Archive | Elliot Lake

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 →

ELLIOT LAKE’S GLAMOROUS RISE AND BITTER FALL – by McKenzie Porter (MACLEAN’S Magazine – July 16, 1960)

This is a candid portrait of the hundred-million-dollar boom town that was built on uranium—the mineral with sex appeal— and of the mesmerized thousands who learned the hard way that it was just another mining camp after all

ELLIOT LAKE IS the most elaborate mining camp ever built, and until recently it was the luckiest. Although it is buried in the northern Ontario bush, half way between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie, it looks like a metropolitan suburb.

Moose, bears and wolves peep nervously down from majestic heights of rock and pine upon a hundred million dollars’ worth of fluorescent lights, crescent streets, split-level homes, three – story apartment blocks, cantilevered shopping plazas, breeze-way schools, wide-screen movie theatres, picture-window hotels, functional churches, a lakeshore community centre and the finest hospital north of Lake Huron.

Ed Gibbons, a former editor of the Elliot Lake Standard, once described the town as “a frontier monument to the architectural theories of Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright,” and he spoke more in wonder than in jest. Continue Reading →

How Joe Hirshhorn Hit the Uranium Jackpot – by David MacDonald (MACLEAN’S Magazine – October 29, 1955)

Even when geologists said there couldn’t be uranium at Blind River this brash and bouncy little financial wizard tossed in $30,000 and struck a spectacular bonanza. He wasn’t surprised. “Making money comes easy to me,” he says, “ — like breathing”

ALONG Toronto’s Bay Street, the frenetic mining capital of North America, veteran prospector and minemaker Gilbert A. LaBine had long been acknowledged—until recently—as the uranium king of Canada. The reason was obvious. It was LaBine who had found the continent’s first pitchblende, at Great Bear Lake, in 1930; LaBine whose Eldorado mine helped usher in the atomic age over Hiroshima; and LaBine who, in the northern wilds of Saskatchewan, came up with Gunnar, Canada’s first truly big uranium strike.

Today—for reasons equally obvious—the top man in uranium is no longer LaBine, a conservative grey-haired elder of the industry, but Joseph H. Hirshhorn, a flashy fast-talking little mining promoter from the borough of Brooklyn, N.Y., whose exploits on Bay and Wall Streets have won him millions of dollars and a gambler’s reputation for playing long shots. Continue Reading →

Franc Joubin – The Father of Elliot Lake – by Dit Holt (Northern Miner – March 19, 2001)

Without the foresight, initiative and leadership of Franc Joubin (1911-1997), the mines of Elliot Lake, Ont., might never have come about. Joubin was one of the most outstanding explorers in North America, if not the world. His achievements, awards, degrees and world-wide experience speak for themselves.

I first met Joubin back in 1949 at a gathering in Toronto to kick off the Beaverlodge uranium campaign. A young geologist who knew him turned to me and asked if I had met the man before. When I said no, he said “mark my work words: he’ll set the world on fire.” How prophetic that turned out to be.

Joubin inspired and affected our lives dramatically. With his natural wit and warmth, this quiet-spoken man was a born leader. “Knowledge is power,” he would often say, and he was living proof. Continue Reading →

History of Elliot Lake – Life of an Elliot Lake miner at work – by Kevin McSheffrey (Elliot Lake Standard – December 30, 2015)

Elliot Lake has been in existence since 1955, and grew out of the wilderness following geologist Franc Joubin’s uranium discovery earlier that decade.

Joubin’s discovery resulted in a dozen uranium mines in the area, 11 around Elliot Lake and one on the North Shore. Two mining companies were involved: Rio Algom, headed up by Joseph Hirshhorn and Denison Mines, headed by Stephen Roman.

The discovery attracted mine workers from across the province, the country and around the world.

However, the boom was followed by a bust in the early 1960s when the United States government cancelled its contracts with the two mining companies. Continue Reading →

The strike that saved lives [Elliot Lake] – by Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco (CIM Magazine – June-July 2014)

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Elliot Lake wildcat walkout

Ontario government representatives 40 years ago presented research linking radiation to lung cancer at a conference in Paris, France. In the audience were several members of the United Steelworkers of America (USW), whose organization had been fighting the mining industry and the Ontario government for improved health and safety at the Denison and Rio Algom uranium mines in Elliot Lake, Ontario. In addition to a high incidence of injuries, hundreds of miners were ill or dying from silicosis and lung cancer, which the union believed was caused by silica dust.

The union representatives were shocked to discover the government had found there was another cause behind the high rates of lung cancer – radiation – and had not bothered to inform miners or to take any action to protect them. The USW members shared the news with their co-workers back in Elliot Lake, and this proved to be the last straw. On April 18, 1974, about 1,000 miners from Denison went on a three-week wildcat strike.

