Flin Flon, MB is now a small town though to be completely truthful, it was never very big. It reached a population of approximately 13,500 in the 1960s and was designated as a city in Manitoba. We still refer to it as the City of Flin Flon though our population has shrunk to about 5,150 and 200+ of those folks actually reside in Flin Flon, Sask. It is a mining town; copper and zinc were the major exports and still are, though most of the ore now comes from Snow Lake and area.
We were a mining town with hockey in our hearts. The Flin Flon Junior Bombers won the Memorial Cup in 1957. They beat the Ottawa Junior Canadiens right here at home. Ottawa’s Assistant Coach was Scotty Bowman, who went on to become the “winningest coach in hockey” in the NHL, after he took them to the Championship the very next year. That was not nearly the end of hockey greatness. In the late 1960s Bobby Clark and Reggie Leach led the Flin Flon Bombers to hockey glory then led the Philadelphia Flyers to back-to-back Stanley Cup victories in 1974 and ‘75.
Readers might be forgiven for assuming we are a rough and ready sort of place, because we are. It’s part of our charm. Of course, we have always maintained a very active arts and culture scene, even when the Philadelphia Flyers were reveling in their nickname of the ‘Broad Street Bullies’. Those same miners and hockey players have always supported the Flin Flon Glee Club and later the Flin Flon Community Choir in producing and performing musical theatre. The Northern Visual Arts Centre (NorVA) and gallery has also enjoyed 10 years of supportive audiences for their exhibitions of both local and more widespread artistic talent. There are many examples of phenomenally talented artists honing their skills here, perhaps the most famous being operatic tenor Jon Vickars who used to work at Woolworth’s.
But one of the most impressive aspects of life in Flin Flon is that we continue to grow as a community that cares; that we are socially relevant. For example the Flin Flon Arts Council established an online shopping experience called The Uptown Emporium to enable artisans and their consumers to meet while we are in the throes of this COVID-19 epidemic. Enter the PRIDE Committee.
A small group of individuals, both LBGT+ and cis gender decided in 2019 that Flin Flon was ready for a PRIDE Parade, so they set about organizing it. It was a rip-roaring success complete with a Parade and ‘Bijoux’ being crowned Drag Kween Mermaid, a play on our 70 year old traditional Flin Flon Trout Festival’s former Queen Mermaid beauty contest. The following year, during a lull in the COVID-19 crisis, PRIDE had a float in the Trout Festival Canada Day Parade featuring ‘Kween Bijoux’ and then a PRIDE weekend with a drag event to crown the new ‘Kween’. By the way, the spelling of Kween is from our local high school’s female athletic teams.
This year PRIDE is bringing in a show from Saskatoon, SK called ‘Drag Me to Saskatchewan’. The audience is invited to drive-in to a large parking lot (yes, it is in Saskatchewan) to see one of two shows, an early family friendly version or a later, 16 years and older show. Both will feature local performers and Kween contestants as well as the performing group from the big city. This is a grand place to live.