Archive | Northern Ontario History

NORTHERN ONTARIO’S DREAM TO SECEDE, REBORN: ‘WE’RE TREATED LIKE A COLONY’ – by Joseph Brean (National Post – April 11, 2018)

http://nationalpost.com/

NORTH BAY — They called it Aurora. It was to be a new province in Canada, carved out of Ontario’s hinterland, so far northwest of Toronto it is a different place, practically Manitoba.

That was in the 1940s, when Hubert Limerick’s New Province League led the push for northern secession. It was hardly the first time, nor the last. The latest effort has taken the form of a revamped and renamed political party with a motley slate of candidates, now set to launch an ambitious election campaign in northern Ontario ridings.

Their aim is to seize the balance of power in what they hope, after June’s election, will be a narrowly divided legislature at Queen’s Park. Then, they want to seek a referendum on the creation — against all constitutional odds — of a new province. Continue Reading →

HISTORY: Porcupine rose from ashes of 1911 fire – by Karen Bachmann (Timmins Daily Press – March 25, 2018)

http://www.timminspress.com/

Karen Bachmann is the director/curator of the Timmins Museum and a writer of local history.

TIMMINS – I can’t remember what romantically inclined poet first said it, but the adage was very true – the Porcupine Camp did, “like a Phoenix, rise from its ashes” after the great Porcupine fire of 1911.

For those of you unfamiliar with the event, here is the New York Times version of what happened, printed on July 13th, 1911: “Hundreds of lives were lost and millions of dollars’ worth of property was destroyed in the forest fires which swept the Porcupine mining district in Northern Ontario yesterday.

“The mines burned include the Dome, the North Dome, the Preston, the East Dome, the Vipond, the Foley O’Brien, the Philadelphia, the United Porcupine, the Eldorado Porcupine, the Hollinger, the Standard Imperial, the West Dome and the Success. Continue Reading →

Historic mining facility in Copper Cliff to be demolished by year’s end – by Benjamin Aubé (CBC News Sudbury – March 15, 2018)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/

The Copper Cliff iron ore recovery plant was built by INCO in 1953

It was an iconic part of Greater Sudbury’s mining history to some, and a decaying eyesore to others, but the former Copper Cliff iron ore recovery plant is finally coming down.

Starting in the mid-1950s, the facility was used to separate remaining traces of iron ore and sulphur from waste produced by nickel mining operations. Vale spokesperson Angie Robson said there should be no trace of the facility by the end of 2018.

“Obviously it was a very historically significant part of our operations. It employed many in the community over the years, so it’s quite significant that the plant is now being decommissioned,” said Robson. Continue Reading →

Noah Timmins: The Grand Old Man of Canadian mining (Quebec Heritage News – November 2004)


(L to R) Noranda CEO James Murdoch and Hollinger Mines CEO Noah Timmins – 1932.

http://qahn.org/quebec-heritage-news

The Timmins family was among the many Montreal families who chose to holiday in Ste. Agathe in the early part of the 20th Century. Henry and Noah Timmins, two inseparable brothers who had married two sisters, purchased a part of the farm of Adolphe Marier in 1915, on what was then called Chemin du Roi, but is now Tour du Lac.

They were a wealthy mining family whose influence extended to mining regions all over the world, but they had not always been in mining. They had started their lives in the simple northern town of Mattawa, Ontario, in the early 1860s.

Henry and Noah Timmins had inherited a general store in Mattawa from their parents. The community at the confluence of the Mattawa and Ottawa rivers, was predominantly French-speaking and Catholic, and the Timmins family lived in both languages.

Their sister, Josephine, had gone to school at the convent of Ste. Anne in Lachine, where she befriended the daughters of Louis Paré, the lockkeeper of the Lachine Canal. By 1878, she had married his son, Dr. Louis Paré, and introduced his sisters to her brothers, leading to the binding of the families through three marriages.

Their mining careers began in September, 1903 when a blacksmith named Fred Larose dropped in to their general store on his way home to Hull. Continue Reading →

TIMMINS HISTORY: What’s in a name? – by Karen Bachmann (Timmins Daily Press – January 28, 2018)

http://www.timminspress.com/

TIMMINS – Am I dating myself if I ask the following – do you remember some of the old K-Tel commercials that were featured about every five seconds on television in the 1970s?

And yes, they were repeated at a high rate because I still remember some of the commentary “Octavian! Edward Bear! April Wine!” followed by a list of hits that you just had to own (I don’t know why those three bands have remained embedded in my brain, but there it is).

