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Digital Archive Ontario

Current and historical content, curated by Toronto Public Library

Main street, Atikokan, Ontario Open in full size

Main street, Atikokan, Ontario

Picture, 1980, English

Main street, Atikokan, Ontario

Picture, 1980, English

Caption:

Caption 1: One way: Atikokan's main street is becoming deserted, and many who use it are going one way — out of town. Caption 2: By Ken Becker Some folks are leaving town. The mayflowers and Allieds and North American trucks seem to be all over. Some already have left, in some cases left families behind, waiting for a phone call from Alberta or B.C. Most folks are staying, for now, anyway. They're not quite sure why, or what for. Except it's their town and they intend to keep it going. This town in northwestern Ontario, about mid-way between Thunder Bay and Fort Frances, is fighting for its life. There is no work. Every time a job opens up, 50 men jump out of the bush to apply for it. It's mostly contracting anyway, temporary at best. Still, a kind of careless, almost carefree, optimism pervades a place about as down on its luck as a place can be. In the early seventies, the town's two main employers, Steep Rock Iron Mines and the Caland Ore Company, saw the end in sight. Steep Rock, which began mining iron ore in the early forties, was stripping its pit bare. Caland, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Inland Steel, in Atikokan since 1953, was finding its operation less and less profitable. They warned the town. But few believed the mines would actually run out. At the end of February, 1979, Steep Rock shut down. Last November, Caland stopped mining its pit. On April 30, it closed down altogether. Basically, the town lost its reason for being. About 1,200 people, a fifth of the town's population, are out of work. The service industries that grew up around the mines have pulled out. The people are going now. "The single people just threw their lunch pails in the garbage on their way out of town," says Reeve Jack Pierce. The young families, those renting apartments and houses and leasing trailers, packed. The men headed west, looking for jobs in the mines and the oilfields. The women stayed, kept the kids in school, until the phone call came from Edmonton....

Rights and Licenses

Toronto Star License

Medium

Black and white photograph

Extent

21.7 cm x 35.8 cm

Provenance

From the Toronto Star Archives

Branch

Toronto Reference Library

Location

Baldwin Collection

Branch

Toronto Reference Library

Location

Toronto Star Photo Archive

Call Number / Accession Number

TS-1-GO-461a-atikokan001