Scotland to Canada by Sailing Ship, A Family Odyssey


 

Preamble

The following article was composed by James McCannell (Sr.) of Port McNicoll in the 1920’s. Mr. McCannell was Captain of the CPR steamship Assiniboia from 1914 until his retirement in 1936, and gave this account of the voyage in 1852 f his parents from Scotland to southern Ontario. 

 His parents, Archibald MacCannel[i] and Rachel (nee MacArthur) immigrated to Canada from Jura, an island in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland.[ii] The MacCannels had raised sheep there for many generations but, like their countrymen, were under pressure from absentee English estate owners to give up their lands.

                                                     Figure 1: Island of Jura

 In 1852 they decided to move themselves and their 2 children to land they had acquired in southern Ontario.                                                                                                              

The article begins:

“Few people travelling today on luxuriously appointed steamers (liners) would have any idea what conditions were like on the immigrant ships crossing the Atlantic in the early 19th century.to bring the pioneers who settled in this country. Some of those ancient hulks were not at all fit to carry human brings: sanitary arrangements, ventilation, conveniences were often far from what they should have been.

                                                          Figure 2: Life Below Decks

Often sailing ships, after discharging bulk cargoes at British ports, were chartered to carry passengers back to North America. Carpenters were sent on board and temporary berths were built along the ship’s sides between decks for the accommodation of passengers; after landing them on this side of the Atlantic the berths were again removed to make room for the return cargo. Although many steamers crossing the Atlantic in the middle of the 19th century were engaged in the freight and passenger service, most passengers came by sailing ship.

Compare the liner of today (c.1920) with one of those sailing ships. There were no deluxe rooms, no observation rooms, and no smoking rooms. A deluxe room could well mean just a curtained – off berth. In many cases these ships were overcrowded with passengers and in some cases went out under-manned as the owner or sea captain knew full well that the passengers would include men accustomed to sea-faring.  In order to break the monotony on board ship they would be willing to help make or take in sail or any other seaman’s work.

One of the greatest hardships for passengers at that time was the supply of fresh water, which in many cases went bad or the passengers were put on short allowance. But even with many inconveniences there were times when the voyage was most pleasant and those on board had a good time.

Conditions in the old land, Scotland, were such that owing to unemployment many were forced to emigrate, some to Australia, where at first my father thought of going, being in his younger days a shepherd boy in the hills of the island of Jura and which was then part of one of the greatest wool-growing countries in the world.

The fare to far away Australia was more than he could afford. In 1851 he was thinking of going to Carolina where many Jura people had already gone, but learning from relatives there that that part of the country was not so “green”[iii] as reported, he was advised to come to Canada.  The only credentials my parents were armed with was their church membership certificates dated Jura, May 27, 1852 saying that they were leaving the parish without spot or stain on their character, etc.

 

A passage was accordingly booked in 1852 on the bark[iv] Ann Harley of Glasgow which, according to Lloyd’s register was built in Miramichi N.B. in 1844. Gross tons: 456, length: 112 ft. 9 in., depth: 18 ft., two deck, bark rigged.

                                                                                                                                                                                Figure 3: Bark

Compared with the contemporary White Star liner Olympia which was 882 ft. long by 92 ½ ft. beam it was decidedly small. The Ann Harley was usually in the West India trade, but this trip, the owners sent the Harley to Quebec.

The bark Ann Harley from Glasgow, Capt. McDonald, arrived at Quebec August 15th 1852 with 214 passengers and a cargo of coal and iron consigned to Russel and Sons cleared from Glasgow June 21st, time 8 weeks.  Two hundred and fourteen passengers! Where did they stow them?  On the SS Assiniboia, a steamer 350 ft. over all, the inspection certificate allowed 271 passengers and no more (See page 9).

Collision Forced Return

In booking passage then, passengers paid their fare which was about three pounds, children half fare, and provided their own food and bedding for the voyage. They were supplied daily with an allowance of fresh water, which was cut down before landing, and they could purchase from the ship’s stores but at a high rate.  My parents were first to go on board at Glasgow and mother selected a berth midway between the hatches, but father wanted one under the main hatch, thinking it more suitable on account of ventilation but to discover later to his sorrow that sunlight and ventilation were not everything on board a bark.

                          Figure 4: Immigrants Boarding Ship

On the 21st of June the Harley cleared from the Clyde[v] and during a dense fog off the coast of Ireland, the second night out, was in a collision with another ship and compelled to return to the Clyde for repairs as the bow was caved in and the headgear carried away.  The ship anchored for two weeks off the tail of the bank, as it was called, during which time the passengers remained aboard.  When all was ready, anchor weighed, and once more headed for the new world.  Capt. MacDonald (whose mother was a native of Jura) was also making his first voyage to Canada as he had always been engaged in the East and West India trade.  His wife, an educated Scottish lady, was accompanying him on this voyage.  He was reckoned one of the most gentlemanly captains from the Clyde.

I heard mother say how, in the evening as she sat on deck and watched the shores of Ireland fade away on the horizon, her last look forever on the British Isles. What thoughts, what sadness overclouded her mind as she thought of friends left behind, friends she was not likely to see again. 

What were her thoughts of the new land of which she knew nothing?  She was going to Canada, land of hope, to start life anew amid the solitude of the forest primeval .

                                                  

Figure 5: Leaving Home

Death at Sea

The first few days out were uneventful and the passengers began to mingle and get acquainted. They were mostly from the highlands, a few being from Ireland.  Their voyage across the Atlantic, while trying at times, was sunshine in comparison with others, particularly those immigrant ships on which the dread cholera broke out.  Of this, the little mounds on the Black (Grosse) Isle[vi] in the St. Lawrence are mute evidence that many who set sail from the shores of the Emerald Isle to seek homes in the new land found there a last resting place while hundreds, yes thousands died on board these cholera – infested ships while crossing and were buried at sea.  One of the saddest tales to be told during the last century was the hardships endured by these people owing to the failure of the potato and the outbreak of this fever.  Whole families were carried off and in many cases infants eft and adopted by strangers who spoke a different language.  In many cases today in the province of Quebec are found French families with Irish names, in all probability some of these fatherless and motherless children who were adopted by the French.

While crossing the sea, there was only one death reported among the passengers of the Ann Harley. The funeral service was read by Capt. MacDonald and the body lowered over the ship’s side and sank beneath the Atlantic billows.  The papers of that period tell tales of vessels lost with all on board and such and such a ship having arrived and that such a number died at sea during the passage.

Pride in Pioneers

If the present generation could only realize what the pioneers of old Ontario went through while travelling and trying to establish homes in the unbroken forest of this fair land, there is not one with a spark of pride within, but would feel proud to be descendants of such father and mothers, men and women who had the courage and determination to set out on a voyage of weeks followed by the hardships of clearing land, often far removed from the centres where they might obtain the necessities of life. For what did they do this?  To raise their families and educate them as far as their means would allow; to make them useful citizens to carry out the work to help make Canada what she is today: one of the finest countries on the globe.  To their credit, the sons and daughters of these people have, in a very great degree, contributed their bit in various ways in building up and developing this great country.

Never Such a Storm.

                    Figure 6: Storm at Sea

After several days sailing, the Harley encountered a succession of gales and the little ship laboured heavily in the seas. One Sunday afternoon seemed to be the worst, as I frequently heard my parents relating incidents about this particular storm.  The fore topgallant sail was torn and the main royal carried away[vii]; bulwarks were stove in. When the helmsman let her fall away some, much water came aboard.

