Archive | Canadian Mining History

Red Mountain Rush: The Le Roi mine in British Columbia was a testament to the free-wheeling nature of mining during the gold rush in its early years – by Jen Glanville (CIM Magazine – March 16, 2020)

https://magazine.cim.org/en/

By the 19th Century the mineral wealth of British Columbia’s Kootenay region was considered a good bet thanks to the historic prospecting done by the Hudson’s Bay. The region was too remote to make mining economically feasible, but the emergence of two transcontinental railways in the 1880s changed all of that. In a matter of years, the region was opened up, and prospectors were on the hunt for their own El Dorado of the north.

Prospectors Joe Moris and Joe Bourgeois were among the first to jump at the opportunity. Bourgeois, the more experienced of the two, thought Red Mountain, near the town of Rossland, looked promising and staked the first claims there in 1890.

The samples derived from the claims were not favourable initially, and Bourgeois was hesitant to even record them, but with a bit of convincing from Moris, the two filed the claim with Eugene Sayre Topping, a deputy mining recorder for the provincial government. Continue Reading →

British Columbia: Hoping for more gold, 120 years after the Atlin gold rush began – by Matthew McFarlane (CBC News British Columbia – February 2, 2020)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/

‘There’s gold in these veins,’ says CEO of exploration company looking for the source of Atlin’s gold

Some cities are born and die as gold rush towns. Barkerville, Skagway, Dawson City all saw their fates ride on gold and now have become museums of sorts — a tribute to their former glory.

But one far flung B.C. community still has the lure of gold in its eye, long after it saw its gold rush come and go.

Atlin lies in the the very northwest corner of B.C. The only way in and out is through Yukon Territory. The community hugs the shores of its namesake, the massive glacier-fed Atlin Lake. It has a rustic ghost-town-like feel. Ramshackle buildings, quiet streets, abandoned mining equipment — it’s a peaceful and tranquil spot, a far cry from the place it was over 100 years ago. Continue Reading →

Moving 800 tonnes of bog iron by hand – by Susanna McLeod (Kingston Whig Standard (January 29, 2020)

https://www.thewhig.com/

There was no gleam or glitter to the natural resources in the Saint-Maurice valley near Trois-Rivieres, Que. Among the lush forests, there were oil deposits and enormous boggy regions of peat. Under that spongy organic mass, another resource was mixed with clay. The dull red colouring gave away the presence of bog iron, inspiring a vibrant industry in New France, lasting 150 years.

Embroiled in war, France needed as much of the element as it could get. While importing iron from Spain and Sweden, a supply from the new colony would relieve the shortage pressure. Surveying the exceptional mineral resources in Quebec by the mid-17th century, French colonial authorities were pleased to issue an order to begin mining the iron ore in 1670.

The next year, Intendant Jean Talon “indeed had 800 tonnes of ore extracted, but many years would go by before any industrial development actually took place,” Parks Canada’s Forges du Saint-Maurice National Historic Site said. Performing through gruelling manual labour, workers excavated the swampy bog iron with shovels and picks, loading the ore into horse-drawn carts. Continue Reading →

EBERHARD (EBE) SCHERKUS (Born – 1952) – 2020 Canadian Mining Hall of Fame Inductee

The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame was conceived by the late Maurice R. Brown, former editor and publisher of The Northern Miner, as a way to recognize and honour the legendary mine finders and builders of a great Canadian industry. The Hall was established in 1988. For more information about the extraordinary individuals who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, please go to their home website: http://mininghalloffame.ca/

The remarkable success and longevity of Agnico Eagle Mines owes much to Eberhard (“Ebe”) Scherkus, a multi-faceted geologist and professional engineer with an impressive track record of achievement. He joined the company as a project manager in 1985, became chief operating officer (COO) in 1998, and was president and COO from 2005 until he retired in 2012.

During this period he transformed Agnico Eagle from a regional single-mine company into a top-performing global gold producer with nine mines in Canada, Finland and Mexico. He also earned a reputation as a generous career mentor, environmentally responsible industry leader, and a builder of bridges with Indigenous Peoples and other stakeholders in Canada and abroad.

