Community Memories from Lucy Zimola

When Des Zimola first heard about Thompson from a friend, he thought there might be opportunities in the new town. So he went ahead to explore the possibilities.  A decision was made, so Lucy and their two-month old son boarded the train in their home-city of Ottawa, and left for their long journey to Northern Manitoba in March, 1961.

At first, Des worked for INCO as a bricklayer, but it wasn’t long before he started his own business.

Thompson was a young people’s town with a very diverse population—Italian, French, Portuguese, Greek, Aboriginals, etc.  Speaking only French, Lucy found her life to be rather lonely, and laughingly remarks now that she was ready to get on the next train out.  It took her awhile to make friends and learn English.

Lucy describes the muddy streets and the difficulty of wheeling her baby carriage downtown. At first they lived in a basement Apartment on Elk Bay. Like many others, she had boarders at times when her husband’s employees had difficulty finding accommodations.

Lucy worked at Four-Way Foodliner for a few years, but as her family expanded to five children, she wanted to stay home and be with them.

Des had a part in the construction of many buildings in town, including the bowling alley, Burntwood Hotel, Westwood Mall and the Catholic Church.

Lucy remembers the opening of the Thompson Plaza and the many businesses that established there such as Shop Easy, a pharmacy, a jewelry store and a flower shop.  She especially enjoyed shopping at The Bay where almost every kind of merchandise was available.

Lucy found that her husband had many business associates and they did quite a bit of entertaining.  She learned to make many Italian dishes from her mother.

Des loved fishing, spending many leisure hours at Paint Lake.  They both enjoyed travelling and visited many countries together. France, Italy, Germany, Mexico, among others, were on the itinerary.  She was especially impressed with Japan and the clean streets and surroundings.

Lucy does not travel as much since her husband passed away, but she does make an annual trip to Ottawa to visit family.

Lucy likes Thompson, especially the ease of getting around and the closeness to her family.

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