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.

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From mining town to retirement destination—the transformation of Elliot Lake – by Erik White (CBC News Sudbury – July 8, 2018)

Elliot Lake was on the brink of becoming of ghost town when the mines closed in the early 1990s.

Four seniors from southern Ontario are quietly sitting in the back of a mini-van as it whizzes up and down the hilly, curvy streets of Elliot Lake. In the driver’s seat, Retirement Living tour guide Linda McKay is far from quiet.

“You’re going to feel like you’re going in circles all the time, and you’re going to get dizzy, but you’ll never get lost,” McKay tells them. She tells the visitors, who were put up in a hotel in the town last night, about everything from the transit service to where they might spot some wild foxes.

McKay drives past the vacant lot where the mall that “collapsed on us” used to stand, referring to the Algo Centre Mall disaster that killed two women in 2012. “Tired yet?” she asks.

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Ontario Mine Rescue gathers some history in Elliot Lake – by Kevin McSheffrey (Elliot Lake Standard – January 17, 2018)

With 2019 being the 90th anniversary of Ontario Mine Rescue, two members of the organization were in Elliot Lake recently to gather some of its history in preparation for next year’s event.

Ted Hanley, Ontario Mine Rescue general manager at its head office in Sudbury, and a student researcher Justin Konrad, were scanning and photographing many of the exhibits in Elliot Lake’s Mine Rescue Collection at the Elliot Lake and Nuclear Mining Museum on Jan. 10.

Ken Pierce, Elliot Lake’s local historian and the former regional mine rescue instructor based in the community when the mines were operating, was assisting them. Hanley says he first came to the Elliot Lake and Nuclear Mining Museum two years ago and viewed the Mine Rescue Collection, on Pierce’s invitation.

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No One Wants To Talk About Ontario’s Disappearing Blue-Collar Communities – by Robert Waite (Huffington Post – October 16, 2017)

A lot can happen to a city or town in 35 years. Take Toronto — in 1982 the city still sported nicknames like “Toronto the Good” and “Hog Town.”  Visitors from New York and Montreal had another word for it: “Boring.”

Several decades (and several million more people) later, Toronto has transformed into one of the world’s most vibrant and diverse cities.

But this story isn’t about Toronto. It is about a town in Northern Ontario, Kapuskasing, located a good 10-hour drive (about 800 kilometres) away. It is about the fact that even in an age of global warming, life in Canada north of 45 degrees latitude (49.4, to be exact) can be precarious.

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Ontario Mining History: The Elliot Lake story – by Dit Holt (Northern Miner – January 8, 2001)

Global mining news

The evolution of Elliot Lake, Ont. — from a logging and fur-trapping centre in the early 1900s to the uranium capital of the world in the 1950s and 1960s, and then to its present status as one of most successful retirement communities in Canada — is unique. And few people know that history better than M.E. (Dit) Holt, a mining engineer who began his career by taking part in the staking rush that transformed a remote wilderness north of Lake Huron into a mining boom town.

In the next few months, Holt will bring that history back to life through a series of columns featuring the men (in those days, mining was a man’s game) who found, financed and developed a total of 11 mines in the district.

To set the stage, we’ll go back to 1948, when Aim Breton and Karl Gunterman discovered radioactive rock in Long Twp., east of Blind River. However, significant deposits of the radioactive element were not found, and Breton and Gunterman let their claims lapse. In 1952, prospector Franc Joubin (1911-1997), backed by financier Joseph Hirshhorn (1900-1981), restaked the lapsed claims and set out to determine exactly what was exciting his geiger counter.

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Barrick’s Munk Heads Top Ten Most Important Mining Men in Canadian History – by Stan Sudol

Melanie and Peter Munk
Melanie and Peter Munk

An edited version of this list was published in the February/March issue of the Canadian Mining Journal.

Four Americans Made the List!

A few months ago, my dear colleague Joe Martin, who is the Director of the Canadian Business & Financial History Initiative at Rotman and President Emeritus of Canada’s History Society, asked me a very simple question: who would be considered the most important individual in Canadian mining?

Considering Canada’s lengthy and exceptional expertise in the mineral sector, it was not an easy answer and I decided to research and create a top ten list of the most important mining men in Canadian history.

