Former Premier Peterson’s Northern Ontario Vision Beats Current McGuinty Policies – by David Robinson

Dr. David Robinson is an economist at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada. His column was originally published in Northern Ontario Business.

The year 1990 was the high point in development planning for the North. The most dramatic and successful initiatives came from a southerner, David Peterson.

Peterson was elected in 1985. He immediately created a new Ministry of Northern Affairs and Mines. He appointed himself minister and went to work. He moved the Ministry of Northern Development and the Ontario Geological Survey to the North. This was the most effective single development decision of the last 30 years. Then the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Act was passed in 1990. And that was the year the voters threw Peterson out. Not much has happened since.

Leonard Cohen must have been thinking of this wild affair when he sang:

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Former Premier David Peterson’s July 30, 1986, Laurentian University Speech Announcing the Relocation of MNDM and the OGS to Sudbury

In light of the recent decision to put Federal and Provincial money into mining research at the University of Toronto instead of Laurentian, I have posted former Premier David Peterson’s July 30, 1986 historic speech announcing the relocation of MNDM and OGS to Sudbury.

This was one of the most significant economic turning points in the community’s history.

In this speech, Peterson outlines a previous Liberal Government’s entirely different attitude to the sustainable, long-term development of Northern Ontario as well as proudly helping build a global cluster of mining expertise in Sudbury, the richest mining district in North America and among the top ten most strategic in the world.

Honourable David R. Peterson PC, QC

Just over three weeks ago, I was in Sault Ste. Marie with some of my colleagues to announce elements of a northern Ontario economic development strategy this government will carry out over the next few years.

As a first step in this process, we announced a combination of new and accelerated government projects to provide a needed short-term stimulus to that area’s flagging economy.

But we also recognized that the challenges facing the North are related to deeper, more profound changes taking place in the economy. This restructuring is needed to ensure the competitiveness of our resource industries in the international market place.

To better understand and address these longer term, structural changes, we announced in Sault Ste. Marie a number of measures the Government will take.

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Celebration Set for Historic Kirkland Lake Toburn Gold Mine – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

The first gold mine in Kirkland Lake, ON, is reopening this summer, not as a producer but as a monument to the early days of prospecting in Ontario’s North. The hunt for gold was filled with characters — “Swift” Burnside, the Tough brothers, Sir Harry Oakes and Bill Wright — all eager to make a profit on the next great gold mine. Part of their legacy is the headframe of the Toburn mine that began commercial production in 1913.

The Toburn mine struggled along with a 90-t/d stamp mill from 1913 to 1931. Then Toburn Gold Mines Ltd. was incorporated and installed a new, larger mill, which operated until 1953. A total of 1.1 million tonnes of ore grading almost 17.0 g/t Au (0.5 opt) was treated. 

The site was abandoned after mining ceased and reverted to the Crown. In 2006 the Northern Prospectors Association set about acquiring the last remaining original headframe on the “Mile of Gold”. Project funding was contributed by individuals, corporations and public institutions. Two years later, the Town of Kirkland Lake acquired the property and the Toburn Operating Authority was created to oversee its rebirth as a tourist and learning destination.

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Sault Ste. Marie’s Chicora Incident – An American/Canadian Border Incident– by Michael Barnes

Most  people know all about  the locks between the Canadian and American twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie. The waterways are good for trade.

But at one time the Soo locks were all on the American side. This ended with the opening of a lock to the north in 1895. Although not openly discussed, one the most important reasons for building a Canadian lock had its roots in an event which took place a quarter century before.

As Canada became a country with Confederation in 1867, a giant firm had to change its way of doing business.The Hudson’s Bay Company could no longer operate as if it were almost a feudal entity within Canada.

As the Bay gave up its huge land holdings in 1869, the action troubled the Metis people of the Red River in Manitoba. They feared their land would be taken up by new settlers.When they banded together under Louis Riel to establish a new government, a clash with Ottawa was inevitable.

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Ontario Gold is Where You Find It – by Michael Barnes

Famed prospector Don McKinnon, co-disoverer of the Hemlo gold fields north of Lake Superior is fond of an old axiom in the mining business.

He says simply that you look for gold where gold is said to be. This sounds like double talk to the uninitiated but actually the seemingly obvious statement makes a lot of sense.

