1999.348.4 | Winch, Irvin & Hopper Mine, Black Lake, QC, about 1890

Winch, Irvin & Hopper Mine, Black Lake, QC, about 1890
About 1890, 19th century
Silver salts on paper
25.2 x 30.5 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

After a period of uncertainty, the Quebec asbestos industry entered its first expansion phase in 1885. That year, at the sites of the future towns of Thetford Mines and Black Lake, seven open pit mines already employed 350 workers.

In 1890 expansion temporarily slowed because of an "overproduction crisis," but families had already settled around the mines. At Black Lake, there were two communities: the village of Hopper on the mountain, and near the railway tracks, the "lower village." A third village, Johnson, sprang up in 1894.

The municipality of the southern part of Thetford township, founded in 1885, was officially split in two, in 1892, resulting in the establishment of the village of Kingsville (later renamed Thetford Mines).

  • What

    As the pits grew deeper, the men's work was made somewhat easier by hand winches equipped with a yard, which were used to raise wooden bins full of ore.

  • Where

    This is the Irvin and Hopper mine, in Block A of Coleraine township. The mining of this deposit marked the official start of mining at Black Lake.

  • When

    The photo was taken in the early 1890s. Starting in 1895, hand winches were gradually replaced by cable derricks.

  • Who

    Some of these men may have begun to look at mining as their real job, but most of them were probably still farm workers passing through.