Archive | Canadian Mining History

ARCHIVES: The Murders In The Mine – by Katherine Laidlaw (Up – September 18, 2012)

Eighteen months on the picket line. Thirty-eight kilos of explosives. Nine men dead. 20 years passed.

It’s the story that made world news and changed a mining town forever. The Giant Mine strike stands as one of the longest and bloodiest in Canadian history, punctuated by one of the worst mass murders the country has ever seen. For those who lived through September 18, 1992, the scars have never healed. Here are their stories …

On May 22, 1992, a company called Royal Oak Mines Inc. locked out its workforce at Giant Mine in Yellowknife. The union, the local 4 chapter of the Canadian Association of Smelter and Allied Workers, and management couldn’t reach a settlement. Before the strike, it was a good, if finite, time to be a gold miner.

The average worker at Giant was pulling in $77,000 a year, and those clocking overtime were making more than $100,000. But the strike got dirty quickly as rumours swirled of Royal Oak CEO Peggy Witte’s intent to break the union. One thing she did break was an unwritten labour rule in Canada: you don’t bring in replacement workers. No mining company had done that in 45 years. Nevada-born Witte flew them in by helicopter the next day. Continue Reading →

FROM THE ARCHIVES: ‘It was like one big family’: 25 years later, a B.C. ghost town’s former residents still miss their home – by Maryse Zeidler (CBC News British Columbia – September 17, 2017)

Cassiar, B.C., was once centred around now-closed asbestos mine

When Herb Daum thinks of growing up in Cassiar, B.C., a lot of his memories seem to be about how frigid it was. “The winters were long, cold and hard,” said Daum, 63, from his home in Powell River, B.C.

Cassiar sits near the Yukon border. Temperatures as low as – 40 C weren’t unusual there, Daum says, and lakes in the area often wouldn’t thaw until June. As a pastime when Daum was little, he and his neighbourhood friends would climb onto the roof of his porch, pull down their toques over their heads, and dive head-first into the snow.

But the house that he grew up in doesn’t exist anymore. In fact, the entire town of Cassiar is gone, razed to the ground. “It’s kind of weird losing your roots like that,” Daum said. Twenty-five years ago this week, Cassiar, B.C., held an auction like none other: up for grabs was the entire contents of the company town. Continue Reading →

[Northwestern Quebec] The Birth of Rouyn and Noranda: A Mining Story (Website Historical Resource)

1932 Group Photo of Noranda Executives – James Murdoch and Noah Timmins in front row centre wearing fur coats

For an excellent website historical resource on Rouyn and Noranda:

In the mid-1920s, discovery of copper and gold deposits in Northwestern Quebec resulted in an epic mining rush. Prospectors, followed by thousands of men and women, gathered there to work and live. Two neighbouring mushroom towns with many fundamental differences, Rouyn and Noranda, quickly came to life in the boreal forest, becoming populous and organized communities.

Unlike the farming parishes established earlier on in Abitibi and Témiscamingue, Rouyn and Noranda were built as a result of mining developments. In but a few short years, the landscape changed drastically: In the 1910s, only Aboriginal peoples and prospectors looking for precious metals were seen around Osisko Lake, but in 1925, a large influx of newcomers settled in the area. Continue Reading →

Historicist: The Man the Rocks Talked To: A.P. Coleman uncovered Toronto’s prehistory, among other adventures – by Dennis Duffy ( – August 19, 2017)

Such a map as Coleman’s (and he drew many such, across Canada and elsewhere as he
took his geology students along on summer expeditions) was more than a guide to the
origins of the Sudbury Big Nickel that you can spy from the Trans-Canada. It helped
provide the kickoff for the exploitation of Northern Ontario’s mineral—as opposed
to timber—resources. It also promoted the growth of Bay Street, which has done so
much to reshape Ontario’s image and boost Toronto’s takeoff toward its present
position in the financial and commercial life of the country.

If you’re at the Evergreen Brick Works Market in the Don Valley, walk north along some 200 yards of lovingly created wetland. When you’ve gone about 50 yards past that, you will be on a little rise. Look behind over your shoulder for a view of the downtown skyline.

