Bucket List Items at Heritage Mica Days

Have you ever wanted to venture underground to an abandoned mica mine with your hard hat and lantern? Perhaps you get excited about a night-time walk in the woods led by characters from over 100 years ago? Or maybe listening to music and stories while touring a restored heritage site is more to your liking? The 2013 Heritage Mica Days hosted by the Friends of Murphys Point Park has it all.

 The Silver Queen Mine was one of the 35 active mica mines operating in the former Township of North Burgess in the early 1900s. Operated on a small scale, with 28 men at its peak, the mine produced mostly small sheets of amber mica up to 8 inches in size to be used as an insulator in the electrical industry (for example in toasters) or as windows in woodstoves and lanterns. All sizes of mica crystals, including flakes and even ground mica, were packed into barrels and sent by ore wagon to loading docks on Hogg Bay, where they were loaded onto barges and sent down the Rideau Canal to trimming factories.

Today you can revisit the Silver Queen Mine now located within the boundaries of Murphys Point Provincial Park. The planning committee of the Heritage Mica Days has developed a diverse range of mine experiences for you to enjoy this summer. Every Sunday from June 30 to Sept. 1, Open House events will be hosted at the mine. From 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Sundays you can participate in a self-guided tour of the mine, including visits to the restored ore wagon and the miners’ bunkhouse. Costumed interpreters will be on hand to tell the stories of the mine and answer your questions.

Ontario Parks photo

Ontario Parks photo

“On several occasions throughout the season, there will be additional activities and experiences at the miners’ bunkhouse or along the Silver Queen Mine trail,” said event coordinator Beth Peterkin. “A hot dog roast, music by local band Hwy 511, displays of heritage trades and crafts and opportunities to try out some heritage games will form part of some of the Silver Queen Mine Open House tours.” Visit our festival website at www.heritagemicadays.ca for a full schedule of events dates and times along with ticketing and park entry information.

For a different type of mine experience, consider participating in one of the popular Spirit Walks. Scheduled on Saturday evenings July 27 and Aug. 24, you will be part of a guided tour and theatrical presentation along the Silver Queen Mine trail.  As you move down the trail meeting characters from the past, your way will be lit by the glow of mica lanterns creating a magical experience for all ages. Advance tickets are recommended at a cost of $20 per carload for non-campers, which includes your vehicle entry permit. For those with a current Ontario Parks camping permit, the cost is just $2 per person. Tickets are available to purchase at www.heritagemicadays.ca.

Heritage Mica Days takes place at Murphys Point Provincial Park located about 20 minutes southwest of Perth and easily accessed by County Road 21 (Elm Grove Road). Driving directions and information about all Heritage Mica Days events are available on the website. Heritage Mica Days is a program of the Friends of Murphys Point Park, a registered non-profit charity that formed in 1995. It works in cooperation with Ontario Parks and is one of dozens of Friends organizations throughout the province. For additional information about Heritage Mica Days, call 613-267-5340 or e-mail eventsmurphys@ripnet.com.

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