Archive | Canadian Mining History

Canadian mining industry says goodbye to ‘turnaround man’ Bill James – by Robin de Angelis (CBC News Sudbury – September 17, 2018)

The man credited with making mining company Falconbridge Ltd. a success in the 1980s has passed away. William “Bill” James died on September 4, at the age of 89.

James took the helm of Falconbridge at a time when the company was losing millions of dollars each week due to flagging metal prices. He cut jobs and corporate spending, eventually making the company an attractive target for a takeover for Noranda.

Ed Thompson, a board member with the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame, remembers working with James for almost 50 years. “He was a very forthright, honest man,” Thompson recalled. Continue Reading →

Last man out after 1958 Springhill mine disaster dead at 95 – by Anjuli Patil (CBC News Nova Scotia – September 9, 2018)

Herbert Pepperdine spent more than 8 days underground after deadly 1958 bump

The last man to emerge from the ground after the 1958 Springhill mining disaster has died at age 95. An obituary posted Sunday for Herbert Pepperdine stated the former coal miner died Friday in hospital in Springhill, N.S.

“He was just a treasure to the community. He started working in the mines when he was 14 years old and even after ’58, after he was trapped eight-and-a-half days, he works 10 more years in the last working mine that was in Springhill,” said Tony Somers, a tour guide at the Springhill Miners Museum.

The disaster, known as the bump (like an underground earthquake), occurred Oct. 23, 1958. There were 175 men in the mine at the time; 75 of them were killed. While Pepperdine would occasionally talk about the 1958 disaster, Somers said it wasn’t something he enjoyed. Continue Reading →

Editorial: Margaret “Peggy” Kent, Peter Munk shared debt regrets – by John Cumming (Northern Miner – August 30, 2018)

Listen to the three-part podcast series at:

At The Northern Miner, we like to think of ourselves as more than reporters of the latest news and commentaries about Canadian mining and mineral exploration.

As an institution dating back to 1915 and as co-founder of the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame, we also have a unique position in business media as chroniclers of the rich history of the Canadian mining industry and its colourful characters.

In that spirit, we are presenting on our Northern Miner Podcast in August a three-part interview series by senior staff writer Trish Saywell carried out on the sidelines of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada convention in Toronto in March 2018 with legendary mining executive Margaret “Peggy” Kent, who let us know “there are a few of us still left around the industry who have seen it all and done it all.” Continue Reading →

Silver Islet 150: Former mining village near Thunder Bay, Ont., celebrates milestone year – by Matt Prokopchuk (CBC News Thunder Bay – August 20, 2018)

Silver Islet, east of Thunder Bay, once home to hundreds of miners, now a seasonal cottage community

A small, now largely seasonal cottage community east of Thunder Bay, Ont., is celebrating a big milestone this year.

Residents and property owners in Silver Islet are celebrating 150 years since the precious metal was discovered in the area, which led to the construction of the now-long-abandoned mine in Lake Superior that gave rise to the settlement.

“We have a lot of history here,” said Halina Gooder, the former president of the Silver Islet Campers Association, who just ended her most recent term, adding that many original families still have property there. Continue Reading →

Yukon safe, possibly filled with treasure, unearthed in Gold Rush capital – by Tristin Hopper (National Post – August 15, 2018)

A crew in Dawson City, Yukon, was digging what is delicately termed a “lifting station” — essentially, a pumping facility designed to move the community’s human waste from one place to another.

Until, an excavator struck something with a clang. “Two metres deep, they hit something hard and metallic,” said Mark Dauphinee, the town’s public works superintendent.

Digging up strange things is relatively common for Dawson City work crews. The community owes its existence to buried gold, of course, but the region is also home to a rich trove of Ice Age fossils. A uniquely pungent aroma wafting over a work site is often all that’s needed for crews to realize that they stumbled upon the long-buried carcass of a prehistoric horse. Continue Reading →

Sun Dogs and Yellowcake: Gunnar Mines – A Canadian Story – Book Review by Jonathan Buchanan (Mineral Exploration Magazine – Summer 2018)

To order a copy of Sun Dogs and Yellowcake: Gunnar Mines – A Canadian Story, click here:

Patricia Sandberg was formerly a partner at DuMoulin Black, a Vancouver law firm acting for mining companies listed on Canadian and international stock exchanges. Her clients had mining operations in Canada, the United States, China, and Latin America. Three generations of her family, including Patricia as a child, lived at Gunnar and her grandfather spent thirty years working at mines run by Gilbert LaBine, Canada’s “Father of Uranium.”

Book Review by Jonathan Buchanan

In the 1950s, the Cold War had a profound effect on Canada’s landscape – from the building of Distant Early Warning stations scattered across Canada’s North to the creation of uranium mining towns on the Canadian Shield. One of these towns, Gunnar, lasted for just over a decade, but its indelible impact on its residents, as Patricia Sandberg writes in Sun Dogs and Yellowcake.

