In the early days of the 20th century, a local railway had big dreams for its economic role in Northern Ontario. The early 20th century, Northern Ontario was one of expansion and exploration. Industries expanded with the technology-at-hand and exploration sought tradeable resources and new transportation routes.
The Bruce Mines & Algoma Railway (BM & A) represented those parallel drives and within its history is the chapter of one man’s work to add to both. Chartered in 1899 by the Rock Lake Mining Co., the standard-gauge BM & A was created to run north 15 miles (24 kilometres) from Bruce Station on the local Canadian Pacific (CP) rail line to the company’s copper mill at said lake.
The initial goal was to ship concentrated ore westward to a smelter in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Following the Thessalon River valley, and receiving an Ontario government subsidy, the line was finished in the Fall of 1901.
A second provincial subsidy let the BM &A extend southward in 1902 from Bruce Station to connect with Bruce Mines and the industrial site of the competing Bruce Copper Mines at Lake Huron. The BM & A now had some 17 miles (27 kilometres) of track to ship for both mines, as well as provide local freight and passenger services.
With the pervasiveness of train travel in that era, the BM & A allowed a resident from say, the farming community of Rydal Bank, north of Bruce Mines, to connect to the CP line and travel eastward to Montreal or Toronto, or westward across the railway bridge at Sault Ste. Marie to such U.S. destinations as Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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