The Future of Schumacher

It was a very difficult process for the Board of Directors of SACHA to prepare this historical background document for presentation at a public community meeting. We like doing positive things for the community of Schumacher like writing quarterly newsletters; organizing events so people can meet, share and celebrate; honour individuals for years of cultural service; compose songs and produce short films about the people who make Schumacher a great place to live in.

But when you have to write a list of everything that goes against positive outcomes, it was a difficult and heart wrenching experience due to the amount of loss and suffering the community of Schumacher has experienced since amalgamation in 1973. We all know that losing a loved one is very difficult. Accepting they are gone, grieving their loss, coping with thoughts and feelings about them, acknowledging they’re with you in spirit, and then moving on in life.

For the people who live and lived in Schumacher the continuous loss of community identity and assets has been going on for 45 years and never seems to stop. Just when we lose one thing, government and mining company officials tell us that something else will be taken away. We barely have time to accept, grieve and acknowledge each community loss as they keep piling up year after year and decade after decade. Similar to victims of abuse, the people and community of Schumacher need to tell the perpetrators of all of this suffering that it has to STOP!

Any mental health care professional will tell you that too much loss and suffering will affect your psychological, emotional and physical well being and that you have to re-channel all of this negative energy into more positive directions and outcomes. Failure to do so will result in severe depression with professional intervention being required.

The fact is, the people and community of Schumacher are not healthy – socially, politically, culturally, environmentally and economically. Unfortunately, external forces will not let them re- recover from all of their loss and suffering and help them to re-channel their energy in new directions to produce positive outcomes for them and the community they live in and call home. They are now at a critical tipping point with the possible closure of Schumacher Public School.

SACHA believes the time has come for people and organizations in Schumacher to come together and begin the collective process of trying to heal our selves. To accept, grieve and acknowledge all of the community loss and suffering that has been afflicted on us for 45 years. We also invite representatives from government, mining companies and other interested people and groups to join with us in this healing process. Other wise, our people and community will never be able to heal, move forward in a positive direction with the support of others, and begin the process of forgiving.

So what is the future of Schumacher and how can our people preserve its rich heritage and revitalize the community we deeply care about, so it’s healthy and vibrant again?

SACHA is recommending the following five actions be taken to achieve these goals.

Recommendation 1 – Establish a Task Force to Study the Effects of Amalgamation on all Communities in the City of Timmins since 1973, and to Preserve & Revitalize Schumacher.

If all three levels of governments and mining companies are going to take the concerns of the people of Schumacher seriously, then a task force will need to be established. This task force will be responsible for investigating what happened to Schumacher over the last 45 years and how everyone can work more cooperatively and collaboratively with our people and organizations to turn things around by preserving our rich heritage and revitalizing the community – socially, politically, culturally, environmentally and economically.

This is not just a Schumacher story. There are still many deep divisions between the east end communities of Schumacher, South Porcupine & Porcupine and the west end communities of Timmins and Mountjoy. Mainly because east end communities have continuously lost services and amenities since1973 (hospital, museum, parks, schools, libraries, churches, railway stations, businesses, etc.) while the west end communities have continued to expand. This has created significant inequality that has become much more apparent as time progressed.

No community understands these deep divisions and losses more than Schumacher. At some point, people in the east end will need to know – How did their communities go from being healthy and vibrant before amalgamation in 1973 and shell’s of their former glory ever since?

Similar to a “truth & reconciliation” commission, by studying and documenting the affects that amalgamation has had on all communities in the City of Timmins, this would allow all three levels of government and mining companies to fully understand what has worked and what has failed over the past 45 years. The primary goal would be to help communities negatively impacted by amalgamation to: 1) remediate the damage done, and 2) restore their health and vibrancy again.

The process of studying amalgamation and providing recommendations to revitalize communities can be accomplished in association with Dr. David Leadbeater, an economics professor at Laurentian University. A collaborative research project that included people and organizations in the east & west end communities, governments and mining companies, in order to fully investigate what actually happened in the City of Timmins since amalgamation would pave the way for all five communities to work more cooperatively, based on the principals of caring, sharing, respect and equality for every living thing in the City – humans and nature.

Recommendation 2 – Maintain Schumacher Public School as a School & Centre for Community Revitalization Research

The loss of a community school is not something that should be taken lightly. For the people of Schumacher, it’s of greater concern given what has happened to them. Schumacher Public School (SPS) is not only of historical significance, but the oldest publicly owned educational facility in the community that opened in 1918. It’s one of the oldest schools in the City and of architectural significance. For these reasons alone it should be preserved and protected.

