The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.
Have a conversation with Dr. James Mochoruk and you'll swear you're talking to a lifelong Flin Flonner. He knows all of the famous names from the community's past, from Tom Creighton to Bud Jobin. He is aware of the various ore bodies, both old and new. He can even tell you a thing or two about The Sunless City, the novel that inspired the city's unusual moniker. But Dr. Mochoruk has never called Flin Flon his home. The Winnipeg native has, however, dedicated himself to years of research on the community and its lengthy annals. And for more than a decade, Dr. Mochoruk, a professor at the University of North Dakota, has incorporated that knowledge into his basic Canadian History course. "My students know more about Flin Flon than any other group of Americans," he said from his office at the Grand Forks campus. Dr. Mochoruk believes it's important Flin Flon be mentioned as part of Canadian history because of the role mining has played in the country's economy. See 'Flin' P.# Con't from P.# "It's a classic story, really, about the early days of mining development," he said. "Resource-extraction has always been an important part of the Canadian economy, so it's a very important case study in Canadian economic history. It's always more interesting when you're teaching history if you can sort of illustrate things with contemporary examples." Due to the American involvement in starting up HBMS, Dr. Mochoruk also incorporates Flin Flon into his course on Canada-U.S. relations. "When I'm talking about the 1920s and '30s, there's an awful lot of economic integration of the Canadian and U.S. economies," he said. "Flin Flon comes up as a rather great case in point. At the time, no one was complaining about U.S. ownership because it was seen as a positive in the sense of economic development." The professor's students are often intrigued by the story of Flin Flon, in part due to its unusual name. "I would say they get a chuckle out of the way the city was named," he said. "They're actually quite interested in it. I usually tell them the story about the naming of the town through the novel The Sunless City." Though he's never made his home here, Dr. Mochoruk is no stranger to Flin Flon. In the 1980s, the Manitoba Archives, the Manitoba Labour Education Centre and the University of Winnipeg hired him to conduct an oral history project on the community. He spent several weeks in the community talking to some 30 Flin Flon pioneers and digging up historical documents. The finished product was turned into a short monograph published by the Manitoba Labour Education Centre as part of a historical series. Before arriving at the University of North Dakota in 1993, Dr. Mochoruk spent time teaching a Northern Manitoba history course at the University of Winnipeg, which allowed him to put to use some of his Flin Flon research. He brought that knowledge with him to his current university and still seeks to expand his knowledge of the only community in the world to be named after a science fiction character. Earlier this year, he published Formidable Heritage, a book about the early history of Northern Manitoba that dedicates nearly two chapters to Flin Flon. "I've just always been interested in the North," said the professor. Dr. Mochoruk isn't aware of other university professors shedding light on Flin Flon through their instruction. "I probably make more use of it just because I've done so much research relating to Northern Manitoba," he said.