Keweenaw Gold club open to new members

HANCOCK — This year’s Keweenaw Gold fundraiser dinner will again have stone tiles made from rock from Keweenaw County copper mines for sale, according to Jim Vivian, executive director of the Keweenaw Community Foundation.

The idea for the stone tiles started when Vivian was designing a new kitchen for his home. He was trying to select materials for counter tops and the floor.

“I didn’t like anything. I didn’t see anything just grabbed me,” he said. It was then he came up with the idea of manufacturing his own.

“I got this idea from Steve (Chittick),” Vivian said.

Rather than the typical plaque or trophy, The Keweenaw Community Foundation gives the finished, polished tiles to award recipients during the Keweenaw Gold dinner celebration. At the same time, there is the Keweenaw Gold Club. People attending the Keweenaw Gold dinner can join the club simply by purchasing any tile or tiles they select from the many to choose from.

Vivian wanted to use rock from the mines at which his great-uncle, Johnson Vivian had worked.

“Johnson Vivian came to the states in 1854,” Vivian said. “He got off the boat in Eagle Harbor and he was appointed the mine captain of the Copper Falls mine. Then he went to the Clark mine, then he went to the Phoenix mine, then to the Mesnard –there’s a list of them.”

Vivian sees a connection between KCF and Johnson Vivian. In addition to his trade as a mining captain, Johnson Vivian was also a successful business man and community builder.

“Johnson Vivian was also a very philanthropic individual,” Vivian said. “He had the vision to establish communities; the infrastructure needed to bring the Copper Country, the Keweenaw, the rest of the world –railroads, electricity.”

Johnson, who at one time was a resident of Hancock, was a major financial contributor to, and organizer of, the Northern Michigan Railroad, which later became the Copper Range RR. In addition, he was involved in other projects as well.

“He organized the State Savings Bank of Laurium; he aided in the Superior National Bank, originally the Superior Savings Bank,” Jim Vivian said. “Johnson Vivian had a major player in the development of the Keweenaw.”

Jim Vivian sees the same spirit today in some community members that was present in his great-great uncle.

“When you think about it,” he said, “the people in our community –there are a lot of people doing the same type of work, just by their daily business, and they’re also involved in the Keweenaw Community Foundation — Dial Help, the Omega House, Little Brothers. There are a lot of community members who are helping support the needs of our community.”