Archive | Canadian Mining History

2017 PDAC Special Achievement Award: Women’s Association of the Mining Industry of Canada (WAMIC)

PDAC 2017 Special Achievement Award: Women’s Association of the Mining Industry of Canada (WAMIC) from PDAC on Vimeo.

Vi Andersen (WAMIC) and Ed Thompson

From time to time, the PDAC presents a Special Achievement Award that recognizes exceptional contributions to the mineral industry.

Women’s Association of the Mining Industry of Canada (WAMIC): For continuous philanthropy to the mining industry, as well as Canadian health and educational institutions for 95 years.

WAMIC was founded in 1921 with the objective of promoting friendship among women connected to mining, supporting the industry and people in it, and participating in work that related to the well-being of Canadians.

Over the past 95 years, WAMIC members have overseen the distribution of more than $1.8 million in support of young people’s education, most of which was raised directly by their efforts. WAMIC is probably best known for its fundraising, its numerous and imaginative social events, and the association’s strong presence at both the PDAC and Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum conventions in Toronto. WAMIC was also the inspiration for the similar Greater Vancouver Mining Women’s Association in British Columbia.

While the role of the association has evolved in recent years, it continues to make a significant impact. WAMIC has provided financial support for hundreds of students undertaking earth science and mining-related subjects and programs at colleges and universities across Canada. Continue Reading →

2017 PDAC Distinguished Service Award: Neil Gow

PDAC 2017 Distinguished Service Award: Neil Gow from PDAC on Vimeo.

(L to R) Neil Gow and Rod Thomas (PDAC Awards Committee Chair)

This award recognizes an individual who has achieved one or more of the following: made a substantial contribution to mineral exploration and mining development over a number of years; given considerable time and effort to the PDAC; made outstanding contributions to the mineral industry in the field of finance, geology, geophysics, geochemistry research, or a related activity.

Neil Gow: For using his vast knowledge and experience as a geologist to volunteer for the betterment of the mineral exploration and mining industry.

Neil Gow is a geologist who served the mineral exploration and mining industry in an exemplary fashion. He started his career in Australia before making his way to Canada in 1982. For the most part since then he has been an independent Consulting Geologist based just outside Toronto in Burlington.

Neil is well-known for his work in lead-zinc, laterite and gold deposits, which included valuation reports for potential investment by clients and independent qualifying reports. Yet, it’s his many generous volunteer commitments that make him a standout in his field. Continue Reading →

Proud Canadian mining sector for a strong nation – by Marilyn Scales (Canadian Mining Journal – February/March 2017)

Canada is celebrating the 150th anniversary of Confederation. In 1867 the founding fathers met in Charlottetown built the foundation of a nation truly “strong and free”. They did a very good job, too. We can savour their hard work as we join in various celebrations around the country.

One of the reasons to be proud of Canada is its vast storehouse of natural resources and the men and enterprises that put us among the world’s premier mineral producers – gold, uranium, potash, base metals, diamonds, and the metals of the future. Our mineral legacy has also given rise to some of the world’s best technology for finding, mining and processing those riches.

Let’s take a look at the first person to be caught up in our mineral wealth. While Martin Frobisher searched for the Northwest Passage, he ballasted his ships with shiny yellow rocks. What he thought would be his fortune was pyrite, not gold, and his mistake was not pointed out until he had made another voyage and collected even more rocks. The lesson is: Never send a ship captain to do a geologist’s job.

French king Louis XIV granted what are probably the first mineral concessions on Cape Breton Island to Nicolas Denys who discovered coal there in 1672. For the next 200 years mining was small scale, done to meet local needs. Continue Reading →

[Ontario Gold mining history] The Red Lake Marines – by Leslie Roberts (MACLEAN’S Magazine – November 15, 1937)

Freighting that ties up the air lanes with ice and water routes is a big job

BILL COOK, transportation executive at the Red Lake base, said, “If you’re all set, let’s get going.” The mechanic cast off from the dock. The pilot gunned the motor. The ship taxied out into clear water, nosed into the wind, raced over the choppy surface, stepped into the air.

Behind us the town of Red Lake faded toward the northern horizon a town of 900 people who live in virtually the same circumstances of creature comfort as may be found in Aurora or Orillia, excepting the absence of railroads or motor highways. Back in Red Lake, nattily uniformed waitresses were spreading white damask and spotless silver on the tables in the hotel dining room; guests were debating politics and the stock market in deep armchairs in the lobby.

Around the streets youngsters were wondering if this Infantry Paralelasis, or whatever it is, would mean longer holidays, the way it did in Toronto. Their mothers were plugging electric-iron cords into wall sockets, buying steaks down at the shops along the Main Street sidewalk, talking bridge, tennis, plans for the coming badminton season with their neighbors. Continue Reading →

Will the nickel boom make a new man of Manitoba? – by Robert Collins (MACLEAN’S Magazine – April 13, 1957)

It’s been a have-not province for years. Now its “worthless” north is bustling with an epic strike and staking rush. Some enthusiasts insist it’s the biggest thing since the CPR went through

Until a couple of decades ago every Canadian schoolboy was aware that the prosperity of our three prairie provinces — Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — depended on agriculture. Given a bumper wheat crop, the prairies were rich.

