N-0000.94.58 | Separating the ore from the rock, Huntington Copper Mine, Bolton, QC, 1867
Separating the ore from the rock, Huntington Copper Mine, Bolton, QC, 1867
William Notman (1826-1891)
1867, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
8 x 10 cm
Gift of Mrs. William Molson
© McCord Museum
Keywords: architecture (335) , Bolton (3) , child (64) , copper (2) , Eastern Townships (12) , figure (1849) , group (644) , Huntington Copper Mine (1) , industrial (22) , industry (91) , Industry (942) , interior (40) , mine (6) , mining (2) , Occupation (1110) , Photograph (77678) , separator (1) , work (389) , work (126)
Keys to History
The miners pictured here are separating the valuable ore from the raw rock. These workers lived in shadowy gloom and constant fear, for sudden ground movement or a single spark could result in calamity. They also had to endure deafening noise, air clogged with ore particles and gases (some of which, like methane, were highly explosive).
Many young children worked in 19th-century mines. Aboveground, they washed the ore, fed the horses and filled blasting powder kegs. Underground, they loaded ore carts, led horse-drawn wagons of mineral to the surface and tended the ventilation doors. Once they were strong enough, they joined the adults digging at the ore face.
Source : Disasters and Calamities [Web tour], by Nathalie Lampron (see Links)
Before the advent of efficient technological support, miners had to extract mineral ore by breaking the rock with hammers. The development of explosives and steam-powered engines made mining operations less labour-intensive.
In the 1860s, copper ore mined in Quebec's Eastern Townships was shipped to the U.S., where the Civil War was fuelling a demand for copper in the manufacture of armaments.
In 1873, Nova Scotia capped the workweek for ten-year-old miners at 54 hours. In 1891, more than 1,100 of the 5,000 miners in Nova Scotia were under the age of 18.
When tragedy struck and a miner died or was badly injured in the 19th century, the entire family was affected and had to find a new livelihood.