1999.338.2 | Asbestos mine at Black Lake (?), QC, about 1890

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Asbestos mine at Black Lake (?), QC, about 1890
About 1890, 19th century
Silver salts on paper
10.1 x 12.6 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 eight years in which asbestos mines were operated in central Quebec (1877-85), labour was extremely mobile. Most of the miners worked at this job only occasionally: they would arrive periodically from neighbouring townships and camp next to the mine. The men worked ten to twelve hours a day, six days a week, which was quite common at the time. Their weekly wages amounted to $6 or $7, but it cost about $9 a week to provide for a family in Quebec.

When they were no longer needed, these apprentice miners went back to the farms or left to work in the woods, depending on the season.

  • What

    Here are some pioneers of "primitive" mining (before mechanization was introduced) in an open-pit asbestos mine.

  • Where

    This piece of land could have been in any one of the three central Quebec townships where asbestos was mined: Thetford, Coleraine or Broughton.

  • When

    This photo was probably taken in the 1880s or early 1890s. During this time of primitive mining, work was done with very basic tools, such as sledgehammers, drill bits, wedges and picks.

  • Who

    These early occasional miners were probably out-of-work farmhands.