1999.365.7 | Pulleys at head of mine shaft, Thetford Mines, QC, 1939

Pulleys at head of mine shaft, Thetford Mines, QC, 1939
1939, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
10.1 x 8.2 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

Between 1912 and 1931, the number of accidents in the Quebec asbestos industry climbed steadily. At Thetford Mines, an average of five people a year lost their lives in mining accidents. Starting in 1918, there were over 100 people injured each year. These accidents had many different causes: rock slides, mistakes operating the cable derricks or handling explosives, out-of-control cars. Even in the shops, workers were surrounded by moving gears, pulleys, belts and drive shafts: wearing loose clothing could be fatal. The pulleys (or sheaves) seen here date from the late 1930s, however, and are not really dangerous, despite their impressive size.

  • What

    When underground mining began, other systems were devised to carry ore and miners up and down. Headframes were installed; these were structures of posts and beams supporting the weight of enormous wheels, or sheaves. Through each sheave passed a steel cable moved by a winch located in another building. One of the cables was connected to the miners' lift, the other to the bin bringing up the ore.

  • Where

    This shot shows the inside of a new headframe for underground operation of the King mine at Thetford Mines.

  • When

    In 1930 the King mine became the first real underground asbestos mine. That was when it stopped open pit mining. This picture was taken on January 15, 1939.

  • Who

    No, it's not Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times. This photo shows a worker installing two sheaves atop the new headframe at the King mine. A second man can be seen in the background.