Archive | July 17, 2011

Ontario Marches North – by Douglas Lapham (Maclean’s May 1, 1931)

Thirty years ago North Bay was “Far North” in Ontario. Now the railway builder is reaching out 400 miles still farther north to a “back-door” ocean port and the power engineer is taming mighty torrents in the heart of the wilderness

Two big acts of a drama of winter are drawing to a successful close in the bleak wilderness that stretches north of Cochrane in Northern Ontario, in that No Man’s Land which lies between the Canadian National transcontinental line and James Bay, downthrust spur of Hudson Bay.

They are unrelated scenes in a panorama of development which for years has been changing this once distant North into an annex of the industrial South. But the same man is behind them both. The same dynamic figure is pulling the strings, urging , striving, fighting. He is Harry Falconer McLean, president of the Dominion Construction Company, Ltd., a twentieth-century figure as picturesque as any of the Dominion builders Canada has known.

But first let us get the two acts straight. One is the damming of the east branch of the Moose River at Murray Island, less than fifty miles from Moose Factory, the erection of seventeen concrete piers across the west branch of the same river for a million-dollar steel bridge, so that the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway – Ontario’s publicly owned railroad – may reach Moose Factory and tidewater before fall. Continue Reading →

Hec McQuarrie’s Wedding [Cobalt History] – by A.E. Alpine (Northern Miner – July 17, 1989)

My father-in-law, “Ole Hec” McQuarrie was a colourful, ebullient hardrock shaftman and nowhere was this more evident than at table No. 7 (Ole Hec’s table) at Albert’s Hotel, Timmins, Ontario.

George Hector McQuarrie was born in Dartmouth Nova Scotia, was orphaned at an early age and raised by a doting aunt. He was educated in private school where he excelled in mathematics. Things went smoothly until the summer he turned 18 and got a job in a gold mine in Moose River Nova Scotia. He liked mining and would not return to school. By 19 he was working in the shaft.

Cobalt was the hot spot in mining then so Hector said goodbye to Moose River and headed to silver. He started in a shaft being sunk by the well-known shaft contractor Foghorn MacDonald and it wasn’t long before he was leading a shift. When Foghorn was awarded the contract to sink the shafts and do the connecting work for the world famous compressed air plant at Ragged Chutes, he named Hec as leader of the “Nova Scotian” unit. Foghorn always kept the Cape Breton ex-coal miners on one shift and the Nova Scotian “herring chokers” on another shift to avoid dissension (and broken heads). Continue Reading →