Understands the ups and downs of Elliot Lake

Share Adjust Comment Print

I really enjoyed Sue’s (Jan. 3) letter in The Standard (My love/hate relationship with Elliot Lake) detailing the ups and downs of this city.
I became vaguely interested in Elliot Lake when I heard Stompin’ Tom Connors sing his song about “stompin’ mushers” in the old uranium mines. And then I saw the TV ads for Retirement Living. I was due to retire from my job as editor of a Hamilton area newspaper in 2001 and I persuaded my darling wife to take a trip to see Elliot Lake now the mines were gone. Anyway, we ended up buying a lovely house on Pearson Drive and I was grateful to Kevin McSheffrey, managing editor of this newspaper, for some work he gave me. My wife, however, felt a bit lonely because she didn’t have a driver’s licence so she was more or less housebound.
However, we both enjoyed the beautiful scenery in Elliot Lake, despite being neither hunters nor anglers. I joined the Penokean Hills Field Naturalists, although I couldn’t participate in many outings for physical reasons. I enjoyed the meetings. But I did learn some rather frightening (to me, anyway) information about radio-active tailings.
The area, still owned by Rio Algom Ltd., consists of about 180 hectares (450 acres) of wetlands, a relic from the uranium mining in the late fifties. I learned all about the stewardship program to convert the area into a public access, wildlife management park. The Penokean Hills Field Naturalists work at maintaining the trails, including the Beaver Meadow Trail, Tamarack Bog Trail and Upland Forest Trail. I assume these are still there, plus the goose and loon platforms and boxes for nesting.
My wife and I both belonged to ELATE, Elliot Lake Amateur Theatre Ensemble, which used to put on plays at the Lester B. Pearson Civic Centre, and we had lots of fun. We discovered that my wife was quite an actress and got lots of applause. I was upset when the city sold the mining machinery, which had been donated by the companies for scrap. I was told it was to pay for singer Rita MacNeil’s performance at the Civic Centre. I have always been interested in history and I have quite a collection of books in my library about the founding and development of Elliot Lake.
As the writer Sue said in her letter there are lots of fine people in Elliot Lake and we still exchange Christmas cards with some of them. But, as the writer Sue said, the shopping is a little sparse especially as, unlike Sue, we don’t shop online. I don’t know about the new mall because the Algo Centre Mall disaster happened a few years after we left. Sue says the health service needs to be overhauled, which was one problem we discovered. We had a great family GP, but I had to go to Sault Ste. Marie once for major surgery.
Do we miss Elliot Lake? I don’t think so. We’re happily settled in Chatham where we live in a great community and belong to a Bible-teaching church. But I do understand about Sue’s love/hate relationship with Elliot Lake.
Stephen J. Beecroft,