The Town that Stands on Gold
Provincial government surveyors opened up the land north of North Bay in 1900.
The Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway ( now the Ontario Northland ) commenced building north in 1902 and at mile 102 what was found to be silver was noted at Long Lake which became Cobalt. The railway moved on and by 1908 had reached the new town of Cochrane. Over the next 18 months prospectors left the rail line and worked their way to what became known as the Porcupine..The gold discoveries there provided other gold seekers with a new location to seek the precious metal.
Prior to this time prospectors came to Larder Lake in 1906 but after a couple of years found nothing of any real value. On their way back to Bell’s Siding, which became known as Swastika, these men passed by a pretty lake and unwittingly walked over huge gold deposits.
With the promising success of the Porcupine-Timmins gold discoveries, other prospectors reasoned that there must be precious metals awaiting discovery near the railway between Cobalt and Porcupine.
Two of these men stood out among the rest. One was Bill Wright,,a former British cavalry soldier newly arrived in Canada..The other was a hard bitten American wanderer, Harry Oakes, who had followed his star in the search for gold around the world.
Both men spent several years struggling to get their rich properties as mines underway after their 1911 discoveries.. Bill Wright served his adopted country in WWI so did not achieve production success until after the end of the war. Oakes shared in the discovery of the Tough Oakes Mine, where Northern College now stands, but worked to gain claims and put together his great Lake Shore Mine which would become the biggestt mine in the camp, while Wright property, the Wright Hargreaves Mine was second largest in the gold camp. Between 1917 and 1932, five other mines were founded making up what has been called three miles of gold.
These were the Sylvanite Mine, the Teck Hughes Mine, the Kirkland Lake Gold Mine and finally the Macassa Mine which after a closure in the waning years of the twentieth century, remains open today, much enlarged and the mainstay of employment in Kirkland Lake.
Despite the ravages of the Great Depression, Kirkland Lake grew to its peak in 1938 of between 24-26,000 people. But a disastrous strike in 1941 and the loss of miners to war service and work cut gold production to a trickle from which the still producing mines never fully recovered. In 1967 the population was down to 17,000 and within thirty years would sink to the 8,000 level.
All the gold mines except Macassa closed in the sixties and salvation for the work force came in the opening of the Adams Mine south of town which operated for 25 years. When it closed, only Macassa and Northern College were left as the main employers. In the early nineties a plan was floated to use the abandoned iron pits of the Adams Mine to take garbage from Toronto. The spin off in jobs for this proposal was considered worthwhile but it was opposed by Temiskaming famers and others who persuaded the provincial government to veto the plan.
Macassa Mine went through a couple of owners and with a damaged main shaft and other problems, the working gold mine was allowed to flood and close.
In 1999 the venerable gold town, once one of the biggest gold producers in Canada, was at its lowest ebb.
But no one could count out Kirkland Lake. Work done by geologists at the mine before it closed indicated there was more of the precious yellow metal in an area between Macassa and the town which had never been explored before. Over the next few years the flooded mine was dewatered and rehabilitated. This new gold find was outlined by a company which had taken as its name Kirkland Lake Gold and by the end of the first decade of the new century, 1,000 people were employed at the revitalized mine. Kirkland Lake was booming and entering a new era of prosperity.
Copyright Michael Barnes, 2012.
Tough Oakes head frame 1913, Denis-Newman
Tom Pascoe (1915-1997)
Tom came to Kirkland Lake from Cobalt with his family in 1924. He became a miner at Kirkland Lake Gold where he toiled for ten years. He continued to mine in the area at the Kerr Addison Mine at Virginiatown for another twenty-four years. For a short period of time he left and continued as a miner in Elliott Lake but didn’t like working there and returned. During the WW II years he served his country overseas from 1942 to 1945 with the Royal Canadian Engineers. He was selected into this experience due to his mining background and participated in constructing bridges while the Allies advanced through France, Belgium, Holland and into Germany. While in Europe he met Hilda Tupper and she became his warbride in 1945. In Canada they had six children, five daughters and a son. Tom was an avid hunter and fisherman and a writer of many poems pertaining to the north. Some were stored in a published book, others were printed in local newspapers and some were recorded for a CBC radio program.
