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Charlie Brown steps down from Lakehead Transportation Museum Society

A dispute with the board raises questions about the future of the Brill trolley buses at the Pool 6 site
Charlie Brown gestures during a news conference on Jan. 23, 2023 where he explained his reasons for leaving the Lakehead Transportation Museum Society (Mike Lang/TBT News)

THUNDER BAY — The face of the group that arranged to bring the Alexander Henry back to Thunder Bay to serve as a museum ship has stepped aside.

Charlie Brown said his resignation as president of the Lakehead Transportation Museum Society was effective last month.

"There was a number of issues that I had a problem with. Basically, I was becoming an impotent puppet president," Brown said in a statement to media on Monday.

"I had people on the board going in a completely different direction than the mandate of the constitution ... I basically got moved out."

For its part, the museum society board said it was entirely Brown's decision to leave.

Brown's statement detailed several reasons for his falling-out with the rest of the board, the first being "No support while I was shouldering the majority of the workload, resulting in burnout."

He also alleged there was ongoing interference with his position and the erosion of his powers to effectively perform his duties as president.

Brown criticized the board, as well, for failing to work harder to convince the city to transfer to the Lakehead Transportation Museum Society the control of the historic James Whalen tugboat before it sank in the Kam River last year.

Board spokesperson Rob Kilgour said the board wants to acknowledge Brown's contributions to the growth and development of the Lakehead Transportation Museum Society, adding "It was in no way an act on the part of the board to work against him in any sense."

But he also refuted Brown's complaints

"In terms of some of the accusations that he has made ... the board has reviewed those and wholly disputes them," Kilgour said.

"It's really unfortunate that he might bring this sort of thing forward. We are a board of volunteers. We're here for the betterment of our community. We're a museum. We want the best in every respect."

Asked what caused the rift, Kilgour said the board decided as a whole "to go in a direction ... with no animosity, and trying to maintain a level of good will all around."

"There are times when you're not heading in the direction, and you have that autonomy decide whether that is still what you want to do," Kilgour said, without citing specifics.

The board spokesperson said the board "works like a board" and has some excellent,competent members who have been able to take on more and more responsibilities as they've developed in their roles.

"How [Brown] perceived that, I can't say," Kilgour said.

Brown continues to serve as president of the Buddies of the Brill, the non-profit group that the acquisition and restoration of two Thunder Bay-made Brill trolley buses from British Columbia.

The buses were put on display at the Pool 6 site near the Alexander Henry in 2021.

According to Brown, there was originally a plan to amalgamate the Lakehead Transportation Museum Society and Buddies of the Brill and to operate a combined transportation museum, but that was "until recent developments."

Brown suggested the buses may now have to be removed from their present location, but is offering to keep them there under the supervision of Buddies of the Brill if LTMS provides 10 per cent of gross revenues to cover its ongoing costs.

"This internal fighting is not the way I wanted it to go," Brown said. "I'm still more than happy to sit down with people and look for new options."

For now, at least, the Lakehead Transportation Museum Society isn't commenting publicly about that offer, most likely because of the possibility that lawyers will get involved at some point.


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