1999.342.5 | Asbestos mine, Black Lake (?), QC, about 1915

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Asbestos mine, Black Lake (?), QC, about 1915
About 1915, 20th century
Silver salts on paper
17.7 x 22.8 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 first three decades of the 20th century, ore was transported in cars pulled by steam locomotives. The asbestos industry was also going full steam ahead. Despite a few slowdowns, especially in the early 1920s, demand was generally very strong.

Some winters, when companies had to cut back on actual mining, they kept on their employees, offering them related work, such as putting up buildings to house miners or store equipment. Some might also have been assigned to do repairs or clear land.

  • What

    Full bins were brought up by cableway to small trains. The ore was transferred to cars to be pulled by steam locomotives to the processing shed.

  • Where

    This is probably the Vimy mine at Vimy Ridge, near Coleraine, in central Quebec. The hill being mined was nicknamed Vimy Ridge in 1917, in memory of the 1916 Canadian victory in Europe. The asbestos deposits on Vimy Ridge were mined sporadically from 1889 onwards.

  • When

    Between 1895 and 1913, asbestos companies generally worked day and night, the year round. The winters when some of them had to shut down their mines and workshops for a while can be counted on the fingers of one hand: 1902-03, 1904-05, 1908-09, 1910-11. This photo was taken around 1917.

  • Who

    These workers may once have been farmers, but by this time, working in the mines had probably become their only job, since the asbestos companies could now find work for them winter and summer.