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© McCord Museum
Photograph, glass lantern slide
Silver Mine, Cobalt, ON, about 1918
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1918, 20th century
Silver salts and transparent ink on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
8 x 10 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
© McCord Museum


"Cobalt: A little over a hundred miles north of North Bay, which is 250 miles west of Ottawa on the Canadian Pacific main line, is Cobalt, one of the most famous silver-mining districts in the world. The presence here of this precious metal was discovered in 1903, and up to the end of 1925, 364,713,760 ounces of silver have been taken out. In the year of 1925 the production was 10,529,131 ounces. The picture shows a general view of a Cobalt silver mine. Further north yet is the rich Porcupine gold-mining district, which is now by far the greatest gold-producing district of Canada."

Excerpt from "ACROSS CANADA BY C. P. R.", Section 3--The Province of Ontario; booklet, McGill University Illustrated Lectures, 1928.

Keys to History:

In Cobalt, as elsewhere in other mining regions, environmental issues were obviously not a top priority. As the silver-bearing veins ran towards the lakes in the area, the companies pleaded with the government to sell mining claims to the lakebeds. That is how Sir Henry Pellatt's Cobalt Lake Mining purchased, for close to $2 million, the exclusive right to mine the 47 acres of Cobalt Lake. At the outset of the First World War, the lake was drained, killing huge numbers of fish. Progress-and profits!-would not be stopped.


The Cobalt Lake Mining mill dominated the landscape. Large silver nuggets gradually gave way to less valuable ore. That is why the mining companies built mills to crush the mineral-bearing rock and process it chemically to extract the silver.


Other mining companies besides Cobalt Lake Mining built their headframes on the shores of Cobalt Lake and many of them dumped their waste on the banks.


This photograph probably dates from the end of the First World War, when the silver mines were already experiencing a fairly swift decline in production.


In 1916 Sir Henry Pellatt was one of the founders of the Mining Corporation of Canada, which brought together a number of mining companies. A few years later, the cumulative dividends paid out by these companies amounted to $5 million.

© Musée McCord Museum