The rejuvenated Silver Islet General Store near Thunder Bay is proving to be a significant attraction for both domestic and international visitors.
Located on the Sibley Peninsula adjacent to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, the historic building was restored and reopened this year by Sandy and Jeff Korkola.
In recognition of its potential as a magnet for tourists, the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) and Tourism Thunder Bay have approved $48,000 in funding support for the business.
The money – provided from the Municipal Accommodation Tax – will go toward the ongoing revitalization of the 150-year-old former mining provision store.
The CEDC and Tourism Thunder Bay said the park sees about 75,000 visitations per year. Traffic is expected to increase due to recent federal investments in the harbour and marina infrastructure adjacent to Silver Islet General Store.
Although the business is located outside the city boundary, a city spokesperson said it qualifies for funding from Thunder Bay's Municipal Accommodation Tax because it contributes to economic activity in the city due to its proximity.
In an announcement last week, the CEDC and Tourism Thunder Bay noted that the store is now a tourism touch point for the park, Archie's Fishing Charters and Lighthouse Tours, Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior, and Sail Superior guests.
"The reopening of the store represents another positive development in the growth of our diverse visitor experiences," said Tourism Thunder Bay manager Paul Pepe in a news release.
He said the store attracts new visitors and extends the length of stay for people coming to Thunder Bay.
Jeff Korkola said the store features local products and supports and collaborates with other signature tourism operators in Thunder Bay and in the region.
Co-owner Sandy Korkola said the MAT funding supports the revitalization of the iconic building.
"In particular, we have been able to install solar power, which helps keep this beautiful area green, and allows us to continue our work in contributing to the vibrant and growing tourism sector in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario," she said.
First built in 1871, the store originally supported operations at the Silver Islet mine, known for a time in the late 19th century as the world's richest silver mine.
The Saxberg family bought the store in 1985, but health issues forced its closure in 2015. Its future remained uncertain for several years, but in 2020 the husband-and-wife team of Jeff and Sandy Korkola announced they would take on the task of upgrading the building.