Espanola-Little Current Tourist Train
ESPANOLA – The dream of getting trains running once again on the unused CPR track between Espanola and Little Current has come one step closer to reality with the formation of the Algoma Eastern Railway Heritage Group (AER).
This announcement was made earlier this week by the three founders of the group, Mike Lehoux, John Morgan and Dale Wilson. �The name AER Heritage Group was chosen to indicate that this line comes with some pretty significant history,� said co-founder John Morgan. �Built in 1913 as the Algoma Eastern Railway, a sister road of the present day Algoma Central, this railway played a crucial part in the opening up of Manitoulin Island.� The goal of the AER Heritage Group is to generate private, corporate and public interest in, and find suitable sponsors to establish a tourist passenger train on the CPR track, now known as the Little Current Spur.
It is the belief of the AER Heritage Group that such a train would provide enormous economic benefit to the area. Properly developed, there is no reason why this attraction couldn�t bring numbers as significant as the 115,000 tourist the Agawa Canyon train draws to Sault Ste. Marie annually. The addition of a third train, to complement the present Agawa Canyon and Mattawa Timber Train will make northeastern Ontario a railfan Mecca, it is stated in a release from AER.
The scenery south of Espanola is every bit as wild and beautiful as along the Agawa Canyon run and the opportunities to develop educational stops along the line would make this train unique. Opportunities such as the paper mill tours with Domtar in Espanola, mining and geological exhibits in the Whitefish Falls area, First Nations history, natural history as well as the story of the railway line itself will make this far more than just another locomotive and a couple of cars. A successful tourist train will certainly result in a more lively economy, increased job creatinon and more opportunities for northern Ontario residents.
The founders of the AER Heritage Group not only share an interest in seeing this marvelous opportunity succeed, but also share a long time interest in the line itself. Sudbury resident Dale Wilson is a railroad author and past president of Transport 2000 Ontario. He is the author of the only published history of the Algoma Eastern, and brings to the group a knowledge concerning branch line abandonments in Canada and the shortsighted policies followed by various governments in determining transportation policy.
Mike Lehoux is a councillor with the Town of Espanola. He and John Hodder, former mayor of Little Current have spent the last five years developing interest in this project in the Rainbow Country area. Although he now lives in southern Ontario, John Morgan is a former resident of Sudbury. During the 1970�s he became acquainted with the CPR Line from Espanola to Little Current, and on hearing of its candidacy for abandonment began to determine how the line could be saved and used as a tourist attraction.
Facing the Y2K Challenge
Already we�re almost a week into 1999! On to the new challenges which will inevitably be ahead. We now have one year to prepare for the new millennium. What, you ask, does that matter to me? The answer is more than you may think.
The dreaded Y2K bug has the potential to affect all of us at home, and in business. The ravages of the bug will have a far more reaching effect than just a banking failure. Look quickly around your house, then make a checklist of all the things which may possibly have electronic technology within them. Phones, alarm systems, clocks, personal computers, breadmakers, toaster ovens, appliances. Any new or relatively new appliance could pose a problem.
To ensure the Year 2000 does not render your home inoperable, contact the manufacturers of the items you suspect may have a computer chip to ensure whether or not it (the product) is Y2K compliant. Be sure to have each company send you a letter assuring you the product is indeed ready for the new millennium.
Businesses small, large, complex or simple must also be aware of their needs as well. The Recorder will be devoting space each week to help everyone count down to the Year 2000. Watch each week for articles, hints and stories to make your transition a little easier, starting this week on page 10.
Canadians are not concerned about the impact that the so-called millennium bug will have on their lives, according to a recent poll commissioned by Industry Canada. The poll reveals that while more than three out of four Canadians have heard of the millennium problem, most consider it harmless. In fact, more than 80 per cent are confident that the federal government and the business sector will have little, if any, difficulty fixing any problems the millennium bug may cause. Eighteen per cent felt that the bug will create serious problems, five per cent predicted a crisis, twelve per cent anticipated no problems at all, sixty per cent agreed with the statement that the bug �will create some problems, but nothing that can�t be fixed.�
The poll of 2,000 Canadians was conducted by Decima Research, and is considered accurate plus or minus 2.8 per cent 19 times out of 20. According to Y2K expert Peter de Jager, Canadians shouldn�t be quite so complacent; the problem will not just take care of itself. While the sky won�t fall in, de Jager suggests that everyone will be affected. The millennium bug was created by computer programmers who used two digits instead of four to depict years, in order to save memory. As a result, when 2000 arrives, computers could read �00� as 1900, which could shut systems down, or cause them to make errors.
