This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.
It may not match David Letterman’s late night television talk show top 10 lists on the humour scale but Stan Sudol’s top 10 list of events in Ontario mining history are thought provoking and worthy of discussion. The Sudbury-born/Toronto-based communications consultant and editor of the blog Republic of Mining has done the industry a service by creating his own top 10 list on the subject.
While the ranking of Mr. Sudol’s compendium is likely destined to be the subject of perpetual debate, we suspect fewer could argue with the specific events themselves. Narrowing the topics down to 10 was no easy task with more than 150 years of Ontario mining history to analyze. As Mr. Sudol himself noted “the list encompasses traditional discoveries as well as certain events or the creation of institutions that have had long-lasting provincial or global impact.”
“Parts of Ontario’s mining history are brutal and tragic but it is also filled with stories of hope, courage and sacrifice, of enormous wealth creation and technical and social innovation. Ontario’s modern 21st century mining sector is the culmination of this amazing past that has helped forge a distinct regional culture in the province’s north and contributed enormously to the wealth of the entire province and country.”
Of particular interest is number seven on the list – Ontario mine safety: international success. Lessons learned from the Hollinger mine fire in Timmins in 1928 led to the creation of Ontario’s mine rescue system and other positive changes in safety practices including the use of stench gas for emergencies and non-fire emergency rescue training.
The Ham Commission and its recommendations which formed the foundation of the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (1978) is also mentioned. Ontario’s mining industry has learned from its history and now stands out as one of the safest mining jurisdictions in the world and one of the safest industries in the province. Many of its practices, techniques and procedures as a leader in this field have been adopted and adapted by mines around the world.
The work for constant improvement in safety is ongoing. The industry is currently involved in a year-long review of mine safety with the province’s Chief Prevention Officer and labour.
So what are the other events on Mr. Sudol’s list? Let’s start with number 10 – Toronto Stock Exchange: International centre of mine financing. “The development of Ontario’s mining industry is closely associated with the rise of Toronto as Ontario’s and Canada’s financial centre, which is why it must be included in this list.”
Number Nine combines the major gold rushes of Kirkland Lake, Red Lake and Hemlo. “Kirkland Lake has produced roughly 42 million ounces of gold, Red Lake 26 million and Hemlo 21 million in its short 28-year history. All of these camps are still in production.”
The Kirkland Lake gold miners’ strike in 1941 and 1942 comes in at number eight, the above mentioned safety success is number seven and number six is the evolution of Aboriginal participation in Ontario mining. “The mining industry is the largest private sector employer of Aboriginals in the country.”
Peter Munk: Canada’s king of gold rates number five and Elliot Lake: Boom, bust, boom, bust and hope makes it as number four. Timmins: Porcupine gold rush still going rises to number three and Sudbury: Canada’s most important mining city is number two.
Mr. Sudol reserves the top spot for Cobalt: The cradle of Canada’s mining industry. “Without a doubt, the transformative events during and following the Cobalt Silver Boom defined Canadian mining, which is why it is the number one event in Ontario mining history.”
Argue all you want over the ranking of these events in the century and a half history of modern-day mining in Ontario. The Royal Ontario Museum will show you that Aboriginals were “mining” and creating tools and weapons more than 10,000 years ago. Many will want to add to the list.
What about the world’s largest underground salt mine in Goderich, diamonds in the North and the yet to be fulfilled promise of the Ring of Fire? Let’s begin. Discussion can only enhance a better understanding and appreciation of the contributions this industry has made to the society and economy of Ontario. For Mr. Sudol’s full essay go to: http://bit.ly/1nG7anZ