“I think the conference, combined with the general dissatisfaction with the occupational health and safety regulations and laws in the province at that time, caused the strike,” says Fergus Kerr, now vice-president of operations at Global Atomic Fuels Corp., who joined Denison in 1977 and became its general manager a decade later.

The strike drew the attention of the media, the public and Ontario’s politicians. Mining health and safety suddenly became a hot-button issue. Continue Reading →

Elliot Lake marks National Day of Mourning – by Kevin McSheffrey (Elliot Lake Standard – April 30, 2014)

The National Day of Mourning is aimed at remembering those workers who died on the job or as a result of a workplace accidents or illnesses. Sue Girard, a representative from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, was the master of ceremonies at the event.

She reminded the crowd gathered at the Miners’ Memorial that the Day of Mourning was created 30 years ago by the labour movement to increase awareness of on-the-job injuries and fatal workplace accidents.

The following year, 1985, it was recognized by the Canadian Labour Congress. Eight years later, the federal government also recognized the day. Girard added that the Day of Mourning is recognized on more than 80 countries.

She continued by saying that Canada has some of the best occupational health and safety laws in the world. However, workplace deaths continue to rise in Canada. “In 2012, (a total of) 977 workplace deaths were reported in Canada, a six per cent increase over 2011,” Girard said.

“Statistics published by the Association of Workers Compensation Boards of Canada for 1993 to 2013 show that during this 20-year period, more than 18,039 people died as a result of workplace accidents.” Continue Reading →

Historic strike recalled – by Kevin McSheffrey (Elliot Lake Standard – April 16, 2014)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

ELLIOT LAKE — It was a clear, but cold morning when two bus loads of United Steelworkers stopped at the intersection of Highway 108 and what was once the turnoff to Denison Mines, about 15 kilometres north of Elliot Lake on Wednesday.

This was the second day of a three-day forum that began in Sudbury and will end here Thursday. As many as 90 people from across the country and parts of the United States took part in the forum to remember and commemorate an event that took place in Elliot Lake four decades ago.

The visit to Elliot Lake was to mark the 40th anniversary of the Denison Mines wildcat strike that started on April 18, 1974, and lasted three weeks.

The wildcat strike was to protest the deplorable and unsafe working conditions. One of the biggest issues was ventilation. Underground mineworkers were breathing in dust contaminated with radon daughters, resulting in many getting silicosis and lung cancer, and ultimately dying. Continue Reading →

COMMENT: The Elliot Lake strike and 40 years of safer mines – by Marilyn Scales (Canadian Mining Journal – April 15, 2014)

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.

Forty years ago uranium miners in Elliot Lake, ON, staged a wildcat strike to call attention to the need for improved health and safety conditions. Silicosis and lung cancer were occupational hazards. The miners’ determination, and that of their union, led to the Occupational Health and Safety Act

To commemorate 40 years of increasing mine safety, the United Steelworkers (USW) is memorializing the Elliot Lake strike this week, April 15 -17 at the USW Local 6500 Steelworkers Hall and Conference Centre in Sudbury, ON.

Highlight of the tribute is Wednesday’s trip to Elliot Lake where participants will set up a mock picket at the entrance to the former Denison mine. A tour of the Elliot Lake Nuclear and Mining Museum and a re-dedication ceremony at the Miners’ Memorial are also planned.

Other activities in Sudbury include a look at the history of the Elliot Lake miners’ strike, a review of occupational disease, and an update on the current Ontario Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review. Continue Reading →

Elliot Lake wildcat strike led to key law – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – March 26, 2014)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

United Steelworkers will mark a milestone in occupational health and safety next month with a forum to commemorate the 40th anniversary of a wildcat strike in Elliot Lake that led to safer workplaces throughout Ontario.

The forum will mark the start of the three-week strike by about 1,000 Steelworkers in 1974 at Elliot Lake’s Denison uranium mine that resulted in the Government of Ontario appointing a royal commission headed by James Ham.

The Ham Commission on Mine Safety resulted in the creation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in 1979, the provincial law governing health and safety in the workplace, and the internal responsibility system.

The IRS is based on the principle that everyone in the workplace, workers and employers, are responsible for safety and for the safety of those around them John Perquin, a USW staff representative who works in the union’s head office in Pittsburgh, arrived in Elliot Lake about seven years after the strike that was a watershed moment in workers’ safety. Continue Reading →

Top Ten Mining Events in Northern Ontario History – by Stan Sudol (March 22, 2014)

This column was also published on the Huffington Post – the “New York Times” of the web:

Klondike Versus Northern Ontario

For crying out loud, I continue to be astonished with our collective Canadian obsession over the Klondike Gold Rush while northern Ontario’s rich and vibrant mining history is completely ignored by the Toronto media establishment, especially the CBC.

