Archive | Canadian Mining History

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 →

Excerpt from Murdered Midas: A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise – by Charlotte Gray (September 11, 2019)

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 →

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 →

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

https://www.thewhig.com/

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). Continue Reading →

Sculptor helps gold mining town celebrate 100 years – by Marc Montgomery (Radio Canada International – July 8, 2019)

Radio Canada International

Northern Ontario’s history is tied to that of mining. It was back in 1919 that a rush for silver in the north led instead to a discovery of gold and a another sort of rush.

This led to the development of several mines and creation of the township of Teck, eventually renamed Kirkland Lake in 1972. Renowned bronze sculptor Tyler Fauvelle has created a lifesized recreation of a period prospector which has been placed near the Toburn mine, the first of several which once flourished, and are now gone.

“Although the artwork is a tribute to all of the Kirkland Lake Gold Camp prospectors, I did include some features representing some of Kirkland Lake’s legendary prospectors. I hope visitors will enjoy looking for those symbols, and learning about the local history behind them,” says Fauvelle. Continue Reading →

Back in Time: Striking it rich at Flin Flon’s first mine – by Craig Baird (Flin Flon Reminder – June 19, 2019)

https://www.thereminder.ca/

The origins of Mandy Mine involve two men who were working as railroad builders by Hudson Bay. They decided that they wanted to take their own prospecting trip along Grassy River and see what was there. They had some knowledge of the area thanks to earlier surveyors, but they wanted to see it for themselves.

Fred Jackson and Sidney Reynolds decided to take the trip in the autumn of 1915 and see what they could find. Luck was on their side as they decided to camp on top of a 35-foot wide lens of solid chalcopyrite.

Over the next few months, the were able to pull out 22 to 28 per cent copper, which contained $3.60 worth of gold per ton, along with about nine to 16 ounces of silver. For every $1,000 they spent drilling into the find, $1.25 million in ore was brought out. It was pay dirt for the two men. Continue Reading →

Coal miners daughters story told at Davis Day ceremony in Springhill – by David Mathieson (Amherst News – June 14, 2019)

https://www.cumberlandnewsnow.com/

SPRINGHILL, N.S. – Springhill mining history came to life at the 2019 Davis Day service June 11 at the St. Andrews-Wesley United Church in Springhill.

“As was the practice in those days, the eldest son, Donald, my grandfather, went to work at a man’s job at the age of 13 to support his family,” Shawna Canning said to the crowd gathered for the service.

Born in 1913, Canning’s grandfather, Donald Arthur Campbell, was named after his grandfather who was killed in the 1891 explosion that killed 125 miners. Donald began working at the mine at the age of 13 after his father, John Campbell, was injured at the mine and was unable to work again. Continue Reading →

Canada’s Northern mining future looks as glorious as our golden past – by Terence Corcoran (Financial Post – June 7, 2019)

https://business.financialpost.com/

Canada’s gold-mining spirit is still alive today, and doing extremely well in Nunavut

Around this time of year, half a century ago, 4,400 feet underground, as an apprentice miner I lugged heavy timbers around dark damp stopes to help tough-talking miners of every nationality drill for gold at the Kerr Addison mine in Virginiatown, 600 kilometres north of Toronto.

I got the job and “apprentice miner” title through the father of a girl I’d met — Claudia was her name — at school in Ottawa. As a native of east end Montreal, I had no idea that Canada was a gold-mining powerhouse.

Even today there is much to learn, including the fact that a few years before my summer job at the mine, Kerr Addison produced 500,000 ounces of gold a year — shipped by rail south to Montreal — and in 1962 it was the largest gold producer in the Western Hemisphere. Continue Reading →

The Hunt for the Singing Atom – by C. Fred Bodsworth (MACLEAN’S Magazine – August 15, 1948)

http://www.macleans.ca/

Gold’s old stuff; miners on the Trail of ’48 want uranium, the stuff that can chirp in their ears or flatten a city

WHERE Northern Ontario’s broad Abitibi River tumbles through the spruce-walled gorge of Otter Rapids and lunges northward on its final 90-mile dash for James Bay and the sea, I stood over one of Canada’s newest radioactive ore discoveries and listened to its tune of disintegrating atoms, the theme song of the atomic age.

Locked in a brown-red vein of ore at my feet there was possibly bread-and-butter stuff for scores of potential atom bombs, but the tune of cracking atoms I heard could have been drowned out by the snap of a jenny firecracker.

Detected and amplified by the Geiger counter which hung at my waist, a wondrous little electronic gadget which smells out disintegrating atoms of radioactive ore as keenly as a cat smells out fish, the atom tune in the Geiger’s earphone sounded merely like raindrops spattering on a tin roof. Without the Geiger to translate it into sound, those thousands of disintegrating atoms Would have been as undetectable as the 40-pound sturgeons which, so the natives say, lurk in the Abitibi’s khaki-colored water offshore. Continue Reading →

Canadian Ingenuity: Kate Rice canoed, hunted and prospected – by Susanna McLeod (Kingston Whig Standard – May 8, 2019)

https://www.thewhig.com/

Wherever she went, Kate Rice always had a particular item with her. It wasn’t a locket, it wasn’t a wallet, nor medication. The item was something every prospector girl needed when working by herself in the wilderness. It was a rifle.

Kathleen (Kate) Creighton Starr Rice, born Dec. 22, 1882, thrived in the outdoors. Her love began with canoeing, camping and hunting trips with her father, Henry Lincoln Rice. While her mother read bedtime fairy tales to her young daughter, Kate’s father ignited the child’s imagination with tales of adventure and nature.

Fine-featured, pretty and nearly six feet tall, Kate Rice was regarded by friends and family as eccentric and independent, with a stern “don’t mess with me” personality. The family living in St. Mary’s in southwestern Ontario was upper middle class. Henry Rice operated St. Mary’s Milling Company, the firm inherited by his wife, Charlotte Carter. Continue Reading →

BOOM! brings a century of Britannia mining history to life – by Brandon Barrett (Pique News Magazine – April 26, 2019)

https://www.piquenewsmagazine.com/

KIRSTIN CLAUSEN knows mining history isn’t exactly the sexiest topic for tourists, but the executive director of the Britannia Mine Museum is banking on an ambitious interactive show launching this summer to paint the historic mill in a new light.

“I think we can be honest: Mining can be a tough sell to turn it into a tourist attraction,” Clausen said. “We hope people will feel a connection to the story.” That particular story is deeply rooted in the history of British Columbia. Once the most productive copper mine in the British Empire, the Britannia mill today is a national historic site and museum that welcomes visitors from around the globe.

In an effort to better appeal to modern audiences, staff at the museum dreamed up the concept for BOOM!, a multi-sensory, interactive show that brings the historic Mill No. 3 to life through “sound, smell, shaking and noise,” Clausen explained. In operation from 1921 to 1974, the ore mill served as the focal point of Britannia Beach, and according to Clausen, has many stories to tell. Continue Reading →