At that point father discovered that under the hatch was not the most desirable place to sleep. The hatch was partly open with a tarpaulin stretched around to break the wind and to afford ventilation. Down through the hatch, the sea water poured where mother was lying with the children!

The vessel gave a few heavy rolls and some of the passengers suddenly found themselves in berths on the other side where they had no right to be. Sea chests and other articles were running to and fro, some passengers were screaming with every lurch of the vessel, others praying and above all the big Lowland Scotch mate shouting orders to men aloft on the yards.  At last the hatch was battened down and it must be left to the imaginations as to what it was like between decks with very little ventilation, so many sick and everything soaked.

             Figure 7: Deck Plan for (Larger) Bark – Lundy, The Way of a Ship, 2002

In the berth next to mother and father there was an aged Irish Catholic lady who was travelling alone. She and mother became great friends and she was always ready to look after the children when mother wanted to go on deck for a walk for fresh air. Many of passengers during this storm thought their end had come.  There were others frightened but Capt. MacDonald came down and was trying to allay their fears, saying there was no danger as he had passed through a much worse storm in the preceding winter on his way back from the West Indies.  The ship lost the topmasts, yards and bulwarks, but he had every confidence in the vessel.

The old lady stopped in the middle of her prayers and said it was a “damned lie, there had never been such a storm on the Atlantic – no niver” and immediately again started her prayers where she had left off. Under the circumstances the good lady should not be judged too severely for deviating a little from her supplications.  The calm after the storm may have been the result of her entreaties, at least she thought so.  After two days the weather moderated, the hatch was opened and the passengers were enabled to get on deck.

 

                   Figure 8: On deck

Everywhere clothes were hanging to dry and things were beginning to be put in order. Some were telling their experiences, some admitting they were sea sick, while others said they were not exactly sick, but felt queer.  You hear the same today after a storm.  Mother and her friend were the only two who did not participate in this part of the programme as they were not sick while crossing.                   

The big mate seemed to have a choice vocabulary at times and while he was a staunch follower of John Knox, at times his flow of language would turn that noted Scottish divine pale with fright had he been there. I rather think she quite agreed with the minister when he said: “Thank God the mate is swearing; there can’t be any danger”.  While the mate was using choice selections when he was roaring at the men up on the yards, he may have inspired confidence in the terrified passengers.  From all accounts the mate and carpenter were real characters.

Now It Was Calm

They next encountered a dead sea. The vessel lay rolling, her sails flapping, there being little more than enough wind to swell them out, when out of the northwest came another gale.  This time precautions were taken earlier and again hatches were battened down and the passengers escaped further disagreeable experiences.  Being by this time less than two weeks at sea and far from Canada some of the passengers began to suspect that some form of hoodoo was pursuing them.  There was first the collision, then the storms.  Among those on board was a gentleman who did not mingle with the others; consequently no one knew anything about him.  Finally someone singled him out as the guilty one. The news soon spread with the result all were watching his every move.  Even the Irish lady was heard to say;”Indade, he looks like a thafe or a murtherer, he can’t look ye in the eye”.  Poor recompense for any person for minding his own business.  This poor individual was coming to Canada with the same object in view as the rest on board and, had he been on some other ship, simply because he was spotted by someone as the Jonah and the rest believed it, he might have suddenly disappeared and no one would have known what happened.  On arriving in Quebec friends were there to meet and bid him welcome to the promised land.

Days Grow into Weeks

As week followed week and seeing but one sailing ship, and that far to the south, no doubt the time seemed long. Owing to storms, contrary winds and cloudy weather, Capt. MacDonald was not very sure of his position, but one morning, early, those aboard heard the welcome news: “Land ahead”!  This brought many passengers on deck whence in the distant horizon they could make out the outline.  During the afternoon some small boats approached them.  They proved to be French sealers and could speak no English. They beckoned to the commander of the Ann Harley to keep way to the south as they knew the barque was very much off course. Capt. MacDonald’s wife, who could speak French, came on deck and from them got the approximate position and squared away for the St. Lawrence, taking about a week to enter the river.  Any land would look good after such a long voyage and every preparation was made by the passengers for landing.

In The New Land

 

At last the vessel came to Quebec. All passed through the medical inspection, not being detained on account of illness, transferred to the passenger steamers which were to take them to Toronto.

 

                                                                                Figure 9: Medical Inspection

Down between decks were many passengers, many of them river drivers who had taken rafts to Quebec.  These fellows were attired in gaudy colours that put the tartans in the shade. Some were from Glengarry and others French.  Having been paid in Quebec for the trip. they were having a hilarious time singing, drinking, dancing and fighting, making night hideous for those in the cabin trying to sleep.  Every once in a while, mother could hear someone shout: “balance all” and then what stamping of feet!  They varied the programme between dances with a free-for-all. On arrival at Montreal, the river drivers left, their departure making the rest of the voyage much more pleasant.

Coming to Lake Ontario ports the passengers began taking leave of each other The Irish lady left at Port Hope and in bidding good-bye, invoked the blessing of all the saints on my mother for being so kind to her Several passengers left at Cobourg, among them the mother of Capt. Peter Shaw, a well- known captain on the Great Lakes. His father Capt. Shaw built a schooner, called the Jura, after his native isle, and for many years sailed her on Lake Ontario.

Goodbye to the Ann Harley[viii], 

           Figure 10: Toronto 1850

Finally Toronto was reached and seemed to be the last separating place as many families left there for Hamilton and Canada West as western Ontario was then called. The others took stages from Toronto for Holland Landing, where they boarded the little steamer Beaver for Barrie[ix], where it might be said that the last shilling they owned, and the last they saw for some time after was spent.  They were met at Barrie by friends who brought the families to their homes.

At Barrie, my family were met by the late Donald McGillivray, who took them to his home on the 10th line near their land grant. Most of the journey from Barrie was made on foot, with 2 young children in tow. One night they stopped at the home of a lady in Sunnidale. She was very kind to them but mother said that the howling of wolves around the cabin from dark to daylight made sleep impossible.”

     Figure 11: Lake Simcoe Steamer  at Barrie c.1890

The reminder of the story is based on the remembrances of James McCannell (junior), born in 1916 and grandson of Archibald MacCannel.

After a trek over the 9 Mile Portage they reached Willow Landing, where they could board a batteau to cross the Minesing Swamp and make their way down the Nottawasaga River to Georgian Bay. (Many new settlers bound for the northern US states also took this route).

Their long journey ended at their 100 acre holdings below Blue Mountain near Collingwood, in an area populated by their fellow Scots and sheep farmers. Here they raised sheep and their family of  7 Gaelic speakers, three of whom became ship captains on the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes Sailors

 

One of these sons, James McCannell, was renowned on both sides of the border as a skilled sailor and ship master. James began his career in 1888 on his brother’s ship out of Collingwood bound for Chicago.

Figure 12: S.S. Oneida of N.E.T. Line Collingwood and Chicago c.1890

In 1900 he earned his first command, on an American ship. In 1908 he moved his family to Owen Sound, the home port of the Canadian Pacific Great Lakes Service and joined the CPR as First Officer on the S.S Alberta. In 1911 he transferred to the S.S. Athabasca. When the 5 ship CPR fleet was transferred from Owen Sound to Port McNicoll in 1912, James and family followed and he built his home there in 1913 – 1914. He captained the S.S. Assiniboia, flagship of the fleet, from 1914 to his retirement in 1936. Captain James McCannell died in 1939.

 

     

Figure 13 (left): Laura Taylor (Mrs. James) McCannell  and House, Port McNicoll, 1913         

Figure 14: (right)  James McCannell Family 1921. Front, from left: Darcos, James Jr. James Sr.  2nd row: Dorothy, Marjory, Reynolds.  Rear: Laura Taylor McCannell, Malcom , Donalda. Another son, Laurie, was born in 1922.

