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.

As a monument to the rich gold mining history of the area, the headframe and four other buildings at the Toburn mine site will be officially opened during ceremonies from 10 am to 7 pm on July 3, 2009. 

Everyone is welcome, particularly former miners and their families.

The gala day will include gold panning, a mining art show/sale, a minerals show/sale, guided geological tours of the Kirkland Lake area, and a food concession. Storyboards will describe the contents of the buildings as well as the history and geology of the mine. Permanent outdoor displays including mining equipment and large rock specimens with interpretive signage will be installed on the grounds. A picnic area and additional tourism information will highlight other local attractions.

Make plans now to join in the celebration as the Toburn gold mine as it rises again. Visit the website at www.Toburn.ca. More information is available from Mike Leahy at 705-642-1982 or ravenr@nt.net.

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