HISTORY: Letters offer colourful insights into Timmins history – by Karen Bachmann (Timmins Daily Press – October 22, 2016)


TIMMINS – A few years back, the museum was given selected files and what-not from the Hollinger archives. The seven banker boxes contained the minutes from the meetings of the Board of Directors of the Hollinger Mine dating back to 1916 – a real find for those interested in the history of what once was North America’s biggest gold mine.

The files also included a number of old maps and town layouts going back to 1912, the very beginnings of the future City of Timmins. While all of that stuff makes for great reading (and invaluable research opportunities), I hit upon a small file of correspondence that humanizes that big corporation and demonstrates the mine’s impact on the new community.

The first letter in the file (on “Hotel Goldfields” stationary, no less) was from the hotel manager, Mr. McLean, and dated May 20, 1912. What we learn from the handwritten (one good reason to keep teaching cursive in schools) letter is just how big a role Noah Timmins and the Hollinger Mine played in the new town.

Mr. McLean obviously felt the need to tell Percy A. Robbins, manager at the Hollinger that “the office counter has arrived and it is a piece of very fine work. I would be pleased to have you see it and give me your suggestions re: staining it, what colours to use. It is quarter cut oak and will be a beautiful fixture.”

He goes on for another few sentences worrying about the stain.

“The silverware has arrived and we will commence serving meals the fair part of this week. It is necessary that we should have arrangements made with the bank re: the hotel accounts.”

Now, either the hotel manager was a man who couldn’t make a decision to save his life or the mine manager had to have a hand in absolutely everything dealing with all aspects of the corporation’s operations, up to and including the selection of the colour for the hotel lobby counter which, upon reflection, was probably the case.

The Hollinger Mine owned a good part of the land that would become the future town of Timmins (known as the Timmins Townsite), as well as the hotel and the first train station.

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