To order a copy of “J.P. BICKELL: The Life, the Leafs, and the Legacy”: https://www.dundurn.com/books/JP-Bickell
Jason Wilson is a bestselling Canadian author, a two-time Juno Awards Nominee, and an Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Guelph. He has performed and recorded with UB40, Ron Sexsmith, Pee Wee Ellis, and Dave Swarbrick. Jason lives in Stouffville, Ontario.
Kevin Shea is a renowned hockey historian and bestselling author of fourteen hockey books. He is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame, a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs Historical Committee, and a founding member of Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer. Kevin lives in Toronto.
Graham MacLachlan is a relative of J.P. Bickell who has an extensive business background in international trade that is equalled by his involvement in hockey in the IIHF, the WHL, Hockey Canada, Hockey Alberta, and Hockey Calgary. Graham lives in Calgary, Alberta.
He stayed out of the spotlight, but Leafs fans know J.P. Bickell cast a long shadow.
A self-made mining magnate and the man who kept the Maple Leafs in Toronto and financed Maple Leaf Gardens, J.P. Bickell lived an extraordinary and purposeful life. As one of the most important industrialists in Canadian history, Bickell left his mark on communities across the nation. He was a cornerstone of the Toronto Maple Leafs, which awards the J.P. Bickell Memorial Award to recognize outstanding service to the organization.
Bickell’s story is also tied up with some of the most famous Canadians of his day, including Mitchell Hepburn, Roy Thomson, and Conn Smythe. Through his charitable foundation, he has been a key benefactor of the Hospital for Sick Children, and his legacy continues to transform Toronto. Yet, though Bickell was so important both to Toronto and the Maple Leafs, the story of his incredible life is today largely obscure. This book sets the record straight, presenting the definitive story of his rise to prominence and his lasting legacy — on the ice and off.
Bickell Becomes President of the McIntyre
When McIntyre Porcupine began to stabilize during the First World War, Bickell began to explore other mining prospects. In 1916 Bickell was the treasurer of Adanac Silver Mines, working the silver deposits in Cobalt, Ontario. He was also the president of the Superstition Mining Company of Arizona.
A decade on, Bickell was effectively overseeing several other mining interests including Capital Silver Mines. Yet it was J.P.’s main company that continued to flower. By 1917 Bickell was now officially the president of the McIntyre Porcupine, as the Porcupine Advance reported:
“At a meeting of the directors of the McIntyre Porcupine Mines Co. last week Mr. J.P. Bickell, broker, Toronto who has been connected with the Company from its early days, and has been a member of the board of directors since 1913, was chosen as President to succeed the late Col. A.M. Hay. Mr. Bickell’s experience and interest with the Company during the days of its growth should make him a capable head, as he will undoubtedly be an earnest one, in the coming days of further progress and development of the McIntyre Mines.”
It was an apt prophecy. Further progress continued with accelerating speed under Bickell’s presidency.
The McIntyre mine itself was only 64 acres when Bickell came aboard. Under Bickell’s stewardship, the area was extended to 1,436 acres. McIntyre Porcupine also had taken over the Belleterre gold mine in Quebec as well as the Castle-Trethewey silver mine near Gowganda, Ontario.
Bickell had been the president of Castle-Trethewey in 1923 and 1924. At the end of 1935, Bickell, acting on behalf of Castle-Trethewey (as it was a subsidiary of McIntyre Porcupine) undertook to organize and finance a new company: Omega Gold Mines Limited, working out of Kirkland Lake.
The Platt Vet mine, which at first seemed hopeless, also began to produce encouraging results. A group consisting of D.M. Horgarth, Charles Kaeding, Bernard E. Smith, and Bickell was also invested to the tune of $500,000 in the Madsen mine at Red Lake. Yet while these other investments proved fruitful, albeit in varing degrees, it was the McIntyre Porcupine mine that remained the bedrock of Bickell’s great fortune.
According the Ontario Department of Mines Annual Report in 1936, McIntyre Porcupine Mines Limited, with Bickell as president and his good American friend “Sell ’Em Ben” Smith installed as vice-president, was remarkably successful. Employing over 1,200 people, the company had an authorized capitalization of 800,000 shares of $5 per value. Of these, some 798,000 had been issued. The McIntyre also yielded handsome returns for its shareholders; it remains one of the most important mines in Canadian history.
Between 1912 and 1955 the total production was valued at $230 million. By the time of Bickell’s death, the company had already paid its shareholders over $62 million in dividends, and had employed hundreds of families in the Timmins area. By 1976, when the company changed ownership, the McIntyre Porcupine Mine had produced 10.6 million ounces of gold, valued at $367.5 million.
By the time Bickell had taken control of McIntyre Porcupine, he was already considering different endeavours. In addition to the import of his brokerage days and his crucial role in Canada’s precious metal industry, these extended his stunningly wide reach into many different social, political, economic, and even cultural domains. To assist him in these endeavours, J.P. assembled a diverse cast of characters that would serve as his own personal micro-ministry.
Reproduced with permission of Dundurn Press. https://www.dundurn.com/