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'A lot of interest' but no takers yet for historic Silver Islet general store

May 07, 2018 08:38AM ● Published by Editor

The historic general store at Silver Islet, east of Thunder Bay, remains on the market just over a year after it was put up for sale. (Matt Prokopchuk / CBC)

By Matt Prokopchuk · CBC News · May 7, 2018


The uncertainty over the future of the shuttered government dock at Silver Islet, just east of Thunder Bay, Ont., is a "question mark" for potential buyers for the historic general store building, according to the realtor trying to sell the property.

"I've basically said something has to be done and the government's responsible," said Malcolm Clark, a broker with Avista Realty in Thunder Bay. "I think a deal could be cranked out with them if you're going to open up a full-blown operation."

The store dates back to the 1870s when Silver Islet was an active mining community. It was put on the market by the current owners over a year ago, Clark said, adding that, since then, he's had "a lot of interest," in the property but no deal.

The future of the over-100-year-old wooden dock, which is adjacent to the store, has been an issue since 2013.

That's when it was closed and barricaded off by Fisheries and Oceans Canada due to concerns over its structural integrity.  Silver Islet — which is now largely a seasonal cottage community — has an active harbour in the non-winter months.

The federal department is trying to divest itself of the dock, as it has been doing for years with the rest of its recreational or small craft harbours. Talks with Parks Canada about that agency acquiring the structure to serve the nearby Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area didn't lead to anything, as both departments confirmed Parks Canada declined.

The dock at Silver Islet has been closed off since 2013. (Matt Prokopchuk / CBC)

The Silver Islet Campers Association has also shown interest in taking over the dock, but in 2016 said it preferred that Parks Canada acquire it.

"The approach to the management for Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area does not account for the ongoing maintenance and support of the existing [dock]," Pamela Jalak, a Parks Canada spokesperson said in an email to CBC News.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada said it "will now expand its search ... including exploring the possible interest of the Silver Islet Campers' Association."

'A lot for people to fathom'

Until recently, the Silver Islet store was open for business — mainly in the summer — both as a sort of corner store for the community and a tea room. Despite its historical stature and some needed updates, Clark said a lot of work has been done on the building.

"It's a lot for people to fathom," Clark said. "In other words, you've got to really get your head screwed on with all the things that need to be done and what you can do there because it's a full-time job."

"There's been a lot of interest," he added, including from south of the border, but no deal, despite coming close twice.
Realtor Malcolm Clark says a lot of work has been done to the historic building over the years, including an updated kitchen. (Malcolm Clark/Avista Realty)

It would be a good investment, Clark said "because of all the activity around there, especially in the spring and summer and fall months, especially with all the people that visit Sibley Park." He added that it could be converted into a bed and breakfast with a restaurant or used as a large summer home.

"It's unbelievable, the structure," he said. "It's like something ... you'd find in Europe; it is a neat building."

The asking price for the property is $349,000.

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