VIEW-4621 | King's Pit, Amalgamated Asbestos Corporation Limited, Thetford Mines, QC, 1909

King's Pit, Amalgamated Asbestos Corporation Limited, Thetford Mines, QC, 1909
Wm. Notman & Son
1909, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , industrial (826) , Industry (942) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

When deposits are rich and on the surface, mining companies start extracting the ore by gradually enlarging their drill hole, resulting in a quarry, or open pit. Iron, nickel, and sometimes gold, but especially asbestos, are mined this way. These mines continue production for decades without having to dig underground tunnels. Winter mining is obviously a challenge, as drilling must be halted or slowed down. Hoisting the drilled ore requires mechanical assistance once volumes start to increase, because teams of draft animals and their drivers cannot handle it anymore. This is also true of underground mines: the deeper the mine, the greater the time and effort required to extract the ore, putting pressure on production costs and the need to develop new processes. Of course, the risk of accident also increases.

  • What

    From the 1890s on, the asbestos companies used cable cranes across the pits to hoist up the wooden bins loaded with asbestos and the covering material called overburden and set them down on the edge of the pit.

  • Where

    The King mine in Thetford Mines was one of the first asbestos mines in the region. The ore taken from the quarry was carried to the foot of the towers. Then it was loaded into railway cars-barely visible in this picture-that took it to the mill.

  • When

    In 1909 the King mine was one of five Canadian companies that merged to form the Amalgamated Asbestos Corporation. The photo was probably taken soon after the reorganization.

  • Who

    The first owners, the King brothers, were local lumber barons who soon realized the possibilities of asbestos.