Hit by drought or rust, they were poor. Then Alberta broke the mold with a series of oil strikes, and in the bonanza that followed became a fat and flamboyant Canadian Texas. Times changed in Saskatchewan too with the advent of the atomic age and the discovery of major uranium deposits.

Manitoba was left in the lurch, with a horse-and-buggy economy hitched to agriculture in the south and a desolate pile of rock in the north that yielded a modest treasure without changing the basic pattern of the province’s economy. Continue Reading →

The story of nickel is industrial romance writ by man in metal – by Charles Vincent (MACLEAN’S MAGAZINE – December 15, 1936)

THE CONSTRUCTION gang foreman looked down the cut where his crew was tackling the tough rock with heavy picks, getting ready to blast. The track layers were right on his heels, pushing the new Canadian Pacific Railway westward to bridge the continent. The foreman’s eye fell on one man.

“Hey, you !” he roared, “what’re ye standin’ there gapin’ at? Get busy with that pick.”

“Well, take a look at this slab of rock, boss; it’s kind of queer.” And so in 1883 nickel was uncovered at Sudbury.

It was a product that nobody wanted. When the first smelting yielded a metal which was curiously pale instead of copper red, and when analysis showed that this fault was due to the presence of nickel, men cursed it as a plague which they neither knew how to get rid of nor how to use in such large quantities. It was the copper content of the Sudbury ore on which they had set their hopes. Continue Reading →

[Manitoba Mining History] Flin Flon – by Jack Paterson (MACLEAN’S – OCTOBER 1, 1938)

Ten years ago Flin Flon was a struggling mining camp in the wilderness; today it is Manitoba’s third city

OVER Flin Flon at 4,000. Visibility excellent. Landing now. Advise Winnipeg. Okay Lac Du Bonnet.”

A quick rattle of sign-off letters and the pilot carelessly tossed sponge-rubber earphones above the cowling. At Lac du Bonnet, 450 miles distant, a young operator of Wings, Limited, would relay the message from loudspeaker to private telephone line. In brief seconds head office would have it. Simple routine.

My mind flashed to an article I had done for Maclean’s short years back, wherein was prophesied general two-way radio for wilderness airplanes. At that time voice distance and sixty-five pounds unit weight had been the sticker. Now here was voice distance handled by a compact set of only thirty pounds, live and simple as a telephone.

Progress. Yes, but 4,000 feet below us, a jumble of wooden boxes, scattered over rocky hills plumed by smoke from a great smelter, was another herald of progress that commanded attention. Ten years! My spine tingled at thought of changes I would see. Continue Reading →

The Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company, Limited History (1927-1996) – by International Directory of Company Histories

Centennial of the Flin Flon Ore Discovery (May 2015) 

For a large selection of corporate histories click: International Directory of Company Histories

Company History:

The Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company, Limited, is a major Canadian producer of copper and zinc which operates mines and metal processing facilities in remote areas of the province of Manitoba. The company has been removing metals from the ground for most of the twentieth century, and its efforts to industrialize western Manitoba have helped to foster development in the region.

More than 23 mines have yielded ore to the Hudson Bay metal processing works over the last 60 years, as the company has engaged in aggressive geological exploration to support its metal refining activities.

Hudson Bay got its start in January 1915, when Tom Creighton, an early Canadian prospector, happened upon an outcropping of sulfide ore in an undeveloped area of Manitoba. In the previous decade, prospectors had discovered that an enormous greenstone belt stretched east from Manitoba into northern Saskatchewan. This geological structure contained numerous deposits of different metals mixed together, including zinc, copper, silver, and gold. Continue Reading →

[Flin Flon, Manitoba History] By Tractor Train – by Emmett E. Kelleher ((MACLEAN’S Magazine – March 1, 1930)

The story of a rail-less railroad which moved 23,000 tons of freight into the heart of a wilderness “on time”

IT WAS past midnight—the weather several degrees below zero. The snowmobile sped along a newly cut road in northern Saskatchewan. A night of inky blackness. Trees rushing by like black spectres of a lost army. With the hum of the motor and the whistle of the skis on the glazed snow, I was almost dozing to sleep when we rounded a curve and the swaying of the car roused me.

I blinked through the frosted windshield at a pair of strange lights that appeared suddenly up ahead. High, extremely bright, and set wide apart, they looked like the eyes of some ancient mammal that had returned to its northland home. The nearer the lights approached, the more deeply fascinated I became.

The orbs of dazzling white loomed right in front of us. Our driver swung his car off the trail. The machine ploughed easily through a three-foot snowdrift. A sterner and a mightier roar of machinery filled the northerh murk. Peering through the window I caught a glimpse of the largest tractor I had ever seen. Coupled behind were six loaded sleighs as large as circus wagons. At the rear end was a caboose, the warm yellow glow from its window contrasting vividly in my mind with the frigidity of the night. Continue Reading →

Searching BC Ghost Towns for Traces of Chinese Miners – by Sarah Berman ( – December 17, 2016)

British Columbia’s abandoned mining towns are full of untold stories. Sometimes you just have to dig through some racist bullshit to find them.