Then keep on walking until you get to a little cul-de-sac and look at the cliff face that you have been staring ahead at for the last while. It is overgrown. The small plaque in front of you states that you are facing one of the oldest geological formations in the Toronto region and that it was first “discovered” (let’s be more precise and call it “labelled”) in the 1890s by geologist A.P. Coleman (April 4, 1852–February 26, 1939), a scientist and public intellectual of great renown in his day and a figure still dimly remembered now. Coleman’s work on the traces of the last great ice age (the Pleistocene) enable us to view the Brick Works park within the broad perspective of the long history of our city. Continue Reading →

Casanova of the Klondike – by Pierre Berton (Globe and Mail – December 24, 2004)

Of all the eccentric characters who made their pile in the Klondike, my favourite is Swiftwater Bill Gates, a moon-faced little American smooth-talker who was transformed from a penniless dishwasher in Circle City, Alaska, to a potential millionaire.

He might have become a millionaire, had he managed to hold on to his wealth, the bulk of which came from a share he held in Claim No. 13 on Eldorado Creek. Considered unlucky at first because of its number, it turned out to be one of the richest pieces of ground in the gold fields.

A legendary gambler and skirt-chaser, he dropped $500 in less than five minutes at faro and promptly stood drinks for the crowd at a cost of $112. He also lost $5,000 on one bet during a stud poker game he was just watching. When short of cash, he would borrow it at 10 per cent a month in interest so he could shoot pool at $100 a frame. Continue Reading →

[Joe Boyle] King of the gold diggers – by Pierre Berton (Globe and Mail – September 25, 2004)

“Placer gold is known as Poor Man’s Gold because a lone prospector can
wrest it from the ground with little more than a spade and a sluice box.”

Joseph Whiteside Boyle was a force of nature, albeit a flawed one. In the early days of the 20th century, he was famous, even notorious, on two continents. A man who craved action for its own sake, he had an uncanny instinct for finding where the action was. When the first news of the Klondike strike was making headlines in Seattle and San Francisco, Boyle was already in the vanguard of the ragtag army of gold seekers stampeding north.

Old-time mining methods were not for him. Though he began with virtually nothing, he went on to build, under almost impossible conditions, the largest gold dredges in the world — monstrous floating machines that churned up the storied creek beds and helped revolutionize the placer mining industry in the Yukon.

He came from a middle-class family of four siblings, and there is no suggestion that his upbringing in the quiet ambiance of Woodstock, Ont., was anything but happy. He feared no man but held no grudges. He got along with his opponents, both legal and financial, and they got along with him. Continue Reading →

Mining warfare in WWI – by Cecilia Keating (CIM Magazine – November 04, 2016)

During the critical battles of World War One, skilled miners – many of them Canadian – made Allied victories possible

In the First World War trenches cleaved Europe from the North Sea to Switzerland. While the battlefield above ground was static, a secret subterranean war raged underground.

The British Army began to form specialist army units of trained tunnellers in 1915, initially recruiting men from poor coal mining communities in Britain. Their job was to create a labyrinth of long underground tunnels that extended under enemy lines and could be packed with explosives, and to dig ‘camouflets’, smaller mines used to collapse enemy tunnels. They were also tasked with building extensive networks of tunnels behind Allied lines, allowing for undetected movement of men and supplies.

Faced with growing demand for skilled miners, the British government appealed to Canada to raise tunnelling units, or ‘companies’, in September 1915. The first was mobilised in Pembroke, Ontario and recruited men from mining centres in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. Continue Reading →

AWARD: Ross Beaty receives Order of Canada (Canadian Mining Journal – July 10, 2017)

OTTAWA – Mining magnate and philanthropist Ross Beaty is among the 99 prominent Canadians awarded membership in the 2017 Order of Canada.

