Food bank: The legacy of Father Les
Date published : October 9, 2009 - Timmins, Ontario
Located in Northeast Ontario, Timmins traces its beginning to gold mining, when the discovery of major deposits drew settlers to the area in the early 20th century. South Porcupine, the initial settlement, burnt down in 1911, and Timmins, named after mining magnate Noah Timmins, was established the following year. As a result of the 1973 regional amalgamation, Timmins now covers more territory (over 3,000 square kilometres) than any other Canadian town.
The local economy has diversified over the decades – but mining remains key. “The current high price of gold has buffered us against the worst of the crisis,” says Ron Grech, news editor at the Timmins Times. “Our forestry sector has been in decline, like everywhere across the country, but mining has been our saving grace.”
- Ron Grech, news editor, Timmins Daily Press
- Canadian Encyclopedia: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0008018
Some quick facts
• Between August 2008 and August 2009 the jobless rate in Northeast Ontario rose from 6.3% to 9.5%
• During the same period about 9,100 people in the region lost their jobs
• During the same period the provincial jobless rate rose from 6.9% to 9.9%
• Between 2001 and 2006 the population of Timmins dropped from 43,686 to 42,997.
- Northeast Ontario Labour Market Monitor: Service Canada August, 2009: http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/on/offices/2009lmb/northeast.shtml
- Statistics Canada: http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2006/dp-pd/prof/92-591/details/page.cfm?Lang=E&Geo1=CMA&Code1=586__&Geo2=PR&Code2=35&Data=Count&SearchText=Timmins&SearchType=Begins&SearchPR=01&B1=All&Custom=
Les Costello: the Flying Father
The memory of the late Les Costello --- one of Timmins’ most famous sons --- looms large over daily activities at the Timmins Food Bank. Costello first earned celebrity as professional hockey player, helping the Toronto Maple Leafs bring home the Stanley Cup of 1948. Not long after, he surprised his fans by entering the priesthood, returning to Timmins as a parish priest.
Over ensuing decades “Father Les” won the respect and affection of fellow citizens with his common touch, his salty sense of humour, and his enduring commitment to social justice. He was a founding member of the Flying Fathers - an all-priest hockey team that raised millions for charities over the years. He died in 2002 from injuries sustained during one of the team’s exhibition games. He was 74 years old.
Charlie Angus, the federal MP for Timmins-James Bay, paid tribute to Costello in the 2005 biography Les Costello: Canada’s Flying Father.
- Les Costello: Canada's Flying Father, 2005, Charlie Angus
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