The storybook is about to close on a boulder that has inspired generations of tall tales among Flin Flon children.
Dead Man’s Rock, also known as White Rock, is an out-of-place grey boulder that sits prominently atop a rock outcrop near Many Faces Education Centre.
The rock lies in the path of the new North of 53 Consumers Co-op store. With blasting at the site set to begin this week, the boulder’s days are numbered.
“Every generation of kids probably had their own little story about that rock,” local historian Gerry Clark once told The Reminder.
Clark was certainly on to something.
Members of the Baby Boom generation who attended Parkdale School (now Many Faces) sometimes refer to the boulder as White Rock. One of their fables revolves around spirits pushing or lifting the rock into place to mark an ancient burial site.
In more recent decades, the boulder was known as Dead Man’s Rock. The accompanying legend speaks of an unnamed man who was sitting in a lawn chair on the rocks while reading a book one summer day.
Nearby, a blasting crew inadvertently sent the boulder hurling through the air. By the time the man looked up from his book, it was too late. He was flattened.
Adding intrigue to this narrative is the fact that at one point, someone placed a mangled lawn chair under the boulder. Did the lawn chair instigate the tale or vice-versa?
A lesser-known myth about the boulder insists that early prospectors placed the rock there to mark what they believed was a rich ore deposit.
How those prospectors could have possibly moved a rock weighing many thousands of pounds was never made clear. As Riley Poole from National Treasure might surmise: “Yeah… the aliens helped them.”
It goes without saying there is no evidence to support these accounts. That children would concoct such imaginative stories for the boulder is unsurprising, however. The rock appears so out of place at its perch that it practically demands an explanation from inquiring young minds.
But children aren’t the only ones who have appreciated Dead Man’s / White Rock over the generations.
Teenagers have used the rock as a gathering place to smoke and party, sometimes while atop the boulder. Access to the top of the rock – it stands more than six feet tall – was traditionally gained by piling up smaller rocks to construct a makeshift staircase.
The rock is also notable for the generations of graffiti it has attracted, from “Grad (fill in the year)” and people’s names, to curse words and crude spray-paint drawings.
The future home of the Co-op will pay homage to the property’s historic past.
The sappers’ memorial monument formerly located on the armoury property will be erected at the parking lot of the new Co-op store.
Co-op general manager Tom Therien said the store is happy to preserve the monument to serve as a reminder of the property’s history.
“We’re actually quite proud of the fact that we’ve been able to keep it so people will remember what was on that site,” he said.
Therien said the monument will take up one parking spot at the site and be displayed prominently as a focal point.
He added that site work for the new store is going well, with blasting set to begin this week and building construction to start as early as March and no later than April.