The award shows that mining and environmentalism are not necessarily incompatible. Beaty, the founder and chairman of Pan American Silver and executive chairman of Alterra Power Corp – a geothermal, wind and hydro power company – is also a generous philanthropist. In May he gave $5 million over 10 years to Panthera, which is a global wild cat conservation organization.

A few month earlier the Canadian Museum of Nature announced that Beaty would be providing it with its largest ever philanthropic gift: a $4 million investment to enhance the museum’s national research and collections that are focused on species discovery. The gift was through the Sitka Foundation, which Beaty founded in 2007 to be a catalyst in the protection of the environment and promotion of biodiversity. Continue Reading →

Community’s long history seen as a gift by residents – by Elizabeth Patterson (Cape Breton Post – July 8, 2017)

SYDNEY MINES – If you offered Sheila MacCormick a chance to buy a brand new house, she probably wouldn’t be that interested. MacCormick lives in a brick and stone home that was built in 1853 for a mine office manager by the name of Sutherland who worked for the General Mining Association. It comes complete with hardwood peg floors, five fireplaces and uneven windows and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I just love old buildings and old things,” MacCormick told The Cape Breton Post at a heritage display and storytelling session at Holy Family Church hall on Saturday. “It’s got a lot of history and I just love it.”

MacCormick is just one of about three dozen people who attended the session held to mark Heritage Day in Sydney Mines. While the morning event, an outdoor heritage hunt, didn’t attract a lot of people mainly due to poor weather, many instead came in the afternoon to hear a discussion led by Ronald Labelle, Cape Breton Regional Library’s storyteller-in-residence. Continue Reading →

Jack Bickell Chairman of McIntyre-Porcupine Mines: The Man Who Built Maple Leaf Gardens in the 1930s

Video from:

“You could say, without exaggerating, that Bickell was the cornerstone of the whole project.” – Conn Smythe on Bickell’s role in the construction of Maple Leaf Gardens

Canadian Mining Hall Fame: John Paris Bickell (1884 – 1951) Inducted in 2000

Most follow one path, but John Paris Bickell commanded several successful careers during his extraordinary life. He opened a brokerage firm at the age of 23 and was a millionaire by 30. In 1919, he left the investment business to become president and, later, chairman of McIntyre-Porcupine Mines, one of Ontario’s first and most important gold producers.

Bickell’s achievements went beyond the realm of business, as he had a keen sense of civic duty. During the Second World War, he was appointed by Lord Beaverbrook to Britain’s Ministry of Aircraft Production, where he served with the airplane supply board during the blitz. Upon his return to Canada, he assumed responsibility for Victory Aircraft, the federal agency that manufactured Lancaster bombers for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Continue Reading →

Hawthorne’s Cobalt letters – by Douglas Baldwin (CIM Magazine – February 2017)

Scheming brokers, including a famous author’s son, deceived many speculators during the Cobalt, Ontario silver rush

Two years after the 1903 discovery of rich silver deposits in northern Ontario, a Toronto brokerage firm asserted that “when you take into consideration that Cobalt’s mines have produced more in value than the Klondike is producing per annum, or has ever produced, you will have some idea of the great results that will come out of this camp when fully developed.”

Mining companies licensed to work in Ontario grew from 43 in 1903 to 683 four years later. For three consecutive days, mounted police in New York City cleared Broad Street of would-be investors who were obstructing traffic in their efforts to buy Cobalt shares from the curb brokers.

Stories of millions of dollars changing hands overnight were legion. The Canadian Annual Review recounted the tale of a North Bay resident who made $15,000 by merely picking up silver nuggets lying on the ground. Continue Reading →

History of Mining – Stewart, B.C. (Python Mining Consultants – 2010)

Above Video: From the 1970’s CBC series ‘The Northerners’ with host Bob Switzer, remarkable footage of early gold and silver miners in the Stewart area, Anyox and Kitsault.

Stewart, B.C. is a small town tucked at the head of the Portland Canal District, in British-Columbia. The town was once as large as 10,000 people before the First World War yet now holds less than 500 permanent residents. This is largely due to the fact that the town once had an active mining industry. That is no longer the case today. This article looks to outline the mining activities that occurred in and around Stewart, B.C. in the past.

