A foundation©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko
Ludwig Mond, a German born, British naturalized chemist, was a scientist who made an astonishing discovery - a new method of refining nickel. His next step was to set out on a quest for financing. His hope was to entice the great capitalists of the day to invest in his method of efficiently refining this revolutionary new metal.
Initially Mond offered the Carbonyl Process (as it is called), to every single British steel maker and later to the Canadian Copper Company. All declined. However, Mond, a bit of a capitalist himself, didn't give up easily. He believed his process to be completely revolutionary and, given the lack of outside interest, decided to set up shop on his own.
The first item on Mond's shopping list was real estate containing at least 2 per cent nickel. From the 1850-60s surveyors had scouted and mapped the entire north shore from the present day cities of Sudbury to Sault Saint Marie. They were the first to pick up on the areas where gold, silver, copper and iron deposits were haphazardly discovered. In 1886 Henry Ranger staked claims on Lot 8, Concession 4 in Denison Township on behalf of Rinaldo McConnel. The next year those properties were sold to Emma McConnel, Alex McIntyre and Joseph Riopelle. In 1899 they were sold again - this time to Mond. In later years, the name of Alexander 'Sandy' McIntyre would become synonymous with mining, after he discovered the McIntyre Gold Mine near Timmins.
The mines operated from February 1901 to September 1923 and for about 10 years they supplied Mond's company with most of its ore supply. The ore contained an average of 1.62 per cent nickel and 3.36 per cent copper. By 1915, a comfortable 8000 tons of ore was mined every month. By 1919, the mine had reached its eighteenth level and became Ontario's deepest mine at 3,012 feet. Ore was sent via an aerial tramway to the Mond roast yard. After being roasted for a few months, it was reloaded in the "bucket line" and sent to further south to Victoria Mines for smelting.
The mining property itself contained the mine building, a dry house for work clothes, a dry (shower), hoist room, compressor house, boiler house, machine shop, blacksmith shop, fuse house, dynamite thawing room, dynamite storage building, office and warehouse, and carpentry shop. The number 4 shaft house was situated further east.
The town site was situated directly south of the mine, slightly to the west, and about four and a half kilometres north of the smelter in Victoria Mines which was serviced by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). The Algoma Eastern Railway (AER) built a line a 1/2 kilometre south in 1911, adding a few buildings for section gangs, and a boxcar for use as a station. Mond also owned 20 odd miles of tracks, a few engines, as well as the spur to the mine.
In all, the population stood at about 500 residents (transients included) of varying nationalities. British, Finn, Ukrainian, Polish, Slovak, Italian, German, and French-Canadian people all lived together and forged strong links. This community became active in sports including tennis, high jumping, running, boxing, skiing, skating, baseball, and croquet. A Finnish gymnastic club specializing in acrobatic acts also dazzled the town.
The village consisted of a number of homes and businesses. There were two stores, Leonards' store, which contained a warehouse and icehouse, and Rozumney's store, which had an ice cream parlour. A post office opened in 1906 and operated until 1924. There were four boarding houses, including one with a pool room, two halls, one of which was for Finnish workers and Burton's shop. Dr. Allan Dafoe was the area doctor from 1901 onwards. As a side note, Dr. Dafoe later gained fame and fortune as the physician to the famous Dionne quintuplets, born in 1934.
Mond was a peaceful town and no police were ever present. The mine superintendent was effectively the caretaker of the community. Mond, being a dry town found its blind pigs around Crean Hill Mine, located just a few miles East on the Algoma Eastern Railway. An attempted murder over a woman was foiled. The guilty man served five years in Kingston Penitentiary.
Schooling was very important to Mondites. Many were immigrants who never had any education. Tuition, later reimbursed by Mond, was set at $10 a month. The school was segregated into two classes, one for boys, and the other for girls. Each half contained roughly about 45 students. The structure included a second story, which housed the teacher's living quarters. Some of the school's instructors were Mrs. Black from 1914-18, followed by Harley Burton and his wife from 1918 onwards. Other teachers and staff members included Lola McNaughton in 1919 and a Miss Ingrim. Mr. Christie was the inspector around 1920. The building was also used for church services and briefly served as a hospital during the influenza epidemic of 1918. After the Victoria Mines public school closed around 1914, the children from Victoria Mines walked to the Mond School.
The Mond School lasted until 1927. There is an interesting anecdote about the school. One time a resident's cow strayed away, walked through the open school door and upstairs where it became trapped at the upper part of the building. The poor creature had to be hoisted down through a window with the help of ropes.
Mond's houses were constructed in either log or frame with lap siding. Foundations, with a few exceptions, were non-existent. By 1913, the company owned 12 homes. Other residents leased land from the mine for their buildings. No homes, apart from the mine superintendent's house, had electricity. There was no running water or sewage infrastructure, however all the homes had wells and outhouses. Most of the homes were heated by coal or wood. Mond would purchase a carload of coal for the community's needs. There was also a phone on the mine's premises which was available to the public in case of emergencies.
Cars first appeared around 1913, shortening the trip to Sudbury to two bumpy hours, as opposed to an oxen ride, which took a good ten. Sudbury was a mere 50 kilometres (about 35 miles) away. From 1911 onwards, for the cost of about one dollar, passengers could travel to Sudbury from the new Algoma Central Railway station. It took around an hour to get to the Sudbury station, however travellers had to plan an overnight stay.
The demise of the mine began as early as 1917. Mine managers began to have serious concerns about the depth of the workings. This was Ontario's deepest mine at the time and by 1920 the shafts were over a mile in depth and production costs had begun to increase rapidly. In addition, the workings were beginning to narrow and were becoming increasingly more difficult to work.
By 1922, the 77 remaining employees raised a total of 32,737 tons of ore, a far cry from the 275 men who once produced an annual average of 80,000 - 100,000 tons of nickel ore. The following year the mine closed and all the residents moved to Worthington, Coniston, Garson, Sudbury, or Frood Mine, seeking new jobs within the Mond Nickel Company's other complexes. After the last resident left in 1936, most of the houses were either removed or burnt down on the spot. Workings were de-watered in the early 1970's and produced for a few years until they were shut down in 1978. Exploration work is currently being done at the site of the original shaft and it is possible Mond may yet rise again.