Tim’s respect and commitment for his community is abundantly revealed when his story comes to life, embellished with Tim’s own brand of enthusiasm. He has won awards for his volunteerism, the Community Spirit Award, celebrating both the 25th and 50th anniversaries of the incorporation of the Town of Espanola in 1958. His design of the Espanola logo for the ‘Trade Dollar’ for the local Chamber of Commerce led to the inception of the Espanola Historical Society and three historical booklets, ‘Espanola Prisoner of War Camp 21,’ ‘A Century of History in Espanola’ and ‘Espanola, A Walk Down Memory Lane’.
Tim was recognized as Espanola’s 1998 Citizen of the Year. He helped organize three anniversaries for the community’s high school and he has maintained ties with several cast members of the 1969-1970 Adventures in Rainbow Country CBC series aimed at a young audience. He also continues to nurture Manitoulin history, posting numerous items on the Manitoulin History Facebook page. He has teamed up with Rick Nelson of The Old Mill Heritage Centre and Museum to share artifacts and documents that are also enjoyed by the residents of Manitoulin.
“My great great grandfather on my dad’s side, Thomas Gallagher, was born in Ireland in the late 1800s,” Tim begins. “He eventually came to Sturgeon Falls with his farming family and worked at the pulp and paper mill there. My grandfather, John Gallagher, was a soldier in WWI. He was a member of the veterans’ guard at the Espanola POW camp during WWII and in 1945, he moved to town and became the chief electrician in Espanola, where he lived with his wife Christina (Mullen). He died in 1957 at Sunnybrook Hospital for veterans. I also had three uncles who had also participated in WWII.”
“My dad, Charles, was a member of the RCAF and he also carried on the family vocation of electrician. My mom, Jean (Bankie), met Charles in Sturgeon Falls. Her dad was a telegrapher for CPR. Mom had a sister, Marion, and a brother, Murray. Paternal uncle Fred Gallagher worked at the Espanola pulp and paper mill and he used to come to the dances in Mindemoya. He was good-looking and he wanted to impress Helen Young of Mindemoya. He lied about his age, implying he was younger than he really was but the two eventually married. We saw a lot of Uncle Fred; he was a favourite uncle.”
Tim came into the world ‘backwards,’ feet first, on May 14, 1951. Born to Jean and Charles Gallagher. He was the fourth brother, a middle child. “Our family had eight kids and a half-sister, Joan, on my dad’s side. She lives in Leeds, England. An early memory has me hiding behind the couch at Christmastime. Presents had been hidden next door, so I couldn’t peek, but I did want to see Santa. Unfortunately, I fell asleep and didn’t wake until the next morning. I missed it all! It was time to open the gifts and each of us had a special place on the couch for our presents.”
Playing cowboys and simple sports were fun for Tim. “Behind our house was a big field where we could play games, like baseball, or hit the cans. As cowboys, we would repeatedly and vigorously slap our side and hold the reins with the other hand. It felt like we were galloping after the bad guys. There was also an old movie theatre next to us. It had burned to the ground twice; the second time in 1934. There were many opportunities to search through the ruins and find neat stuff, like timeworn coins and pieces of old films. We used to dig tunnels too.”
“We would save pop bottles and turn them into the local A&P grocery store for a comic book that cost 10 cents at the time. The local pool and the lake were popular in summer. We would head for Turtle Bay, across the train bridge. It was safe to cross, even if a train came; you could stand to the side and let it pass.” As a teen, Tim would walk along the tracks and collect white porcelain insulators, AERs (named after the Algoma Eastern Railway). These are rare and he still has 10 in good shape.
As a teenager at home, one of Tim’s responsibilities was removing old storm windows in the spring. “We had an old wooden ladder with rotting rungs. Often one would break when we put the windows back in the fall. One person would be holding the window while I was on the ladder trying to nail it in, trying not to fall. We lived beside the Bell telephone building which came in handy sometimes, because the lady switchboard operators would call us to pick up their pop bottles from their lunchroom upstairs; these were turned in for cash.”
Adventures in Rainbow Country was an interesting chapter for Tim. “In 1969, I was an extra in an episode called ‘The Long Tough Race,’ For special effects, they sprayed coke and water on us as we ran, so that we looked like we had run a long way.” Tim was keeping pace with a member of the Cywink family and with Duke Redbird, one of the stars, who entered the race a little later. Tim wound up winning and afterwards, he and a few others worked in the set’s lodge, Rainbow Lodge, near Swift Current and near from Dreamer’s Rock on the Whitefish River First Nation.