Exploration in the area began in 1898, when a group of 68 prospectors travelled to the area in search of placer gold deposits. Evidence suggests, however, that the Nass River Indians knew the area at the head of the Portland Canal well before this and referred to it as Skam-A-Kounst, meaning safe place. They would travel to this area as a retreat from the harassment of the coastal Hiadas.

Here, they would hunt birds and pick wild berries. In 1896, Captain D. Gilliard arrive in the area, exploring the area on behalf of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Continue Reading →

British Columbia’s Golden Triangle – by Lawrence Roulston ( – September 24, 2012)

[While a bit dated, this article is very informative. Stan]

With a strong financial backer, Calpine was able to carry out a comprehensive
exploration program. They drilled more than 100 holes that were geologically
encouraging, but which would not have attracted the attention of most investors.
It was hole number 109 that convinced investors of the significance of the Eskay
Creek discovery. That hole, one of the most impressive drill holes of all time,
encountered an extraordinary 208 meters that assayed 27 grams per tonne gold
and 30 g/t silver.

A corner of Canada’s western-most province hosts one of the richest mineral belts in the world. Few investors yet appreciate the enormous value of that region.

British Columbia, long recognized for its exceptional mineral wealth, is regaining prominence among mining investors. Canada in general is looking increasingly attractive as the mining industry faces mounting challenges in many jurisdictions around the globe. Continue Reading →

2016’s Top Hedge Fund Manager Relives History’s Greatest Gold Scam: I Know Where Michael de Guzman Is! – by Warren Irwin ( – May 31, 2017)

Bre-X – Of Course I Know Where Michael de Guzman Is!

A firsthand account of the $6 billion 1997 Bre-X Minerals gold fraud by Warren Irwin, Founder and Chief Investment Officer at Rosseau Asset Management Ltd. Rosseau was the top ranked hedge fund in the world in 2016 of 4,099 hedge funds tracked by BarclayHedge. Irwin made $millions long and short Bre-X, and was one of a few investors to attend a site visit to Bre-X’s Indonesian property before the biggest scam in the history of the gold sector unravelled…

The story of Bre-X was reborn after 20 years with the release of the movie “Gold” starring Matthew McConaughey in February 2017. The Bre-X fraud was brought to an end by a mining consultant, Graham Farquharson of Strathcona Mineral Services, who released on May 4, 1997 that its independent audit concluded a massive campaign of tampering and fraud without precedent in the history of mining.

The question remains to this day, what really happened to geologist Michael de Guzman, who reportedly fell from a helicopter on his way to Bre-X’s Busang gold property. By the end of this article, you will finally know the answer.

My story begins in 1991 with a trip to Indonesia following graduation from MBA school. Contrary to my classmates and professors at the time who were convinced the future growth engine of the world would be Russia, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I headed to Southeast Asia where I believed the future of business activity was going to be. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: IDM Mining Announces the Passing of Donald A. McLeod

Click here for Canadian Mining Hall of Fame Profile:

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwired – May 29, 2017) – IDM Mining Ltd. (TSX VENTURE:IDM)(OTCQB:IDMMF) (“IDM” or the “Company”) is saddened to announce the passing of Stewart BC.-raised miner, mine-builder and Canadian Mining Hall of Fame inductee: Mr. Donald (“Don”) A. McLeod.

Along with his late brother Ian, Don McLeod’s legacy and impact on the mining community in northwest British Columbia, the Company was inspired to be named IDM Mining in their honor. The Company’s flagship Red Mountain Gold Project, currently in feasibility with ongoing exploration drilling, is located 15km east of Stewart.

“Uncle Don inspired me to study geology and enter the mining business; however his greatest impact on me was his hustle and leadership, pursuing his golden dreams in the Golden Triangle. The opportunities he gave to both young, ambitious mining entrepreneurs and hard-working northerners during his career are an example to all of us at IDM,” said Rob McLeod, President and CEO of IDM Mining. Continue Reading →