  

 

Figure 15: Capt. James McCannell         Figure 16: S.S. Assiniboia at Port McNicoll, 1920

James McCannell Jr. was born in 1916 in the family home in Port McNicoll. He still lived there in 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 17: McCannell House Today                                     Figure 18: Tay Heritage Plaque

 

Figure 19: James McCannell

For more articles on the McCannell family, see taytownshipheritage.wordpress.com and search  ”McCannell”

Endnotes

[i] The Scot surname was spelled as “MacCannel”. The spelling was changed to “McCannell” for the children born in Canada and their descendants.  (James McCannell (jr.)

[ii] Jura comes from the Norse words meaning Deer Island. Today over 6500 deer live on six estates on the island. In contrast, the human population is less than 200. Jura is mountainous, bare and infertile, covered largely by vast areas of bog, hence its small population. The island is 29 miles long and 7 miles wide in places. The west is wild and virtually uninhabited. From the mid-18th century, there were a number of waves of emigration from Jura, the result of factors such as hunger and spiraling rents. In 1767, fifty people left Jura for Canada, and from that point the population gradually shrank from over a thousand to its 20th century level of just a few hundred.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jura,_Scotland

[iii] A major concern for emigrants was the drift toward civil war in the United States, which broke out 9 years later in 1861. (James McCannell Jr.)

[iv] A barque, barc, or bark is a type of sailing vessel with three or more masts having the fore- and mainmasts rigged square and only the mizzen (the aft most mast) rigged fore-and-aft.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barque http://www.thepirateking.com/ships/ship_types.htm

[v] The River Clyde flows into the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. It is the eighth-longest river in the United Kingdom, and the second-longest in Scotland. Traveling through the major city of Glasgow, it was an important river for shipbuilding and trade in the British Empire.

[vi] In 1847, after suffering through two years of famine, some 100,000 Irish immigrants took ship for North America. Many began the dangerous journey already starving and sick. Grosse Isle was the site of an immigration depot which predominantly housed Irish immigrants coming to Canada. On arrival at Grosse Isle, emigrant ships were not permitted to sail onwards unless they had assured the authorities that they were free of disease.

Thousands were quarantined on Grosse Isle from 1832 to 1848. Unfortunately many contracted typhus, cholera, smallpox or other diseases and died during their voyages or on the island. Over 3,000 died on the island and over 5,000 are currently buried in the cemetery there.

The exact numbers of those who died at sea is unknown, although estimated to exceed 5,000. During the crossing itself, bodies were thrown into the sea, but once the ships had reached Grosse Isle they were kept in the hold until a burial on land became possible. Medical inspectors counted many dead in the ships’ steerage areas. At the height of the epidemics, mass graves were dug, and in some places, the coffins were stacked three deep. Quebec families welcomed some 500 Irish orphans and let them keep their family names.

It is estimated that in total, from when it was set up in 1832 to the closing in 1932, almost 500,000 Irish immigrants passed through Grosse Isle on their way to Canada. Grosse Isle is now the Irish Memorial National Historic Site, managed by Parks Canada.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grosse_Isle,_Quebec                                                          Library and Archives Canada http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca

[vii] “The fore topgallant sail was torn and the main royal carried away”.

Identifying Sailing Ships http://www.phillyseaport.org/

[viii] The Anne Harley was wrecked off the coast of Florida in 1858, while on route to Hull, England with a load of lumber.

Shipwrecks of Florida: A Ccomprehensive Listing, Steven D Singer 1998

[ix] Toronto to Georgian Bay Link.

During the War of 1812 a transportation route was established to link Toronto to Georgian Bay and beyond. The line of transport was, from York, later Toronto, by stage coach up Yonge Street to the Holland River then by water north via Lake Simcoe to the head of Kempenfelt Bay.

The Nine Mile Portage was a trail leading from Kempenfelt Bay to Willow Creek, a tributary of the Nottawasaga River, which flows into Georgian Bay at Wasaga Beach. Willow Depot, located on high ground about a mile from Willow Creek, was built by the British army during the War of 1812 as a storage and transshipment post for goods coming over the portage. From there people and goods were transported in bateaux, or flat-bottomed boats, down the river, to Georgian Bay.

Apart from its military purposes, the Nine Mile Portage was for many years the only highway over which native peoples, traders, and settlers passed, although it was later widened and improved for ox-drawn wagon traffic. It fell into disuse when the first roads and railways were established beginning in the 1850’s.

http://www.wasagabeachpark.com/Cultural-History/War-of-1812-the-Nancy.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Waubaushene Home Becomes a Designated Heritage Site


Tay Township Council has designated the home at 200 Cherry Street in Waubaushene as significant under the Ontario Heritage Act; i.e. it is of value to the community because of its history, architecture, or place in the growth of the community. The designation protects the heritage attributes of the structure from any significant changes without the approval of Council.

200 Cherry Street 2016

History and Context

The home has a fascinating history. It sits on a block of land originally owned by William Solomon, a fur trader and interpreter from Drummond Island and living in Penetanguishene (1838), then the Georgian Bay lumber Company and its principals, the Dodge family (1870), and the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) (1906).

The Jesuits purchased the block bounded by Cherry Street, Elm Street, Pine Street and Thiffault Street as the site for their mission complex of St. John the Evangelist, located in Waubaushene for its proximity to the site of the martyrdom of Fathers Brebeuf and Lalement in 1649. Here they built a church, a presbytery, a music hall, stables and carriage shed, and an assembly hall for the Catholic Order of Foresters, a fraternal organization.

 

 

 

 

The adjacent photograph of a Catholic Order of Foresters medallion is inscribed with the letters “C” “O” “F” and the Latin words for faith, hope and charity

 

North Elevation c.1935

 

In November, 1914 all the buildings were lost to fire except the Foresters’ hall, which served as a chapel for services until the church was rebuilt in 1916. In 1928 William Brodeur purchased the Hall and two lots on Cherry Street from the Jesuits. He moved the Hall there and renovated it as a residence.

 

William was one of eleven children of Jeremie Brodeur, who came to Waubaushene from Ste. Paulin, Quebec about 1885 to work for the Georgian Bay Lumber Company, possibly as a millwright. (The first “Canadian” Brodeur had arrived in Varennes in New France about 1675.) The Brodeurs were representative of many Quebec families who moved to Ontario to follow the lumber industry.

Brodeur Brothers Band c1912 Back: Jim, Edmond, Walter, Will. Front: Pat, Sam, Bert, Steve, Ernie

 

The Brodeurs were very active in the Church and community, earning local renown by forming the Brodeur Brothers marching band, composed of William and his 8 brothers. They played for dances and most community social activities, including many of the concerts in the old St Johns Hall in Waubaushene.

 

When the timber ran out and the lumber companies closed in the 1920’s, the mill workers had to find other means of employment. William and several of his brothers formed the Brodeur Brothers Boat Works, a local firm which built watercraft for personal, commercial and military use. The business, begun in 1932, was located at the end of Hemlock Street. In 1937 the operation moved down to the old mill site on Coldwater Road. It ceased operations in 1947, unable to compete with mass production techniques.

William died in 1954 and his wife (Delina Paradis) in 1963. The Cherry Street property remains in the family.

Architectural or Design Value

The building form is 1 1/2 –storey wood frame with a gable peak. The original building (c.1910 and extended in 2005) has balloon- style framing with no interior load-bearing walls, consistent with its original use as a community space.

