Atikokan, Ont. wants you to "come on home" in 2020
Community-wide reunion planned for next June
Jim and Lisa Johnson are planning to have a community-wide reunion next year for those who have called Atikokan, Ont. home.
The couple are spearheading an Atikokan 2020 Come Home Reunion, welcoming all former Atikokanites back to the northwestern Ontario community for a weekend on June 26-28 to reconnect and reminisce.
The idea for a homecoming, more than 40 years after the closure of the iron ore mine, was spurred by interest in an Atikokan Memories page on Facebook. Jim Johnson, a town councillor, spontaneously put out a call for former residents to return home and quickly had 1,100 interested people within an hour of his posting.
The town had a population of just under 2,800 in the 2016 Census but was home to close to 7,000 people during its heyday in the middle of the 20th century.
"Anybody that has ever lived in Atikokan, come on home and we're going to have a party," he said.
"We're going to be more than (2,800) next year in June…Everybody is fired up about it."
While plans for the event are still being developed, with a community supper and dance scheduled, Lisa Johnson said the homecoming will mostly about giving people an opportunity to reconnect.
The one constant during the ebb and flow over the years for the town has been its people, said Jim Johnson.
You can take a person out of the town but you can't take the town out of the person, he added.
"Anybody that comes back here to Atikokan that was a former Atikokanite, the Atikokan is still in them," he said, hoping to have as many as 1,500 people come back home that weekend.
Ray Waterman knows all about that connection to his hometown. An Atikokanite, he moved away in 1974 before coming back in 2012, a decision that he said he hasn't once regretted.
"It's got that feeling of home. It just seemed right," he said.
An Atikokan 2020 Come Home Reunion page has been created on Facebook and people looking for more information can email email@example.com.