The records were a success and an easy way for kids to buy music – albums were $4.99, tapes $5.99 (pricey for the time, but oh so worth it if you were a young person collecting hit music). I admit it – I still have a few of those gaudy albums – and if you are feeling nostalgic, a lot of those early ads are on YouTube (pretty dated but fun to watch – the production values are worth the search alone). Continue Reading →

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

http://www.elliotlakestandard.ca/

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. Continue Reading →

The Dome School of Mines – by Kelsey Rolfe (CIM Magazine – December 20, 2017)

http://magazine.cim.org/

The mine near Timmins, Ontario has been a fixture on the Canadian mining scene for over a century. At the end of December miners there will work their last shift

The Hocevar family has worked at the Dome mine in the famous Timmins-Porcupine gold camp for nearly 70 years. Joseph joined up after emigrating from Slovenia in 1949, working as an underground miner, and was followed by his sons Edward, a maintenance supervisor, in 1981 and Bill, a mining engineer, in 1984. Edward will be the last Hocevar to work at Dome, which will close its doors and tunnels on Dec. 31.

The Hocevars are just one of many mining families that have long and deep ties to Dome. “There are families that have had multiple generations working at the mine from when it first opened,” said Bill Hocevar, who left Dome in 1992 and is now a business development superintendent at Glencore’s Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations. Continue Reading →

Timmins’ criminal past with gold headed for TV – by Emma Meldrum (Timmins Daily Press – January 15, 2018)

http://www.timminspress.com/

TIMMINS – Timmins’ criminal history with gold is on its way towards being featured in a two-part TV mini-series. Author Kevin Vincent announced last week that a television network – which won’t be named until the “docu-drama” is ready to air – has picked up the project, based on his books: Bootleg Gold, volumes one and two.

Vincent has come a long way since moving to Timmins 34 years ago, when he “wouldn’t know a gold mine if I tripped into one.” Today is a completely different story.

“There are literally thousands of stories that I’ve captured,” he said. “I have 17,000 pages of research. I’ve done dozens and dozens of hours of on-camera interviews with people that have been a part of that world. I have audio interviews with people I’ve interviewed that date back far into the 1930s. Notwithstanding that, even though I have the largest collection of these stories, it’s still a fraction of what’s out there.” Continue Reading →

HISTORY: Timely look-back at local pioneer prospectors – by Karen Bachmann (Timmins Daily Press – January 12, 2018)

http://www.timminspress.com/

TIMMINS – Jan. 8th marked the last day for “physically” staking a mining claim in Ontario. As part of the modernization of the mining act, Ontario will move to an on-line mining claim registration process.

Sure, we can’t stop progress; sure, we can’t live in the past; sure, we can’t blah, bah, blah. At the risk of sounding like some romanticized Luddite, the adventure that was prospecting and its impact on the development of Northern Ontario is now just another bit of history.

But that glamourized bit of our history is what seems to interest people; after all, tourists visit Dawson City, Cobalt and Timmins with the hope that they will somehow be able to relive those thrill-seeking times. And what exciting times they were… Continue Reading →

Ontario Northland: Through timber to tidewater – by John Thompson (Railway Age – December 28, 2017)

http://www.railwayage.com/

Some Railway Age readers will be surprised to learn that GO Transit, launched in 1967, was not the first venture of the Province of Ontario into the railway business; that event actually occurred some 60 years earlier. The honor actually belongs to the provincially owned Ontario Northland Railway, which links the city of North Bay, on Lake Nipissing, to Moosonee, on the salt waters of James Bay.

At that time, and until recent years, North Bay was on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) transcontinental (Montreal-Vancouver) main line. During the past decade, the trackage between a point just east of North Bay, to Smiths Falls (60 miles west of Montreal) was abandoned.

The territories served by the two provincial railways could hardly be more different: GO Transit is based in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, and carries commuters in business attire through an area of subdivisions, apartment towers, industries and fertile farmland. Continue Reading →

The 1903 Cobalt Silver Boom and its Extraordinary Economic Impact on Toronto and Ontario – by Douglas Baldwin (December 2017)

Douglas Baldwin is a retired history professor from Acadia University, Nova Scotia. This piece has been adapted from his new book, Cobalt: Canada’s Forgotten Silver Boom Town.

To order the book, click here: http://wmpub.ca/8094-SilverBoom.html

Speaking to the Empire Cub in Toronto in 1909, Rev. Canon Tucker told the story of a widely-travelled American who was asked where Toronto was. He thought for a moment, scratched his head and said, “Oh, yes, that is the place where you change cars for Cobalt.”

Although the value of the silver discovered in Cobalt far surpassed the riches uncovered during the Klondike rush only two decades earlier, few people today know of Cobalt’s history, or even of its existence.

