Building a community

As described by Jim Mochoruk in Mining’s Early Years, mining towns tend to grow quickly. “One day, there is nothing but a tiny mining camp surrounded by miles of wilderness and rock then suddenly a whole town seems to spring to life.”

In 1926, the mining camp at the edge of Flinflon Lake was so small it was not even listed in the official census of the Prairie Provinces. As late as March 1928, only 270 people were living there. However, only 11 years later the town had a population well in excess of 2,000; a population that continued to grow rapidly until it reached 7,400 in 1946.1

This transition from small camp to one of Manitoba’s largest towns was not achieved without a considerable commitment by the company and the “ingenuity and resourcefulness” of the residents of early Flin Flon.

During the construction period between 1928 and 1930 alone, the newly formed Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company (HBM&S) invested $27 million into the development at Flin Flon. The Canadian National Railway, the Manitoba provincial government and HBM&S provided funding to build the 87 miles of rail line that would join Flin Flon to the main line just outside of The Pas.2

The transition also required committed and skilled residents. Most of the families that came to this rugged country had no idea what life had in store for them in Manitoba. But by 1929-30, as the construction of the mine went into high gear, Flin Flon was starting to take shape as a burgeoning mining community with a voluntary school board, a school building, and a local taxation scheme.

To meet the needs of the workforce, businesses began to open, starting with Flin Flon’s first general store, owned by merchant Jack Hone, along with two banks. With the construction of Main Street, soon after a bakery, grocery stores, and the town’s first hotel opened.

By 1933, Flin Flon was incorporated as a Municipal District to be governed by its own mayor and council, and the first elections were held in September of that year, with three candidates for mayor, twenty-five candidates for council and eight candidates for school trustee.

Source: Jim Mochoruk, Mining’s Early Years: An Historic look at Flin Flon’s Mining Pioneers. The Beginnings 1926-1930

Source: Excerpts from George Evan’s Flin Flon the last of the sourdoughs gets organized (Northroots Magazine, April/May 2012, Vol. 9, issue 1)

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