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THOMAS FROOD (1837-1916)
Thomas Frood was one of a large number of amateur mineral prospectors who opened up the great Canadian north for mining development. Frood, however, was one of an exclusive group who could claim a major discovery, which in his case was the Sudbury copper and nickel district of central Ontario, the home of Inco and Falconbridge, Canada’s two largest nickel miners.
Frood was born in McNab in Renfrew County, eastern Ontario, in 1837. His parents Thomas and Barbara Frood were immigrants from Scotland and his father farmed in McNab. He was educated, as was the practice then, at home and as a youth also worked on the family farm. He took up teaching himself and for many years taught in a variety of Ontario townships as Canada developed its public school system. He also worked in the army medical corps between 1866 and 1871 during the Fenian raids over the border made by dissident Irishmen resident in the US. Following this, Frood became a chemist and opened his own chemist’s shop in Southampton, a seaside town on Lake Huron. He also married his first wife, Mary, in 1865 and they had two daughters.
In 1883 Frood, who was teaching in Kincardine – another Lake Huron township – decided to leave teaching and head north to work for first the Canadian Pacific Railway and then the Crown Lands department as a ranger. It was at this time that Frood became interested in prospecting and taught himself the basic tenets of the craft. This led him to identify the Murray copper deposit when supervising the laying ofraillinesnearSudbury.Thishappenedin1883andotherspeggedthe lease. However, the next year Frood identified mineralisation at the prospect that became Inco’s great Frood mine which only closed after more than a century of operation in 2000.
He introduced two other prospectors to the Frood lease. None of them had the required capital to develop a mine there after they had completed their prospecting work, so they had to sell the Frood prospect to Canadian Copper for which Frood received $12,500; worth over a quarter of a million dollars in today’s money. Frood continued to prospect in the Sudbury area, discovering amongst others the Lady MacDonald and Copper Cliff deposits, the latter of which remains an operating mine in the 21st century. However, as the years went by he was unable to recreate his huge discoveries made in the mid-1880s.
Although Frood’s Sudbury discoveries were impressive, they did not make him a rich man. Apart from the Frood mine, any properties he pegged he eventually sold on for often just a few hundred dollars. It was almost as if the chase was as important as the winning; having said that, he had little good to say about the mine owners who he felt had cheated him and other prospectors in the Sudbury area, out of their just rewards. Frood’s first wife died in 1886 and he married again three years later, moving to the town of Wallace Mine on the north channel of Lake Huron overlooking Georgian Bay.
Here he worked as a farmer but continued to invest in small scale mining and timber projects and devoted an increasing amount of time to boosting the attractions of the northern Lake Huron area for settlement and investment, particularly in agriculture. Thomas Frood died in 1916 and was buried in Kincardine. Whilst he does not figure prominently in the conventional annals of Canadian mining history Frood’s legacy, the mine to which he gave his name, makes him a true giant amongst Canada’s minerals prospectors.