That’s what anthropologist, historian and ghost town expert Laura Cuthbert told me—though admittedly in much politer terms—after a recent trip to Coalmont, Blakeburn and Granite City in the province’s southern interior. Once mining outposts populated by thousands of people, fires, mining accidents and rail contract changes left the settlements virtually empty by 1930.

Though the official plaques say white miners “struck it rich” at Granite City in 1885, there’s evidence Chinese miners were already working there for 25 years before. “The Chinese history in BC isn’t properly known. It isn’t in the BC Archives,” she told VICE. “There were all these families we’ll never really know the names of.” Continue Reading →

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

n 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. 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 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 ‘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. The second was comprised of men from Alberta and British Columbia. The third was formed of Canadian miners who were already fighting in Europe. Continue Reading →

[B.C. Mining History] Interest Returns to northeastern coalfields – by Ed Kimura (Mineral Exploration – Spring 2011)

Rising Prices Fuel Regional Revitalization Hopes

A major milestone in the development of British Columbia’s northeast coal resources was achieved on Jan. 23, 1981 with the announcement of agreements whereby a consortium of 12 Japanese companies would purchase 94 million tons(short) of metallurgical coal and 16 million tons of thermal coal over a 15-year period commencing in October 1983.

The announcement triggered the co-ordination of the largest industrial development and construction project in B.C. history. The project would involve the construction of Denison Mines’ Quintette and Teck Corporation’s Bullmoose open-pit coal mines.

The federal and B.C. governments committed to fund the construction and development of various phases of the project, including construction of Tumbler Ridge townsite to accommodate the projected workforce, constructing a 127-km power line and highway system to the mines and Tumbler Ridge, constructing and upgrading the railway and related infrastructure to transport coal from the mine sites to tidewater, and developing the proposed Ridley Island coal-handling facilities at Prince Rupert. Continue Reading →

Barrick’s Munk Heads Top Ten Most Important Mining Men in Canadian History – by Stan Sudol

Melanie and Peter Munk

Melanie and Peter Munk

Four Americans Made the List!

A few months ago, my dear colleague Joe Martin, who is the Director of the Canadian Business & Financial History Initiative at Rotman and President Emeritus of Canada’s History Society, asked me a very simple question: who would be considered the most important individual in Canadian mining?

Considering Canada’s lengthy and exceptional expertise in the mineral sector, it was not an easy answer and I decided to research and create a top ten list of the most important mining men in Canadian history.

The lack of women on this list simply reflects the fact that for much of our history most women were not given the educational or social opportunities to excel in business, especially in a rough and male-dominated sector like mining. Times have changed, women are playing key roles in mining today and will definitely be included on this list in the future.

However, a few qualifiers need to be established. This is basically a list of mine builders not mine finders.  Building a company through takeovers and discoveries is one way but I am also focusing on individuals who have built corporate empires and/or who have developed isolated regions of the country with the necessary infrastructure for mines to flourish and create multi-generational jobs, shareholder wealth and great economic impact. Continue Reading →

Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. History (1975 – 1997) – by International Directory of Company Histories

For a large selection of corporate histories click: International Directory of Company Histories

Company Perspectives: In a world eager for plant nutrients, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. (PCS) offers double strength: by capacity, it is the world’s largest potash company and third largest phosphate producer. Export-oriented, it is a global pace-setter.

Company History: Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. is the world’s largest producer of potash and the third largest producer of phosphate. Potash and phosphate are mined for their essential nutrients, potassium and phosphorus, which are used in making fertilizer. Potassium is used to increase crop yields, raise the food value of certain plants, and aids in resisting diseases leading to crop failure.

Phosphorus, which is instrumental in the process of plant photosynthesis, is necessary for the normal growth of either an animal or plant, and is an essential ingredient for its maintenance and repair. Through an aggressive acquisition policy, the company has been able to make its presence felt throughout the world. Continue Reading →

Teck Corporation Company History (1913-1997) – by International Directory of Company Histories

For a large selection of corporate histories click: International Directory of Company Histories

Company Perspectives:

Teck’s mission is to be the leader in new mine development and operations, by providing the best in engineering talent and systems, having a strong financing capacity and by dealing with our partners on a fair and open basis. Teck projects come in on time and on budget. We welcome new opportunities for successful mine development and the opportunity to establish relationships with new partners.

Company History:

Teck Corporation is one of the world’s fastest growing diversified mine development and operating companies, producing gold, silver, copper, zinc, niobium and metallurgical coal. Teck is the largest shareholder in Cominco Ltd., a world leader in zinc and lead as well as a producer of copper. The company has working interests in 11 mines located across Canada and a copper mine in Chile. Teck projects usually involve partnerships or joint ventures with other companies, with Teck operating as the builder and project manager. Continue Reading →