Archive | Northern Ontario History

SAUL LASKIN’S LAKEHEAD: FIRST OF MIDCANADA’S SIX BIG CITIES (MACLEAN’S Magazine – March 1, 1969)

http://www.macleans.ca/

THE NEAR NORTH

IT GETS COLD at the Lakehead. But it’s an almost joyous kind of cold, for it brings the snow-mobiles whizzing out of people’s backyards and down the snow-clogged streets, as thick as bicycles in Amsterdam. Besides, four of the best ski slopes in Ontario are within 20 minutes of downtown, and every discount store stocks snowshoes. Winter is a matter of perception. You can either curse it, escape it or try to ignore it. At the Lakehead, people try to enjoy it.

This may be part of the reason why Port Arthur’s Mayor Saul Laskin is sold on the feasibility of the mid-Canada development corridor. The idea stands or falls, after all, on the proposition that people can live comfortably in mid-Canada. Laskin and 110,000 other Lakehead residents have been doing it for years.

This may come as news to southern Canada. The national media seem to have evolved a silent conspiracy to ensure that the fact of northwestern Ontario’s existence doesn’t leak to the outside world. There is probably no area of Canada more justifiably conscious of being ignored. During Centennial year, when the Canadian Government Travel Bureau distributed a “Come to Canada” brochure through the U.S., they included Kapuskasing and Moosonee on the map, but failed to mention Port Arthur. When MP Robert Andras last year suggested carving an 11th province out of northern Ontario and northern Quebec, no one in his riding saw fit to hoot him down; by now they’re used to Going It Alone in northwestern Ontario. Continue Reading →

Half a century ago, locals celebrated — and grumbled about — the birth of Thunder Bay – by Jaie Bradburn (TV Ontario – January 10, 2020)

https://www.tvo.org/

In 1970, two cities and two townships merged, creating Ontario’s sixth-largest city. But not everyone welcomed the arrival of the brand-new municipality

At midnight on January 1, 1970, a ceremony was held at the arch that had, until that moment, marked the boundary between the cities of Port Arthur and Fort William. Previously known as the Welcome Arch, it would henceforth be called the Unity Arch, marking a symbolic end to the long rivalry that had, as the Globe and Mail observed, seen the two communities “fighting over land, new businesses, railway lines, and sometimes just for the hell of it.”

As church bells rang and fireworks went off, a sign on the arch flashed “Happy Birthday Thunder Bay.” With that, Ontario’s newest city was born. But, amid the celebrations, there was a great deal of grumbling over how the amalgamation process in the Lakehead area had unfolded.

Beginning in the Victorian era, the twin cities on Lake Superior had developed a deep rivalry that frequently prevented any form of co-operation. Each had its own transit system: passengers had to get off at the boundary and pay another fare before crossing into the other city. Taxis from one city couldn’t seek fares in the other. Continue Reading →

OPINION: Thunder Bay’s economic hardships are a sign of things to come for the rest of Canada – by Livio Di Matteo (Globe and Mail – December 23, 2019)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Livio Di Matteo is a professor of economics at Lakehead University.

There’s a good argument to be made that Canada would not exist as we understand it today without Thunder Bay. The 19th-century federal policies around building the Canadian Pacific Railway made it necessary to build cities on Northern Ontario’s lakehead.

Port Arthur and Fort William, the cities that would amalgamate into Thunder Bay in 1970, became grain shipment points for the prairie frontier, bringing the area prosperity. That was only amplified by provincial government policies supporting the myriad industries that followed suit: forestry, mining, shipbuilding, rail-car manufacturing, pulp and paper.

And the economic infrastructure that was laid in the first third of the 20th century provided opportunities for immigrants in the area’s sawmills, pulp mills, grain elevators and manufacturing plants. Continue Reading →

The Agenda with Steve Paikin Interviews Charlotte Gray about her new book – A Millionaire’s Murder Mystery (December 2, 2019)

https://www.tvo.org/

Sir Harry Oakes, a major figure in 19th-and-early 20th century northern Ontario, made millions in mining. He was mysteriously murdered in the Caribbean in 1943, with no clues as to the culprit. The Agenda explores Oakes’s intriguing life, and the mark he made on Kirkland Lake with historian Charlotte Gray, who chronicled his activities in her book, “Murdered Midas: A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise.”

A terrific Christmas gift! 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.

Canadian labour legend Leo Gerard on the past, present and future of unions – Interview by Michael Enright (CBC Radio – Sunday Edition – November 22, 2019)

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thesundayedition/

Leo Gerard was 11 years old when he handed out his first union leaflets. That was in 1958, and he was living in Sudbury, a mining town. The leaflets were for the Mine Mill, the union his father belonged to.

