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A One Way Ticket: Red Lake’s Immigration Story

Lisa Dumontier

The families of immigrants who came to Canada and made homes in the Red Lake area are telling their stories with help from the Red Lake Regional Heritage Centre and a new online exhibit rolled out earlier this month. Offering a snapshot of what life was like for Canadian newcomers, A One Way Ticket: Red Lake’s Immigration Story already includes hundreds of photos and immigration documents and will continue to expand as more information is collected.

“The purpose of the project is to bring to life the physical and emotional journey traveled by many immigrants who found their way to live and work in the Red Lake District of Ontario,” confirmed the Red Lake Regional Heritage Centre. “It also acknowledges the contributions these pioneers made in building the prosperous and vibrant community that Red Lake is today.”

Funded by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture through their Museums and Technology Fund, the Heritage Centre’s online One Way Ticket exhibit is the final phase of a lengthy immigration project that was initiated in June of 2009. Cataloguing the histories of dozens of immigrants to start—including more than 750 photos and documents—the online exhibit has come to fruition in three stages (research, creation of exhibitions and online exhibit) and has involved countless hours of work on the part of Heritage Centre staff and contributors John Richthammer and Elle Andre-Warner over the past two years.

Carlson
Arthur Carlson immigrated to Canada from Sweden in May 1929. He founded the first fly-in tourist lodge in the area in 1948. (RLRHC)

“Before now, very little information could be found on the internet about Red Lake’s immigration story. This online exhibit is the first to highlight this very important part of Red Lake’s history,” detailed Pamela O’Neill, Special Projects Assistant, Red Lake Regional Heritage Centre. “Everybody has a story to tell. This online exhibit shares the personal stories of 46 immigrants who came to live in the District of Red Lake, each one having made contributions to the community in some shape or form. Much can be learned about our community and its people through these stories.”

“Many of the immigrants who came to Red Lake during the gold rush years—before there was a community to speak of—and right up until the 1950s, should be recognized for their contributions, ingenuity, and workmanship in building this town,” she continued. “It wasn’t always easy for them to stay here, especially for those who couldn’t speak English. Everyone had to work together, despite their language barrier or cultural differences.”

While those interested in the history of the Red Lake area are already able to access the online exhibit (www.redlakeimmigration.com), the Red Lake Regional Heritage Centre will be hosting an official unveiling on Friday, November 11, 2011 at 1:00pm.

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