Members of the cast included Lois Maxwell of James Bond fame. She was Miss Moneypenny, secretary to the chief of British espionage servies in the films. In the CBC series, Ms. Maxwell played Nancy Williams. Other cast included: Buckley Petawabano who played Pete Gawa, and Margot Kidder who played Dr. Janet Rhodes in guest roles. Stephen Cottier played the main role of Billy. “I was in touch with Lois for several years. She was living near Espanola at the time and doing some writing for the Toronto Star. She wrote an article about the POW camp booklet which I had produced. I wound up getting lots of mail. I got to know her, and we shared letters and cards. She was still making James Bond movies, still playing the role of Miss Moneypenny. “I still keep in touch with Stephen Cottier, ‘Billy’.”
“During the depression years, the 1930s, many local men had moved away from Espanola to look for jobs. Blueberries had become a major livelihood for the remaining families. They were picked along the roadways and collected by the Canadian Pacific Railway to be brought to market. The depression also closed the original mill in Espanola. The mill was adapted to hold the German POWs (prisoners of war) and it ran from 1940 to 1943.”
“In the early 1940s, the German POWs dug tunnels underground. The main tunnel originated under the stove in the tin hut, where they bunked at night. One branch of the tunnel went to the river. A guard noticed a cat hanging around a specific spot on the riverbank. He checked it out and this discovery averted a potential escape. The second tunnel was dug to reach the underside of the old Espanola Hotel’s verandah across the street from the mill. This tunnel caved in when Ed Kelley delivered wood to the camp in his heavily loaded truck. These near escapes to temporary freedom remind one of the early sitcoms, Hogan’s Heroes. After the war, it is interesting that some of the released POWs chose to stay in Northern Ontario.”
High school for Tim was normal year one. “In Grade 10, I found my intestinal fortitude and began to participate more and make better choices.” Track and field was popular in high school. Discus, 100-yard dash and the triple jump were Tim’s favourites. He held the senior discus record for 20 years. “Hockey was one of my favourite sports. I was a good skater but an average hockey player. Handling the puck and shooting were not my forte.” Tim was also lead singer of the band, The Phantoms, for two years, starting in 1967. Years later, in London, he would add drums to his musical arsenal.
In 1968, at 17, Tim worked for the Department of Lands and Forest as a junior ranger, cleaning brush. He used a bush axe and a long razor blade attached to a wooden handle to clear areas in the provincial parks west of Thunder Bay. “We were stationed in Ignace that summer. I also learned to pitch a fastball underhand when the junior rangers organized a team which played the local Ignace teams. This skill became useful while playing in several Espanola teams later.”
In 1970, Tim took electronics at Northern College in South Porcupine. “I remember the huge computer took up the whole room back then.” After graduation, Tim found work with INCO. He spent four years with the raise crew, winching up their work materials through a large rectangular shaft between the different levels. Another four years were spent as a utility vehicle operator. The miners were also doing exploratory work under Kelly Lake. I drove a farm tractor with a large box attached to the back to transport the exploration drillers and their equipment.”
Tim met Marianne Schouten in 1972. “A few friends and I were wedding crashers for a little excitement. Regular teen dances were not being held. I met Marianne at a wedding that only my mother had been invited to. This was the best part of my life, meeting Marianne. We began dating a few weeks later. Marianne has such a winning personality. She is the oldest of six siblings of Dutch heritage. She lived in McKerrow originally. The family eventually moved to Espanola. That same year, I found it necessary to purchase a car so I could take her out for special dates, like a dinner in Sudbury or perhaps a drive-in movie theatre.”
Marianne was part of the first graduating class of registered nurses at Cambrian College in Sudbury. She completed her nursing program in 1975. She graduated and started work at Manitoulin Health Centre, staying for over 40 years. “We were married on October 2, 1976. It was a beautiful day for the wedding we planned, held at the Roman Catholic Good Shepherd Church. We wanted to have an average-sized wedding with 200 guests and a live band at the Legion in Espanola.”
Their first home, purchased for $20,000 prior to the wedding, was a cottage-style house situated on Annette St. in Espanola. The second home on the Queensway, was situated right behind the new Espanola Mall built in 1976. In 1988 they moved into a larger newly constructed home on Mead Blvd. “We lived there until 2015 when we sold that home and moved to London to be closer to family there.”