Below is a copy of the poem that Ian found in his family papers. I think you will enjoy it.
By Tom Pascoe
Their paddles dipped into the waters clean,
They glided by the forest green,
Into the land of moose and bear,
Somehow they knew the gold was there.
Where the foaming rapids fall and roar,
They were forced to land upon the shore.
With canoe and gear and heavy pack,
They carried all upon their back.
With loads that bent them at the knees,
They struggled through the thick spruce trees.
To where the water smoothed enough
For Oakes and Hughes and Georgie Tough.
Then on they went in their canoe
To where the yellow gold shone through.
Where they blazed their lines and drove their stakes
Now lies the town of Kirkland Lake.
They were followed close by Hargreaves and Wright
Who had the same troubles by day and night.
No shelter from the rainy skies
And eaten alive by mosquitoes and flies.
Many more followed with compass and hatchet
Like Edmund Horne and T.J. Matchett.
Who paddled and packed through wind and rain
To find the gold in the rich quartz vein.
The gold was there in the solid rock
But the treasure chest was hard to unlock.
Soon hammers and hand-steel began to ring
Right through until fall, from early spring.
A mine soon grew where they worked their claim.
The reward for them was wealth and fame.
There was gold aplenty, more than enough
For Oakes and Hughes and Georgie Tough.
A road was cut in from the rail
That had more turns than a jack rabbit trail.
Made of stumps and stones and logs so rough
It made the travel pretty tough.
Walter Little came with teams and feed,
Supplies to haul to mines in need.
He was ready for work and destined for fame
When he wrote his name on the wagon train.
And hauled supplies on that road so rough
For Oakes and Hughes and Georgie Tough.
Walter was known throughout the land
As man with drive and a guiding hand.
He was the peoples’ choice for Government.
So he packed his bags and away he went
To Parliament, with its stress and strain
And returned no more to his wagon train.
The mines were growing, the town was swelling.
With transportation came John McLellan.
He came to the north with stage and steed,
Ready and willing to serve the need.
Bumpety- bump on that old rough road,
He went back and forth with many a load.
With hairpin curve and dangerous hill,
Old John got through with hardly a spill.
With his eyes on the road and his hands on the rein
He never failed to meet the train.
His boys grew up to give him a hand
And carry on for that grand old man.
A new town grows on muscle and bone,
But a town can’t grow with men alone.
Of all the ladies that came to this town,
There were few better known than Rosie Brown.
This little lady was plenty game,
and came to the north and staked her claim.
She held her own in this land so rough,
With Oakes and Hughes and Georgie Tough.
Ladies came that could sew and cook,
And some with just that “come to bed” look.
The good were many, the bad were few,
And that is how the new town grew.
A Chinaman came and built a shack,
High at the front and low at the back.
He fired his stove with tamarack wood,
And served up food that was heavenly good
On an old wood stove, and I don’t know how,
An amazing man, this Charlie Chow.
His shack was long and his shack was wide
And his rooms were lovely and clean inside.
There were people rough and people refined,
Businessmen, and men from the mine.
With the lovely clean rooms and and good food as well,
It was hard to beat old Charlie’s Hotel.
The Kaplans built a general store
And piled in goods from the roof to the floor.
You could buy anything, from a postage stamp
To bacon and eggs or oil for your lamp.
Some came with money, ready to pay,
But if they were broke he served them anyway.
Kaplan extended a helping hand
When chips were down to any man.
Winter came and snow filled the street.
Delivery seemed an impossible feat,
But the Kaplan Brothers found a way
With two old dogs and a Klondike sleigh.
There was gold aplenty and more than enough
For Oakes, and Hughes and Georgie Tough
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The community name was based on a nearby lake which in turn was named after Winnifred Kirkland, a secretary of the Ontario Department of Mines in Toronto. The lake was named by surveyor Louis Rorke in 1907. Ms Kirkland never visited the town, and the lake that bore her name no longer exists because of mine tailings. The community comprises Kirkland Lake, as well as Swastika, Chaput Hughes and Harvey Kirkland.
