Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Join Us for North Burgess Heritage Mica Festival - August Long Weekend!

Murphys Point Provincial Park is the place to be on the August long weekend for an exciting heritage celebration. The volunteers of the Friends of Murphys Point have planned a special event to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of mica mining in this area with activities available for all ages.

The Silver Queen Mine, located within Murphys Point Provincial Park, was one of 35 active mines in North Burgess (now part of Tay Valley Township) at the peak of mica mining activity. The first record of mica mining dates back to 1860, when sheets of mica were blasted out of the Pike Lake Mine and sold to the French navy to be used as windows in battleships. Initially, the farmers of the area worked in the mines on a part-time basis. The mica industry gradually built to its height in the early 1900's with the advent of General Electric and other such companies that used the mica for its insulating properties. The North Burgess Heritage Mica Festival will recreate many aspects of life in 1860 and during the mica mining boom when subsistence farming on the rocky Canadian Shield was supplemented by small-scale mining throughout our community.
Hosted by the Friends of Murphys Point Park, the North Burgess Heritage Mica Festival kicks off on Saturday, July 31 with an evening performance by David Archibald at the park amphitheatre at 8 p.m. Costumed volunteers and interpreters will welcome you to the park and help to set the festive mood.

The festival continues on Sunday, August 1 with activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lally Homestead and the Silver Queen Mine, both located at Murphys Point Park. The homestead will come alive with children’s olde-time games and crafts, demonstrations by traditional trades, music, a cultural hike as well as ginger beer and other merchandise for sale at the Lally Store. See a local blacksmith at work forging instruments as he would have done at the start of the mica industry 150 years ago. Test your skill at the “What Is It” box. Learn how rope was made or take a seat to listen to stories by Bear the Tinker. Volunteers in period dress will be on hand to share these activities with all our visitors.

Be sure to take some time to walk the Silver Queen Mine trail to the original mine site and the bunkhouse. “Cookie” will be hard at work preparing lunch for hungry visitors. Enjoy fresh corn on the cob, maple baked beans and old-fashioned lemonade either before or after your tour down into the mine. Imagine the life of the miners underground and sharing the bunkhouse with their mates.

The Friends of Murphys Point Park is a registered non-profit charity formed in 1995. The Friends is entirely volunteer run and members work to enhance the natural heritage education program at Murphys Point Provincial Park. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage Funding Anniversaries program. Other partners of the Friends for this initiative include Tay Valley Township and Ontario Parks.

Murphys Point Park is located about a half hour drive south of Perth via the Rideau Ferry Road (County Road 1). Watch for signs and turn right on the Elm Grove Road. Once you arrive at the main park entrance, continue on for about 2 km to the Lally Homestead site. Parking space is somewhat limited so car-pooling is a good idea. The North Burgess Heritage Mica Festival is a free admission event, although you will need to pay the daily use park entry fee of $14 per car or $11 for seniors. Donations to help cover the food costs at the bunkhouse will be greatly appreciated.

For additional information about the Friends or the North Burgess Heritage Mica Festival, please contact Beth at 613-267-5340 or Jane at 613-284-9839.

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