The lack of women on this list simply reflects the fact that for much of our history most women were not given the educational or social opportunities to excel in business, especially in a rough and male-dominated sector like mining. Times have changed, women are playing key roles in mining today and will definitely be included on this list in the future.

However, a few qualifiers need to be established. This is basically a list of mine builders not mine finders.  Building a company through takeovers and discoveries is one way but I am also focusing on individuals who have built corporate empires and/or who have developed isolated regions of the country with the necessary infrastructure for mines to flourish and create multi-generational jobs, shareholder wealth and great economic impact.

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ELLIOT LAKE’S GLAMOROUS RISE AND BITTER FALL – by McKenzie Porter (MACLEAN’S Magazine – July 16, 1960)

This is a candid portrait of the hundred-million-dollar boom town that was built on uranium—the mineral with sex appeal— and of the mesmerized thousands who learned the hard way that it was just another mining camp after all

ELLIOT LAKE IS the most elaborate mining camp ever built, and until recently it was the luckiest. Although it is buried in the northern Ontario bush, half way between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie, it looks like a metropolitan suburb.

Moose, bears and wolves peep nervously down from majestic heights of rock and pine upon a hundred million dollars’ worth of fluorescent lights, crescent streets, split-level homes, three – story apartment blocks, cantilevered shopping plazas, breeze-way schools, wide-screen movie theatres, picture-window hotels, functional churches, a lakeshore community centre and the finest hospital north of Lake Huron.

Ed Gibbons, a former editor of the Elliot Lake Standard, once described the town as “a frontier monument to the architectural theories of Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright,” and he spoke more in wonder than in jest.

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How Joe Hirshhorn Hit the Uranium Jackpot – by David MacDonald (MACLEAN’S Magazine – October 29, 1955)

Even when geologists said there couldn’t be uranium at Blind River this brash and bouncy little financial wizard tossed in $30,000 and struck a spectacular bonanza. He wasn’t surprised. “Making money comes easy to me,” he says, “ — like breathing”

ALONG Toronto’s Bay Street, the frenetic mining capital of North America, veteran prospector and minemaker Gilbert A. LaBine had long been acknowledged—until recently—as the uranium king of Canada. The reason was obvious. It was LaBine who had found the continent’s first pitchblende, at Great Bear Lake, in 1930; LaBine whose Eldorado mine helped usher in the atomic age over Hiroshima; and LaBine who, in the northern wilds of Saskatchewan, came up with Gunnar, Canada’s first truly big uranium strike.

Today—for reasons equally obvious—the top man in uranium is no longer LaBine, a conservative grey-haired elder of the industry, but Joseph H. Hirshhorn, a flashy fast-talking little mining promoter from the borough of Brooklyn, N.Y., whose exploits on Bay and Wall Streets have won him millions of dollars and a gambler’s reputation for playing long shots.

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Franc Joubin – The Father of Elliot Lake – by Dit Holt (Northern Miner – March 19, 2001)

Without the foresight, initiative and leadership of Franc Joubin (1911-1997), the mines of Elliot Lake, Ont., might never have come about. Joubin was one of the most outstanding explorers in North America, if not the world. His achievements, awards, degrees and world-wide experience speak for themselves.

I first met Joubin back in 1949 at a gathering in Toronto to kick off the Beaverlodge uranium campaign. A young geologist who knew him turned to me and asked if I had met the man before. When I said no, he said “mark my work words: he’ll set the world on fire.” How prophetic that turned out to be.

Joubin inspired and affected our lives dramatically. With his natural wit and warmth, this quiet-spoken man was a born leader. “Knowledge is power,” he would often say, and he was living proof.

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History of Elliot Lake – Life of an Elliot Lake miner at work – by Kevin McSheffrey (Elliot Lake Standard – December 30, 2015)

Elliot Lake has been in existence since 1955, and grew out of the wilderness following geologist Franc Joubin’s uranium discovery earlier that decade.

Joubin’s discovery resulted in a dozen uranium mines in the area, 11 around Elliot Lake and one on the North Shore. Two mining companies were involved: Rio Algom, headed up by Joseph Hirshhorn and Denison Mines, headed by Stephen Roman.

The discovery attracted mine workers from across the province, the country and around the world.

However, the boom was followed by a bust in the early 1960s when the United States government cancelled its contracts with the two mining companies.