As with many pre–1920 buildings in the area it was built of 12’ X 2” pine planks for the exterior and interior walls and subfloor. Materials were likely sourced at the Waubaushene mill of the Georgian Bay Lumber Company. The exterior was subsequently covered by clapboard, then Insul brick and then pine siding. The original foundation is poured concrete; adjoining is a fresh water cistern, now unused.

Plank Wall Construction 1928

 

There are 9.5 foot ceilings on the ground floor and 7 foot ceilings on the upper floor. Portions of the pine ceiling and plank walls on the ground floor are visible.

 

 

Original Main floor Looking North c1910

 

The strip flooring on the ground floor (mostly maple) is visible and original to the hall (c.1910) and runs throughout the length of the original building. The flooring for the second level (attic) of the original hall building is red pine, visible and again runs throughout the original upper level.

 

Original Front Door 1928

 

 

Original to 1928 are the pine front door, including a turn chime doorbell, most of the solid pine interior doors, and staircase. All interior doors and windows are trimmed in pine. A number of the furniture items and other fixtures are original.

 

 

 

While there are many properties on the Tay Register and Inventory of Heritage properties, the Cherry Street home is only the sixth building in Tay to receive the official designation. The others include the Village Mercantile, the old Village Library and 151 George Street in Victoria Harbour, the Waverley United Church and Rumney house at 1831 Rumney Road.

Presentation of Designation Plaque by Members of the Tay Heritage Committee. Front: Councillor Cate Root, Terry Fegarty, Susan Lucas. Rear: Allan Mantel, Matthew Heffer, John Todd, Stan O’Connor. Absent: Steve Farquharson

 

For more details on heritage sites in Tay Township, go to taytownshipheritage.wordpress.com

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Louis Brousseau and the Chicago World’s Fair


Many long-term residents of this area will remember the name Louis Brousseau,      well-known for delivering fresh vegetables and berries from his island garden to the towns along the southern shores of Georgian Bay. His nicknames of “Onion King” and “Cranberry Brousseau” recall the summer days here of the first half of the 20th century.

Louis was born in Champlain County, Quebec on April 16, 1867 to parents Pierre and Caroline. It is not certain when he and his family arrived in this locale, but Louis (age 14), his parents and 2 younger siblings, Peter (age 7) and Ernestine (age 3), were recorded in the 1881 Census of Canada as living in the Baxter / Gibson Township area.

                            Figure 1: Northeast Simcoe County c.1880

By this time the North Simcoe area was booming with major lumber mills and thriving small towns at Port Severn, Waubaushene, Sturgeon Bay and Victoria Harbour. By 1879 the Midland Railway stretched from Lake Ontario to Midland. Regular steamship service connected Southern Georgian Bay ports to Byng Inlet and Sault Ste. Marie.

Louis was illiterate all his life; no doubt he left school early to hunt, fish and farm in order to help feed his family. It was common for young boys like Louis to work in the lumber mills in summer and in the bush camps in winter.

But in 1893 the area was buzzing with news of the World’s Fair in Chicago (the “World’s Columbian Exposition” in honour of Columbus’ arrival in the new world 400 years earlier).

 

Figure 2: Contemporary Drawing1893 Chicago World’s Fair

Louis wanted to go, and when a friend bet him $100 that he couldn’t get there alone, that was it! He would find a way, as that was a lot of money at that time, especially to him. He would build his own boat and row / sail from Waubaushene up through the thousands of islands in Georgian Bay, through the North Channel, by Mackinac Island and down Lake Michigan to Chicago, a distance of some 1,000 miles, without charts!

                                                                                  Figure 3: Assortment of Daily Passes

His boat was reportedly 15-16 ft. in length, 4 ft. wide, with a pointed stern, lead keel, and a tarpaulin to keep dry his supplies, including fishing gear and an old gun. Power came from oars and crude burlap sails. Cedar posts provided buoyancy and masts.

On June 23, 1893, at age 26, with 50 cents in his pocket, a compass but no charts, he set out from Waubaushene with only his black dog, “Pete” (likely named for his brother Peter) as company. Following the shore he asked for a signed piece of paper at each place he landed to prove that he had been there; for instance:

  • July 2, at Little Current, Manitoulin Island
  • July 20, at St. Ignace, Michigan
  • July 22, at Biddles Point, Michigan
  • August 6, at Jacksonport, Wisconsin
  • August 12, Port Washington, Wisconsin
  • August 19, at Jackson Park, Chicago, the site of the World’s Fair

Copies of these “receipts” are to be found at the Huronia Museum, Midland. Ironically Louis could not read what these documents contained.

Louis claimed that he could have made the journey in 8 days, but had to stop to work along the way. 8 days to row / sail 1,000 miles, 125 miles per day? (Doubtful.)

He would stick close to the shoreline but at one point, to save time, he had to cross Lake Michigan to reach the Wisconsin shore at Sheboygan. By his own telling, he had encountered severe storms, one off Detour, Michigan that capsized his boat. He was able with help to recover all of his gear except his compass.

     Figure 3: World’s Fair Basin

After 3 days in Chicago, on August 19 Louis reached the Jackson Park site of the World’s Fair.

They put him, his boat and his dog in a tent and sold tickets to see them. He was a minor sensation, with his boat on wheels, giving twice daily shows.

 

                                                    Figure 4: Fair Parade Route

He received no proceeds from these activities, but worked for several  months at the Fair as a lamp cleaner and fireworks man.

News reporting at the Fair could be fanciful, perhaps with some input from Louis.

From The Country Gentleman and Cultivator: “Antoine Brousseau, hunter and trapper of Upper Ontario, reached the world’s fair last week, having travelled nearly 1,000 miles in a dugout.”[i] (This article had Louis’ name as Antoine, but should have been Louis, as per the log of the journey and the record of his birth. Louis was Francophone so there may have been a language barrier for the reporter writing this story.)

From the Scientific American: “Before he left his northern home he had never seen a railroad or electric light, had never heard a band of music or the whistle of a steamboat. When this happened he was so carried away with what he saw and heard that he thought he had reached heaven.

The region where Brousseau comes from is as wild today as it was when Chicago was only a trading post, the temporary stopping post for men like himself. He says that he has lived in the woods for months at a time without seeing a human face. He was born and raised in the wilderness, and until he started on this wonderful voyage of his, he was ignorant of the conditions of life in the great world beyond the ‘clearing’”[ii]

(It is of some interest that much of the lumber required to rebuild Chicago after the great fire of 1871 came from the mills at Waubaushene and Port Severn).

                            Figure 5: Contemporary Cartoon

“The Fair brought the world to Chicago. Unfortunately people from around the world were also brought to the Fair to be put on exhibit. To highlight the achievements of western civilization, exhibits of other people, such as ‘Indians’, ‘Islanders’, and ‘Colored’ portrayed them as exotic and / or  ‘less advanced’. Reconstructed villages and exhibits of native life were located throughout the Fair and Midway.”[iii]  Several of these groups took early leave.

Louis left his boat at the Fair and, on his return journey, mostly on foot, spent several years in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. There in 1900 he met and married Louise Thompson. In 1907 he purchased Island 79 in Baxter Township, later called Brousseau Island, between Potato Island and Moore Point. On his 7 1/8 acres he built a humble home, raised vegetables and a few sheep, and picked berries in season.

 

To sell his produce he would sail / row to the towns along the shore. In the fall cranberry season, he would venture as far as Byng Inlet. He was remembered as having bright blue eyes, bushy brows, long hair and beard. He loved to talk about his adventures as well as gossip about people and events in town.

