Remember This? Helen Mine started it all [Algoma Steel] (Soo Today – January 17, 2016)

It was named after its original owner’s sister

At the end of the 19th century, local prospectors Benjamin Boyer, Jim Sayers and Alois Goetz found what they thought was gold while searching for minerals in the Algoma area.

The men took their sample to Francis H. Clergue who recognized the mineral as iron ore, not gold. The three men offered the land to Clergue for $500. Upon purchase Clergue created the Helen Mine which he named after his sister.

Mining began at the new Helen Mine and on July 1, 1900 the Canadian Blast Furnace Company (of Midland, Ontario) purchased and processed the first iron ore. The payroll at that time was just $107,535 for almost 400 employees.

In 1902 a steel plant, later to be known as Algoma Steel, was built 220 kilometres south of the Helen Mine, located on the St. Marys River.

Four steamships were purchased to ship the ore to Sault Ste. Marie via the Michipicoten Harbour. These vessels would eventually become part of the Algoma Central Steamship Lines.

A railway from the mine to Lake Superior was also built and became the Algoma Central Railway.

The mine was successful until 1918 when the hematite ore deposits depleted. It was at this time that the mine, once Canada’s largest producer of ore, closed.

By the time of its closure, the Helen Mine had produced almost 3 million tons of hematite ore worth more than 8 million dollars. The mine remained vacant until 1921 when a fire destroyed most of the mine.

Geological surveys taken after World War One indicated that other types of ore were still present in the former mine.

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