Anne-Marie Mawhiney, professor of social work at Laurentian University in Sudbury with a doctorate from York University, was director of the Institute of Northern Ontario Research and Development from 1991–1994 and from 1995–1997. She is a research principal with the Elliot Lake Tracking and Adjustment Study.
Boom Town Blues: Elliot Lake
Boom Town Blues: Collapse and Revival in a Single-Industry Community tells of the Northern Ontario city of Elliot Lake, once the uranium capital of the world, which was devastated by the closing of the uranium mines operated by Denison and Rio Algom.
The closures and mass layoffs were first announced in 1990 with the layoffs occurring from then until June 1996. Throughout the period after the layoffs were announced, several major research projects were undertaken. One, the Elliot Lake Tracking and Adjustment Study, follows approximately 1,000 of the laid-off miners and 530 of their spouses through their adjustment processes. Another, the Seniors Needs Assessment, examines the human resource and service needs of the increasing numbers of seniors moving to Elliot Lake as part of the community’s economic strategy. In addition to these social scientific studies, several land and environmental reclamation research projects have been undertaken.
Boom Town Blues: Collapse and Revival in a Single-Industry Community tells the reader about the results of these studies and gives a variety of community-based perspectives on the Elliot Lake story. The book highlights the struggles and successes of families and of the community as a whole. Boom Town Blues is about one community’s struggle to survive, to shift its economic base from mining to one where retirement living for seniors, mine decommissioning, and a community-based research facility would be among several economic survival strategies. The book is of interest to readers throughout Northern Ontario and, indeed, wherever single-industry towns are threatened by major shifting in their economic base and are struggling to survive. The book also provides an excellent case study for teachers, students, policy makers, and politicians.
Jane Pitblado has been projects coordinator at the Institute of Northern Ontario Research and Development since 1991. She has managed the compilation of several INORD publications, including Rebirth: Political, Economic, and Social Development in First Nations; Hard Lessons: The Mine Mill Union in the Canadian Labour Movement; and Changing Lives: Women in Northern Ontario, she recently graduated with an M.A.