James McCannell of Port McNicoll tells the story of meeting Louis while walking with his father, then a licensed lake sailor and later the Commodore of the CPR fleet. Louis insisted on walking behind them in deference to his father’s position, but his father would have none of it, such was his respect for Louis’ accomplishment.

After his wife died in 1934 Louis continued to go to town and live on his island with only his dog and sheep for company. Louis Brousseau died on June 17, 1954 and was buried in St John’s Catholic Cemetery in Waubaushene.

As we celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary in 2017, let us remember one exceptional Canadian, born in 1867, who left his unique mark in local lore.

Appendix I:

From his obituary published in the Midland Free Press, June 1954

      • Born April 16, 1867 in Champlain County, PQ
      • Baptized at St Genevieve de Batiscan Church, Diocese of Trois Rivieres
      • Parents: Pierre (Peter) Brousseau, Caroline (Catherine) St. Jean
      • Married 1900 Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to Louise Thompson (Died April, 1936)
      • Bought Island 79, Baxter Township (Brousseau Island) in 1907 for $80
      • Died: Sunset Lodge, Atherley, June 17/54, age 91
      • Buried St. John RC Cemetery, Waubaushene 

Appendix II:

From the New York Times:

Sources:

1881 Census of Canada, Ontario, District 131, Page 34, Baxter / Gibson Township area

Ancestry.ca re Louis Brousseau

Chicago Field Museum: 1893 Chicago World’s Fair pictures

Chicago Historical Museum for 1893 World’s Fair pictures

Dominion of Canada – Illustrated Atlas of the Provinces of Canada, Simcoe County of Ontario, WH Belden and Co 1878

Genevieve Carter, Huronia Museum, Midland

James DH McCannell, Port McNicoll

Jamie Hunter, Tay Township

Mary Haskill, Nosing into the Past, Life and Times in Huronia, Huronia Museum, 2002

Midland Free Press, June 1954

Midland Free Press, What’s New – Past Faces and Places, Robert Thiffault and Pamela King, April 13, 1984

New York Times, August 22, 1893

Quebec Canada, Vital and Church Records, (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968

Scientific American, 1893, Volume 69, Page 154, J.E. Emerson

Tay Township Heritage blog: https://taytownshipheritage.wordpress.com

The Cultivator and Country Gentleman, August 31, 1893, Volume 64, Page 679

EndNotes

[i] The Cultivator and Country Gentleman, August 31, 1893, Volume 64, Page 679

[ii] Scientific American, 1893, Volume 69, Page 154, J.E. Emerson

[iii] Chicago Field Museum: 1893 Chicago World’s Fair

 

 

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St. John’s Church Complex in Waubaushene Destroyed by Fire, November 1916


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The Roman Catholic Church presence in Waubaushene dates back to the town’s beginnings as a lumbering centre in 1861. In that year William Hall established a mill on the shore line east from what is now Pine Street. As a result residences, including mill-workers houses, and Catholic and Protestant churches were built.

The original facility for Catholic worship was a small chapel built before 1870 by Father Theophile Francis Laboureau, based in Penetanguishene, who would come by water to conduct masses in both Waubaushene and Port Severn. Subsequently Waubaushene was served by priests from Midland who visited from time to time.

The original church was torn down in 1882, and replaced by a new church built in 1883 at 46 Hazel Street, on land granted by the Georgian Bay Lumber Company in exchange for the first church property. As the town grew, particularly after the establishment of the Company in 1871, a new and larger church was required.

Renewed interest in and devotion to the Jesuits Jean de Brebeuf and Gabriel Lalemant, martyred at nearby St Ignace II, led the Archdiocese to grant the Waubaushene mission to the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). The first Jesuit parish priest, Father John Baptiste Nolin, was appointed in 1906.

As a site for the new church, Father Nolan bought an elevation of land bordered by the present-day Pine, Elm, Cherry and Thiffault Streets. The Society built a complex of buildings on the site, including the new church, opened in 1906, the rectory (priests’ residence), a chapel, a music hall, and a stable and carriage shed.  A meeting hall for the Catholic Order of Foresters was sited on Thiffault Street, opposite the present library.

Prior to the opening of the Martyr’s Shrine in 1926, the Waubaushene mission  served as the focal point for Jesuit activities in the area. Before that time prevailing opinion located the martyrdom site of St. Ignace II at the summit of the hill on the east half of Lot 4, Concession 7 (now Gervais Road), about two kilometers south of the former CPR right of way. There, in 1907, Father Nolin built a wooden chapel, the original Martyr’s Shrine. As many as 1,000 pilgrims would come for Sunday Mass there.

However, subsequent investigations relocated St. Ignace II to a site off Rosemount Road; in 1925 the original Shrine was dismantled. In the following year, the present Shrine opened on the Wye River, across Hwy 12 from Ste. Marie.

In addition to providing church services to local parishioners, the Waubaushene priests were responsible for serving the missions at Mount St Louis, Port Severn, Christian Island, and several other posts in the area. In 1914 the Waubaushene staff included Father Nolin, two other priests and a religious brother.

img093 On the night of November 13-14, 1914 all of the buildings of the Waubaushene mission, except for the Foresters’ hall, were destroyed when a fire broke out in the rectory. Father Nolin was asphyxiated and died on November 16.

 

 

The Forester’s hall was saved by placing wet planks against its outer walls and by throwing snow on its roof. The hall was subsequently used as a chapel for Catholic Church services until the church was rebuilt and opened for Christmas, 1916.

North c1940

c1940

 

In the late 1920’s the Church sold off 6 lots along the Cherry Street side. The Foresters’ hall was moved by horse team and logs to the corner of Cherry and Elm Streets, where it was converted for residential use and remains today.

 

 

rc-church

The present church was opened on Christmas Day, 1916 by Father Bouvrette, pastor. The rectory on the left was built in 1949. The school adjacent to the church to the north was opened in 1956 as St John’s Separate (Catholic) School. It was subsequently transferred to the Public School Board as Pine Street Elementary School (now closed). The church is now staffed by Diocesan priests

   The Present Church and Rectory                           

 

 

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Iconic Old Waubaushene House Demolished


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Figure 1: 15 Willow Street 2015, from North       Figure 2: East (Coldwater Road) Elevation

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The house at 15 Willow Street, Waubaushene will soon be no more. It was built c.1880 across Coldwater Road from the head office and company store of the Georgian Bay Lumber Company, the dominant economic force in Waubaushene during the village’s heyday as a major lumbering centre.

Figure 3: West Elevation

At one time the house was reportedly the residence of the Company’s mill engineer. It has been empty and derelict for many years.

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The 12 inch planks and other materials used in the structure are to be salvaged and recycled.

 

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Figures 4 and 5: North Elevation

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Figure 6: East Elevation                                       Figure 7: West Elevation

 

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Figure 8: Chimney Bricks

 

 

 

Figure 9

 

“An empty house is a doomed house”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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James McCannell’s Heritage Orchard


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The following article describes  the orchard established by Port McNicoll resident James McCannell in memory of his late wife.

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This article was originally published in Seeds of Diversity magazine (29.3). Find out more at http://www.seeds.ca/magazine

 

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A Review of Early Gold and Other Mining in Canada


 

Presented by James Douglas Haig McCannell

James McCannell

James McCannell 2014

 

James McCannell is Canada’s oldest active geologist, (geochemist and engineer as well), born in 1916 in Port McNicoll.

His first mining experience was a job underground as a helper on a rock drill at the Shawkey Mines, Val D’Or, Québec in January, 1937.  While attending Western University, Mr. McCannell worked during the summer of 1939 at the East Malartic Mines Limited and the summers of 1940, ’41 and ’42 at the Malartic Goldfields as the assayer. He graduated from Western in 1943 with honours degrees in geochemistry and geology.