In 1979 INCO workers were on strike. “I started to work for a local doctor, Dr. Vance, doing odd jobs and later that same year I was hired on by the E. B. Eddy Pulp and Paper Mill. I stayed for 28 years as a forklift operator, moving bales and laps. Bales are machine-pressed bundles of pulp (ground-up and bleached wood) tied with wire on two sides. These are stacked six bales high and placed automatically on a conveyor belt. They are grabbed by the forklift and relocated to various distribution points. Laps (larger) are also ground-up and bleached wood.”
“Our son Troy was born in 1979 and our daughter Sheila was born in 1981. Today, Troy is married to Tiffany and they have a son, Owen, who loves baseball, hockey and quadding. Troy works for the Honda assembly plant in Alliston and his wife Tiffany works in banking. Daughter Sheila is a family therapist in Sault Ste. Marie at the Healing Loft. She shares space with two other professionals. They practice group therapy. Sheila’s hubby, Vince, works in real estate. They have a son, Luca, Sheila’s stepson. An interesting note: Marianne’s brother, Cor Schouten has delivered bread to Manitoulin for over 40 years. He continues to this day.”
“When the children were growing up, we loved to hike new places with them. Looking back, they seem to remember these get-togethers the most. We often chose walking along the Spanish River Falls where we could find interesting stones. Picking out a Christmas tree was an annual event that the kids remember too.”
Further to his penchant for the historical, in 1989, Tim converted his garage to a charming retro restaurant, with old coke signs, pop cooler and a booth and much more. To be ensconced within these walls is just like stepping back in time. He also helped form a storage area in the old hospital, getting permission to warehouse historical documents and artifacts. Plant manager Pat Parker assisted with this initiative and encouraged the Espanola Historical Society to remove two and one-half generators from the old powerhouse to make room for special events at the mill.
“Espanola was once split into two areas. The area north of Second St. belonged to the Mill, “company town” style, and the homes in the town south of Second St. was privately owned. In 1958, both areas were amalgamated as the town was incorporated.” Tim, utilizing his knowledge of local history, wrote weekly stories for the Espanola Mid North Monitor. When Espanola reached a notable anniversary in 2000 (100 years since settlement), Tim put all the information into a book with the help of the Mid North Monitor newspaper, ‘A Century of History in Espanola.’ They used newspaper articles, local archives and any other historical documents. “This is my bible,” Tim shares. “I can refer to it and get any facts that may be of interest.”
Tim has also spent time and money on three high school reunions and homecomings. “I had fun volunteering for these with some chums and, luckily, the events all turned out well with good attendance.” Tim spent his own money on the displays he put up for the public. He also designed a logo for the Night Cruisers’ Car Club, of which Tim was one of the original members. It was an opportunity to show off valuable old cars that had been restored.
In 2008, when the town was celebrating its 50th anniversary of incorporation, the Espanola Historical Society spearheaded the construction of the Espanola Heritage Park located at the north entrance into the town. Domtar, the town, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation were major contributors as well as local groups and individuals. Recently, the park has undergone a complete renovation.
“Travelling through the countryside around London reminds me of Manitoulin. All the trees and waterways here are beautiful too. Marianne volunteers for the VON, and for a seniors’ residence, Cherry Hill in London, where she teaches exercises to the elderly.” In London, Tim has adopted three city blocks, which include all the streets therein and two playgrounds. He maintains the areas by picking up garbage. He also paints over or removes graffiti on buildings and walls. “We like to see our neighbourhood looking clean. We take pride as we walk along the street and enjoy the good ambience.”
“My strengths? Volunteering, organizing reunions and homecomings. Is there anything I would change if I could go back in time? I wouldn’t change anything. Any special goals left? If I die tomorrow, I will be satisfied that I have achieved my goals. Anybody that inspired me? In Espanola, a founding member of the Espanola Little Theatre, Sharon Sproule. She worked as the local mall manger too. She encouraged me to put up an historical display in the mall to celebrate Espanola’s 25th anniversary. Recreation director Mirl ‘Red’ McCarthy helped bring together interested community and Ontario representatives to form the Espanola Historical Society which was up and running officially in 1993.”
“I think of Manitoulin as Shangri-La. There is so much history here, so many museums, the old pulp mill, and the hydro plant where artists Richard and Barbara Edwards have their studio at the township office and museum are all tucked into this historical waterfront building. I love coming to Kagawong every summer, to Hide Away Lodge. I have worked with Rick Nelson, the local curator of the historical displays in the museum in Kagawong. I like visiting Gore Bay, Mindemoya and we have friends in Little Current. Manitoulin is like a second home. Marianne has spent over 40 years as a registered nurse at Manitoulin Health Centre in Little Current. We are very connected to this place. We look forward to our annual Island jaunt and we wouldn’t miss it for the world.”