But, SPS is also the “heart” of Schumacher! Not just in its central location, but also in the minds and hearts of the people who live in the community. When you stop a heart you kill the rest of the

body. If SPS is declared surplus, closed and sold for private development, it will kill Schumacher. This is not what our community wants or should even be considered by government officials.

We are recommending that parents in Schumacher that want to send their children to an English public school in their community should be able to continue to do so. Based on this premise, we would like the school to be used for the following purposes:

a) The first floor would house classrooms and the administrative office for a small public school.
b) The second floor would be used for community revitalization purposes.
c) The gymnasium would be used during the day for school purposes, and for other community activities during evenings and weekends.
d) The basement would be used for building maintenance, storage and other uses required by tenants and the community.
e) The playground would be used for school and community purposes.

As to who would own and operate the building, it will need to be worked out between the district school board and an agency established for Schumacher community revitalization purposes.

Recommendation 3 – Establish a Schumacher Community Revitalization Agency

If the people and community of Schumacher are going to revitalize their community, then they will need to reclaim it and be in control of an agency that has their best interests at heart. This will require establishing an agency based in and serving the people of Schumacher for the purposes of community revitalization. The board representatives for this agency would be inclusive of community interests and take a more holistic, grass roots, values based and consensus building approach to the revitalization of Schumacher.

Only people and organizations in Schumacher that genuinely care about the community would have board representation on this agency. For example: Schumacher Public School (administration, parent teachers association), Schumacher Lions Club, Schumacher Volunteer Fire Department, Schumacher Day Minor Hockey Association, Schumacher Arts, Culture & Heritage Association, Schumacher Homecoming Committee, Croatian Hall Society, McIntyre Curling Club, Porcupine Ski Runners Club, JP Bickell Outdoor Centre, North Eastern Ontario Family and Children’s Mental Health, Timmins Chamber of Commerce, Timmins Sports Heritage Hall of Fame, and other groups that may be formed to meet the needs of the community (business, spiritual, environmental, community foundation).

To help the people and organizations in Schumacher revitalize their community, this agency would also receive guidance and a wide variety of financial and in-kind support from the three levels of government, mining companies, foundations (i.e. JP Bickell Foundation, Schumacher Foundation), economic services (i.e. Timmins Economic Development Corporation), social services (i.e. Porcupine Health Unit), environmental services (Mattagami Region Conservation Authority); and academic services (i.e. Northern College, Laurentian University), to name a few.

This agency would be responsible for identifying opportunities, preparing plans, and managing activities to make the people and community of Schumacher healthy and vibrant again. This would include community planning, land development, infrastructure and capacity building to create a dynamic waterfront tourism hub in and around Schumacher. They would also be responsible for repurposing unused space at the school for community revitalization purposes. With climate change, globalization and numerous other socio-political and economic issues affecting resource based communities in Canada, this agency would have a unique and rare opportunity to closely examine, understand and learn:

i) What happens to a mining community (Schumacher) affected by government and mining company decisions over a 100 year period – before 1972 and after amalgamation in 1973?

ii) How can a holistic, grass roots, values based, consensus building approach to developing and revitalizing a community work. Where real people and organizations, living in a real community, dealing with real issues, making real decisions, and effecting real change to revitalize their depressed community?

Once established, this agency could become a centre for community revitalization research. The knowledge and experience gained from this agency’s activities and outcomes could be documented and shared with other communities in the city, Ontario, Canada and elsewhere.

Recommendation 4 – Preserve & Protect Schumacher’s Heritage For Community Identity and Revitalization Purposes

Over the past 45 years of amalgamation, Schumacher has seen nothing but loss – Schumacher High School, Lions Club Swimming Pool, Schumacher Train Station, McIntyre Park, Municipal buildings and services, Schumacher Library, St. Francis of Assisi elementary School, Trinity United Church, St. Chad’s Anglican Church, St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, Timmins Extendicare nursing home, and the closure of over 40 businesses located in the community. With Schumacher Public School facing closure, the people and community of Schumacher have reached a “crisis point” and can no longer with stand any more damage being done to them.

Schumacher still has four historically significant buildings that need to be preserved, protected and fully utilized for community identity and revitalization purposes. These include:

i) McIntyre Mine Head Frame – the most iconic land mark in the City of Timmins.
ii) McIntyre Community Building – a sports shrine and a very large trade & convention centre. iii) Croatian Hall – formerly the Maple Leaf Theatre and a community cultural centre.
iv) Schumacher Public School – the oldest, publicly owned building in Schumacher.

