Silver Centre, the Story of an Ontario Mining Camp

Silver Centre
the Story of an Ontario Mining Camp
by Peter Fancy

Silver Centre was one of Canada's celebrated mining camps. It discovered millions of dollars in silver ore (when silver's price averaged 50¢ an ounce) and probably has as much mineral wealth waiting today in its unexamined Keewatin ground for some future economic development. But most importantly, in terms of Ontario's social history, this Silver Centre story represents the way of life for many of the people living in northern Ontario during the early years of the 20th century.

The story follows in detail the mining prospectors of l907: their silver discoveries; the early mines; their successes and failures; the depressing World War I years; then rebirth with the mother lode discovery of 1920 and its climactic decade of phenomenal silver treasure; finally, the inevitable exhaustion of known deposits. Falling metal prices discourage continued searches. Mines close-suddenly abandoned. This particular drama of prospectors and developers struggling with the Precambrian rocks is a constant, unifying theme.

Silver Centre is the story of a mining community and its people, of fellowship and stubborn pleasure.

This reprint of the 1985 edition contains all the information, maps, diagrams and photos of the original. The errata has been incorporated into the text and minor errors corrected. It will serve those interested in the mining history of this area well. A loose separate map of Silver Centre is included, and a copy can be downloaded here.

Go Here for Table of Contents | Go here for a look at the Index | Go here for a list of the illustrations.

ISBN: 978-1-989615-40-9 | WMPub#1332 | 8½" x 11"
126 pages; 116 photos, maps and diagrams; trade paperback | $24.95