On September 4th 1947, Mr. McCannell joined an organization  Mining Geophysics, a private company owned by Dr. Norman Keevil, a professor of physics at the University of Toronto. Mining Geophysics had just signed a contract with Gulf Oil to carry out ground work in Canada to test the geophysical results of their new airborne magnetometer.  Mr. McCannell’s two-year contract with Mining Geophysics terminated at the end of August, 1949.  Although Mr. McCannell was offered an attractive position as a geologist with Gulf Oil, he had made up his mind to open a mining consulting practice in Toronto.  This led to some interesting contacts, both in Canada and New York City and brought him in contact with some outstanding men such as Bernard Baruch.

While working on various projects in Central America, in 1953, Mr. McCannell was invited to Nicaragua to meet the then President General Anastosia Somoza Garcia to discuss the financing of several of the General’s geological prospects. However the General was assassinated in Sept. 1956.

“Well, I’ve had quite a career in mining. I’ve worked in about 30 countries. I have the best record of any geologist I’ve ever known – for mine finding.” Mr. McCannell found the only mine in Haiti, when in 1955 he diamond-drilled under an old Spanish adit dating back to the 1800s, and found 126 feet of rich copper-zinc ore, with credits in gold and silver. He has worked in every province or territory in Canada (except PEI, which has no outcrop). “I’ve walked for thousands of kilometres through the bush all the way from the Yukon to Labrador.”

Source: Taken from “Canada’s oldest active geologist”, Western University Alumni Gazette Fall 2014.

The following article was composed and dictated by Mr. McCannell and reflects the many reports which he made for investors and mining companies. 

A Review of Early Gold and Other Mining in Canada

The following article reviews the early history of Canadian mining, particularly the period between 1934 and 1941. In that last year Canada had a total gold production of 5,345,179 ounces, but it is not clear whether this figure includes any of the gold produced as a by-product from base metal mines.  In 1941 there were 39 producing base metal mines, with 27 producing gold as a by-product.

Precambrian Shield

The most predominant geological feature with respect to mining in Canada is the Precambrian Shield. The Shield is a complex series of rocks, crystallized from the molten core of the planet, and forms the petrographic surface of over 50% of Canada.  The remainder is the western Cordillera region and the immediate Paleozoic sedimentary areas adjoining to the east.  This Cordillera forms the mountainous regions of B.C. and Yukon Territory.

Rocks forming the Precambrian Shield underlie the sediments of the western provinces and the James Bay lowlands.  In the Rocky Mountain trough on the east side of the  Cordillera, these sediments can be as much as 10,000 feet in thickness but thin out to a few feet along the front extending northwesterly from Lake Winnipeg through Lake Athabasca, Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake.  In the James Bay lowlands, southern Ontario and Québec as well as the Maritime provinces, the Paleozoic sediments rarely exceed 3,000 feet in thickness.

The rocks of the Precambrian Shield basically consist of a wide variety of coarse-grained granitic types, varying from highly basic peridotites to siliceous granites.  They include extensive areas of rocks that resulted from volcanism and sedimentation, as well as a wide variety of coarse-grained intrusions originating from the basement complex, and forming structures such as dykes, sills and batholiths.  The areas underlain by these later formations are referred to as greenstone belts and provide most of the host rocks in Canada for the deposits of metallic mineralization.  The Canadian Precambrian Shield and associated Cordillera regions probably provide the most attractive areas for hosting metallic minerals on this planet.

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Precambrian Shield (Source: http://farm6.staticflickr.com)

  Early Gold Discoveries

The first gold discovery in Canada was made in Nova Scotia in 1858.  It created a great deal of excitement locally and several showings were quickly located; however, no economic developments of significance resulted.  Ontario’s first gold discovery was made in 1866 on a property near the village of Eldorado, north of the town of Madoc in southeastern Ontario.

In the 1890s several gold discoveries were made in British Columbia, particularly in the south-central part of the province in areas such as The Bridge River, Highland Valley and Slocan.  The event referred to as the “Trail of ‘98” was a gold rush into the Dawson area of the Yukon, resulting in a large number of small placer operations.  Although a considerable amount of gold was produced over the next few years, no major mining development was established.  In the meantime, during the mid-1890s, companies such as Pioneer Gold Mines and Bralorne Mines were developed in the Bridge River district of south-central B. C. and became substantial gold-producers for a number of years.  Mention should be made of the gold discovery in the Caribou region of B.C. in 1860, which resulted in a major gold rush, and followed the big gold rush of 1848 at Sacramento, northern California.  Many of the miners from Sacramento flocked to the Caribou.

The early discoveries of many of the mineralized deposits in Canada were accidental, such as the Sudbury Basin and Cobalt, which were a result of railway construction.  Most of the others, however, such as Porcupine and Kirkland Lake, were surface exposures only requiring the removal of a small amount of moss or glacial till.

Sudbury Basin

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(Right) Sudbury Basin Geology    (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudbury_Basin)

The Sudbury basin is the second largest crater on Earth and is thought by some to have been created by a massive comet hitting the planet 1.8 billion years ago. The basin is 100 miles in circumference, 39 miles long, 19 miles wide and 9.3 miles deep.

The large impact created a zone of weakness that allowed the planet’s inner liquid magma, containing nickel, copper, platinum, palladium, gold and other metals, to surge upward to the basin. (In fact, norite, formed with the cooling and solidification of magna or lava, is the basal igneous rock of the Sudbury Basin). Several locations along the circumference have noteworthy mineral deposits. As a result the Sudbury area is one of the world’s major mining communities.

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                                           (Above) Ontario Mining Locations, 2015 (Source: http://www.oma.on.ca/en/ontariomining/resources/OntMiningOperations2014.pdf)

The first large mining development in Canada was the discovery of copper and nickel in the Sudbury area. This discovery was made in the early 1880s during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and later International Nickel (INCO) was formed.  The forerunner of INCO was the Canadian Copper Company, formed about 1890, to develop a copper/nickel showing in southeastern Ontario on a property north of Madoc.  In 1902 the Canadian Copper Company moved their operation to Sudbury and in 1916 several small companies in the Sudbury basin were merged to form the present-day INCO.

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(Right) (Source: https://uwaterloo.ca/earth-sciences-museum/resources/mining-canada/mining-history-sudbury-area)

 

 

Falconbridge Nickel Mines Ltd., incorporated in 1928 and formed by Ventures Ltd., became a major mining enterprise in the Sudbury basin.  The company also carried out mining exploration and development projects in several other regions of Canada.  For many years the Sudbury basin provided 80% of the world’s nickel requirements.

The next large Canadian mining venture was the development of sulfide deposits at Trail, British Columbia, which date back to the early 1890s.  These deposits were largely lead and zinc with variable amounts of silver, tin, antimony, bismuth, cadmium, indium, and gold. Consolidated Mining and Smelting was formed in 1906 at which time it was 51.5% owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway.  The operation quickly became the largest mining and smelting operation in the world.

Silver at Cobalt

The 1904 discovery of silver at Cobalt during the construction of the Ontario Northland Railway was a major contributor to the development of the mining industry in Ontario.  Following this discovery, for the next 20 years Cobalt was generally referred to as the silver capital of the world.  This mining camp became the staging-ground for the training of a large number of mining personnel such as prospectors, promoters, engineers, geologists and miners, and they carried out their knowledge of all phases of mining to many parts of Canada.

