Driving along Highway 17 East you pass through the town of Bruce Mines, but many people may not realize that it is a town with a long history.
The town’s roots can be traced back to the industry of copper mining. Samuel de Champlain recorded the existence of copper mines on his map of 1632 during the early exploration of this area. Etienne Brule is believed to have spent one winter in the area of Bruce Mines investigating the existence of the copper deposits.
Members of the First Nations tribes in the area had discovered the importance of copper as a valuable item to trade with the white men who had begun arriving in the New World. The actual site of Bruce Mines was established as a settlement in 1842 when the first settlers came from Cornwall, England.
The origin of the name of Bruce Mines can be traced back to James Bruce Elgin, 8th Earl of Elgin who was appointed the Governor General of Canada in 1846. John Keating, the Indian Agent, and Arthur Rankin, a land surveyor, explored this area and discovered the presence of copper and realized the potential for developing a working copper mine.
Keating approached some of the new Cornish immigrants about coming to work for him and utilizing their skills in mining. In 1846 the copper mine was opened and became the first copper mine in Canada. It would eventually become one of the most important mines in existence during the mid-1850s.
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