Last week, in our look at the history of Timmins, we told you about an epic snowfall of more than 70 cm in 1938. The museum’s director-curator, Karen Bachmann, says that at least there had trucks and snowplows to help clean up. This was not the case in 1917. A snowfall, which was not measured, closed the few roads in and out of town.

Trains were stuck on the tracks, including one heading for Timmins that couldn’t pass Englehart. “A lot of people on the train there ran out of money. They couldn’t buy food,” she recounts from the records. “There were ladies with children. There were all kinds of things. It was a very big disaster for this region.

Members of the Canadian Travelers – the street vendors of the day – were also on this train and did what they could to help.

Bachmann says it took five days to be dug out, so the train could continue to Timmins.

“They found out when they got to Timmins that someone on that train had smallpox,” says the curator. “Everyone was stuck on this train with this person, so there was a bit of a fight and people freaked out and it was kind of a sad scenario.”