Short of expensive diamond drilling, the location of gold in commercial quantity is anyone’s guess. So the best places to look for the elusive yellow metal are where it has been found before.

A few years ago, an up and coming Junior mining company with a Scots name, Pentland Firth, announced that it was taking another look at the Munro Croesus property off highway 101 east of Matheson.

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Over Forty Died in the 1910 Spanish River Train Tragedy – Gary Peck

What was termed at the time the worst accident in the history of the CPR took place about 1 p.m. on Friday, January 21, 1910. The disaster occurred about 37 miles west of Sudbury on the Soo line of the CPR at the bridge crossing the Spanish River.
Coroner Howey, on instructions from Attorney – General Boy through Crown Attorney J.H. Clary, had a jury summoned for 10 a.m. January 26. The jury consisted of John McLeod (foreman), J.R. Bissett, R. Martin, F.M. Stafford, D. Blue, John Higgins, C. Carmichael, D.L. Burns, S. Jessop, H.S. Young, W. Chalmers, L. Laforest, O Tuvor and D. McDonald.
Upon being sworn in, the jury viewed the body of one of the victims. Subsequently, they were taken by a special train to the scene of the wreck.  

After several days deliberation, the jury in February reported their verdict and recommendations. They concluded that the derailment was “…caused by the forward truck of the first-class car leaving the track, and plunging over the embankment, followed by the dining and sleeping car; also causing derailment of the second-class car.” However, they were unable to determine the cause of the derailment.

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The Ghost from Haileybury – by Michael Barnes

The most popular series of books sold in Canada was the Hardy Boys. Most people recall Franklin W. Dixon as the author. But that was just a pen name given to ghost writer Leslie McFarlane from Haileybury.

Leslie McFarlane was 23 in 1926 when he answered an ad for a fiction writer.The young cub reporter, formerly of the Sudbury Star and Cobalt Daily Nugget, felt he had it in him to become a book writer but somehow could not get started.

The ad for a fiction writer was placed by an American, Edward Stratemeyer who operated a stable of writers who churned out pulp novels along certain lines and themes.

There have been several such outfits before and since but Strateymeyer was longer lived than most and covered all the bases. Writers like Leslie McFarlane were given an outline of the characters in a series and then a plot for one book.

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The Forgotten Northern Ontario Workers During the Great Depression – Michael Barnes

The economy isn’t exactly bouncing along these days but not much more than sixty years ago,it was down right flat. This was the time of the Great Depression, the lost years, when production in many industries in Canada and around the world came almost to a standstill.

There were few social umbrellas then. Help for the unemployed had to come from financial strapped communities and also the generosity of those who had a job.  

By and large the unemployed wanted to work and would take anything they could get rather than go on relief. This spurred the Province of Ontario to use its strained resources to salvage something from the funds expended on public assistance.

Between 1929 and 1932, overall employment fell by 32% in the province.

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Guide Book Issued for 1939 Royal Tour Includes Northern Ontario Sites – Gary Peck

Today when many travel often, it is with an array of brochures outlining the  points of interest one should note during the trip. Certainly, this is not a new phenomenon. In 1939, Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth traveled across Canada. For the use of the Royal visitors, their entourage and others, Canada’s two transcontinental railways compiled a guide book. Extracts from the account are of interest for a variety of reasons including the way in which sites along the route were described.

On May 23, it was anticipated the train would pass “through a land of great rock hills and tall pines, the railway wanders through deep cuts on its approach to Romford, seven miles east of Sudbury, on the main transcontinental line, and the train, on arrival at Sudbury, has traversed one of the finest sporting regions of Canada”. Suffice to say, the sporting regions described in glowing terms were, among others. Parry Sound, Point au Baril and French River.

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Housing Came with the Job in Northern Ontario Mining Communites – Michael Barnes

In earlier years in the teaching game in Ontario, school boards were able to secure teachers because they were offered accommodation at either free or a cheap rate as part of the deal.

One young teacher had a house in an isolated community in 1956 for $30 a month. Now mind you it was not worth that much because it was cold, leaned in the wind and had no amenities, but at least the place to live was an incentive to take the job.

