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Flour Mill Museum finds a new home at O'Connor Park

Museum moves to make way for critical $14M sewer system upgrade

The Flour Mill Museum has been relocated to make way for major upgrades to one of Greater Sudbury's oldest and largest pieces of infrastructure: the St. Charles sewage lift station. 

Two structures from the original museum property were transported from 245 St. Charles St. to O'Connor Park (140 St. George St.) Saturday, with plans to set the buildings into their permanent foundation Monday. 

The relocation of the Flour Mill Museum will be of great value to residents in the area and those that frequent the park for programs such as Better Beginnings Better Futures, said Joscelyne Landry-Altmann, councillor for Ward 12. 

"It will serve as a gateway into the flour mill itself," said Landry-Altmann. "It will be a community anchor."

In addition to adding value to O'Connor Park, Claude Charbonneau, chair of the Flour Mill Community Action Network (CAN), hopes the relocation of the Flour Mill Museum will encourage future development of the area. In this regard, Charbonneau said CAN is focusing their attention on having plans approved for construction of a year-round community centre for sports and family activities. 

The goal is to attract young families to the area, said Charbonneau, and playgrounds are a big part of that. 

"All these playgrounds are like the Sudbury Arena of those neighbourhoods," he said, "families get to know each other and (that) helps create a nice atmosphere in the area. It goes a long way."

Included in the move was the museum's heritage house, which was built around 1902 by François Varieur, a foreman at Evan's lumber at the time, who donated the house and adjacent land to the Manitoba and Ontario Flour Mill Company in 1910. 

This property was used to build the Notre Dame flour mill and silos in 1911, while the house acted as a residence for the mill's superintendent until 1920. This later became the location of the Flour Mill Museum until the house was relocated to St. Charles Street in 1987. It's moving this time for a critical upgrade to the sewage system.

The museum houses a wide variety of artifacts, many of which were donated by past and present residents of the area such as Michelle Gervais. Gervais' husband and his family were founders of the Flour Mill she said and contributed many items from the 1930s-40s to the museum's collection over the years.

"(The Flour Mill Museum is) absolutely important to the community," said Gervais. "The very beginnings of this entire (city) were in the Flour Mill and it's a forgotten neighbourhood."

Built in the 1930s, the St. Charles sewage station's lift system needs to be replaced, said Rebecca Gilchrist, project manager with the City of Greater Sudbury. The renovation includes replacing the system's pumps, wells, and pipes to prevent system backups and sewage breaks.

Alki Ben-Anteur, project manager with the city, said the process will include installing one to two kilometres worth of "force main" -- the system that transports waste from the sewage lifts wells to a rock tunnel that leads directly to the Greater Sudbury Wastewater Treatment Plant. 

Ben-Anteur said their team would also be responsible for creating shafts into the tunnel, through layers of dense rock and swamp. 

The $12-14 million project is part of an initiative by the City of Greater to improve sewage lift systems across the city as financing allows. Last year, this included the largest lift station in Azilda as well as the nickel lift station in Copper Cliff, which Ben-Anteaur said required four kilometres worth of force main. 

More information on the Flour Mill Museum can be found here


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Keira Ferguson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: Keira Ferguson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

A graduate of both Laurentian University and Cambrian College, Keira Ferguson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter, funded by the Government of Canada, at
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