1977.134 | British Canadian Mine (?), Black Lake, QC, about 1900

British Canadian Mine (?), Black Lake, QC, about 1900
About 1900, 19th century or 20th century
Silver salts on paper
35.5 x 40.6 cm
Purchase from Ateliers Irénée
This artefact belongs to :© Musée minéralogique et minier de Thetford Mines
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Keys to History

At the dawn of the 20th century, the industrialized countries were entering a phase of unprecedented prosperity. It was the golden age of capitalism: prices and profits kept rising until 1929. Despite a few temporary crises of overproduction, the turn of the 20th century was a prosperous period for the asbestos industry in Quebec, as more and more uses were being found for the mineral: paper making (prior to 1895), inside plastering of apartments (prior to 1899), imitation wood (prior to 1905) and chiefly making shingles (prior to 1908).

  • What

    The "family photo" of asbestos mine employees.

  • Where

    This is probably the British Canadian mine at Black Lake.

  • When

    In 1897 the asbestos industry employed approximately 400 people. By 1910 the number had soared to over 3,000. Families came to settle in the asbestos region. In 1905 the village of Kingsville became the town of Thetford Mines, and by 1911 it had a population of 7,261. The village of Black Lake, officially founded in 1906, obtained the status of town in 1908 and had 2,645 inhabitants by 1911.

    This photo was taken in the first decade of the 20th century, probably in late spring 1910. At that time, in the words of the superintendent of mines of Quebec, "the mines were working day and night and the cobbing sheds were at peak production."

  • Who

    In the foreground are the men and boys; in the background the women and girls. If the picture was taken in 1910, some of the men are likely Ukrainian. That year, to meet the labour needs of the Standard and Dominion mines at Black Lake, close to 200 immigrant workers arrived, most of them Ukrainian.