Born in Germany, Scherkus came to Canada as an infant and was raised in Val-d’Or, Quebec. He earned his B.Sc. Geology from McGill University in 1975, and worked for several companies before joining Agnico Eagle. The company was then headed by legendary founder Paul Penna, who needed a technical team to turn around a struggling, low-grade open-pit mine with limited reserves. Continue Reading →

HANS T. F. LUNDBERG (1893-1971) – 2020 Canadian Mining Hall of Fame Inductee

The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame was conceived by the late Maurice R. Brown, former editor and publisher of The Northern Miner, as a way to recognize and honour the legendary mine finders and builders of a great Canadian industry. The Hall was established in 1988. For more information about the extraordinary individuals who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, please go to their home website: http://mininghalloffame.ca/

Few people have done more to introduce science and technology to mineral exploration than Hans Lundberg, a visionary pioneer in the developmentand application of geophysical and geochemical methods in Canada and other parts of the world. He was the first to conduct ground geophysical
surveys in Canada in the 1920s, which led to two major discoveries in the Buchans area of Newfoundland. He was the first to attempt geochemical prospecting in Canada, and the first to integrate geophysics and geochemistry into a multi-disciplinary exploration strategy.

Lundberg’s greatest accomplishments were the first application of airborne geophysical methods in the 1940s, and his adaptations of geophysical instruments for use from aircraft. These ideas originated from his early years in Sweden, where geophysics was emerging as a new tool for finding buried mineral deposits. Lundberg graduated in 1917 from the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, with a thesis entitled “Electrical Prospecting.” Continue Reading →

ALEX G. BALOGH (Born 1932) – 2020 Canadian Mining Hall of Fame Inductee

The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame was conceived by the late Maurice R. Brown, former editor and publisher of The Northern Miner, as a way to recognize and honour the legendary mine finders and builders of a great Canadian industry. The Hall was established in 1988. For more information about the extraordinary individuals who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, please go to their home website: http://mininghalloffame.ca/

During an illustrious career spanning 50 years, Alex Balogh earned his place in a select group of industry leaders who helped shape and build Noranda and Falconbridge into two of most successful mining and
metallurgical giants in Canadian history. He has the rare distinction of contributing to the growth of both companies, starting with Noranda, which he joined at Gaspé Copper in 1954 after earning a degree in metallurgical engineering from McGill University in his home city of Montreal, Quebec.

An early achievement while a shift foreman was the development while working with others of the now-famous “Gaspé Puncher” that significantly improved the operating efficiency and working conditions of copper converters; Heath & Sherwood subsequently licensed this machine worldwide. Another first as a civic activity and initially as a hobby was the founding with R. Ford of a bilingual newspaper, “The Gaspe Peninsula Voyageur” serving the Gaspé region for over 15 years. Continue Reading →

P. JERRY ASP (Born 1948) – 2020 Canadian Mining Hall of Fame Inductee

The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame was conceived by the late Maurice R. Brown, former editor and publisher of The Northern Miner, as a way to recognize and honour the legendary mine finders and builders of a great Canadian industry. The Hall was established in 1988. For more information about the extraordinary individuals who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, please go to their home website: http://mininghalloffame.ca/

P. Jerry Asp is one of Western Canada’s most prominent Indigenous leaders and a tireless advocate for the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in the mining industry. His leadership skills came to the fore in the 1980s, during a mineral exploration and mining boom in the “Golden Triangle” of northwestern British Columbia.

As a chief and member of the Tahltan Nation, he understood his community’s concerns about development taking place on their traditional lands. Yet having worked in the mining industry since 1965, he also recognized the potential for employment and business opportunities and to build skills and capacity in the community.

In 1985, Asp founded the Tahltan Nation Development Corporation (TNDC) as GM and became President in 1987. His goal was to negotiate partnerships between TNDC and mining companies, starting with the Golden Bear mine, which required a 100-mile access road across Tahltan territory. The concept of an Impact Benefit Agreement (IBA) was new at the time, but Asp negotiated the first IBA in the Province’s history, which included road construction and other contracts at Golden Bear. Continue Reading →

The Agenda with Steve Paikin Interviews Charlotte Gray about her new book – A Millionaire’s Murder Mystery (December 2, 2019)

https://www.tvo.org/

Sir Harry Oakes, a major figure in 19th-and-early 20th century northern Ontario, made millions in mining. He was mysteriously murdered in the Caribbean in 1943, with no clues as to the culprit. The Agenda explores Oakes’s intriguing life, and the mark he made on Kirkland Lake with historian Charlotte Gray, who chronicled his activities in her book, “Murdered Midas: A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise.”

