Calumet dedicates twinning sign

CALUMET – Calumet’s link to its sister city of Camborne, Cornwall, reached another milestone Saturday with the unveiling of a sign honoring their twinning.

The ceremony was followed by a pasty lunch and performances by choirs from the Keweenaw and (via Skype) Cornwall.

Calumet and Camborne have many similarities. Both have a history of mining (copper for Calumet, tin for Camborne) and many of the first-generation miners who toiled in the Calumet mines had first done so in Cornwall.

“We share the mining heritage, we share the pasty that they brought over here, and I think 14 percent of the people who emigrated here came from the Camborne area,” said Greta Erm, president of the Keweenaw Kernewek, a society dedicated to recognized Cornish heritage in the area.

The first step in twinning between Calumet and Camborne came in 2001, when it was suggested by David Oates, director of Camborne’s Holman-Colmax choir. Main Street Calumet Director Tom Tikkanen brought the idea up again in 2005, the same year there was a video conference between the two.

More milestones followed, including the exchange of gifts and visits between the two villages. Calumet’s village council approved twinning in 2006; Camborne did the same a year later. Camborne dedicated its own twinning sign in May 2012 – around the same time the Keweenaw Kernewek helped with a petition protesting a new British tax on pasties.

State Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, a fourth-generation resident, was at the dedication ceremony. He said the twinning with Camborne could result in more tourism to the area.

“It comes back to history, showing people how Calumet was like New York City back in the day,” he said. “It was a melting pot, and the Cornish brought a lot of wonderful things to this city.”

Among them was the pasty, which dozens of people lunched on in the lower level of the Keweenaw Heritage Center Saturday. For dessert, there was a cake bearing the likenesses of Calumet and Camborne’s twinning signs.

The lunch was followed by performances upstairs from Noteworthy and members of the Cornish choir Proper Job.

Keweenaw Kernewek board member Jean Ellis said the celebration also helps remind people of the diversity of the groups found in the area – whether Cornish, Italian, Croatian, Finnish, or numerous others.

“We have gained so much from each ethnicity, each group,” she said. “So when you recognize different groups, it’s neat.”

Lois Rogers of Laurium heard about the lunch from a daughter and a son-in-law in the Kernewek. Her husband is also of Cornish descent; Rogers jokingly called herself “a mutt from Lansing.”

“It’s so wonderful,” she said of the day. “I’m looking forward to the program.”

Erm said they hope to have many more activities between Calumet and Camborne.

“We don’t see this as the end,” she said. “We see it as a start.”