Discovery Channel’s recent six-hour mini-series on the Klondike – vaguely based on Charlotte Gray’s book, “Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike – once again highlighted this glaring snub.

Unfairly, the Klondike did have the benefit of terrific public relations due to famous writers like Jack London, Robert W. Service and Pierre Berton, but I still don’t understand how this brief mining boom continues to dominate the “historical oxygen” in our national psyche.

At its peak, the Klondike only lasted a few years – 1896-1899 – and produced about 12.5 million ounces of gold. And unlike the California gold rush that created one of the largest and richest states in the union, the entire Yukon Territory’s population today is about 36,000. Contrast that with booming Timmins with 45,000 hardy souls who have dug out of the ground about 68 million ounces and counting of the precious metal, since the Porcupine Gold rush of 1909.

It’s enough to make to make Benny Hollinger, Jack Wilson and Sandy MacIntyre – the founders of this extraordinary deposit – spin in their collective graves! Continue Reading →

Mine rescue wasn’t consulted after Elliot Lake mall collapse – CBC News Thunder Bay (September 12, 2013)

Elliot Lake rescue commander Bill Neadles tells inquiry he didn’t believe mine rescue was an option

The Elliot Lake inquiry has heard the leader of the rescue operation at the collapsed mall never called Ontario mine rescue to see if they could help.

When the community was told the rescue at the mall was over — because the building was too unstable — the idea of calling mine rescue was raised by area residents.

Heavy urban search and rescue commander Bill Neadles was in charge of the operation at the mall. During testimony on Thursday, he told the inquiry he didn’t believe mine rescue was an option.

“A mine is one set of skills and expertise and risks,” he said. “A structural collapse is a total separate discipline and it would be my opinion that they wouldn’t have the training and ability to do anything.”

But Neadles also said he didn’t know a lot about mine rescue and didn’t check to see if that was the case. The inquiry will hear more about whether mine rescue could have helped at the mall. Continue Reading →

Elliot Lake: The first rescuers inside the mall share their harrowing account – by by Michael Friscolanti with Andrew Stobo Sniderman (Maclean’s Magazine – July 9, 2012)

Plus, what the tragedy in Elliot Lake says about our country’s readiness to deal with catastrophes

In places like Elliot Lake (population 11,300), the locals like to say that everyone knows everyone. It’s not true, of course. Even the smallest of towns have strangers. But in this pocket of northern Ontario—where Lucie Aylwin was proudly born and raised—it’s hard to find someone who didn’t know her. An employment counsellor stationed at the Algo Centre Mall, the 37-year-old helped countless residents fine-tune their resumés and land a job. “She would help anybody,” says her fiancé, Gary Gendron. “If she wasn’t capable of doing it, she would find a way of doing it. She would never give up.”
On that Saturday afternoon, June 23, Aylwin was at work—not in her usual office, but at the lottery kiosk on the mall’s second floor, right across from the food court. With a wedding to plan, she took the weekend job to help pay the bills. “We had breakfast together,” Gendron recalls. “She gave me another big hug and a kiss and said: ‘I’ll see you at 6:30.’ ”
It was a few minutes past 2 o’clock when Doloris Perizzolo walked toward the lottery counter. The 74-year-old widow was a food-court regular, another familiar face among so many. Just days earlier, Perizzolo had won $1,000 on a “Money Multiplier” scratch ticket. She was back again to test her luck. Continue Reading →

Sudbury-born mine tech assists in Elliot Lake mall excavation [Penguin Automated Systems] – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – July 2012)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North.

Robot recon

There’s an unwritten code adhered to by people working in the mining industry: when emergency strikes, you do whatever you can to help. That’s why Greg Baiden didn’t hesitate to offer up a pair of $2-million reconnaissance robots when he got word that part of the roof had collapsed at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, potentially trapping people inside.
Baiden, chair and chief technology officer of Penguin Automated Systems Inc., was actually in Charlotte, N.C., en route to Florida to test a new optical communications system, when he got the call, but co-ordinating from afar, a team was mobilized from his Sudbury office.
The crew arrived in Elliot Lake on the evening of June 27, a day after the Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (HUSAR) team tasked with sifting through the rubble had reached the end of its capabilities. Though originally created for use in underground mines, Penguin designed the robots with mine rescue in mind. Continue Reading →