Archive | Canadian Mining History

Blood on the Coal tartan honours Springhill’s coal mining heritage – by Darrell Cole (Halifax Chronicle Herald – June 25, 2020)

SPRINGHILL, N.S. – It has been more than 60 years since large scale coal mining ended in Springhill, but its heritage is still a big part of the community’s soul.

Springhill native Roberta Bell was sleeping last June when the inspiration came to her to develop a coal miner’s tartan in honour of all those who went deep into the earth, and paid a heavy price, to dig coal and fuel the economy of Nova Scotia.

Bell has unveiled Blood on the Coal, a commemorative tartan that celebrates the coal mining heritage of Springhill. Continue Reading →

Funding approved to install final statue in Elliot Lake’s Miner’s Memorial Park – by Colleen Romaniuk (Sudbury Star – June 19, 2020)

Almost 20 years after Laura Brown Breetvelt was commissioned by Elliot Lake to design and produce the Miner’s Monument, the city is gearing up to install the final statue in the installation.

In a special session held on June 15, City Council approved a payment of $27,000 to Beamish Construction to install the statue at the site located on Highway 108 beside Horne Lake.

The final piece in what the Merrickville, Ont.-based sculptor calls “a trilogy” is a full-sized metal statue of a uranium prospector that pays homage to Elliot Lake’s former role as Canada’s uranium mining capital. Continue Reading →

[B.C. Gold Mining] THE CARIBOO ROARS AGAIN – by Charles Lugrin Shaw (MACLEAN’S Magazine – May 15, 1933)

SEVENTY YEARS ago the gold rush to the Cariboo country, in central British Columbia, was the talk of the mining world and the goal of thousands of men who, eager for adventure and the chance of making a quick fortune, answered the alluring call of the gold trail. The creeks of the Cariboo were worked for generations and yielded more than $60,000,000 in placer gold.

Then came the day when mining men regarded the Cariboo with a shrug of indifference and perhaps a sigh of hopelessness. “The Cariboo is through,” they said. “A mining camp never comes back.”

But they spoke too soon. For this year, thousands of miners— some with their wives and children and even their mothers-in-law—have struck out for the glamorous Cariboo to gamble with the capricious goddess of fate that rules all mining camps, just as their predecessors did in the early 1860s. After half a century of peaceful slumber, the historic old goldfield has awakened and is roaring again. Continue Reading →

VAL d’OR: HALFBOOTS AND HIGH HEELS – by McKenzie Porter (MACLEAN’S Magazine – December 1, 1949)

Quebec’s lusty young city of gold defiantly kicks up its heels but progress and plumbing are taming it into respectability

LAST AUGUST police raided Lew Gagnier’s so-called Hunting and Fishing Club in Val d’Or, Northwest Quebec, and seized chips, dice, shakers and gambling machines which had been used in the Yukon 60 years ago.

Not since Dawson City burgeoned to the ballads of Robert W. Service has such a lusty town as Val d’Or been whelped from the strike of a bonanza.

Fifteen years ago it was matted muskeg, the lair of timber wolves, 65 miles east of the then new gold mines in Rouyn-Noranda. Today it is a gilded city of 10,000 glittering in the heart of a forest.

The paradoxes of the old and the new are plain in Val d’Or. You could stand bathed in Neon light at either end of the mile-long main drag and bag a too curious moose in the bush which huddles up to the city limits. Continue Reading →

[Canadian Gold Mining/Exploration During Depression] The Trails of `34 – by Leslie McFarlane (MACLEAN’S Magazine – September 15, 1934)

THE CARIBOO, the Yukon, the Porcupine—these fields have been the scenes of epic Canadian gold rushes. In each case the stage setting was colorful, the action dynamic. Each field had its peak year of raw drama. They were spectacular rushes, with an element of madness and frenzy. They belong to history.

And yet in sheer enormity, in point of men involved, money expended, wealth produced and in sight, not one of them could hold a candle to the great gold rush of ’34.