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The strike that saved lives [Elliot Lake] – by Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco (CIM Magazine – June-July 2014)

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Elliot Lake wildcat walkout

Ontario government representatives 40 years ago presented research linking radiation to lung cancer at a conference in Paris, France. In the audience were several members of the United Steelworkers of America (USW), whose organization had been fighting the mining industry and the Ontario government for improved health and safety at the Denison and Rio Algom uranium mines in Elliot Lake, Ontario. In addition to a high incidence of injuries, hundreds of miners were ill or dying from silicosis and lung cancer, which the union believed was caused by silica dust.

The union representatives were shocked to discover the government had found there was another cause behind the high rates of lung cancer – radiation – and had not bothered to inform miners or to take any action to protect them. The USW members shared the news with their co-workers back in Elliot Lake, and this proved to be the last straw. On April 18, 1974, about 1,000 miners from Denison went on a three-week wildcat strike.

“I think the conference, combined with the general dissatisfaction with the occupational health and safety regulations and laws in the province at that time, caused the strike,” says Fergus Kerr, now vice-president of operations at Global Atomic Fuels Corp., who joined Denison in 1977 and became its general manager a decade later.

The strike drew the attention of the media, the public and Ontario’s politicians. Mining health and safety suddenly became a hot-button issue.

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Elliot Lake marks National Day of Mourning – by Kevin McSheffrey (Elliot Lake Standard – April 30, 2014)

The National Day of Mourning is aimed at remembering those workers who died on the job or as a result of a workplace accidents or illnesses. Sue Girard, a representative from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, was the master of ceremonies at the event.

She reminded the crowd gathered at the Miners’ Memorial that the Day of Mourning was created 30 years ago by the labour movement to increase awareness of on-the-job injuries and fatal workplace accidents.

The following year, 1985, it was recognized by the Canadian Labour Congress. Eight years later, the federal government also recognized the day. Girard added that the Day of Mourning is recognized on more than 80 countries.

She continued by saying that Canada has some of the best occupational health and safety laws in the world. However, workplace deaths continue to rise in Canada. “In 2012, (a total of) 977 workplace deaths were reported in Canada, a six per cent increase over 2011,” Girard said.

“Statistics published by the Association of Workers Compensation Boards of Canada for 1993 to 2013 show that during this 20-year period, more than 18,039 people died as a result of workplace accidents.”

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Historic strike recalled – by Kevin McSheffrey (Elliot Lake Standard – April 16, 2014)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

ELLIOT LAKE — It was a clear, but cold morning when two bus loads of United Steelworkers stopped at the intersection of Highway 108 and what was once the turnoff to Denison Mines, about 15 kilometres north of Elliot Lake on Wednesday.

This was the second day of a three-day forum that began in Sudbury and will end here Thursday. As many as 90 people from across the country and parts of the United States took part in the forum to remember and commemorate an event that took place in Elliot Lake four decades ago.

The visit to Elliot Lake was to mark the 40th anniversary of the Denison Mines wildcat strike that started on April 18, 1974, and lasted three weeks.

The wildcat strike was to protest the deplorable and unsafe working conditions. One of the biggest issues was ventilation. Underground mineworkers were breathing in dust contaminated with radon daughters, resulting in many getting silicosis and lung cancer, and ultimately dying.

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COMMENT: The Elliot Lake strike and 40 years of safer mines – by Marilyn Scales (Canadian Mining Journal – April 15, 2014)

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

Forty years ago uranium miners in Elliot Lake, ON, staged a wildcat strike to call attention to the need for improved health and safety conditions. Silicosis and lung cancer were occupational hazards. The miners’ determination, and that of their union, led to the Occupational Health and Safety Act

To commemorate 40 years of increasing mine safety, the United Steelworkers (USW) is memorializing the Elliot Lake strike this week, April 15 -17 at the USW Local 6500 Steelworkers Hall and Conference Centre in Sudbury, ON.

Highlight of the tribute is Wednesday’s trip to Elliot Lake where participants will set up a mock picket at the entrance to the former Denison mine. A tour of the Elliot Lake Nuclear and Mining Museum and a re-dedication ceremony at the Miners’ Memorial are also planned.

Other activities in Sudbury include a look at the history of the Elliot Lake miners’ strike, a review of occupational disease, and an update on the current Ontario Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review.

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