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Recollections of a mill closure

Sturgeon Falls Mill focus of Nipissing U lecture
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Sturgeon Falls mill
An 18-wheeler dumps chips in the MacMillan Bloedel wood yard in Sturgeon Falls. (OurOntario.ca)

The oral history of the closure of the Sturgeon Falls paper mill will be the subject of a lecture by Concordia history professor Steven High at Nipissing University in North Bay, April 3.

High is the author of a prize-winning book, Industrial Sunset: the Making of North America’s Rust Belt and Corporate Wasteland: The Landscape and Memory of Deindustrialization, as well as many other books and articles.

Weyerhaeuser closed the corrugated paper mill in December 2002, eliminating 140 jobs.

The former MacMillan Bloedel mill was the industrial cornerstone of the northeastern Ontario town, located 20 minutes west of North Bay.

At its peak in the 1960s, the mill employed 600, but production was steadily reduced over the years until its 2002 shuttering by Weyerhaeuser, which had acquired the mill in 1999.

High’s project began with emotional, and sometimes raw, interviews of displaced mill workers soon after the closure and continued on even after the mill was demolished in 2004.

High is a former member of Nipissing’s history department and is a founding member of the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling.

He is an interdisciplinary oral and public historian with a strong interest in transnational approaches to working-class studies, forced migration, community-engaged research, oral history methodology and ethics, and living archives.

His major areas of expertise are deindustrialization and on the post-industrial transformation of North American cities; oral accounts of mass violence; and race and empire in Newfoundland, Bermuda, and the British Caribbean during the Second World War.

His project can be viewed online at: http://high.cohds.ca/sturgeon_falls 



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