SACHA would like to work closely with the owners of these four historical buildings to prepare and submit federal and/or provincial government applications to designate and register these Schumacher landmarks as “heritage buildings” for preservation and as assets for community revitalization purposes.

Frederick W. Schumacher built the original train station as part of the founding and naming of Schumacher, Ontario. SACHA would like to pay tribute to him and his ongoing support, by having the train station be rebuilt in Schumacher as a cultural asset and for tourism and community development purposes (i.e. historical museum, public exhibition space, gift shop).

All five of these historical buildings would provide the physical infrastructure required to develop a dynamic waterfront tourism hub around Pearl Lake and the community of Schumacher. With numerous events and attractions centred around The Mac, Lion’s Club Park, Croatian Hall and public school, Schumacher would have an opportunity to attract tourist related enterprises on it’s main street again – food & beverage, shops & services, accommodations, and culture related.

Recommendation 5 – Government Funding and Benefits from Mine Closure Plans to Help Schumacher Build Community Infrastructure & Strengthen Capacity Building

Given the significant amount of mining tax revenues and community assets lost by the people of Schumacher over the last 45 years, the community is deserving of annual funding from all three levels of government. These funds would be used by the Schumacher Community Revitatization Agency to help build community infrastructure and strengthen capacity building, so the people of Schumacher can take advantage of opportunities that will move them in a positive direction.

As well, two mining operations are scheduled to close in the next few years. Glencore plans to shut down its Kidd Underground Mine and Goldcorp plans to close its Hollinger Open Pit Mine. By law in Ontario, mining companies are required to prepare closure plans to address four key objectives: 1) protect public health and safety; 2) alleviate or eliminate environmental damage; 3) achieve a productive use of the land, or a return to its original condition or an acceptable alternative; and, 4) to the extent achievable, provide for sustainability of social and economic benefits resulting from mine development and operations.

Schumacher has been and is affected by these two mining operations, so it should be entitled to benefits and compensation from their mine closure plans.

As it relates to Glencore, Schumacher lost its entire downtown business area when a decision was made to four lane Highway 101 and bypass the community, so Kidd Smelter & Met site workers could get between the east and west ends of the city. Where Schumacher was socially and economically crippled from this mine related activity and decision, it should be entitled to some compensation and benefits from Glencore’s mine closure plan.

Goldcorp’s Hollinger open pit operations completely surround the western side of Schumacher, and their haul road cuts right across the south side of the community. So Schumacher is directly affected by all four key objectives in the mine closure legislation. Their mining operations have also created significant anxiety and uncertainty for the people of Schumacher, to the point of paralysis, where the community has not been able to move forward with rebuilding and revitalizing itself for years. Given this, Schumacher should be entitled to a significant amount of benefits and compensation from Goldcorp’s mine closure plan to help build community infrastructure and strengthen capacity building for revitalization purposes.

So, what will the future of Schumacher be?

The purpose of this historical document was to explain what happened to Schumacher over the last 100 years – the good, the bad and even the ugly. It also makes recommendations to preserve Schumacher’s rich heritage and revitalize the community. The people of Schumacher do not want to dwell on decisions made by previous governments and mining companies. What’s done is done! But we don’t want the same kind of damaging decisions and outcomes to be repeated.

To this end, we are hopeful that all three levels of government and mining company officials will seriously reflect on what happened to Schumacher over the last 45 years. We also would like them to work more cooperatively and consensually with our people and organizations to ensure Schumacher’s best interests are considered first and foremost, before any decision is made on what will happen in or to our community in the future.

We believe if the people and organizations of Schumacher are given the opportunity to reclaim and revitalize their community using a more holistic, grass roots, values based and consensus building approach, that it will only strengthen the City of Timmins, Province of Ontario and the country we call Canada.

We thank you for your interest.

(Bruce Capeless, Schumacher Poem)

(Bruce Capeless, Schumacher Poem)

NOTE: SACHA would like to thank the following people and organizations for the use of their photographs and poetry in our quarterly newsletters, video productions and written presentations: 1) Louise Nightingale Smith, author, Portrait of a Renaissance Man – Frederick W. Schumacher; Schumacher – Voices from the Goldfields, General Store Publishing House; 2) Lisa Romanowski; 3) Bruce Capeless; and 4) Timmins Museum & National Exhibition Centre.

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