Excerpt from Industrial Cathedrals of the North written by Charlie Angus and photographed by Louie Palu (1999)
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Take a drive along the blacktop as Highway 66 turns into 117 and you’ll be taking a drive over one of the richest geological treasures in the world. The highway forms the lower part of a belt of riches known as the Abitibi-Greenstone belt. Over 140 million ounces of gold have been mined from the belt, a feat unparalleled anywhere except in the gold fields of South Africa. The belt is made up of two parallel fault lines running east-west from Ontario into Quebec. The northern edge of the belt – the Porcupine-Destor Fault – runs from the Porcupine along Highway 101 to Destor, Quebec, while the lower fault – the Larder-Cadillac Break – runs from Matachewan, Ontario along 66 towards Val d’Or, Quebec. The fault lines have been the source of some of Canada’s biggest gold mines. The ground between the faults is host to numerous base metal deposits.
The Larder-Cadillac Break is as much a social line as it is a geological formation. The fault runs straight through the heart of many historic gold camps: Matachewan, Kirkland Lake, Larder Lake, V-Town, Rouyn-Noranda, McWatters, Cadillac, Malarctic and Val d’Or. The Abitibi-Greenstone belt has created a natural east-west link across the two provinces. Communities along the fault lines share common links of history, work and identity. Indeed the whole opening up of Northwestern Quebec to mining is a direct result of the movement of prospectors and miners along the lines of the Abitibi-Greenstone belt.
Prospector Ed Horne played a pivotal role in this early development. Before the first World War he was prospecting in Gowganda, Kirkland Lake and the Porcupine. He then moved along the westerly axis from the Kirkland-Larder camps into the Lake Osisko region of Rouyn Township, Quebec. Continue Reading →