When you grow up in South Porcupine, one of the early historic lessons learned is about the Great Fire of 1911. In addition to burning more than 200,000 hectares of Northeastern Ontario and killing 70, it also levelled the two young mining settlements in the area, Pottsville and South Porcupine.
Almost two weeks ago, I wrote a short story about the Tisdale Municipal Building in South Porcupine. While I was able to get an architect and speak a little about the context, that was about as far as it went. If you’ve followed along on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, you’ll see that I’ve just returned from a trip to Toronto, where I spent time at the Archives of Ontario. While I was there to do some research for my thesis, I took the opportunity to peruse some of the pages of the Porcupine Advance.
When I was growing up in South Porcupine, the Tisdale Municipal Building was always an interesting one. The white stucco, though worn by the 1980s, glistened defiantly in the sunlight. When I would walk the single block from my family’s Bloor Avenue apartment with my mom, she’d often point out that my grandfather had worked out of an office in there in property assessment.1Brian Ehman. See Diane Armstrong. “A Proud Community,” Timmins Times, July 27, 2011. When I began to notice the building, it was more than a decade past Tisdale Township’s amalgamation into the City of Timmins2See John Slinger. “1,000 square miles: Timmins biggest city in McKeough plans,” Globe and Mail, June 13, 1972, p. 1; “New challenge for Timmins,” Globe and Mail, October 9, 1972, p. 6. and after hosting the new city’s engineering department for a short period, it was sold off and converted into apartments.