Following the Cobalt discovery, gold was discovered in the Porcupine area in 1908 and in Kirkland Lake in 1912. Both of these camps produced several large mining operations, which made the province of Ontario a major producer of gold.  During these early years extensive prospecting was carried out in several areas, especially in Ontario, Québec and Manitoba.  Two significant results of this prospecting activity were the discovery of gold and base metals in the Rouyn-Duparquet area of Québec and in the Flin Flon area of northern Manitoba.  Both of these discoveries resulted in large mining and smelting operations.

Gold Price increase of 1934

There was probably nothing in the early history of Canadian gold mining that had a more significant effect on the industry than the increase, by the American government, in the price of gold from $20 to $35 per ounce in 1934.  Following this increase, the developments of the Canadian mining industry surged ahead with unprecedented activity.  Prior to 1934 there were approximately 17 producing gold mines in Canada, but by 1941 this number had increased to 147 operating gold mills.

More Ontario Gold Mines

Areas such as Red Lake, where prospecting had been carried out during the 1920s, had only resulted in two mines; the Howey Gold Mine at Red Lake and the Jackson-Manion Mine at Woman Lake, 35 miles to the east.  By 1937 the Red Lake area had at least 7 mines in production, including the Dickenson Red Lake, New Dexter Red Lake (later Campbell Red Lake), Madson Red Lake, Cochenour Willans, Hasaga, Starrat Olsen, and Mackenzie Red Lake.

This same excitement to increase gold production was experienced in Porcupine-Timmins, where mines such as the Hollinger, McIntyre, Dome, Coniaurm, and Paymaster had been in production for several years.  In a short period of time, a dozen additional gold mines came on stream and included the Moneta Porcupine, Preston East Dome, Aunor, Delnite, Broulan Reef, Hallnor, Pamour, as well as several other smaller operations.

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(Left) “At a core shack in Hoyle Township near Timmins, Ontario, south of Pamour Gold Mine, while directing a diamond-drilling program for a claims group; June, 1968.  One of six times I proved that the presence of gold in drill core was the result of a ‘salting job’”.

 

In Kirkland Lake, along what was referred to as the “Golden Mile”, there were 6 operating mines, including the Lakeshore, Teck-Hughes, Wright-Hargreaves, Macassa, Sylvanite, and Toburn.  In 1934 the development spread east with producers such as Kirkland Lake Gold, Upper Canada, Omega, Kerr-Addison, and Chesterville, as well as the development of several other properties with indicated ore reserves.  By 1960 the Kerr-Addison mine had replaced Hollinger as Canada’s largest gold producer.

A known mineralized belt east of Lake Nipigon and extending 70 miles from Beardmore through Geraldton to Long Lac had been a source of prospecting interest in the past but became very active following the gold price increase in 1934.  Within 2 to 3 years, 5 gold mines came into production.  These included the Northern Empire Mining Co. Ltd., incorporated in 1932, Leitch Gold Mines Ltd., incorporated in 1935, both near Beardmore, MacLeod-Cockhusett Gold Mine, incorporated in 1933, Hardrock Gold Mine, incorporated in 1935, both near Geraldton, and Little Long Lac Gold Mine, incorporated in 1933, near Long Lac.  These five mines were the major producers but several other properties installed 100 to 150 ton-per-day gold mills in the region.  These included Bankfield Consolidated, Magnet Consolidated, Tombill and Theresa Gold Mines. New Mosher Long Lac, Roche Long Lac and Jellicoe Mines were also active, shipping ore for custom milling to local gold mills.

In addition to the main mining camps mentioned in the foregoing, widespread prospecting was carried out during the 1930s in various parts of Canada, often with positive results.  Four producing gold mines in Ontario resulting from this work were the Central Patricia Gold Mines Ltd., Pickle Crow Gold Mines Ltd., Renabie Mines Ltd. and Jerome Gold Mine Ltd. All 4 of these mines were in reasonably remote areas.

The Central Patricia and Pickle Crow Mines were located at Pickle Lake, 65 miles east of Red Lake. Central Patricia was incorporated in 1931, had a 400-ton per day gold mill and mined ore with an average grade of 1/3 ounce per ton. Pickle Crow Mines, incorporated in 1934, installed a 400-ton per day mill and started production in 1935, treating gold ore averaging 1/2 ounce per ton.  The Renabie Mines Ltd., incorporated in 1941, was located 25 miles northwest of Chapleau in the Sudbury mining division.  The company installed a 300-ton per day gold mill, later increased to 450 tons per day.  The ore body was unique in that the host rock was granite.  The ore averaged 1/4 ounce per ton.

The Jerome Gold Mines Ltd., incorporated in 1936, was located 60 miles west of Shining Tree at Opeepeesway Lake.  The company, controlled by Mining Corporation of Canada Ltd., installed a 500 ton per day gold mill but the operation was closed in 1945 with remaining ore reserves reported at 344,000 tons, grading 0.19 ounces gold per ton.  There were many additional gold prospects throughout Canada with encouraging exploration results but the interest in developing gold mines gradually faded in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  Interest in resource development at that time became much more directed toward uranium, petroleum and base metals.

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(Left) “Flying in from Ignace, Ontario, in the 1970s, I prospected on several properties on Sturgeon Lake.  Once, I flew to White Otter Lake on tour, to visit nearby “Wilderness Castle”, hand-built alone by a Scotsman fulfilling his dream but who drowned and never moved in.”

 

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(Right) “Loading my gear, tractor, and trailer in Port McNicoll for a trip to several mine sites south of Timmins, Ontario, by way of highway, logging roads and bush trails.” (1960s).

 

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(Above) “Examining old gold showings in sampling trenches near an old Lake of the Woods mining pit as consultant, so one of my promoter clients could decide whether to buy the claim. February, 1980.”

The “Cadillac Break” in Québec

Another area that received much attention resulting from the 1934 gold price increase was what was generally referred to as the “Cadillac Break” in northwestern Québec.  This structure extends east for 75 miles from Rouyn-Noranda through the towns of Cadillac, Malartic, and Val d’Or to Louvicourt Township. Noranda Mines Ltd. was incorporated in 1922, and with its associated concentrating and smelting complex, went into production in December, 1927.  The Noranda area, in conjunction with the Duparquet mining region 20 miles to the north, formed a very important mining belt.  The predominantly copper/zinc ore bodies of the entire area frequently carried very significant gold and silver values as by-products.  In addition, there were several small gold operations; for example, the McWatters Gold Mine, incorporated in 1932.

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(Above, the Malartic  mining area, Québec. Source: Canadian Mines Handbook, 1959, Northern Miner Press Limited

Subsequent to 1934, the entire ‘Cadillac Break” became an extremely active scene of mining exploration and development, resulting in a number of reasonably large gold producers.  These included the O’Brien Gold Mines and the LapaCadillac Gold Mines at Cadillac, the Canadian Malartic Gold Mines, the Barnat Mines, the East Malartic Mines, the Sladen-Malartic Mines, and the Malartic Gold Fields Ltd., all near the town of Malartic.

Further to the east, there was the Shawkey Gold Mining Company, the Sullivan Gold Mines, the Greene Stabell Mines, the Siscoe Gold Mines, the Lamaque Gold Mines, and the Sigma Mines, all in the Val D’Or-Bourlmaque area.  Further east again was the Golden Manitou Mines and the Louvicourt Gold Field Corporation.

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(Above) Shawkey Gold Mining Company Limited, Val d’Or, Québec; 1937

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(Left) “My first (six-week) mining job rock-drilling underground blast holes with Jack MacDonald (right) at Shawkey Gold Mine; 1937”

 

 

 

 

 

(Right) “1937 New Year’s Eve Shawkey Gold Mine bunkhouse party”. (JM centre).

