1999.340.2 | Township of Coleraine, QC, about 1880

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Township of Coleraine, QC, about 1880
About 1880, 19th century
Silver salts on paper
14.2 x 18.8 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 summer of 1876, in southwestern Thetford township, Quebec, farmer Joseph Fecteau (1823-89) and four of his friends discovered asbestos, but they never made a penny from it. It was Robert Grant Ward (1837-?), the holder of logging rights from the government, who in May 1878 finally purchased the site of the discovery. Ward was not, however, the first to mine asbestos. The Johnson brothers and the King brothers, the owners of two neighbouring properties, beat him to it. It was the start of the "white gold" rush: by 1880, asbestos was also being mined in nearby Coleraine township.

  • What

    This as yet uncleared land is probably the site of an asbestos deposit.

  • Where

    This is probably the site of one of the oldest mines in Coleraine township, in central Quebec. This mine was purchased in 1886 by Scottish Canadian Asbestos.

  • When

    The photo may have been taken in the 1880s, when promoters were rushing to stake claims on the remaining land containing asbestos.

  • Who

    Before the mine was bought by Scottish Canadian Asbestos, the land was owned by N. Noël (1881-83) and then Charles Lionais (1884-86). Perhaps one of those two men is pictured here.