A terrific Christmas gift! To order a copy of Murdered Midas: A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise: https://bit.ly/2lHTbYt 

Charlotte Gray is one of Canada’s best-known writers of non-fiction, specializing in history and biography, and her books have been nominated for or won most major non-fiction literary prizes. Murdered Midas is her eleventh book, and her second study of a great gold rush. In 2010, she published Gold Diggers: Striking it Rich in the Klondike which was the basis for both a PBS documentary and a Discovery Channel mini-series. She lives in Ottawa and is an adjunct research professor at Carleton University and a Member of the Order of Canada.

Excerpt from Murdered Midas: A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise – by Charlotte Gray (November 30, 2019)

A terrific Christmas gift! To order a copy of Murdered Midas: A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise: https://bit.ly/2lHTbYt 

Charlotte Gray is one of Canada’s best-known writers of non-fiction, specializing in history and biography, and her books have been nominated for or won most major non-fiction literary prizes. Murdered Midas is her eleventh book, and her second study of a great gold rush. In 2010, she published Gold Diggers: Striking it Rich in the Klondike which was the basis for both a PBS documentary and a Discovery Channel mini-series. She lives in Ottawa and is an adjunct research professor at Carleton University and a Member of the Order of Canada.

Excerpt from Murdered Midas: A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise 

Had Harry Oakes once again arrived too late for a big strike? In Toronto in the spring of 1911, the thirty-six-year-old stared at the geological charts and topographical maps in Ontario’s Department of Mines, noting the extensive grid of prospectors’ claims superimposed on the region north of North Bay, bang in the centre of the immense expanse of Canada.

On paper, Northern Ontario looked as though government surveyors had already outlined its features and its potential. By now, the provincial bureaucrats suggested, the land had been “tamed.” Oakes traced with his stubby, stained finger the settlements strewn across the grim monotony of forest, rock, water, and muskeg swamp.

The charts recorded only mining camps; the cartographers had ignored the numerous Indigenous communities, although their presence showed up in the Ojibwa or Cree names of several features, such as Lake Temagami. Most of the network of links connecting mining camps consisted of rough, winding trails, but there were also newly laid railway tracks, punctuated at regular intervals by stations. Continue Reading →

JOURNEY DOWN THE RAILWAY THAT COULDN’T BE BUILT – by Peter Gzowski (MACLEAN’S Magazine – Novmeber 16, 1963)

https://archive.macleans.ca/

A portrait, then and now, of the extraordinary feat that is the Quebec North Shore and Labrador line

THE SUN was inching into the bleak northern sky when Maclean’s photo editor Don Newlands and I checked out of the Sir Wilfred Grenfell Hotel in Wabush, Labrador, to begin the journey to Seven Islands, Que. We had flown into Wabush directly from Toronto and spent a few days there looking into life on the last frontier, à la 1963, and although we had both enjoyed our visit with the men and women who are opening up the wilderness, I for one was anxious to get going.

Our program was to drive our rented car to Labrador City, three miles away over a dirt road, and then take the passenger-express train from there to Seven Islands. Most of this journey would be over the QNS & L — the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway — and seeing the railway, I knew, would be an exciting experience for me.

I had spent the summer of 1952 as a beardless (though not for lack of trying) chain man on a survey party helping to build the QNS & L. And, although I hadn’t been back in eleven years, I had retained a sort of proprietary interest in the railway.

The QNS & L was one of the great construction projects of our time, a job that many expert engineers were certain could never be finished, and many of us who worked on it — there were as many as seven thousand men employed at one time — looked on the achievement much the way war veterans look on battles their regiments have won. Continue Reading →

A JEWISH LEGACY OF THE NORTHERN ONTARIO GOLD RUSH – by Barbara Silverstein (Canadian Jewish News – October 28, 2019)

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When gold was discovered near Timmins, Ont., in 1909, the area attracted fortune hunters from all over the world. Many Jewish merchants headed to northern Ontario to set up stores in small towns and settlements throughout the region.

Two of those people were Max Steinberg and Joe Mahn. Steinberg, a German immigrant, went to the northern bush camps in 1918 to sell watches and clothing. In 1919, he and Mahn – they had met in Montreal – opened Steinberg & Mahn, a menswear store in Timmins.