GORE BAY – The Ministry of Natural Resources is providing a large financial boost to the Gore Bay Fish Hatchery in its current fund-raising campaign to remain in operation beyond the fall of 1999. Gore Bay Councillor Wes Bentley, on the fund-raising committee explained just before Christmas he had been contacted by Ken Gibbons, MNR Area Supervisor for the Espanola area. �They have found funding under the Protection and Enhancement Fund,� he pointed out.
Gibbons explained, �basically the fish hatchery committee has requested funding a couple of times, and we have found some extra funds under the protection and enhancement program. The $22,000 will assist in the cost of operation of the hatchery.� �The timing was just perfect this year,� said Gibbons who noted, �in the future the fish hatchery committee can always apply for funding again, and we will look at funding sources at that time as well.�
A membership fundraising campaign began recently in attempts to keep the Gore Bay Fish Hatchery in operation beyond the fall of 1999. Bentley has explained previously the hatchery has enough funds to carry on the Rainbow and Salmon raising programs at the hatchery, but more funds are needed to continue. With most of the government funding to the hatchery having been eliminated an additional $30,000 needs to be raised per year in order to keep operating, said Bentley.
Letters have been sent to businesses, organizations and individuals inquiring if they would like to buy a membership which would in turn raise funds for the hatchery. A tax deductible donation of $50 or $100 will buy a silver or gold membership to the Manitoulin Island Salmon and Trout Hatchery. A platinum membership is also available for donations in excess of $500. Donors will receive a certificate of membership and 100 percent of the donation will go towards operating costs at the hatchery. The Gold and Platinum membership also includes an annual launch permit for Gore Bay, valued at $30. For every $50,250 fingerlings will be stocked in the lake and 500 fish for every $100 membership.
Bentley stressed the MNR funding, �is a nice start to our fund-raising program but it doesn�t answer all the long range fund raising concerns. �We are still looking for $8,000 in the year to keep the hatchery operating.� Members are still needed, he added. �The funding from the ministry is a great start, and its great they are behind us. What looked like a bleak situation is more positive now, but we still need more financial help,� added Bentley. Bentley added anyone wanting to become a participant in the membership fund-raising drive can do so at the hatchery or at the town office.
ALGOMA-MANITOULIN – Bud Wildman, who served as MPP for Algoma for the last 23 years, has announced he won�t be running in the next provincial election. Wildman made the announcement just prior to Christmas, stating it wasn�t an easy decision but one which he felt is the best for he and his family. He will continue to work for the New Democratic Party but wants to devote more time to his family.
�It comes as a surprise to me,� said Delroy Prescott, with the Algoma-Manitoulin Liberal provincial party. �He has had a long, distinguished career.� Prescott said the Liberal party was confident MPP Mike Brown would emerge victorious in the district election race with Wildman. The announcement by Wildman provides, �a different set of dynamics but things don�t change significantly. Mike and Bud are two long serving incumbents. With Wildman out and the provincial polls being the way they are, there could easily be a race in this area between the Liberals and the Tories,� said Prescott.
Wildman was elected as MPP for Algoma during his first election in 1975, subsequently winning six consecutive elections. He was appointed as Minister of Natural Resources and Minister Responsible Indian Affairs under the Bob Rae government in 1990. He was appointed Minister of Environment and Energy in 1993. When the NDP government was defeated in 1995, Wildman then served as interim party leader until Howard Hampton was selected as party leader in 1996. At the present time Wildman serves as NDP House Leader at Queen�s Park.
Mike Brown, MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin stated, �I did hear Mr. Wildman might not be running in the next election. I expect other candidates will be coming forward,� he said, adding, �he has been a good representative for Algoma and has been known as someone who looked after his constituency very well.