Day 28 – July 4 – Timmins, ON to Haileybury, ON

The sun was very bright as it set last night in Timmins. I hate all the wires in the photos, but I am doing my best to ignore them.

John and I have become quite adept at making a two hour drive take all day.

We actually did not leave Timmins at our normal 10ish. Instead we took a drive to the new viewpoint that opened last week. It was built by the mining company that has a 15-year deal to work the open pit gold mine that has been closed for a number of years. They built a lovely three-level, wheelchair accessible viewing area with nice metal fencing, benches and picnic tables. Since it is brand new lots of local people were up there last night to watch the sunset and this morning to see the view over Timmins and watch the work in the mine. There are security guards that come up whenever they are going to do blasting (usually at 11 AM and 3 PM) and clear the area so there is no risk of anyone getting injured by flying rocks.

When the mining contract is up in 15 years the company will fill the pit with water to create a lake and restore the area as a park for the community to use.

This truck is hauling 100 tons of material. The tires are over 8′ tall. We spoke to a fellow who works for the same company but was an electrician at another one of their mines (working 1900 meters underground) and he said that truckload will yield about 120-150 grams of gold (between 4 1/4-5 ounces). Formerly about 60% of the gold could be extracted from the ore; with today’s equipment and technology that percentage has risen to 99% so many of the old mines are now worth further work.

This truck is about half way out of the pit they are currently working so this picture gives an idea of how deep they are. We could just see the edge of a deeper one right below the viewing area.

This is a photo John took and cropped in close. There are four of these machines drilling holes along this section for dynamite charges. They are all the little sticks you can see in the neat rows. When they get all the charges in place they will blow it all at once.

Due to our visit to the gold mine pit we did not leave Timmins until 11 AM. We headed south and picked up another geocache Trans Canada Highway Adventure Lab that once again showed us some things we would have otherwise missed. So today is a combination of things I had read about and noted to stop for, and things the Lab took us to.

This first stop in Matheson was due to an historical sign on the highway directing us to this marker down by the Black River where there was a nice picnic area and park.

Second stop was on the Adventure Lab to the small town of Swastika. During WW II the govenment wanted to the town to change their name to Winston but they refused saying the town and the name had been around long before the Nazis took the symbol for their emblem.

The river at the park at Swastika.

This is the head frame for the Kirkland Lake Gold mine. It is basically a massive elevator shaft. All the ore is brought to the surface with it, miners, equipment and water and anything else needed can go down in it. There are about five wires we can see on this one and each wire is a different lift.

This hockey player sculpture was at Kirkland Lake, but I did not see a sign explaining who it represented.

The Miners Memorial at Kirkland Lake. The earliest deaths recorded are in 1917 and the latest was 2005.

Beside the memorial was a life-size statue of miners at work. The equipment being ‘used’,the mucker machine, even the battery packs on the miners are original and were donated by local miners. The sculpture weighs 40 metric tonne and is made of 10 meter high black granite and bronze. It was completed in 1994 for Kirkland Lake’s 75th anniversary.

The town of Kirkland Lake was dominated for many years by these seven different mine head frames.

Of the seven mines, this head frame is the only one still standing. It was from the Toburn Mine which operated from 1913 to 1953. During that period, the mine produced 1.2 million tonnes of ore, averaging half an ounce of gold per tonne. The mine workings, at 750 m deep, were the shallowest of the big 7 mines in Kirkland Lake. The ores went progressively deeper to the west.

Gold, and other mines, do not only yield the one mineral they are mining for. Many other minerals are found along with the gold. Note how many of these have asterisks beside them. Those are in sufficient quantities to be commercially produced

There were a lot of mines operating in this area over the last 100+ years. The smallest yield was 10 ounces. The largest was the Kerr (Addison) which produced 10,457,441 ounces in its 85-year history. At one time this area produced more gold than South Africa. The total production of all these mines was a staggering 42,583,205 ounces of gold!

This big fish was at the tourist center at Larder Lake, which was closed. Larder Lake was the site of the first gold rush in northeastern Ontario in 1906. The area is also well known for its fishing opportunties!

We had a nice chat and visit with the two young women at the Virginiatown Visitor’s Center. Gold from the nearby Dr. Reddick Larder Lake Mine was bought by the newly formed Royal Canadian Mint in 1907 and used to mint the first $5.00 gold coin in Canada. The front of the coin features St. George and the Dragon and the back has the portrait of King Edward the VII.

Our final stop with the Adventure Lab was a short distance down a gravel road to a spot with good visibility of Mount Cheminis (Mt. Chaudron in French). The mountain is a popular hiking spot as well as a location of spiritual significance to the local indigenous poeple.

The formation is known as a ‘monadnock.’ a hill that rises abruptly from the surrounding landscape. It was created during the last ice age when glaciers scraped away the surrounding softer rock, leaving the harder and more resistant rock of the mountain.

We exited the mining district and drove into farm country about 30-40 km from New Liskeard and our accomodation for the night in Haileyberry.

The canola is in bloom.

Tomorrow is another two hour drive to North Bay. I think we should do it in about 6 or so hours.

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