It has been said that “remembering the past gives power to the future.” That philosophy is surely at the heart of the mission of the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame (CMHF), which is dedicated to recognizing legendary individuals who have made impressive contributions to this great Canadian industry. Polished granite plaques honouring inductees line the walls of the Mining Building at the University of Toronto.
However, times have changed since the organization’s inception in 1988. Recognizing this, the CMHF realized that if they were to reach today’s tech-savvy generation, they would have to meet them on common ground. And meet them they have!
Housed in the Teck Suite of Galleries of at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), the CMHF’s permanent exhibit features a new interactive digital presentation displayed quite spectacularly on a colossal monitor standing 2.4 metres high by 4.6 metres wide. In addition to a presentation honouring the inductees, there are 13 short videos about metals and minerals, as well as another that contrasts mining today and in the future.
This exhibit, along with the Vale Inco Ltd. Gallery of Minerals and the Gallery of Gems and Gold, were all made possible by a generous $10 million contribution from Teck to the ROM early in 2007.
“We were aiming to do something that would really capture the attention of the visitors,” said CMHF coordinator, Nean Allman. “With so many Ontario school children going through the ROM, we would like everyone to walk away knowing at the very least one positive fact about minerals and the mining industry.”
Meanwhile, the CMHF also wants to take its message beyond the greater Toronto area. “Our exhibit lends itself to duplication, as it can essentially be boiled down to a DVD,” explained Allman. “We realized that we have the chance to establish satellite exhibits across Canada.”
Acknowledging this, the Teck donation covers the inaugural satellite exhibit, which is to be installed in the BC Museum of Mining at Britannia Beach, on the road between Vancouver and Whistler. “The objective is to have it up and running before the winter Olympics next year,” explained Allman.” However, we would like to have similar exhibits across Canada and will be looking for sponsors for various locations.”
To generate interest and funds for this initiative, the CMHF will be holding a fundraising gala on May 9 at the ROM. Attendees will have an opportunity to tour all three galleries in the Teck Suite, socialize over a delectable dinner served in the splendour of the Great Hall, and enjoy the dynamic sounds of renowned Canadian band, the Cowboy Junkies, who themselves have a mining connection. Three of the band’s four members, Margo, Michael and Peter Timmins, are descendents of CMHF inductees, Noah and Jules Timmins.
Allman acknowledged the extraordinary efforts of CMHF director, Jack McOuat, who she said has been instrumental in all of these efforts. “He’s been wonderfully optimistic that we would accomplish all this, and it is terrific to see his optimism bear fruit,” she said. It is now the hope of Allman, McOuat and others involved in the CMHF that their current efforts bear fruit across Canada.