Hollinger Mines

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Hollinger Mine. The headframe is the light-colored building in the center, unusual in that it is built of concrete. The dome-shaped building to the left is an ore storage facility.

The Hollinger Gold Mine was founded by Benny Hollinger in Timmins, Ontario, and in 1910 the company was incorporated by Noah Timmins and partners. The main Hollinger Mine operated from 1910 until 1968. During that period 65,778,234 tons were milled, producing 19,327,691 ounces of gold, indicating an overall grade of 0.29. The value of the gold produced is placed at $564.7 million.

Hollinger Consolidated Gold Mines was later acquired by Canadian tycoon E. P. Taylor's Argus Corporation. Argus was later acquired by Conrad Black in 1978 and it would become today's Hollinger Incorporated.

  • Founded 1910 as Hollinger Gold Mine
  • Changed to Hollinger Mines
  • Changed to Hollinger Argus Limited 1978
  • Changed to Hollinger Inc. in 1985

Hollinger Mine[edit]

Rumors of gold in the Porcupine area had been circulating for some time, but every attempt to start production had resulted in poor returns. In June 1909 a group of prospectors found a rich vein that would eventually become the Dome Mine, but at the time it too remained undeveloped. However the news was now out, and prospectors started flowing into the area.

In October 1909 Benny Hollinger, a young barber from Haileybury, and his partner, Alex Gillies, started prospecting in the area. When they met the Wilson expedition they were told that all the good lots were staked for at least 6 miles (9.7 km) west. So they went west, past the already staked-out claims, until they came upon an abandoned test pit near Pearl Lake where Reuben D'Aigle had given up three years earlier. The two were exploring the site when Hollinger dug into a mound that demonstrated how unlucky D'Aigle was:

... Benny was pulling moss off the rocks a few feet away, when suddenly he let a roar out of him and threw his hat to me. At first I thought that he was crazy but when I came over to where he was it was not hard to find the reason. The quartz where he had taken off the moss looked as though someone had dripped a candle along it, but instead of wax it was gold.

They staked twelve claims near their discovery. Because different sponsors had staked them, they flipped a coin to determine how to divide the them. Hollinger won the toss and took the six claims on the west.

Noah Timmins, who had early started a successful silver mine in Cobalt, purchased an option on Hollinger's claims and immediately started work on setting up mining operations. He set out in December 1909 from mile post 222 on the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario Railway (T&NO) with a crew of twenty men, two teams of horses, and two tons of supplies. Following an old lumber road, they had to blaze their own trail where the road had become overgrown. They arrived at the mine site on New Year's Day, 1910, and within weeks began mining gold.

By the end of the 20's the Hollinger was the largest gold mine in the British Empire and paid annual dividends of more than $5 million.

In the 1930s Hollinger Consolidated Gold Mines built 250 houses which were located in one area of the Town of Timmins. These houses remained in place right up until the late 1970s. The three room homes were designed and built identical to each other in every respect with the exception of the impregnated tar paper the covered them. Every second home was green with a red roof and the other was red with a green roof.

The mine was so big by the 1960s it had almost 600 miles (970 km) of tunnels

Fire[edit]

Porcupine Mine Rescue Station

On February 10, 1928 smoke began to curl up from the main shaft house. At first no one could understand how fire could take place in a hard-rock mine. The Hollinger had its own safety inspector, in addition to the government official, but they had not visited all of the more than 100 miles (160 km) of underground workings.

Hundreds of miners escaped to surface, but the news soon spread that others had been trapped on the 550-foot (170 m) level. At that time mined-out stopes were not backfilled with waste rock, but one on the 550-foot (170 m) level had been filled over the years with mining debris such as powder boxes, sawdust and wooden crates. It's believed that the fire started as a result of spontaneous combustion in this area.

There were accounts of individual heroism, and the Department of Mines, the T&NO, many others, and the community itself put forth a stellar effort to battle the disaster and alleviate the suffering. A relief train was sent up from Pennsylvania with rescue personnel experienced in coal-mine fires.

In the end, 39 miners succumbed to the smoke and carbon monoxide poisoning. An inquiry into the disaster recommended that mine rescue stations be set up in major mining camps. In 1929 the Porcupine Camp received the first mine rescue station in the province.

Stompin' Tom Connors, the famous Canadian musician, composed and recorded a ballad about another later fire at the nearby McIntyre Mines (in February 1965), with Lord Thomson's "CKGB Recording" entitled "Fire in the Mine".

Current Ownership/Activity[edit]

The mine site was acquired in December 1999 by Kinross Gold prior to the bankruptcy of Royal Oak Mines. Most of the work on the site has concerned the management of ground subsidence resulting from the collapse of drifts and stopes that were not backfilled. Extensive subsidence has occurred at the Hollinger Golf Course to the SW of the mine site. The Hollinger mine site property has now been purchased by Goldcorp, and is now undergoing a transformation into an open pit operation.

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