Reading Question 3/6 (Pine Point)

“Memory is funny. Specific and vague. Visceral and unreliable. Truth and fiction” (Simons).

“When you decide to get rid of a town, there are odd considerations and effects. For instance, once it’s gone, has it really, truly disappeared?” (Simons).

Despite the fact that the Pine Point town doesn’t really have much of a physical existence anymore in the space it once occupied, there is this collection of pictures, video clips, government documents that mention the closing of the town, and the collective (if selective) memories held of the town by each of the former residents. Given these remnants still exist even after the town itself is no more, it seems that there is a certain sense in which the town never truly disappeared entirely, but rather its story is merely forever paused.

However, Simons also touches on how the memories of the former Pine Point residents are incomplete in some aspects, and even selective in some instances. I am reminded of Barthes’ attempts to remember his mother as she was, and how despite his efforts, he only recognized her in fragments.

This brings me to the questions: When the collective memory of a town such as this is fragmented and piecemeal, has the town truly disappeared if it cannot be recalled in its entirety? What constitutes a “good enough” collection of memories for something to live on, in a sense? When the former residents themselves are no longer around, will the imagery left of the town be enough to give others an accurate glimpse of what was? Or does complete accuracy not matter so much for the visual memory as long as people are given glimpses of what this town was like?

Brooke Notes: Welcome to Pine Point


Shoebridge, P., & Simons, M. (2011). Welcome to Pine Point. NFB Interactive.



Interactive PDF, memory, multimodality, Pine Point, community.



Shoebridge and Simons document the life and death of Pine Point: a small mining town in Canada’s North Territories that was demolished shortly after the mine closed in 1987. Going through various townspeople recollections, the authors explore several themes: the enigma of human memory, nostalgia, insiders and outsiders, and physicality and mentality.



“Memory is funny. Specific and vague. Visceral and unreliable. Truth, and fiction.”

“From the moment an event occurs, it is simplified and purified in memory. We shave off the rough edges and what happened becomes a story or even, over time, a legend. It we’re not careful, though, we grind it down to raw superlatives, with none of the banalities or complications that make truth feel true. So often a memory depends on who we need to be at the moment of remembrance. Sometimes it’s better to believe that we accomplished the impossible.”

“Who can relate to an entire town closing except people whose town has closed?”



Throughout the piece, the authors speculate on the ways memory is or is not accurate. In some cases, they question its accuracy. For example, the town bully: he remembers himself as being an undefeated champion in a sport, while the authors speculatively present his memory. On the other hand, they claim that the Pine Pointers’ memories are untouched because the town’s original infrastructure was untouched (or never developed–no Arby’s), their “recollection will always be the most accurate version of that place and time.”

So what are things that cloud memory? Is it clouding, or is Truth so inaccessible, especially reflectively, that memory is truth? Can truth and memory even be compared?