The result is a very rich, often humorous, sometimes tragic and always engaging account of how one community rose to meet the demands of the Atomic Age. As the title suggests, it bridges the natural wonders of the North with those of the industrial world.

Continue Reading →

Fraser River rush revisited: A new book reveals how gold fever brought American warfare north of the border – by Greg Klein (Resource Clips – August 3, 2018)

Is this the price of gold—the murder of defenceless people followed by retaliatory beheadings as a private American army threatens genocidal war in the future Canada? There’s more to British Columbia’s first great gold rush than has been acknowledged and, 160 years after the fact, a newly published book casts harsh light on the Fraser River mania and its accompanying Fraser River War.

That the war even happened will take many people by surprise. Downplayed or ignored in Canadian research, its significance gets special emphasis in Claiming the Land: British Columbia and the Making of a New El Dorado.

The war constitutes one of a number of surprises in what author Daniel Marshall, a University of Victoria professor and descendant of 1858 arrivals from Cornwall, calls a “substantial revisionist history.” Continue Reading →

A Town Named Asbestos Once Produced Most of the World’s Asbestos Supply – by Sarah Laskow (Atlas – August 9, 2018)

Asbestos mining in Canada stopped only in the past decade.

HIDDEN IN OLD BUILDINGS AND under streets, asbestos—once thought of as a “miracle mineral”—is always lurking. Though today it might seem like a relic of the past, under new rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. government could approve new uses of asbestos in consumer products going forward, reports Fast Company.

There are still places where asbestos mining is a notable industry: Canada’s asbestos mines—including the mine at Asbestos, Quebec, once the largest in the world—only closed within the last 10 years, and in Russia, the town of Asbest is still a major center of asbestos production.

Asbestos has many strange properties and has been incorporated into manmade products going back thousands of years. Manufactured, it often comes into human environments as a textile or a dangerous powder, but in nature it appears as six different types of natural silicates. Continue Reading →

[British Columbia Mining] PROVINCE PROCLAIMS JULY 27 AS “GINGER GOODWIN DAY” – by James Wood(Campbell River – July 26, 2018)

Campbell River Now

VICTORIA, B.C- A well-known labour activist in the Comox Valley will be celebrated by the province tomorrow. According to an announcement from the B.C government, Friday July 27, 2018 will be known as Ginger Goodwin Day, in order to celebrate Albert (Ginger) Goodwin, who was a pioneering figure in the province’s labour movement.

Tomorrow will mark the 100th anniversary of his death in the mountains near Cumberland, after being shot by police.

Born in England, Goodwin had come to Cumberland in 1910 after coming to Canada four years earlier. At the time, the community was a centre of coal mining, with at least 260 people killed in work-related accidents from 1888 to the 1960s. Continue Reading →

We built this city with coal mining (Lethbridge Herald – June 26, 2018)

It is accurate to say that without coal, Lethbridge might not be here today. The Blackfoot and other First Nations knew about the coal. A Blackfoot name for the place that would become Lethbridge was sik-ooh-ko-toki or place of the black rocks.

The First Nations had little use for the coal as it could not be burned safely in a teepee, and other fuel sources were readily available. Nicholas Sheran heard about the coal of southern Alberta. Recognizing the need for such a purposeful resource, in 1874 Sheran developed the first commercial coal mine in Alberta.

The location of this mine was on the west bank of the Oldman River, just off the north side of Whoop-Up Drive. Sheran managed a mine there until his death (by drowning) in 1882. Continue Reading →

Weddings of the gold rush era – by Laurel Downing Bill ( – June 18, 2018)

June was a popular month for weddings long before the Klondike gold rush. People of medieval times often took their annual baths in May, which meant a bride would still smell fresh in June. To be safe, she carried a bouquet of flowers to hide any body odor. That’s where the custom of carrying a bouquet down the aisle comes from.

Many miners who came north in search of riches may have chosen brides at the beginning of summer for practical reasons. Once the ground thawed, and a miner found a plot that showed promise, he drove stakes into the ground to lay claim to mining rights. By 1897, only one claim per person was allowed in a district.

But a loophole in the mining laws allowed married couples the right to register a separate claim in the wife’s name, thus doubling the amount of land for prospecting. So taking a wife could mean untold riches from the ground. Continue Reading →

1995 PDAC Bill Dennis Prospector of the Year Award for the Voisey Bay Nickel Deposit – Albert E. Chislett and Chris L. Verbiski – by Stan Sudol

Chris Verbiski & Al Chislett (Wiki Source)

This excerpt is from the 2007 PDAC 75th anniversary publication.

Originally looking for diamonds in 1993, Albert Chislett and Chris Verbiski instead discovered one of the world’s major nickel sulphide deposits near Nain, Labrador. The Voisey’s Bay deposit was eventually bought and developed by Inco Limited. Most experts agree that the deposit will be a major source of nickel and regional prosperity for generations to come.