Concentrated in an area less than thirteen square kilometres, about 400 kilometres north-east of Toronto near the Quebec border, Cobalt mines became the fourth-largest silver producer ever discovered.

When production peaked in 1911, Cobalt was providing roughly one-eighth of the world’s silver. During the First World War, the British government considered Canada’s silver supply so important to the war effort that it convinced Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden to use his influence to prevent a planned strike in the Cobalt mining camp. Continue Reading →

[Sudbury’s Creighton Mine] The Greatest Nickel Mine in the World (MACLEAN’S MAGAZINE – January 1, 1910)

Creighton Mine, Sudbury Ontario. The mine which started operation in 1901 and is still in production. It is the deepest mine in the Sudbury Basin and among the four deepest in the country. (Wiki Photo)

http://www.macleans.ca/

A description of what is claimed to be the greatest nickel mine in the world appears in East and West. The mine is located at Creighton, about twelve miles west of Sudbury. Creighton Mine is very widely famed, being, indeed, the greatest nickel ore deposit known in the world. It is claimed that about two-thirds of the whole world’s supply of nickel is mined there.

So that, when we consider that by far the greater part of nickel used at the present time is utilized in making armor-plating for the great battleships, we begin to understand how dependent the little population of Creighton is upon the aggressive naval policies of the powers of Europe, and the other ambitious nations of the present day.

Electrical power is used in mining, transmitted from the High Falls, about twenty miles west. The power house, with its motors, powerful apparatus, is an interesting spot for anyone who likes machinery. The warehouse and office building is of red brick and is spacious and well lighted. Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

Excerpt from J.P. BICKELL: The Life, the Leafs, and the Legacy – by Jason Wilson, Kevin Shea and Graham MacLachlan

To order a copy of “J.P. BICKELL: The Life, the Leafs, and the Legacy”: https://www.dundurn.com/books/JP-Bickell

Jason Wilson is a bestselling Canadian author, a two-time Juno Awards Nominee, and an Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Guelph. He has performed and recorded with UB40, Ron Sexsmith, Pee Wee Ellis, and Dave Swarbrick. Jason lives in Stouffville, Ontario.

Kevin Shea is a renowned hockey historian and bestselling author of fourteen hockey books. He is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame, a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs Historical Committee, and a founding member of Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer. Kevin lives in Toronto.

Graham MacLachlan is a relative of J.P. Bickell who has an extensive business background in international trade that is equalled by his involvement in hockey in the IIHF, the WHL, Hockey Canada, Hockey Alberta, and Hockey Calgary. Graham lives in Calgary, Alberta.

OVERVIEW

He stayed out of the spotlight, but Leafs fans know J.P. Bickell cast a long shadow.

A self-made mining magnate and the man who kept the Maple Leafs in Toronto and financed Maple Leaf Gardens, J.P. Bickell lived an extraordinary and purposeful life. As one of the most important industrialists in Canadian history, Bickell left his mark on communities across the nation. He was a cornerstone of the Toronto Maple Leafs, which awards the J.P. Bickell Memorial Award to recognize outstanding service to the organization.

Bickell’s story is also tied up with some of the most famous Canadians of his day, including Mitchell Hepburn, Roy Thomson, and Conn Smythe. Through his charitable foundation, he has been a key benefactor of the Hospital for Sick Children, and his legacy continues to transform Toronto. Yet, though Bickell was so important both to Toronto and the Maple Leafs, the story of his incredible life is today largely obscure. This book sets the record straight, presenting the definitive story of his rise to prominence and his lasting legacy — on the ice and off. Continue Reading →

[J.P. Bickell and McIntyre Mine] Literary hockey history at Timmins Museum – by Emma Meldrum (Timmins Daily Press – October 2, 2017)

http://www.timminspress.com/

J.P. Bickell was the CEO of McIntyre Mine which produced slightly over 10 million ounces of gold from 1912 – 1988. Gold mines that produce over 10 million ounces of gold are very rare, even today. – Stan Sudol

TIMMINS – In a darkened room, men mill about the bar while a reggae band plays. On Friday evening, the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre’s permanent gallery space hosted Books, Bands, Beer and Beards. The evening started off with Jason Wilson & the Perennials’ version of the classic Hockey Night in Canada theme song – the hockey theme only grew from there.

Graham MacLaughlan and Kevin Shea, who wrote “J.P. Bickell: The Life, the Leafs, and the Legacy” along with Wilson, spoke at length about the man’s contributions to the sport and to this city.

When asked by host Andrew Autio about what surprised them while they researched the book, Shea highlighted the depth of Bickell’s philanthropy. “He was behind so many things that still exist to this day and flourished because of his money in the early days,” said Shea. “It doesn’t really resonate until you really start to research the book. Continue Reading →