Archive | Northern Ontario History

Sudbury Basin Nickel Deposits: An Enduring and Extraordinary Resource – by Stan Sudol (July 24, 2020)

Inco World War Two Poster

Notwithstanding the historical hype of the Klondike Gold Rush in Canadian society, the two most important mining events in our history are the discoveries of the Sudbury nickel mines in 1883 and the Cobalt silver boom of 1903.

Both were the result of railroads – the construction of the Canadian Pacific to British Columbia in Sudbury’s case and the building of the provincial Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway, going through Cobalt, which was for the colonization of northern Ontario.

But the similarities end there. Sudbury was built with U.S. capital and strategic technology. Cobalt was largely built and significantly financed by Canadian business and was the start of Canada’s global reputation as mine finders and builders. The two camps had much overlap but were also very distinct in their own rights.

Ohio-born businessman Samual J. Ritchie was the driving force who really started mining production in the Sudbury Basin with the founding of the Canadian Copper Company in 1886. A subsequent merger in 1902 with the New Jersey-based Orford Copper Company, which had the vital technology to separate the nickel from the copper in Sudbury’s complex ore, lead to the creation of the legendary International Nickel Company. (INCO) Continue Reading →

We were first to smelt chromium. And then the fire happened (Soo Today – July 7, 2020)

https://www.sootoday.com/

From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library:

Sault Ste. Marie’s Chromium Mining and Smelting Corporation plant was located on Queen Street West between Huron and Hudson, in the area of what is now the city’s transit facility.

The plant first began smelting chromium in in the 1930s, when it was the first instance of chromium smelting in the British Empire. From there, the plant quickly expanded to meet demand.

And then, in 1947, a fire roared through part of Sault Ste. Marie, originating from the plant. Continue Reading →

Over a century of giving: How a pharmacist turned mining speculator became Santa Claus for hundreds of Timmins children – by Tijana Mitrovic (CIM Magazine – June 29, 2020)

https://magazine.cim.org/en/

For over a hundred years, the children of Timmins’ Schumacher neighbourhood have received a little something under their Christmas trees from a special benefactor, a mining entrepreneur named Frederick W. Schumacher.

Schumacher, a Danish immigrant, was working as a pharmacist and patent medicine wholesaler in Waco, Texas, in the late 19th century when he ordered a full train-car of Peruna medicine, meant to cure excessive congestion known as catarrh.

When Dr. Samuel Hartman, the high-society doctor of Columbus, Ohio, who invented Peruna, heard the size of the order, Hartman decided to personally deliver the shipment to Texas. Upon meeting Schumacher, Hartman asked Schumacher to come to Ohio and work for him. Continue Reading →

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

https://archive.macleans.ca/

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 →

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

https://archive.macleans.ca/

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 →

[Cobalt Silver Mining] Ghostly tales from Ontario’s past make great summer reading – by Miriam King (Orillia Matters – May 30, 2020)

https://www.orilliamatters.com/

Exploring the fascinating landscape and history of Cobalt, Ontario; It’s a fun read, perfect for a summer night

Ontario is filled with ‘ghost towns’ – towns that experienced an economic boom, grew swiftly to encompass the lives and dreams of their residents, and then experienced a decline.

Many were mining towns, abandoned when mines closed or deposits ran out. Some, like Dalton Mills and Creighton, were abandoned. Only ruins stand where there was once a thriving community.

Others still exist but as a mere shadow of their former glory, like the town of Cobalt. Located about halfway between North Bay and Timmins near Lake Temiskaming, once the “silver capital” of Canada, the town had a population of over 12,000 during the boom years. Continue Reading →

The great Alona Bay uranium rush of 1948 (Soo Today – February 2, 2020)

https://www.sootoday.com/

This edition of Remember This also examines rumours of a radioactive deposit in downtown Sault Ste. Marie

From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library:

When you consider the history of uranium mining in Northern Ontario, Elliot Lake likely comes to mind. However, there is a radioactive connection further north as well, dating back almost 175 years.

In 1847, a Mr. Stanard, likely an American schooner captain, reported that radioactive material could be found along the shores of Lake Superior, near the area now known as Alona Bay. This information, reported by geologist J.L. LeConte in the American Journal of Science, marked the first recorded instance of radioactive material being discovered in Canada.

LeConte described the radioactive material and identified it as being related to pitchblende, a radioactive ore from which uranium is extracted. He named it coracite, a reference to the raven-black colour of the mineral. Continue Reading →

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 →