What Gerard didn’t know then was that he would spend much of the rest of his life as a labour leader and activist. He began as a staff representative at the United Steelworkers (the USW) and moved quickly through the ranks. This summer, he retired as international president of the USW, a position he held for 18 years.

Gerard spoke to The Sunday Edition’s Michael Enright about his life in the labour movement and the future of unions in an age of globalized trade, a collapsing manufacturing sector and precarious employment. Continue Reading →

Excerpt from Murdered Midas: A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise – by Charlotte Gray (November 30, 2019)

A terrific Christmas gift! 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 →

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 →

Robinson-Huron Treaty lawsuit resumes – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – October 15, 2019)

https://www.thesudburystar.com/

Now that the provincial government has failed to reopen an historic legal case, the second phase of a lawsuit filed by Robinson-Huron Treaty First Nations is set to begin in Sudbury on Tuesday.

The hearings will help sort out how much and who pays annuities owed to the First Nations under the 1850 treaty. The case resumes Tuesday at the Radisson Hotel in the Rainbow Centre. Nine days of court time are booked.

The lengthy Phase 1 of the trial was completed in Greater Sudbury in June of 2018, with Superior Court Justice Patricia Hennessy reserving her decision. Continue Reading →

Book celebrates 100 years of Kirkland Lake – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – September 11, 2019)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Mayors and reeves, renowned strongmen and multi-million-dollar lottery winners are among the cast of colourful characters in a newly published book celebrating the centennial of the Town of Kirkland Lake.

Authored by Bill Glover, Gold for a Mad Miner is an anthology of 18 stories celebrating the town’s history, quirks and legends, printed in time to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the town’s founding in 1919. Glover, who was born and raised in Kirkland Lake, said he’s always been interested in storytelling, and this marks the fifth book he’s written.

Though he’s retired now, he spent close to six decades in the mining industry, first working in Sudbury at Frood and Stobie mines, before establishing his own consultancy firm, which took him to Asia, Europe, South America, the U.S. and beyond. Continue Reading →

City mining for gov’t funds to repair headframe – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – September 12, 2019)

https://www.timminspress.com/

The city’s iconic McIntyre headframe is in dire need of repairs. The total cost could exceed half-a-million dollars. But the money isn’t in this year’s budget.

Timmins council on Tuesday approved some repairs to the external layer of the structure — a job which is expected to cost about $15,000 — with the plan is to complete the full repairs next year.

Mark Jensen, the city’s director of community and development services, told council there is a chance the project could qualify for government funding covering up to 75% of the cost. However, there is no guarantee the city will receive financial support from upper-tier governments. 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 →

FIRST PERSON: My grandfather was one of Canada’s colourful Hudson’s Bay Company fur traders – by Gordon Miller (Globe and Mail – July 2, 2019)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

In 1939, I stood in the cemetery at Gogama, Ont. My grandfather, James Slater Miller was being buried on the side of a hill. It overlooked the forests and lakes he travelled by canoe and dog team for almost 50 years.
He was one of the last of the fur traders who married Indigenous women, raised families, manned the trading posts and ruled these vast territories as judge, jury, doctor and mediator for the Hudson’s Bay Company.

They, along with the Indigenous population, adventurers, missionaries, doctors and teachers, kept the country together and made it strong. A news item published in the Sudbury Star the day before read: Continue Reading →

A woman’s view of Inco – by Mia Jensen (Sudbury Star – June 29, 2019)

https://www.thesudburystar.com/

In 1974, Inco started hiring women for the first time since the end of the Second World War. Cathy Mulroy, then 19, was the second woman in line for a job. Now, she’s written a book about her experiences.

Mulroy worked on the anode casting wheel in the copper refinery. Her job was to empty the molten metal arriving in hot cars from the smelter, into the furnace. It was hot, grimy work, but for Mulroy, the labour wasn’t the difficult part of her experience.

“Over the years, I was kind of a person who believed in people’s rights,” she says. “I was never quiet. So right off the bat, I started getting into trouble.” Continue Reading →

Ontario’s Lake Superior Silver Island – by Kaaria Quash (CIM Magazine – June 3, 2019)

http://magazine.cim.org/en/

Silver Islet was one of Canada’s most profitable silver mines, until it was destroyed by a storm over Lake Superior

Located on a small rocky island just off the northern shore of Lake Superior, Silver Islet mine was once the most lucrative silver mine of its time – until it was swallowed by the raging waters of the lake.

For 13 years, it provided some of the highest quality silver in the world. Large nuggets of the metal were discovered there, some so pure they did not need to be smelted. Over the course of its lifetime, the mine produced 2,605,786 ounces of silver, worth $3.25 million.

The Montreal Mining Company first started digging for its treasure in 1868. Developing the mine was not easy, however, and the unpredictable nature of Lake Superior made it an engineering nightmare to maintain. 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 →