1999.318.61 | Drilling, near Thetford Mines, QC, about 1910

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Drilling, near Thetford Mines, QC, about 1910
About 1910, 20th century
Silver salts on paper
13.8 x 9.5 cm
Gift of Mr. Alfred Penhale Estate
This artefact belongs to :© Musée minéralogique et minier de Thetford Mines
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Keys to History

In the first decade of the 20th century, mechanization of the asbestos industry was only in its infancy, but it was already increasing productivity, and workers were receiving higher wages than in the 19th century. In 1907 unskilled miners could be paid $1.75 a day, and skilled tradesmen could often earn upwards of $2. That was good pay for the region: it meant almost 19% greater purchasing power for miners than in 1896.

  • What

    Pneumatic drills were introduced in 1887. By the turn of the century, they had replaced steam-powered drills.

  • Where

    This photo was taken at the British Canadian mine at Black Lake, which was owned by the Asbestos Corporation Ltd.

  • When

    Although taken in 1938, this photo shows what drilling was like in the first two decades of the 1900s. Surface workers' clothing remained practically the same throughout the first half of the 20th century. By the mid-1940s, they were still not wearing hard hats to protect themselves against falling rocks or flying fragments.

  • Who

    This miner, a driller, had to use a drill to break up blocks of ore that were still too big after dynamiting. This technique was common all the way up until 1965 and the advent of rock breakers (motorized machines with a hammer drill).