If everyone grew up in a mining town, the world could be a better place.

What a cloistered existence. The communities were owned and operated by the Mining company. Houses were offered in 3 styles and sizes only, depending on how big the family. The town Doctor was hired by the mine, given a house & an office and then subsidized by the mine employees.  Being the only Doctor in town gave them unique experience- Imagine delivering babies, prescribing diet pills and responding to mining accidents!

People from all over the world came to mining towns. They spoke many different languages and were all colours. They were engineers, teachers and labourers. They left their customs & culture behind them and readily adopted this new life. Money was the common denominator, everyone made enough to buy whatever there was to buy, and when there was a party or social event, everyone was invited. What you did for a living was never discussed- The entire population of the town worked for the same employer and had much the same lifestyle.

I was sixteen years old before I really understood that some people in the world didn’t get along because of their colour or their background or their means.

I look back on that age of innocence with amazement and appreciation.

24 Responses to “Prologue”

  1. Barry Chisholm Says:

    WOW…is about the only word that comes to my head. I’ve been playing your prologue in my head for the past 40 years….thinking, am I the only person like this in the world? Am I the only person who feels this way?
    What an incredible start to life, being raised in such an envirinment.
    My own experience was in Malartic Goldfields (Halet, Quebec). Left when I was about 16, the mining operation having come to a halt. Only the mill continued to run, on ore from neighbouring mines.
    One by one our little houses were torn out of the ground and moved to other surounding towns. Even the Curling Club!
    So sad to see.
    But I do believe it’s left me with a particular outlook on life that is unique.
    That others should be so lucky to have the opportunity to live.
    Thank you so much for starting this site….memories rush back!

  2. littlepatti Says:

    Hi Barry,
    Thanks for your comments. You didn’t mention your age, but I would think that Malartic closed in the 70’s. My in-laws lived there about 1963-65-You’ll see pictures of Frank & Ruth in one of the older entries. That’s one of the areas that I didn’t live in, but my husband did~Val d’Or, Noranda etc. If you go back through my blog you’ll see that was the fate of many towns, and I agree that it was a gift to be the last generation to experience the “hard rock miners”. Company towns don’t really exist anymore. Take a look at Ghost towns/Ruins by Mark Wadell, on my blog roll (right hand side of the site page) Photos of Burchell Lake (Coldstream Copper). Most of the housing there was mobile- trailers, etc. the other buildings went to ruin. Glad to hear from you. You can publish your memories as a comment right here, or if you start a site, I’ll add it to my blog roll. Miners are different, aren’t we?

  3. Barry Chisholm Says:

    What were Frank and Ruth’s last name?
    Actually the town of Malartic still exists, and appears to be headed for another boom of sorts. News clippings I’ve seen recently indicate a very large open pit mine is being opened up. Indeed they have re-settled part of the actual town a few kilometers away, as the ore body lies underneath part of the town. Have also discovered that a company is now drilling on the old townsite of Malartic Goldfields as well…where I grew up. And their results appear to be good enough to start mining again. How bizarre is that.
    Miners are a different lot indeed.

  4. littlepatti Says:

    Hi Barry,
    How interesting! Thanks for that information. I am sure that the area could use a revival of any kind. I hardly know anyone in mining anymore so I would not have heard about this. I am sure that it will not be the company town of the old flavour though. Every generation can make their unique mark.
    Sorry, I can’t give out family names. You can see that I have purposely avoided doing that throughout my blog. I hoped that their photos would be familiar. They curled in Malartic. Who didn’t? They are both deceased now. They would have been in their 50’s while in Malartic. Really nice folks.

  5. littlepatti Says:

    PS: So far I have had over 13,000 (!) readers to my blog. I could do more to attract more readers, but I hardly know how…”too soon old, too late smart”. However, I hope that it has given some people a glimpse into another lifestyle. 🙂

    • Diane Violet Brown Says:

      “too soon old too late smart” Just came across this little post
      When reading through this material It is on as well a little plaster wall hanging that I kept from my Grandparents They where from out west and would really be quite old As I myself am now 70 Just enjoyed to read those words and it is
      so true

      • littlepatti Says:

        Hi Diane, We are the same age and I guess the quote is ageless. I think that we should be born with a HANDBOOK, explaining the basics. It would save a lot of time, in life, which is so priceless!

  6. Betty Says:

    FElt that when we were in the service. I just never put it in words.

    • littlepatti Says:

      Hi Betty-YES! A similar life experience with moving truck on speed dial (:-)
      My poor Mom. She never complained as she packed up 2 & 3 young kids and followed Dad. He usually went ahead to get a house etc. and she was left to pack and accompany us to “Timbuktu”. I recall the trip from Thunder Bay to Snow Lake Man. Us kids ages 2, 7 & 10. Many trains & changes and buses to get there! Mom was 37 at the time. As I grew up I admired her strength. You can see her wedding photo following that prologue. She was about 98 pounds! FEISTY!