Kirkland Lake was built on gold, but it is equally as well known for producing world-famous hockey players. Indeed, legendary hockey broadcaster Foster Hewitt called Kirkland Lake “the town that made the NHL famous”, likely because in the early days of the NHL, it was not uncommon to find an NHLer from the town. The town celebrates this tradition at the Hockey Heritage North museum. Until January 1, 1972, the town was known as Township of Teck. A by-law was introduced, on July 20, 1971 to change the name of the municipality to Town of Kirkland Lake, effective January 1, 1972.
In order to maximize taxation revenue from existing and potential mines in the area, the six square mile Municipal Corporation of the Township of Teck was formed with Wellington J. McLeod as the first reeve in 1919. Their first task was the establishment of public utilities, including roads and water pipes, in the rapidly growing area. Kirkland Lake had numerous mines, in the early years, including the Teck-Hughes (1917–1968), Lake Shore (1918–1968), Kirkland Minerals (1919–1960), Wright-Hargreaves (1921–1965), Sylvanite (1927–1961), Tough-Oakes-Burnside (later Toburn) (1913–1953), and Macassa Mine (1933–1999).
Early in the Second World War gold production in the area decreased due to personnel being lost to more essential war industries. In 1942, gold mining was declared a non-essential industry to the war effort which resulted in gold mines across the country being at a lower priority for personnel and supplies relative to producers of base metals. After the war, local soldiers returned to the newly created Federal area in the northern section of the town. The Kirkland Lake Cemetery is a member of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and is the location of the graves of 12 soldiers, and 3 airmen of the Canadian forces who died during the Second World War.
Kirkland Lake’s first fire hall was established in 1935 and the second fire hall in 1955.
The Kirkland Lake Community Complex, now the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex, opened in 1979. In the early eighties, LAC Minerals reopened the main shaft of the Lake Shore Mine and worked it from 1982 to 1987 to extract pockets of gold that had been left behind. Between 1987 and 1991 Vancouver based Eastmaque Gold Mines reprocessed tailings, or “slimes”, from early inefficient mill operations, extracting 70,000 ounces of gold.
On the morning of Sunday, May 20, 2012, a forest fire was discovered about 3 kilometres north of Kirkland Lake, which grew to 2,757 hectares, by the afternoon of May 21, causing a state of emergency to be declared. Residential and cottage areas on Goodfish Lake and Nettie Lakes and one street in Chaput Hughes were evacuated that afternoon. Kirkland Lake Gold and AuRico Gold, have suspended operations due to fire damage to power lines and local schools were closed. On May 29, the state of emergency was lifted, as the fire was determined to be no longer a threat to Kirkland Lake, although it was not yet under control.
Geography and ecology
Kirkland Lake is located at
48°09?00?N 80°02?00?W / 48.15000°N 80.03333°W / 48.15000; -80.03333Coordinates: 48°09?00?N 80°02?00?W / 48.15000°N 80.03333°W / 48.15000; -80.03333 at an altitude of 243 metres (797 ft) above sea level and has an area of 262.54 km2 (101.37 sq mi) including the townships of Teck, Bernhardt and Morrisette.
Kirkland Lake is nestled in the resource rich Precambrian Shield, the oldest geological formation on the planet. Nearby is the Arctic Watershed. Waters flowing south of this height of land (318 meters above sea level) flow into the Saint Lawrence River and on to the Atlantic Ocean. North of this point, all waters flow into Hudson Bay and on to the Arctic Ocean.
Black spruce, Jack pine, trembling aspen, white birch, white spruce, balsam poplar, and balsam fir are the dominant trees in the area. A prominent forest form in this part of the Black Spruce distribution is The Black Spruce/Feathermoss climax forest, which characteristically exhibits moderately dense canopy and features a forest floor of feathermosses. Moose, beaver, muskrat, snowshoe hare, as well as numerous predators roam this area, including marten, ermine, fisher, otter, black bear, wolf, and lynx. The many wetlands and lakes support a diversity of bird species, such as Great Blue Herons, ducks, geese, and that symbol of the north, the common loon. Ground and tree dwelling birds are also plentiful, including grouse, partridge, robins, blue jays, and gray jays as well as birds of prey such as hawks.