Big mining companies like Falconbridge and Inco in Sudbury offered their educators most pleasant living quarters. Many of these were for single men and women and  were known as teacherages. Actually there were places for other employees as well but none had a job specific name like those for teachers.

The mines in the smaller camps provided homes for many workers.

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Copper Cliff Courier at Century Dawn Described Community Enthusiastically – Gary Peck

At the turn of the century, residents of Sudbury could turn to one newspaper for local news. The Sudbury Journal, under James A. Orr, had published continuously since 1891. Over the years competition had appeared in the form of The Star and the Sudbury News, yet neither was still operating by 1900. However, the monopoly was to be challenged in 1902 from afar – namely Copper Cliff.

On a Saturday in early March, 1902, the Copper Cliff Courier made its initial appearance. At the time it was described by the Journal as being “a seat five-column of quarto, well-printed”. It contained a “good list of advertisements” and proposed to be independent in politics. The Courier, published and edited by J.T. Pratt and sold for $1.00 a year, had its office on Main Street, Copper Cliff.

Few copies of the Courier appear to have been saved with a special 1903 issue being the one that appears most frequently. In that particular issue can be found community news with the new smelter of the Canadian Copper Company being a major feature.

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Hockey and Mining Rivalry Between Cobalt and Haileybury – Michael Barns

Every Canadian knows something of the NHL. The National Hockey League dominates Canadian sports culture. But few likely know of the National Hockey Association, the forerunner of the now famous league.

Teams in this genesis of the NHL included the Renfrew Millionaires, so called because after all their biggest sponsor, M.J.O’Brien, was a millionaire many times over, the Montreal Wanderers and a team that has made a comeback in recent years, the Ottawa Senators.

In the heyday of Cobalt when the town was rich and booming, all the mines had their own hockey teams. Both Haileybury and Cobalt had teams in the National Hockey Association and had no trouble finding corporate sponsors among the many big firms represented in both towns.

The silver town had a real Stanley Cup contender. This was the Cobalt Silver Kings. Although the players gave their all on the ice in association play, the fiercest battles were reserved for games with the Haileybury squad.

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Cobalt: A Mine was Something to Fall Back On for MJ – Michael Barnes

Most people have never heard of M J O’Brien- not in the north anyway. He died in Renfrew in 1940 and was one of Canada’s richest men. But in 1903 he made a deal at the King Edward hotel in Toronto which made him more money and created much work in the silver town of Cobalt.

O’Brien was born in the Ottawa Valley in 1851. He started off as a water boy on big construction projects and ended up owning countless big companies. He made his money through careful research and driving hard bargains. His real money came from railways and lumbering.

In 1903 the heavy set, black bearded magnate from Renfrew heeded some advice from his friend, Robert Borden, then leader of the Opposition in Pariament. Borden put him onto a lawyer who who had some business ideas.

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Good-bye to Sandy McIntyre’s Second Chance in Kirkland Lake – Michael Barnes

We keeping losing our heritage in Northern Ontario. In November 1995 another part of it came tumbling down.

A striking introduction for eastbound visitors to the town of Kirkland Lake would no longer grace the gold camp skyline and another link with our mining past was gone.

One of the distinctive contributions mining offers to Canadian architecture are  headframes, which when covered in with wood or steel become the shaft house. A newcomer might think of them as the above ground part of an elevator shaft.

Many hard rock mines are deep and the cables for the cage or elevator run up to a drum at the top of the shaft house. Each of these structures are different due to location, depth of the shaft and other factors.

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Roy Thomson’s Timmins Adventures – Michael Barnes

All millionaires have to start somewhere. After chubby,ambitious Roy Thomson started his first radio station on a shoestring in North Bay, his attention turned to the bustling Timmins-Porcupine area.

The hard luck,hustling salesman came to Timmins in the early thirties and worked to open a radio station.No one would loan him any money but he found an ally in J.P. Bartleman.

The insurance salesman thought a radio station would be a good thing and he rented the newcomer space in a building of his in the seamier part of town.

Thomson’s long suffering engineer cobbled together the parts for broadcast output and fell foul of the law until his tight fisted boss paid union dues. The new station started with a piano and a few records. Even the sole announcer became fed up with playing ‘In a Monastery Garden’ several times a day because the discs were scarce.

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