The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.
TIMMINS – There’s been scandal, engineering marvels and, of course, there has been gold — and the Timmins Museum has brought that rich history to life for the last 40 years.
The museum, which is now located on Second Avenue in the city’s downtown, has been operating since 1975. It was initially opened as a National Exhibition Centre in South Porcupine, one of only 23 in Canada, to house travelling exhibitions from across the country.
Four years after the centre was created, a community museum component was also added to showcase permanent collections spotlighting artifacts that told the story of the City of Timmins, specifically.
“The community had been looking for a museum since the early 1950s,” said Karen Bachmann, the director/curator of the Timmins Museum. “Pieces had already been collected by the chamber of commerce that at the time were being stored at the chamber, the fire hall in Porcupine, the vaults at city hall and in some people’s homes, so it brought together a lot of this stuff.”
While the national exhibition now focuses on sharing collections between museums across the country, the first exhibit they hosted at the Timmins Museum centred on the many local artifacts that had been collected over the years. It showcased items relating to the early days of the Porcupine settlement including the Gold Rush and the development of local churches and schools.
The people of Timmins, however, still yearned for a permanent space that would focus specifically on the history of the community year-round. When the first community exhibition was held in 1979, it did just that.
“They did a really interesting exhibition that talked a lot about the early beginnings of the community,” Bachman said. “The collection focused very much on the development of the community including geology, Aboriginal cultures, the Gold Rush and the Porcupine Fire. They created a mine tunnel for kids so you had an idea of what it was like to be underground, they had a prospector’s cabin.”
Since then, the museum has provided the city with a mix of local history as well as the opportunity to see collections from all over the world.
“We’ve put through over 700 travelling exhibitions over the last 40 years,” Bachmann recounted. “We’ve done everything from Rembrants and Van Goghs; we’ve exhibited pieces that had to do with the oil and gas industry, of all things; we’ve exhibited pieces that really speak to Aboriginal culture, so there’s a lot in terms of that.”
Some of the most interesting things the museum has to share come from right here in the community however, as evidenced by the some 25,000 local residents who visit the museum every year to learn more about the place they call home.
For example, the museum recently acquired a box of old letters and mine deeds that belonged to Hans Buttner, a German prospector who partnered with the famous Sandy McIntyre. McIntyre was one of three prospectors whose gold discovery led to the development of the the McIntyre Mine during the Porcupine Gold Rush of 1909.
To date, little is known about his partner Buttner and this recent acquisition sheds some light into the exciting, tumultuous, and often scandalous, origins of the city.
“Those letters have been very interesting because it really shows you some of the shady deals that were happening at the time between some of the prospectors,” Bachmann said. “There were lawsuits involved, there were people who were stealing each other’s claims and some of these letters are really fun to read and it gives you a whole new way of looking at things.”
Bachmann, who celebrated her 30-year anniversary with the museum this year, said she has seen countless items come through the museum’s doors over the last several decades that have intrigued her.
Some of her personal favourites, however, are archival pieces from the Porcupine Advance newspapers.
For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.timminspress.com/2015/10/07/museum-marks-40-years-of-its-own-history