The Good Old Days of Schumacher

For 60 years, from World War I, The Roaring 20′s, Great Depression, World War II, Post War Boom, Schumacher bustled with dynamic energy. The people had a deep sense of pride that manifested from community spirit and social activities – educational, recreational, cultural, spiritual, business and community service.

One thing that separated Schumacher from other communities was the “community good-will” that the McIntyre Porcupine Mines senior executives, JP Bickell, President and Dick Ennis, Mine Manager, endowed on the gold mine, its workers, residents of Schumacher and the Porcupine mining camp. The company not only had significant technological achievements in mining, milling, health and safety practices, but was very generous to the community.

For example: The McIntyre Community Building or “The Mac” as it is affectionately known, contained a 2,000 seat arena (mini Maple Leaf Gardens) with an artificial ice surface, a gymnasium, auditorium, curling rink, bowling alley, private mirrored figure skating rink and coffee shop. These facilities spawned hometown NHL stars like Frank and Pete Mahovlich; and it’s where Canadian, World and Olympic figure skating champion Barbara Ann Scott trained.

communityCentre

To reclaim mine tailings, the McIntrye Mine created a park with flower gardens and big willow trees. They built tennis courts, baseball diamonds, soccer & football field, large covered BBQ pit, horseshoe pitches, picnic huts & tables and lawn areas for workers and the community to use.

Positive community spirit was encouraged by several of its philanthropists. Since 1916, Frederick W. Schumacher has provided a Christmas gift to every child who lived in Schumacher, so no child would go without a present. The volunteer fire department works with the foundation to keep this tradition alive. Over the last 100 years Mr. Schumacher and his foundation have given significant amounts of funding to many organizations, Schumacher Public School, Schumacher Lion’s Club, Camp Bickell, SACHA and other groups for numerous charitable purposes.

In 1939, McIntyre Mine President, JP Bickell, using personal funds and a charitable foundation created from mine profits, established and maintained Camp Bickell on Chapman Lake. It’s an

outdoor recreational camp located fifty-five kilometers away that youth and adults from Schumacher and across Ontario attend to this day. The JP Bickell Foundation has also given funds to many charitable causes and organizations in Schumacher, Timmins and across Ontario.

The people of Schumacher also sought a better quality of life for themselves and others. They developed a community that had a train station, post office, municipal office, fire station, public works garage, library, public elementary & high schools, Catholic elementary school, Croatian Hall, Catholic, Anglican and United churches. The Schumacher Lions Club operated an outdoor swimming pool, and in the 1960’s raised funds to convert it into one of the largest indoor swimming pool facilities in Northeastern Ontario.

Schumacher entrepreneurs spawned over 40 local businesses to serve its residents – grocery, hardware, drug, shoe, clothing, jewelry, furniture & convenience stores, hotels, barber shops & hair salons, restaurants, gas stations, car sales, auto repairs & body shop, taxi, bus line, movie cinema, tailors & seamstresses, shoe repairs, TV sales & repair, sign shop, furrier, laundromat, bank, welding, electrical & construction companies, doctors, dentist and other enterprises.

Croatian Tamburitza Orchestra

Members of the Croatian Tamburitza Orchestra pose with their conductor, Paul Celesnjak, Nick Pecanic and his wife Angela. The Pecanics were “Kum” and “Kuma” to the orchestra – the Croatian term for godparents. (Zora Maletich Chenier)

Socially, Schumacher had a service club, volunteer fire department, many sports & recreation associations, boy scouts & girl guide clubs, religious and cultural groups, to name but a few. The McIntyre Community Centre, Croatian Hall and churches were all very active – concerts, stags & showers, circuses, sports tournaments, festivals, bingos, weddings, funerals, dinners & dances, consumer & industrial trade shows, potluck suppers – with something always going on in town. Schumacher was the place to meet in the Porcupine mining camp & Northeastern Ontario.

Continue to The Downside Of Amalgamation

Download the Historical Document –  Schumacher, Ontario: 60 years of Ups and 45 Years of Downs!