  7. brendaelliott Says:

    remember barrie chisholm and his mmotorbike.lived in halet and spent mysummers there.what fun.

    • Barry Chisholm Says:

      Hey Brenda….never owned a motorcycle. My brother Carl did though. He was crazy for anything with a motor on it. However, you and I, and a few others my age did play tennis til the wee hours of the morning a few summers. On that single court, filled with cracks, and grass growing through it! Made for some interesting bounces…lol

  8. Dennis King Says:

    I lived at Manitou Mines from 1942 to 54. I agree that was a great way to spend my youth, when all people’s were equal. The divisions we see, feel , and live with in cities and town today is concerning.

    But youth never can be replaced. Sad to say.

  9. Robert Rancourt Says:

    I grew up in Bathurst , NB. Sherfferville, QC and and mostly in Malartic , QC , and I totally agree with your post. Miners beside Canada, came from Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria to name a few.

  10. Robert Rancourt Says:

    East Sullivan Mines was about 4 km south-east from Val-d’Or and Lamaque Mine

  11. Robert Rancourt Says:

    I am sorry, I misread, Manitou Mine was about 15km East of Val-d’Or ,and about 4 km south of the main highway

  12. Pat Keyes Waugh Says:

    We grew up in East Malartic and I think we had the best childhood possible. We were surrounded by many cultures and had the same friends all our childhood. We moved to Whitehorse when mines were getting ready to close and had neighbours from Val d’or. Love this blog

    • littlepatti Says:

      That was the fun of mining. As soon as we got to a new town, many for me, we would look for kids we knew before. We were all transient folks and renewed friendships many times. My husband lived in val dor 1950’s. His brother worked in the Yukon 1970’s.

  13. Brenda Elliott Says:

    would love to hear more about good ole Goldfields.

  14. Rob Says:

    hello we had a number of people from the areas that you lived in move to the mine in Manitouwadge where I grew up. Mining people are great…

    • littlepatti Says:

      I recall Manitouwadge, some people we knew moved there. Mining people moved around a lot. At every new town we would look for people we knew. There was always some.
      Tell us about your town, please. How big was it and schools, etc.

  15. Rob Says:

    Manitouwadge is located exactly half way from Thunder Bay and Sault ste Marie. (3.5 hours each way) Then you have to drive 1/2 hour off of the main highway to reach the town. We moved there in the early 60’s. Prior to living in Manitouwadge my dad worked at Kerr Addison Mines in Virginiatown. I was very young when we moved so i don’t remember V-Town that well. But we always went back there in the summer to visit my grandparents and cousins as well as Kirkland Lake.Manitouwadge always had about 2800 people. There were two mines: Willroy owned by Lac Minerals and Geco owned by Noranda Mines. Willroy closed in 1977. Geco closed around 1996. The discovery of the Hemlo mines in the early 1980’s boomed the town population up to over 4,000 people. But now most of the mines are closed and there is one left open at Hemlo. The forestry industry is scaled back significantly and I believe that there are only about 1500 people left in town. They have tried to market the town as a retirement place but it’s only had a little take up. I attended the French school in primary grades then had to go to the English only high school. What a transition that was! I left the town to go to college and then university in the 1970’s. Although I don’t live anywhere near there anymore I still go back to visit friends every summer. It was a great place to grow up. Never had to worry about locking our doors at night, always great neighbours and friends that you could count on. Growing up in a mining town was the best experience of my life.

  16. littlepatti Says:

    All the places you named are familiar. My moms family came from Thunder Bay, and I lived in Kakabeka Falls for a year. We’ve travelled west several times and stopped over.
    My in laws lived in V town in the late 60’s, and I had friends from Kirkland and Larder Lake.
    The Val d’or, Rouyn, Noranda area was one my family didn’t work at.
    Thanks so much for your contribution to the blog! So many people have connected with each other.
    It was such a unique life style, long gone now and very difficult to explain to people who have no idea there were mining towns, let alone the culture.
    Best regards,

  17. Rob Says:

    I went to college/university in Thunder Bay. When I graduated I got a job in Timmins working for Noranda at their Pamour Mine. I spent a year with them and went to work at Detour Lake Mine which was a fly in mine. I worked there for about 5 years and when I got married my wife didn’t like me being away from home at the fly in mine so I went to work at Kidd Creek Mines in Timmins. I stayed there for 5 years and then moved the family to Thunder Bay. We used to go on picnics all the time to Kakebeka Falls. The kids loved it. We were in TBay for 10 years and then I moved the family to Waterloo where we live now. Its a bit fast paced for me down here but the kids love it and have great jobs.But I do miss my mining roots. A lot of my friends from Manitouwadge now live in Kirkland Lake/Timmins area. After the mines closed they followed the mining industry jobs.

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