 

 

“From time to time one of my co-workers would have a musical instrument. One performance I remember was by ‘a little Frenchman’ in one of the many bunkhouses, who played several pieces on his accordion to please the various nationalities present; one of which was my favourite Scottish song ‘Road To The Isles’.”

 

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 (Left) “In my Shawkey Gold Mine bunkhouse room, 1937, studying for Kirkland Lake high school examinations to gain extra credits required for entrance to Western University’s honour science courses”.

 

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(Right) “Sampling at a rock trench, April, 1938, as Shawkey Gold Mine assayer”

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                     

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(Left) “Assayer in 1941 for Goldfield Mine Limited near Malartic, Québec”.

 

 

 

 

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 (Left) “View of temporary mining camp of Roybar Copper Mine on frozen Lake Chibougamau, Québec 1947. Ski-planes arrived and tied up at the dock.  On shore sit a heated shed piping heated water 500 feet to the diamond drill shed, and fuel drums for the drill’s gasoline engine.  The log cookery sits upper left, bunkhouse on right. I was geologist in charge of drilling for Leta Exploration, which held options on Roybar claims.”

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(Right) “Crossing a 2-mile portage at Opamiska Québec in 1948, working for Mining Geophysics Company.”  Both my backpack and I each weighed 150 lbs.  I avoided summer-job students who could carry 75 lbs until they tipped the canoe 3 times.”

 

 

 

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(Above) “Leaving Roberval on Lac St. Jean, Québec and arriving at Fenimore camp on Ring Lake, Québec to examine Fenimore Iron Limited’s Ungava Bay concession for an August 1952 field report.”

There were at least 500 companies formed, and exploration, including diamond-drilling, was carried out by most of them; as well several shafts were sunk, with associated underground work. The area still remains a very attractive gold exploration break.

 Early Mining in Manitoba

The principal early activity in the province of Manitoba was the discovery in the late 1920s of the copper/zinc ore bodies at Flin Flon.  The main ore body actually straddled the border between Manitoba and Saskatchewan.  The Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co. was incorporated in 1927 to develop this project, and for several years could be said to control the mining developments in the area.  The company carried out intense exploration and discovered several economic base metal ore bodies throughout the general region.  There was very little gold exploration but most of the copper/zinc ore bodies developed by Hudson Bay Mining carried appreciable amounts of gold and silver.

The San Antonio Gold Mines Ltd., located 140 miles northeast of Winnipeg, was incorporated in 1931, although it was discovered in 1911 and originally staked in 1922.  Various syndicates held the property in these early years, one of which established the first production in 1927.  Following the incorporation of San Antonio Gold Mines Ltd. a proper gold mill was installed and regular production proceeded.  The adjoining property of Forty-Four Mines Ltd. was intermittently mined by San Antonio and merged into that company about 1962.  Following 1934, prospecting was carried out in several areas of Manitoba, including God’s Lake, Wekusko Lake, Island Lake and many other parts of the province.

Yellowknife Region

The Yellowknife camp located on Yellowknife Bay on the north side of Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories, became an important gold region in 1935. Three main gold producers resulted, including Giant Yellowknife Gold Mines Ltd., incorporated in 1937. Burwash Yellowknife Gold Mines staked the original claims in 1935. The property located on the west side of Yellowknife Bay, went into production in 1938 with a grade of ore averaging between ¾ and 1 ounce gold per ton.

The Con Gold Mine owned by the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Co. of Trail B.C., was incorporated about 1936.  This mine was located a few miles south of the Giant Yellowknife and also produced a very good grade of ore.

The Discovery Yellowknife Mines Ltd., incorporated in 1945, was located 65 miles north of the Yellowknife settlement.  In addition to the 3 producing mines, there were numerous gold prospects throughout the region and several additional companies were incorporated.  Many of these companies carried out various amounts of exploration work including mapping, trenching, diamond-drilling and even shaft-sinking and underground work.

Mining Activity in British Columbia

The economy of British Columbia turned very positive in the mid-1950s with most of the interest directed at mining, forestry and indications of large deep natural gas deposits in the northeast part of the province.  Much of the new mining activity was directed to large low-grade copper deposits in the Highland Valley area between Kamloops and Merritt.  Most of the grades of the copper ores were between 0.35% and 0.5% but sometimes up to 1%.  The ore zones however were very large, often ranging up to 100 million tons, and carried small amounts of molybdenum.  Gold was not a significant by-product associated with these deposits.  The mining projects in this area included such companies as Valley Copper, Bethlehem, Lornex, Highmont, Brenda and Craigmont, to name a few.  Mining interest spread over most of B.C. in the following years with hundreds of prospects, mostly low-grade copper with some associated molybdenum and gold. The typical Cordillera topography usually made access to the various regions extremely difficult and costly.  The province will remain a very attractive mining region well into the future.

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(Left) “Examining a silver showing as a private consultant retained by two Toronto Bay Street promoters interested in a prospect at Lynn Creek, British Columbia; June, 1952.”

 

 

Geophysical Technology

In later years, locating a mineral deposit frequently required not only geological knowledge but also the use of geophysical instruments.  In the past 70 years great advances have been made in the development of geophysical technology.  The use of instruments such as seismic and gravimetric devices is now routine in the petroleum industry.  Down-hole gamma-ray neutron and electronic surveys are now frequently required procedures in oil and gas well-drilling.  Prospecting for base metals and uranium has been greatly assisted by the use of both ground and air-borne geophysics.

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(Left) “My partner Mining Engineer Ted Cryderman, right, and myself examining reactive rock detected by Gulf Oil’s flying magnetometer at one of several sampling stops along our 50-mile Chibougamau River canoe trek, preparing a field report in August, 1948.”

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(Right) “My crew slashing a canoe passageway through brush and tag Alder trees on Opawica Lake to establish a base camp while working on our magnetometer project in the late 1940s.”

 

 

The instruments used for these types of surveys include the magnetometer, resistivity, and a wide range of electronic devices for the base metals and various types of Geiger-counters and scintillometers for the detection of radioactivity.  In the search for gold however, unless there is sufficient magnetic or electrical conductive mineralization present, geophysics is of little use.  The geologist or prospector is then required to rely on his or her knowledge of geology as well as previous experiences.

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(Left) “Lodged in a storage shed for about a week at an abandoned mining camp on Lac Relique, Québec, where I geologized (studied and mapped) properties for Gulf Oil Company, proving the effectiveness of their flying magnetometer”.

 

 

 

In spite of the number of gold-bearing areas that have been discovered to date, the Canadian Precambrian Shield still presents vast opportunities for mineral exploration. As much of the area is covered by wetlands and glacial drift as well as younger barren Paleozoic sediments, many of the favorable geological features are not exposed.  In spite of extensive fieldwork carried out in the past, much of it was done with limited budgets and encouraging results were not always thoroughly investigated.

Gold’s Prospects

During the difficult years of the 1930s, it is interesting to note that the two countries that suffered the least with unemployment were South Africa and Canada.  These two countries were the world’s largest producers of gold at that time.

There are people today who are keen students of the world economy and current monetary developments who believe that the current (July, 2016) price of gold at $1,300 per ounce could reach $5,000 within 5 years. If an increase of $15 (75%) per ounce in 1934 could create the mining interest that followed, what might be the interest with the price of gold increasing to $5,000 per ounce?

 

James McCannell, August 2016

                                  James McCannell August 2016

Note: All photographs are from the private collection of James McCannell unless otherwise noted.

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