Blind River…Eyes Wide Open
I have done my share of driving over the past decade as a mom of hockey players. It wasn’t until we moved to Sudbury in September, though, that I began living the Stompin’ Tom song “I’ve Been Everywhere”. The north is vast and most small communities are a significant drive away. One of my sons plays in the NOJHL, taking him to Sudbury, Espanola, Powassun, Hearst, Cochrane, Timmins, Elliott Lake, Sault Ste. Marie, Noelville, Kirkland Lake and most recently Blind River. I try to see as many of his games as possible and my most recent adventure was to Blind River.
Blind River has approximately 3,500 residents. In this town, you can still buy a house for $100,000. The largest industry is uranium refining. Uranium was discovered in 1954 and Cameco has been running a large uranium refinery since 1983 processing uranium from around the world into uranium trioxide. There is a golf course beside Cameco called Huron Pines Country Club on the river, along with Lauzon Aviation offering fly-in fishing and hunting wilderness vacations.
There is also a hockey team, the Blind River Beavers. The mascot in the arena is a beaver puppet sported by a super fan. The arena would seat about 300 people maximum and was more than half full the night I went. The team is good, ranked third out of six teams in their conference with a record of winning 2/3 of their games. The players billet with local families and play hockey from September through April, providing a significant source of entertainment for the town residents.
The drive from Sudbury is just under two hours along Highway 17. I made plans to arrive around 5 pm so I could do some exploring before puck drop at 7. Situated on the North Channel, a fabled waterway in Lake Huron that many Canadians have on their bucket list, water is everywhere. In summer there are an abundance of beaches to enjoy. There has been a post office in town since 1877. The Canadian Pacific railroad expanded into town in the late 1800s bringing people and causing it to incorporate as a town in 1906. A logging company started and flourished there for many years logging white pine until a big fire in 1948 burned all the trees down.
Pier 17 is a local sports bar, known for fresh food and good times. It was fully renovated two years ago from a fancy restaurant to a sports bar and when I was there on a Saturday night, it was doing a brisk business. The pool tables were busy and the tables were almost full. The waitresses were friendly and the food was incredibly good. The special was fried pickerel, which was fresh and delicious, which I finished with a chocolate eruption cake. A large summer patio overlooks the water.
The Espanola Paper Kings lost to the Blind River Beavers 3-1. My son drove us home along Highway 17, noting deer along the highway but no hitchhikers. He played country music the whole way. It was an enjoyable Saturday night, adding to my own version of “I’ve Been (Almost) Everywhere.”
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Entrepreneur and mom to four amazing kids
Q: Why did the can crusher quit his job?
A: Because it was soda pressing.