt's distinguished contribution to local commemoration
The year 2009 in Lions' Park, Schumacher, Timmins, Ontario saw the unveiling of a remarkable and poignant, sculpted trio of statues executed in bronze by Laura Brown-Breetvelt (1). The background to The Family, as the memorial is known, is the more than 600 miners who died at work locally in the past century, the wider effects on families locally having so often been devastating, but also challenges with which wives and children struggled quite heroically, against great odds.
A nearby sculpture depicting a larger-than-life miner, by the same sculptor, as part of the Pocupine Miners' Memorial was unveiled in 2008. Clearly, the intention of the scuptor has been to emphasize the admiration felt by the family — a mother and two children — for the husband and father represented in the large statue with the miner's helmet. The Pocupine Miners' Memorial as a whole: with its statue The Family, the statue of the Miner, and the displayed lists of the hundreds of miners who died, forms a moving whole.
The Memorial area includes the names of the more than 600 miners who died as a result of their work. An ornamental garden is located a short distance behind the statue 'The Family'.
Lions' Park contains various mine artifacts nearby and, particularly in the summer months, has well manicured flowerbeds.
The former entrance to the McIntyre Mine is visible from Lions' Park and the Porcupine Miners' Memorial area, although it is not usually accessible to the public.
Local Member of the Provincial Parliament Gilles Bisson, himself a former miner, was quoted at the August 9, 2009 unveiling ceremony as emphasizing the great progress made in Ontario and Canada in mining safety issues (2).
The Porcupine Miners' Memorial and Lions' Park are situated in McIntyre Road, Schumacher, Timmins, Ontario.
September 7, 2012
(1) Other works by the sculptor include another miners' memorial in Elliot Lake, Ontario. Laura Brown Gallery is located at Aylmer, near Gatineau, Quebec, near Ottawa. Laura Brown-Breetvelt's sculpture work is notably realistic and intricate.
(2) Gilles Bisson, MPP, qu. in: http://www.timminstimes.com/2009/08/09/the-family-recognized-at-miners-memorial
Also worth seeing
In Schumacher itself, noted sights include: the landmark McIntyre Community Building, built 1938; Croatian Hall, for decades the hub of the Croatian community; the Timmins - Porcupine Chamber of Commerce building opposite the McIntyre Community Building, which has an interesting ore display.
In Timmins , the Timmins Gold Mine Tour base, (distance: 2.5 kilometres), situated at the former Hollinger gold mine, depicts local mining life.
How to get there: Airlines flying to Timmins Victor M Power Airport include Air Canada, from Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections. Car rental is available at Timmins Airport. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please contact appropriate consular sources regarding any border crossing visa requirements which may apply to the citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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- Visiting Schumacher, in Timmins, Northern Ontario: remembering Croatian heritage
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