By Matthew Del Papa
Part of a much larger initiative to promote literary-based tourism and story-telling in Northern Ontario, the Tales From the Rails Exhibition in Capreol, which opened May 12, featured stories and poems printed on colourful pop-up banners. Produced and curated in partnership between the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre and Reading Town Sudbury Ville Lecture, a large crowd was on hand for the unveiling.
Dozens of authors submitted stories and poems, ranging from the heartfelt to the humorous. Eight entries were selected, among them Capreol’s Weird History by eleven-year old Ayden Miron. Ayden wrote a fun and informative tale involving hobos, UFOs, and the town’s founder, Frank Dennie. Dick Wickenden, who became a published author at age 90 with his banner A Night in the Bush, described a disastrous moose hunt that resulted in being lost overnight.
Tales From the Rails 2018 is on display all summer at the museum’s Heritage Centre (corner of Young and King streets). Special events and interactive activities are planned throughout the summer months as a part of the exhibition. The banners from last year’s event will be spread throughout the community during Capreol’s Centennial Celebrations (July 28-Aug. 5).
“There are some amazing stories from this town,” says Derek Young, Reading Town’s local organizer. “New this year is our podcast which will feature oral stories from the community.”
Inspired by two of NORMHC’s most-popular volunteers, George Hoag and Marshall Edwards, the podcast originated during 2017’s Creepy Capreol Bus Tour. What started as visits to supposedly “haunted” sites evolved as stories were shared en route.
As Young added, “We heard everything from how Capreol’s cemetery was the largest war cemetery in Canada per capita to all about train-wrecks and mass graves.”
Family legends and personal stories such as Edwards getting strapped for playing hookie only to later be pulled out of school for getting the strap had the entire bus laughing.
This year’s exhibition featured free “Bee Friendly” seed packets given out prior to the launch of Melissa’s Magnificent Bee Adventure.
“Combining a literature awareness program with our town-wide efforts to promote pollinator habitat awareness was a real win-win,” said Cody Cacciotti, operations manager for the museum.
Storyboards featuring Melissa’s uplifting tale are posted along the museum’s fence as part of the NORMCH’s Bee Homes Project.
Cacciotti continued, “Our partnerships are what drive community programs forward. Reading Town and the Sudbury Writers’ Guild are helping us create innovative new experiences for our patrons. These types of exhibits bring the community together.”
Sudbury’s former poet laureate and current president of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild, Tom Leduc, said he was proud to be part of this project. “Organizations working together that’s what builds better communities.
“Our membership has doubled and it has a lot to do with these partnerships. They allow us to tell our stories our way. Local artists love these opportunities. The more voices we have, the louder we are, and the more we get heard.”
Each banner story is matched to photographs from the NORMHC archives. These vintage pictures are accompanied by original artwork by Capreol artist Bonnie Ouellet-Mathieu.