When the former Marathon Pulp Inc. is demolished, it will bring to an end the era of another northern Ontario employer — but also make way for new opportunities.

The demolition will allow the town to market the property, and attract a new industry to the former pulp mill site.

For Stan Johnson, who worked at the mill, and who is now documenting the demolition, it's hard to watch the backbone of the community crumble.

"[It] needs to go onto the next phase. It should have continued to run," he said,

"In hindsight, we could have done something to save it, I suppose. But, it's probably time to end its life."

Stan Johnson

Stan Johnson, who is a board member at the Marathon and District Historical Society, also worked at the pulp mill in Marathon for a number of years, as a stationary engineer. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Johnson said he believes new industry will come to Marathon, as the site and deep water port is "too good" to be ignored by business.

'Might as well move on'

For decades, the mill in Marathon stood on the edge of town, providing work for hundreds of people. The mill, which has been the backbone of the town's economy since 1946, produced its final bale of pulp six years ago.

"It's sad, but ... it was time to move on," said Carl Johnson, who worked at the mill for decades, and even helped clean up the plant after it closed.

"There's nothing you can do about it now, so you might as well move on right?"

Marathon Mayor Rick Dumas said he wants the property prepared for another industry, but the cleanup keeps getting delayed.

"So yeah, frustrated, yes I am. Timelines are just dragging on. We want to have new horizons in Marathon, continue to look forward to economic opportunities," he said.

"But, we can't do that until the mill site is cleaned up."