N-0000.94.60 | A shaft, Huntington Copper Mine, Bolton, QC, 1867
A shaft, 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: Industry (942) , Occupation (1110) , Photograph (77678) , work (389)
Keys to History
During the American Civil War (1861-65), the skyrocketing price of copper led to intensive exploration of deposits in Quebec's Eastern Townships. Dozens of mines were opened, including the one at Huntington. The copper content of the deposits was high, and the same mode of operation, depending entirely on the miners' expertise, was used. Drilling was still done by hand, since the bit was hammered into the rock before powder was poured in. The mechanical means of bringing the ore up to the surface from underground were just as primitive, using horsepower or a hand-turned capstan.
You can tell there is a mine shaft here by the pulley with the thick cable. A rudimentary sloped roof keeps rain out. A large bucket can be seen on the edge of the shaft. It was attached to the cable and used to haul ore up to the surface.
This copper mine in the Eastern Townships belonged to Huntington Copper, near Bolton. Several other mining companies worked deposits in the area.
The mining industry's prosperity of the 1860s was short-lived. When the Civil War ended and the surface deposits with high copper content were depleted, profit margins dropped sharply.
Several workers with a few tools pose in front of the shaft. It is not surprising to see a child in the photo. Many children worked in the mines, sometimes as apprentices.