Kirkland Lake enjoys four distinct seasons. Spring and autumn offer a mix of warm sunny days and crisp, cool nights. Summers are comfortably warm, with dry air and temperatures reaching into the mid 20 degree Celsius range (mid 70s’ Fahrenheit). Winter temperatures may seem brisk, but high winds and high humidity are rare, allowing residents to take full advantage of outside recreational activities.
The town went through a period of economic decline towards the end of the last century, with the closing of the original mines. That ended in 2001, when Foxpoint Resources (now Kirkland Lake Gold Inc. or KLG) bought five of the mining claims in the town and began intensive exploration work. KLG successfully resuscitated the local mining scene, finding new zones of mineralization that, combined with the steadily increasing price of gold, turned the town around. Today, Kirkland Lake is probably one of the most successful communities of its size in Northern Ontario. Some of the more recent developments include:
- Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. continues to expand its operations. Since December 2002, the company’s confirmed gold reserves have increased by 160% to 2,022,000 tons with an average grade of 0.46 ounces per ton containing a total of 927,000 ounces of gold. In 2003, the Company started a $21 million, 3 year exploration program targeted at adding an additional 15,000,000 tons of ore to reserves and resources. Currently, over 500 personnel are directly or indirectly employed at the mine site. Based on today’s resources, the mine has a 12-15 year life span. A recentlyannounced $16 million expansion in its exploration activities is already paying dividends. The mine recently announced the discovery of the richest ore veins ever found in the history of the Kirkland Lake camp, a move which will significantly increase the mine’s life span.
- While the forestry industry has been hard hit across Canada, the impact on Kirkland Lake has been mitigated by the conversion of the existing Tembec Forest Products Group’s Kenogami sawmill into a value-added centre for the manufacturing of finger-jointed lumber. The new centre, located on the outskirts of KL, opened in July 2006. It will employ between 70 and 92 workers. Under an innovative Public-Private partnership, the municipality is working with Rosko Forestry Operations to establish a specialty sawmill in the Archer Drive Industrial Park that will sell into the Canadian market.
- The local tourism industry has provided a much needed depth to the local economy. Star attractions include the Museum of Northern History at the Sir Harry Oakes Chateau, the Miners’ Memorial, and Hockey Heritage North (an 18,000-square-foot (1,700 m2) interactive facility telling the story of hockey in the north). Upcoming attractions include a refurbishment of the historical Toburn Headframe. Event based tourism is also strong. Some of the most popular draws include a drag racing event in the summer and a national snow cross racing event in the winter.
- Prospects for an expansion of the Town’s white-collar workforce are excellent. Two new high schools as well as a long-term care facility, and a new medical centre promise to make the community more attractive to professionals in the fields of medicine and education. Veterans Affairs Canada is also growing its client service operations. The local office is now the primary service bureau for over 100,000 clients across central and eastern Canada.
These good news stories are supplemented by a number of developments occurring regionally that will have a positive impact because KL is the economic hub of the north Timiskaming District, and so the primary supplier of products, people and services to regional activities. For example:
- The steady increase in the price of gold has brought a number of other mining projects to the feasibility stage. Queenston Mining Inc. announced promising results at its Upper Beaver Properties. Northgate Minerals has poured over $20 million into exploration work and is moving ahead with mining operations at its Young-Davidson properties near Matachewan. According to the company, this site has the potential to produce 150,000 ounces of gold per year for a decade. In addition, more finds are coming online because of the Discover Abitibi mineral exploration program.
- St. Andrew Goldfields will commence production at the Holloway-Holt Gold Mine Complex near Matheson in the second quarter of 2007. The mine has a forecast production rate of 75,000-100,000 ounces of gold per annum for the next seven years, and will employ over 100 people.