Men still speak of the Cariboo Trail and the Klondyke Trail. There can be no such convenient designation for the scene of this year’s great gold trek unless one refers in a general way to the ‘Trails of ’34. Because the scene is all Canada, and the trails lead to new fields and old. The effort is not concentrated upon a single area. The stage is so wide, so crowded with effects that the term “rush” may seem at first glance a misnomer. And yet from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, across the whole breadth of the Dominion, one of the greatest gold treks of all time is in full swing. Continue Reading →

British Columbia: Gold rush garbage mined to unearth history of Chinese miners in B.C. – by Betsy Trumpener (CBC News British Columbia – June 7, 2020)

A B.C. archaeologist is mining a garbage dump beside an old Chinese restaurant, working to unearth clues about the lives of Chinese gold miners more than a century ago. Dawn Ainsley’s dig site is in the Chinatown section of Barkerville Historic Town and Park, about 700 kilometres north of Vancouver.

2,000 Chinese miners

At the height of the gold rush, about 2,000 Chinese miners lived in the area, making up about half of the local population.

Now, working beside historical wooden buildings, Ainsley picks through layers of trash thrown off the side porch of the Doy Ying Low restaurant as far back as 1870. The garbage has been buried in layers of mud from the flooding that’s occurred in the last 150 years. Continue Reading →

How Gold Thieves Get Away With Millions – by Don Delaplante (MACLEAN”S Magazine – July 15, 1950)

The high-grading racket has its roots deep in the rich mines of northern Canada. The payoff is sometimes in New York, or even Morocco, at the end of a trail of graft, hijacking and murder

ON JUNE 2 thieves blew the vault at the Delnite mine in Ontario’s famous Porcupine camp and carted off three newly poured gold bars worth $74,000. It was the biggest single robbery in Canadian mining history. And it was pulled off in spite of rumors of the coup which had been rampant for six weeks.

No single incident could more strikingly underline the great high-grading racket. The theft and smuggling of high-grade ore and gold cost Canadian mines more than $2 millions each year. It is bizarre, spectacular, cunning thievery marked by graft, hijacking and calculated murder. Its practitioners are masters of the double-cross; news of newly planned thefts often leaks out beforehand.

Its ramifications are international. Stolen Canadian gold usually winds up in the free world market in Paris or is sold privately in Central Europe or the Middle East at $40 an ounce. Three years ago (before Russia flooded the market) the price hit $100. Continue Reading →

Dig, dig, dig – now, dug out? How a Flin Flon building block may someday be saved – by Eric Westhaver (Flin Flon Reminder – June 4, 2020)

It was one of Flin Flon’s original building blocks, a tall, mean, 60-ton electric shovelling machine, used to dig out the city’s biggest project to date in its time – the original open pit. It was the Marion 4160 electric shovel and it, perhaps more than any other piece of the mine, was responsible for mining in Flin Flon as it is today.

Electric-powered and mounted on tank-like tracks, the Marion shovel was a machine designed to do the work of dozens of labourers of minimal effort. The shovel was built by the Marion Power Shovel Company out of Marion, Ohio and was a large, tractor-like vehicle with a large arm extending up over the tracks. A pulley, cord and gear system was used to power a giant scoop up and down.

Marion shovels were used in many 20th century projects that required moving large amounts of earth, fast – the Panama Canal was built using over a hundred Marion shovels. Continue Reading →

[Canada Stores European Gold During WW2] OPERATION FISH – by Robert Low (Bank of Canada Museum – May 8, 2018)

It’s 7:35 a.m., July 1st, 1940 and a shipment of fish has arrived in Halifax. Labelled “Top Secret,” it was the culmination of almost a year of planning and preparatory work. It’s one of the war’s best kept secrets—and certainly one of the most interesting.

The Bank of Canada was about to become a key, if secret, player in the Second World War, and truthfully, the story doesn’t involve a single fish at all. It involved gold. A lot of it—thousands of pounds that needed to move across an ocean to protect the future of Europe.

Imagine it’s 1940—war has broken out across the world. Germany has already annexed Austria and Czechoslovakia and invaded Poland. Within a few months, it will crush the armies of Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. By May, the Germans have reached the French channel coast, surrounding close to 400,000 allied soldiers and sailors at Dunkirk. Continue Reading →

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)

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)

‘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)

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:

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:

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:

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 →