August 4, 2015
the old abitibi – st. mary’s paper
When I lived in Sault Ste Marie, all those years ago, one the major industries was the paper-mill. And several of the new immigrants worked at the Abitibi. (This was the old name, before it was St. Mary’s Paper. The old name with all its vowels was way easier for the Italian immigrants to remember.) Michele Coccimiglio worked at the Abitibi and whenever we all went to Point des Chiens for Dominion Day, Michele would bring a roll of newsprint that was rolled on the many picnic tables that our families had commandeered. (Rose remembers cumma Maria – Michele’s wife boiling water for the pasta over an open-pit fire on the low bluffs above the cold waters of Lake Superior. The kids were all down on the beach pretending the water wasn’t miserably cold.)
The paper-mill went bankrupt a few years back, but the buildings are on the Historical Register and they are being gradually restored. The old admin building has been rented by Algoma University and is their music conservancy. (The University is expanding its campus into the downtown area. The old red-rock buildings will look great on their promotion materials.) The first of the mill buildings has been converted into an events space. The image is of this renovated space. Connie is on the small stage looking out onto the locks and the International Bridge.