The Big Nickel scandal of 1916 – by John Sandlos (Canadian Mining Journal – June 16, 2024)

In 1854, the land surveyor A.P. Salter noticed the needle on his compass wiggle in strange way, a signal that the bedrock on which he stood contained a huge deposit of nickel (one of the few ferromagnetic minerals that affects the orientation of old-school magnetic compasses).

Owing to its remoteness, Salter’s discovery was ignored at the time and soon forgotten. The construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway through the Sudbury basin in the early 1880s brought an influx of newcomers and a transportation link to the region.

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Mining and murder: One of the world’s best unsolved crime stories – by Karen Bachmann (Bradford Today – June 8, 2024)

Sir Harry Oakes was murdered in 1943 and his story is still talked about today

Much has been said recently about the Sir Harry Oakes Chateau in Kirkland Lake. Owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust and operated by the Town of Kirkland Lake, the chateau is a monument commemorating the early days of the Northern Ontario gold rushes, the prospectors who made the discoveries and the men who developed the mines and the communities in the region.

Since 1983, the Museum of Northern History, which originally lived in the assay office of the Wright-Hargreaves Mine, has been housed in Sir Harry’s former abode. The chateau was built in 1929 after Sir Harry’s original Kirkland Lake house was destroyed by fire.

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Cobalt’s boomtown blues – by John Sandlos (Canadian Mining Journal – March 7, 2024)

Every mine develops at a different pace. The discovery of a major mineral deposits may create feverish excitement, but an actual mine may remain undeveloped for decades, waiting for a favourable alignment of investors, infrastructure developments, or market conditions.

Some mines develop rather suddenly, however, leading to the “rush” conditions that have been romanticized in popular culture. Mineral rushes may lead to riches for some, but they also can create impossibly difficult conditions for miners and their families, including poor housing, hunger, diseases, and high accident rates in the mines.

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Thousand Bagger in Uranium Mining – by Tom Humphreys (The Big Score – February 24, 2024)

Stephen B. Roman led Denison Mines from 8.5 cents to $87 per share in 13 years, tussled with prime ministers, and dominated the INSANE 20th century uranium business. This is his story.

Rage filled Stephen Roman’s stout frame as he stormed Canadian prime minister Lester Pearson’s office in 1965. Exploding over a ruined $700 million uranium contract, Roman hurled “son of a bitch” at Pearson, who would later quip that Roman was a relic, lagging “fifty years behind the apes.”

It wouldn’t be Roman’s last battle with a prime minister. His improbable rise from tomato picker to mining king is a tale of grit and the dramatic turns in 20th century uranium mining. Pope John Paul II even blessed Roman’s sprawling Toronto estate. Merging business, politics, and the biggest uranium mine, this is how Stephen Roman built an empire.

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Gold smuggling the subject of a new book from Timmins, Ont. author Kevin Vincent (CBC News Sudbury – November 5, 2023)

‘City of Thieves’ contains 10 stories about gold smuggling in northern Ontario and Quebec

In the late 1940s a mine mill worker named Eddie Clement figured out a way to steal gold from the Delnite Mine in Timmins, Ont. The next decade he orchestrated three major gold heists, and was never caught.

Clement’s early years as a gold thief are the subject of a short story in a new book called City of Thieves, from Timmins author Kevin Vincent.

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Memory Lane: When the Inco Club was the heart of the community – by Jason Marcon ( – September 13, 2023)

For nearly five decades, the Inco Employees Club served as a hub for community, entertainment and more in the city’s downtown core

If a person turns off Elm Street onto Frood Road in downtown Sudbury, they will very quickly come across our city’s nod to the Art Deco form. A grey building that appears triangular at first (not unlike the downtown’s other flatiron buildings) but behind that street-level facade lies an expansive facility that served the community’s needs for nearly 50 years.

Let us now step through its front doors and back in time to immerse ourselves in a little bit of the history as well as some of the special events that were held within the hallowed walls of the Inco Employees Club.

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Train 185: TVO documentary missed some important points – by R.I. Macdonald (Sudbury Star – April 19, 2023)

R.I. Macdonald is professor Emeritus, University of Manitoba and co-author of The Heart of New Ontario.

‘You will notice that several of the above points relate to the important role played by Indigenous individuals in the development of this part of Northern Ontario’

I watched the TVO documentary on Train 185 last evening and congratulate the production team for an interesting documentary. I offer the following points that would have been useful and interesting to have included.

The photography was excellent. The aerial photography in particular provided a dramatic, unique visual description of the Height of Land region of Northern Ontario. The fact that the two-car train photographed from the air was not the three-car train on the ground level shots was obvious and a bit disconcerting.

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Remembering Attilio. He was good for a blast (Soo Today – April 16, 2023)

Attilio Berdusco was recognized for engineering a mammoth pillar blast in the Helen Mine in 1955 and he was a pillar of his community

Some men gain recognition for building their communities. Some get notoriety from destroying things. Attilio Berdusco got to do both; in the best possible way. Attilio (or Tillio as he was often called), was born in the Sault in 1929 to Reno and Pauline Berdusco and was the oldest of eight children.

The family lived at the Parkhill Mine until 1939. When the gold mines closed, Tillio’s father then sought work at the Sinter Plant in Wawa while his mother ran a general store at the corner of Broadway and Laurier in Wawa. Attilio’s name appears in the Sault Star regularly in childhood as he excelled at both sports and academics.