Chislett was born in Islington, Trinity Bay Nfld. in 1949. After studying business administration at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto and working in the accounting department at Swift Premium in Ontario for five years, he established a successful construction company in St. John’s Nfld., and operated it for fifteen years.

His interest in geology and mineral exploration began in the late 1980s, stemming in part from his love of the outdoors. In 1988 he started operating an independent mineral exploration company and began prospecting full time. He was soon one of the most active prospectors in the province and was the first to receive a provincial prospector’s assistant grant. Continue Reading →

Why Peter Munk is the Top Mining Man in Canadian History – by Stan Sudol (March 28, 2018)

Melanie and Peter Munk

Melanie and Peter Munk

With great sadness, Barrick Gold founder Peter Munk passed away today. Last Spring I wrote a lengthy essay on who should be included in a historic Top Ten List of Canadian Mining Men. Peter Munk made the number one spot. Here is why. – Stan Sudol

1) Peter Munk – Canada’s Godfather of Gold (Barrick Gold)

In November 2005, Peter Munk launched a takeover bid of historic Canadian gold miner Placer Dome agreeing to sell certain assets to Goldcorp. By the following spring, the takeover was complete and in less than 25 years, this upstart junior miner with two small gold operations – an Alaskan placer mine and a half interest in a small northern Ontario gold operation called Renabie – had created the largest gold mining empire in the world.

Barrick had no dual class share system like Teck to prevent a takeover – as did Goldcorp when it was launched in 1994 until 2004 – or a sympathetic Premier like Brad Wall in Saskatchewan who stopped the BHP Billiton buyout of Potash Corp. Ontario Premier McGuinty was absolutely silent when historic Ontario base-metal producers were bought by foreigners! It was a prey or predator scenario and Peter Munk came out on top.

For that reason alone, Munk deserves the top spot, as 2006 witnessed the foreign takeovers of legendary base-metal miners like Inco by Vale, Falconbridge/Noranda by Xstrata (subsequently taken over by Glencore) and Alcan swallowed by Rio Tinto in 2007. And let’s not forget the foreign takeovers of Canada’s three major steelmakers, Algoma, Dofasco and Stelco, a hollowing out of the Toronto Stock Exchange that we have yet to recover from!

Canada’s corporate elite – shell shocked at the frenzy of foreign takeovers in the middle of the last decade –could thank Munk – Hungarian born to a Jewish family – for saving at least one globally significant Canadian mining corporation that is still based in Toronto! Continue Reading →

Noah Timmins: The Grand Old Man of Canadian mining (Quebec Heritage News – November 2004)

(L to R) Noranda CEO James Murdoch and Hollinger Mines CEO Noah Timmins – 1932.

The Timmins family was among the many Montreal families who chose to holiday in Ste. Agathe in the early part of the 20th Century. Henry and Noah Timmins, two inseparable brothers who had married two sisters, purchased a part of the farm of Adolphe Marier in 1915, on what was then called Chemin du Roi, but is now Tour du Lac.

They were a wealthy mining family whose influence extended to mining regions all over the world, but they had not always been in mining. They had started their lives in the simple northern town of Mattawa, Ontario, in the early 1860s.

Henry and Noah Timmins had inherited a general store in Mattawa from their parents. The community at the confluence of the Mattawa and Ottawa rivers, was predominantly French-speaking and Catholic, and the Timmins family lived in both languages.

Their sister, Josephine, had gone to school at the convent of Ste. Anne in Lachine, where she befriended the daughters of Louis Paré, the lockkeeper of the Lachine Canal. By 1878, she had married his son, Dr. Louis Paré, and introduced his sisters to her brothers, leading to the binding of the families through three marriages.

Their mining careers began in September, 1903 when a blacksmith named Fred Larose dropped in to their general store on his way home to Hull. Continue Reading →

Graphite’s sterling history in eastern Ontario – by Jen Glanville (CIM Magazine – December 20, 2017)

A successful Ontario graphite mine is forever submerged under Black Donald Lake

Before the 1867 construction of the road that led deep into the Black Donald Mountains, located about 120 kilometres west of Ottawa, the untamed region was considered wild by settler society. Eventually the growth of immigrant populations in the Ottawa area forced a westward expansion of Opeongo Road and soon Irish, Poles and Germans settled the region.

John Moore was one of the first European settlers of the mountainous frontier. He was offered a plot of land near Whitefish Lake. One day in 1889, while strolling on his property, he slipped on a rocky outcrop and made a life-changing discovery. A sampling of the brittle dark rock confirmed Moore had uncovered a graphite deposit.

Graphite was much needed in the industrialized 19th century. The mineral is heat-resistant, making it an ideal lubricant for motors and a good liner in crucibles containing molten steel. Continue Reading →