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The provincial money will lead to a new transformation for the Silver Islet General Store. News Jani

The provincial money will lead to a new transformation for the Silver Islet General Store.

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Silver Islet General Store owners say the provincial grant is vital to preserving the historic building for future generations.

The province announced $200,000 in funding for the store on Tuesday, specifically to transform the 150-year-old building just east of Thunder Bay into a culinary, educational and retail tourism destination.

Store co-owner Jeff Korkula said the funding was originally approved in 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the work made possible by the funding is still ongoing.

“The Silver Islet store is a handful at the best of times,” he said. “From a business perspective, it’s not for the faint of heart.”

“It’s one thing to get a building operational and open for business, and then preserving it for future generations is another.”

“Assisted by [the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation] It was really important to get both.”

The store itself opened in 1877, and Korcula, along with his wife Sandy, took it over about five years ago.

Today, the store is open from spring through fall, offering a variety of retail items as well as displaying numerous items from Silver Islet’s mining history.

There is also a tea room, which offers visitors a meal. The community, and the store, are also regular stops for cruise ships that visit Thunder Bay in the summer.

Korcula said some improvements are still being made with the grant money.

“We are upgrading some of the kitchen equipment needed to meet the demand for cinnamon buns,” he said. “The educational component is also huge.”

“It’s a piece of living history, really,” Korcula said. Learn about.”

Thunder Bay Tourism Manager Paul Pepe said the store also has tourism benefits for Thunder Bay.

“This building has 150 years of history, and a lot of people don’t know it,” Pape said. “They really interpret the story of the original mine and the original mining community very well.”

“It becomes part of the story,” he said. “It’s really developed into an important part of the tourism product offering in the area.”

Korcula said more work is planned at the store to keep it open longer during the year.

“The typical season for the Silver Islet General Store, or many tourism-based businesses in northwestern Ontario, will be Labor Day starting June 1.”

“For us it’s a little longer than that,” he said. “We have four distinct seasons, and each season has its own charm.”

“This in turn brings people and visitors to the area in all seasons.”

Korcula said he would like to see the store open from April to the end of November.

“Early spring is beautiful,” he said. “October is wonderful, people come there for the colors.”

“November is crazy. It’s hurricane season and people get out and watch the lake churn, so there’s an opportunity to extend those seasons, and I think from a tourism standpoint it’s a plus for Northwestern Ontario. important thing.”

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