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Gold discoveries provided foundation for Porcupine Camp in 1912 – by Karen Bachmann (Timmins Daily Press – February 10, 2023)

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

Great moments from 1912: Robert Scott reached the South Pole on Jan. 17th (Roald Amundsen beat him by a month, arriving at the pole in December 1911); New Mexico became the 47th state in the US; the Olympic Games took place in Stockholm, Sweden; the Titanic set sail (and sank); the African National Congress was founded as the South African Native National Congress; Edgar Rice Burrows wrote “Tarzan of the Apes”; Casimir Funk introduced the concept of vitamins and Carl Jung published “Psychology of the Unconscious”.

And locally, results started to add up from those gold discoveries made in New Ontario during the rush of 1909. Evidence of this growth is apparent in the items featured in early editions of the Porcupine Advance newspaper.

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Memory Lane: Old Steelworkers Hall a community gathering spot – by Vicki Gilhula ( – July 13, 2022)

The structure, built by the Legion in the 40s and sold to USW in the 60s, was destroyed in a fire in 2008

For more than 40 years, the handsome Steelworkers Hall on Frood Road was a place where men and women came together for union solidarity and camaraderie. The building was home to Steelworkers Local 6500 and Local 2020. In addition to union offices, it was a centre of union activities and social events.

Union members enjoyed beer, pickled eggs and conversation downstairs in the beer hall. The Steelworkers Hall was also popular with the community at large as a venue for weddings, celebrations, banquets, gala events and trade shows.

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How the “demon metal” gave Canadian mining a bad name – by Marilyn Scales (Canadian Mining Journal – June 2, 2022)

The word cobalt came from kobold, a variant of the German word kobalos, a satyr and shape-shifter of Greek mythology who mocked the work of humans. By the Middle Ages, miners in the dark depths reported that touching the metal burned their fingertips, a sure sign that demons were watching them. And so the “demon metal” it became.

Cobalt – with a capital C – is synonymous with the silver rush of over a hundred years ago in northern Ontario. The town of Cobalt got its start when silver was discovered in 1903, and that mining rush outshone any gold rush in the previous 200 years.

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Timmins was set to prove this mining town would be here for the long haul – by Karen Bachmann (Timmins Daily Press – May 20, 2022)

“Near Famine Point at the Porcupine!” was the lead headline from the Toronto Globe newspaper in May 1912. The paper got all hot and bothered because word went out that the trestle bridge at Boston Creek was out and train service, on which the North depended so readily, was cut off and everyone in the Porcupine was in dire straits.

Well, nothing could be further from the truth, and the editor of the Porcupine Advance took it upon himself to defend the honour of the North.

“The unkind and ungallant reference to our dependency on Southern Ontario is an impertinent insinuation especially so coming from a Canadian journal styling itself ‘Canada’s national newspaper…’

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Devil Copper: War and the Canadian Nickel Industry, 1883–1970 – by Scott Miller (National Defence Canada – Winter 2019)

Located in the heart of northeastern Ontario, the city of Sudbury is often referred to as the ‘Nickel Capital’ for its historic relationship with this particular metal. Indeed, by the eve of the First World War, it had become the world’s leading producer of nickel, and by 1950, its share of the global supply peaked at 95 percent.1

Also known as ‘devil copper,’ worldwide demand for nickel remained strong throughout much of the 20th Century, largely as a result of its far-reaching military applications. While the citizens of Sudbury are generally well aware of this mining legacy, others may not be as familiar with the significance of nickel in Canadian political and military history. This is hardly surprising. As renowned historian J.L. Granatstein once asserted, there is a lack of “…serious scholarship on Canada’s industrial [war effort],” including its mineral and mining sectors.2

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Nickel Closest Thing to a True ‘War Metal’ – by Stan Sudol (Sudbury Northern Life – February 23, 2007)

Please note that this column is from 2007 – Stan Sudol

The metallic “Achilles heel” for any military and navel production has always been nickel

Sudbury was definitely going to be “nuked” by the Russians. At least that was our conclusion back in 1976 when I worked at CVRD Inco’s Clarabell Mill for a year.

During one graveyard shift, a group of us were talking about Cold War politics and atomic bombs. We all agreed that if there ever was a nuclear war between the Americans and Russians then there must have been one Soviet “nuke” with our community’s name stenciled on it. We all laughed a little nervously, but there was also some pride in knowing Sudbury was important enough to get blown-up in the first round of missiles.

Access to strategic materials has always affected the destinies of nations. The Romans conquered Britain in AD 43 to control valuable tin deposits in Cornwall. Combining tin with copper produces bronze, a more valuable and militarily important alloy. Ancient Chinese metallurgical expertise with iron and steel allowed the Middle Kingdom to become a dominate military and economic force during the prosperous Han dynasty.

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Northern Ontario’s mining memorials tell a tale of hard-fought labour protections – by Bill Steer (Bay Today – January 19, 2022)

Back Roads Bill Steer is the founder and remains the GM of the Canadian Ecology Centre. He teaches part-time at Nipissing University (Schulich School of Education) and Canadore College. His features can be found across Village Media’s Northern Ontario sites.

With the help of the region’s scholars, Back Roads Bill recounts the struggles and horrific working conditions endured by early miners and the reason we should all remember them

It is part of a history lesson we know little about, so perhaps we need a little schooling. Envision hard rock miners, once toiling far underground in dark, cramped and dangerous conditions; it was arduous and risky work.

They emerged tired and dirty at the end of their shifts, walking back to small wood-sided homes and their immigrant families. Mining, along with forestry, created what was then called ‘New Ontario,’ — what we know as Northern Ontario.

Indigenous mining in the north began after the last period of glaciations, people of the Plano culture moved into the area and began quarrying quartzite at Sheguiandah on Manitoulin Island. Mining is an important economic activity in Northern Ontario. It has been since the first copper mines at Bruce Mines in 1846 and Silver Islet in 1868.

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