- Tres-Or Resources Ltd. continues to return high quality results from its diamond exploration efforts southwest of Kirkland Lake. The richness of the finds, the large size of the host kimberlite pipes, plus expected low mine construction and operating costs in the area indicate a very positive future in this wholly new area of economic activity. Exploration continues. If more kimberlite structures are found, and the price of diamonds increases as expected, a mine could be in the making within 10 years.
Through the 1990s, one of the town’s dominant political and economic controversies surrounded a proposal to ship Toronto‘s garbage to the Adams Mine, an abandoned open pit mine in Boston Township just outside of Kirkland Lake.
Kirkland Lake is also self-sufficient when it comes to power production with a generator that produces up to 117MW.
Kirkland Lake has two secondary schools, each catering to a different language group: the École Catholique Jean Vanier, a French Catholic school; and the Kirkland Lake District Composite School, an English secondary school also featuring French immersion instruction (opened in 2006; from 1923 – 2006 students attended Kirkland Lake Collegiate and Vocational Institute, also known as KLCVI).
Elementary schools in Kirkland Lake include Central Public School (French immersion, public), Federal Public School (English, public), Sacred Heart School (French immersion and English, Catholic), St. Jerome School (French immersion and English, Catholic), and Ecole Assomption (French, Catholic).
The community is also home to a campus of the Northern College of Applied Arts and Technology.
Northern College offers one-, two- and three-year programs in the fields of technology, business, human services, health and emergency services and veterinary sciences. Northern also offers post-diploma, apprenticeship, skills and job re-entry programs funded by the federal and provincial governments. The College also provides job related training. This includes providing the facilities for the delivery of third party programs, or the development of courses to meet the needs of a company.
Kirkland Lake also includes the Teck Centennial Public Library.
Kirkland Lake is served by Ontario Northland bus and railway services (with the train station located in Swastika) and the Kirkland Lake Airport as well as local transportation for people with disabilities and local taxi services as well as connections to the Timmins/Victor M. Power Airport and Rouyn-Noranda Airports. Transportation is also provided to senior citizens and persons with disabilities, through Timiskaming Home Support, which is funded by the North East Local Health Integration Network.
Tourism and festivals
The Kirkland Lake area continues to support a strong tourist industry throughout the year. The summers are met with a number of anglers, hunters, and campers looking for adventure. Winters are especially popular as a result of the well maintained snow mobile trails in the area. There are also a number of tourist destinations in the area, including the recently developed Hockey Heritage North. It also has a strong community built on music. Local attractions include:
- Hockey Heritage North
- Kirkland Lake Miners’ Memorial
- Blueberry Festival – an annual summer event at Esker Lakes Provincial Park
- Toburn Mine – This mine was the first producing mine in Kirkland Lake and the old headframe is a recognized cultural asset.
- Wright-Hargreaves Park – Site of the former Wright-Hargreaves mine that used to be one of the most productive and deepest gold mines in the world.
The Kirkland Lake Festivals Committee hosts an annual homecoming week during the week of Canada Day. The event has been ranked as a Top 100 Festival by Festivals & Events Ontario, Many former residents from the Kirkland Lake area return home for the celebrations.
Other events include free Canada Day celebrations, free kids events, family-oriented live shows, a BMX & Skateboard competition, a local food fair, free kids matinees, splash park events, golf tournaments, A day in the park at the Toburn Mine site, a wine & cheese, fireworks and more.
The Kirkland Lake Festivals Committee hosts an annual winter carnival beginning in mid-February. With 18 days of events each year, Kirkland Lake’s Winter Carnival is one of Canada’s longest winter carnivals. In 2013, Festivals and Events Ontario honoured the event with a Top 100 Festival award.
The 2013 Kirkland Lake Winter Carnival ran from February 14 to March 3, 2013.
The 2014 Kirkland Lake Winter Carnival is scheduled from February 13 – March 2.
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Town of Kirkland Lake
Pictures of Kirkland Lake
Kirkland Lake Chamber of Commerce
Teck Centenial Library
Kirkland Lake Festivals
Kirkland Lake Community Organizations
Toburn Mine Tour
The Discovery of Gold.mpg
Kirkland Lake Slideshow