This month, Steinberg & Mahn, Timmins’ longest-operating family owned menswear clothier, is marking its 100th anniversary. The Steinberg family has run the store continuously since 1919 and the fourth generation is now at the helm. Continue Reading →

BOOK REVIEW: Linden MacIntyre’s The Wake is a long overdue obituary for the miners of the Burin Peninsula – by Ken McGoogan (Globe and Mail – October 19, 2019)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

On Feb. 15, 1965, a retired miner named Rennie Slaney sat down at his kitchen table in St. Lawrence, Nfld., and typed out a five-page, single-spaced document that, as Linden MacIntyre writes in The Wake, would reverberate “across the land.” The 58-year-old Slaney, who could no longer work because of severe health problems, laid out what had happened in recent decades to the people of his small community on the Burin Peninsula.

Addressing his testimonial to a special committee appointed by the government of Premier Joey Smallwood, Slaney mentioned a miner who died in hospital that very day, while another lay nearby, “just awaiting his time.”

Slaney himself, having worked in the mines for 23 years, was suffering from chronic bronchitis, obstructive emphysema, infective asthma and “a usually terminal heart disease caused by lung failure.” The man could step forward because, MacIntyre tells us, he had nothing left to lose: “His lungs were shot.” Continue Reading →

An historic gold mine in a tiny Ontario town could be the epicentre of Canada’s next great gold rush – by Joe O’Connor (Financial Post – October 16, 2019)

https://business.financialpost.com/

In 1866, a cave dripping with gold was found in Eldorado, fuelling a boom that became a bust. Now some believe there are more riches to be found

ELDORADO, Ont. — Kim Woodside was ready for a change, a mid-life pivot, and a 100-acre rural property in Eastern Ontario seemed like a good place to start. It had two grey barns she hoped to paint poinsettia red, a woodworking shop full of tools, a woodlot thick with mature cedar trees, a rocky hill out back and a bungalow in need of renovation. It would be a fix, in her calculations, that would take the custom furniture maker about six months to complete.

“All the tools were there, there were no neighbours and the price was right,” she said. The property in Eldorado was perfect, but then Woodside, a history buff, asked the old codger she was buying it from about the blue historical plaque on the highway nearby. He answered with a question: Was she a “gold digger?”

Woodside didn’t appreciate the comment, but it wasn’t entirely uncalled for, not after he explained that the place she hoped would change her life had changed other lives when the Richardson gold mine, Ontario’s first, was discovered beneath it in 1866. Continue Reading →

11 bridges lead visitors on tour of Alberta’s coal mining past – by Dan Healing (Canadian Press/CBC News Calagary – September 30, 2019)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/

Located 15 kilometres south of Drumheller, Wayne is a link to the not-so-distant past

There’s something about the last few kilometres through a deep-sided canyon to the western ghost town of Wayne, Alta., that Edmonton motorcyclist Ron Woodford just can’t get enough of.

The Harley-Davidson enthusiast got a taste for the road that follows the winding Rosebud River over 11 single-lane bridges in the 1990s when massive motorcycle rallies were held in Wayne — but he keeps coming back, more than a decade after those events ended.

“I’m kind of addicted. There’s something special when you ride into that chasm on a motorcycle,” he says, adding the lack of Wi-Fi and cellphone coverage adds to the quiet of the place. Continue Reading →

History Hunter: Hard rock mining on Dublin Gulch is more than a century old – by Michael Gates (Yukon News – August 29, 2019)

Yukon News

For other Michael Gate’s Mining History Columns on the Yukon: https://www.yukon-news.com/author/michael-gates/

The Klondike gold rush drew tens of thousands of hopeful prospectors into the north hoping to strike it rich in the placers of Bonanza Eldorado and numerous other creeks.

But among them were a smaller but unwavering brigade of prospectors who were determined to burrow beneath the placer gravels into bedrock in hope of finding the mother lode. These prospectors spread out to the branches of tributaries in regions so remote that they weren’t yet even plotted on maps.

One of these remote locations was Dublin Gulch, which was said to have been first staked by 1897. There was a staking rush to the area in 1901. Interest quickly dwindled and many of these claims lapsed, but another flurry of staking occurred two years later. Continue Reading →