Fred and Marleen asked to see this place. I drove my cousins to the town where we were so warmly welcomed in 1952. They were taken aback by the fact that nothing remained of the Town of Creighton Mine.
I tried to point out where our house on Wavell St. had been, where St. Michael’s Church and the United Church had stood, the school where I was a student and later began my teaching career, the Teacher’s Residence where I had lived before my marriage.
They had difficulty imagining where these points of interest had been located, which did not surprise me. The Inco Club, where so many international badminton champions had trained under the capable coach Ev Staples, had been the social centre of the town.
The library was upstairs in that building, while a small bowling alley was located downstairs. Next was the doctor’s office, the stores, the pharmacy, and the banks. The town even had a jail.
It was obvious from the looks on their faces that although they were very interested in hearing about these significant places, it was impossible for them to visualize the town. I kept repeating that there were houses along both sides of the streets … really!
Fred de Burger’s wife, Marleen, wondered why the government had allowed an entire town to be destroyed against the will of the residents. She stated that this would never be allowed in The Netherlands.
Of course, I explained that the company owned both the houses and the land, not to mention the mining rights beneath the town. They still found it inexplicable that a vibrant town could just be permitted to disappear.
They had never heard the term “ghost town” before and when I translated it, I could see it was still impossible for them to believe that this could happen.
In 2004, the local newspaper ran an editorial on the ghost towns of this area.
The subtitle stated, ”Ghost towns are a reminder of Northern prosperity and mortality”, and continued, “Worthington, Creighton and Happy Valley were once all towns thriving with industry and a sense of community.
As the towns grew through the last century, they became increasingly affluent – right up until the mines that sustained them closed and the townsfolk were forced to move on.”
That describes exactly what happened, doesn’t it? The Town of Creighton Mine died a slow death, one house demolition at a time.
The article also describes how strange it is that nothing remains of these once happy and productive communities where families were raised “and dreams forged … but which are now covered over with weeds” and here and there crumbling parts of sidewalk.
Our annual reunions on the third Sunday of September and the indomitable spirit of Creightonites as evidenced by the enormous success of the “Creighton Revisited” website, allow us to prove that although the physical features of Creighton have disappeared, the people and the memories have not.
The 2012 Creighton Reunion took place on Sept. 16 at the Anderson Farm in Lively. It was the 23rd annual reunion.
The spirit of Creighton Mine is alive and flourishing!
Erna de Burger-Fex is a writer and retired teacher.