Table of Contents

5Original Acknowledgments 1985; Acknowledgements 2021



13Chapter 1: 1907 South Lorrain Whispers

21Chapter 2: 1907-1908 Quietly to be Quick

25 Chapter 3: 1908 Fresh Fills the Air

31 Chapter 4: 1909 Green with Rain the Grasses Grow

42 Chapter 5: 1910-1913 A Dry Thunder

47Chapter 6: 1914-1915 Stretching out Your Hand to Feel the Wind

50 Chapter 7: 1916-1918 A Low Sky

54 Chapter 8: 1919-1921 Unravel this Curdled Cloud

60 Chapter 9: 1922-1923 Into the Radiant Sun

67 Chapter 10: 1924 The Roaring Machines Drown Your Shout

74 Chapter 11: 1924 Along the Level of the Roofs

94 Chapter 12: 1925 Heavy Days of Slow Delight

103 Chapter 13: 1926 To Warn the Way that Winter Comes

109 Chapter 14: 1927-1928 Rustles When the Leaves are Thin

114 Chapter 15: 1929-1931 The Branches Bare

117 Chapter 16: 1930s The Edge of the Hill

120 Bibliography

121 Index


15  Bob Jowsey's map with Purcell's directions

16  Formation - Rough concentric circles

17  Cobalt 1907

18  New Liskeard 1907

18  Staking a claim

19  Haileybury Wharf 1907

21  Mine Shaft Workings Cross Section

24  A prospectors' camp, Gowganda, 1908

24  Hand steeling the surface trench, Gowganda, 1908

26  Keeley number 1 discovery shaft, HR 19, 1908 (looking east)

26  Keeley number 1 discovery shaft, HR 19, 1908 (looking west)

28  Active Claims 1908

28  Sullivan's Landing ("66") - 1908

29  Landing 66 townsite, Silver Centre - 1908

29  Haileybury Silver Mining Co., HR 16, 1908 (looking west)

30  Two Compartment Shafts

32  Diabase Dome

32  Mining Supplies

37  Stock certificate in new Silver Eagle mining company, HR 97 - 1909

38  Active claims 1909-1910

43  Hand steeling underground

44  Steam diamond drill

45  Wettlaufer shaft house and mill, HR 85 - 1910

45  Wettlaufer silver high-grade; camp buildings in background - 1910

46  Riding the shaft bucket.

47  Bob Jowsey - a World War 1 recruit, Ontario Archives

48  Pittsburgh Lorrain and Wettlaufer underground connection.

49  Keeley number 1 shaft house - 1915 (looking east)

49  Dr. James Mackintosh Bell at Silver Centre

49  Keeley number 1 shaft house - 1915 (looking east)

53  Provencher's store, the original Montrose Mine, RL 459, bunkhouse.

54  Steamer Meteor unloading at Silver Centre wharf, May 2, 1921.

56  Keeley mill and number 3 shaft house.

56  HR 21, the recent discovery shaft at the bottom right of the new mill building - 1921.

58  Horace Strong with his wife Edna and baby Norville, 1921.

59  Keeley number 2 head frame, HR 19.

59  Mine-Mill Workings

60  Mel Robb holds Keeley silver sample - 1922

61  Keeley engineer, Leonard Smith, points to Wood's vein silver - 1922

62  Frontier Lorrain number 1 shaft house, at the left, and camp - 1922

63  New number 3 Frontier shaft house - 1923 (on site of old cookery)

64  Enlarged Keeley mill - 1922

64  Newly enlarged number 3 Keeley head frame - 1922

64  1923 - New Keeley Mine-Mill viewed from the south

65  Main Veins

66  Discovery of Wood's vein at Lorrain Trout Lake Mine, HR 103 - April 1923

67  Frontier Lorrain Mine, new cookery - 1924

67  Keeley shift boss Jack MacLeod, Underground Superintendent Bob Cameron

69  Frontier mine captain Gottfrid Hammerstrom at left,

69  Doctor Gordon Smith at centre, Lyman Fancy at right

69  Frontier mine manager, Harold Fancy

70  Keeley mine superintendent, Bob Cameron

70  Keeley mine manager, Mark Little

70  Frontier mine bookkeeper, Sterling Grant

70  Mining Corporation geologist, Warren Eamons, at left.

71  Vein Workings

72  Visiting dignitaries at the Keeley

72  The Keeley camp in the hollow, winter 1924. Note: the "Farmer's Bank" office and apartment building at the back, the double bunkhouse at the right, the cookery at left and storehouse in middle. The boiler plant and stable are in the foreground. The Doctor's house is at the upper right.

73  Frontier Lorrain Mines Ltd. from the Bellellen hill - 1924. Flanked by number 1 shaft house on left and number 3 on right. Keeley number 3 shaft house looms on horizon.

74  Silver Centre Railway Station

75  75 Bob Cameron's house at left, Keeley mill bunkhouse at center, Mark Little's house to the right.

76  Silver Centre post office stamp from Brennan's store

77  Russell Marshall, Silver Centre station agent with his son, Stanley

77  Joe Slater's (Jack Dexter's) house beside hydro substation at Beaver Lake

77  Harold Findlay's house

78  Gottfrid Hammerstrom's house

78  Dunc McDonald and wife Kate

79  Silver Centre Public School

80  First Public School class, October 1923.

81  Harold Fancy's house

84  Brennan's Store

85  Tennis at the Keeley, south side of the mill.

85  Recreational skating on the Keeley tennis court

85  The Keeley Frontier baseball team

85  Skiing at the Keeley slimes

85  A sleigh ride at the Keeley

86  The Frontier hockey team.

87  Silver Centre's Temiskaming baseball league champions - 1926

88  The Keeley camp in the hollow viewed from the Harris hill, looking south.

88  The hockey rink is in the foreground.

89  Gottfrid Hammerstrom, wife Anna, sons Harry and Bill outside their house

89  Clarence Scanlon, at left, with a Keeley friend.

89  Eugene Provencher and daughter Eugenie

90  A hockey game at the Keeley rink.

90  Brennan's store at the distant left and houses strung along Loon Lake road to the right.

91  Hill 60 viewed from the east side of the Wettlaufer Fault. The movie theatre is at centre left.

92-92  Map of Silver Centre 1924 (also available separately)

95  Silver Centre Railway Terminus

95  Frontier Mine buildings, 1925. Looking north.

96  Woods vein silver, back of 300 foot level stope,

96  Frontier-Crompton property. (Ontario Archives)

97  Frontier mine captain Gottfrid Hammerstrom with Watson vein silver nugget from just above the diabase sill.

98  Hand steeling the Forneri shaft, HS 42, 1925.

98  Carl Hammerstrom second from the left, Eric Greening at the right.

99  Silver Centre - Vein Occurences

100  Frontier Mine buildings, 1926. Looking south.

100  Watson vein - 3rd level south - Frontier Mine

98  Drilling a drift round at Frontier Mine 1925

98  Gunnar Greening at left,

98  Gunnar Manderstrom at right.

101  Watson vein - 8 x C, 5th level - Frontier Mine.

101  The surface crew posed in front of the Frontier compressor house - 1925.

102  Off shift miners at the Frontier bunkhouse - 1925.

104  Waiting for the Haileybury steamer to leave for the Matabitchuan, 1920.

104  The Matabitchuan power plant with Tenement apartment building at the right.

104  Landing 66, Maidens Bay, Lake Temiskaming. Gertie Spencer, teacher from the Matabitchuan, stands next to Pete Larocque (Junior) on the right.

106  Maidens Bay Mining Area.

107  Canadian Lorrain Mill under construction.

107  Pete Larocque's fish nets drying at Maidens Bay.

108  Matabitchuan community picnic, December 9, 1923.

112  HR 64 shaft, South Lorrain, 1928

112  HR 64 shaft, South Lorrain, 1928. Looking towards Lake Temiskaming.

113  1922 Claim Map Ontario Dept. of Mines, Vol. 31, pt 2,

115  Keeley Lower Contact Workings: 1930-31

115  Keeley silver ore, approximately 30,000 ounces, from below diabase sill.

116  Abandoned mines with shaft depths at Keewatin-diabase contact.

117  Down the Lorrain Valley road to Silver Centre.

119  Silver Centre Production Chart