[Ontario Mining History] The noise, the glow, the rush of sparks – by Susanna McLeod (Kingston Whig Standard – July 19, 2019)


An ocean away, discussions about iron mining and processing in Upper Canada progressed. Kingston’s Royal Naval Dockyards needed a local supply of iron to augment security after the War of 1812. Initial negotiations with a local merchant in 1816 fell through, but Charles Hayes in Ireland was interested.

Before Hayes came to Ontario, he had been in touch with Maj. George Hillier, civil secretary to governor general Peregrine Maitland. Delaying his voyage until a determination on timber duties was reached, Hayes and his wife sailed for North America in autumn 1820.

“Upon his arrival he went to York [Toronto] to petition the governor for land on which to establish his works,” wrote Rita Michael in “Ironworking in Upper Canada: Charles Hayes and the Marmora Works” (Report to Ontario Heritage Foundation, 1982).

The industrialist “was granted 1,200 acres with the provision that he would erect his works and provide accommodation for his labourers,” Michael said. Receiving another 1,200 acres in Hastings County to use for fuel-timbers turned into charcoal-Hayes “would receive patent to the lands upon having fulfilled his obligation to the Crown by surveying several townships and reserving a percentage for wood-lots and for settlers.”

Accepting the contract to provide iron to the dockyards, Hayes rushed to build the Marmora Iron Works, 125 km north-northwest of Kingston. He soon learned that most of the necessary stratum was in ore beds at nearby Blairton, just outside of the land grants.

For the rest of this column: https://www.thewhig.com/opinion/columnists/the-noise-the-glow-the-rush-of-sparks

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