Haileybury School of Mines cover

Haileybury School of Mines
Humble Beginnings
by Brian Dobbs

The history of the Haileybury School of Mines is fascinating. While much has been written about the school since World War II, very little detailed information regarding its origin has been available in print.

The idea of establishing a Mining School in the area can be traced back to Asbury Wilson, the first principal of Haileybury High School. His vision of introducing mining-related subjects within the high school curriculum in 1912 planted the seed to eventually realize a much-needed program for technically trained graduates for the Canadian mining industry.

"Humble Beginnings" starts by taking us back to the earliest days of settlement in the area and the need to provide local education. With the discovery of silver in Cobalt in 1903, it soon became apparent that mining played a vital role in the livelihood of residents and served as the economic engine for local prosperity.

In many ways, the book is a biography of Asbury Wilson during his ten years as principal. We learn of the many obstacles he faced dealing with government bureaucrats, local municipal leaders, and high school advisory committees to secure funding for curriculum development, infrastructure, and equipment purchases. Adding to his many challenges during this period was the fact that Canada was fully engaged in a World War.

Before his departure in 1921, Asbury Wilson had completed his mandate of setting up a qualified "hands-on" mining program with a separate training facility adjacent to the high school. Graduates had now been placed throughout various mining camps within the country and the mining industry knew it could call upon Haileybury to fill further needs.

Following the Great Fire of 1922, which obliterated ninety percent of the Town of Haileybury, the Mining School continued to build its reputation. Following a short closure during the Second World War, the school, now a dedicated vocational training center for mining, re-opened as the Provincial Institute of Mining. During this time, under the leadership of Ossie Walli and Jack Frey, the school's reputation vaulted to an international level.

"Humble Beginnings" is a tribute to all those who established the School of Mines and continued the necessary work to maintain its high-quality curriculum for the last one hundred and ten years.

Go here for a look at the Index | Go Here for Table of Contents
About the author

ISBN: 978-1-989615-82-9 | WMPub#1344 | 8½" x 11"
166 pages; 155 photos and graphics trade paperback | $29.95


Table of Contents




Haileybury – C.C. Farr’s Dream Town

Building a Solid Base in Education

A Call for Mining Education

Humble Beginnings

World at War

Lab & Field Work Throughout The Years At H.S.M.

The Mill

A Decade of Dedication

Early Graduates

The Great Fire of 1922

The Years Ahead


Haileybury School of Mines 1917 Junior and Senior Years Courses of Study As Reported by A.W. Wilson to Haileybury High School Board

Glossary of Mining Related Terms as Found in the Book

Graduates and Attendees of the School of Mines 1912-1943




About the Author

Brian Dobbs with his grandson

Brian Dobbs was born in 1960 in Haileybury, Ontario. A graduate of both Haileybury High School and the Haileybury School of Mines in 1981, Brian has worked in the field of instrumentation for over 40 years.

Brian returned to Haileybury in 1990, becoming an instrumentation college professor at the Haileybury School of Mines. Brian has been active as both a Board member and volunteer in several local groups including the Haileybury Heritage Museum, Temiskaming-Abitibi Heritage Association, Haileybury School of Mines Alumni Association and the Temiskaming Writers Guild. Brian chaired the Haileybury Centennial Committee and the Haileybury Special Events Committee. He also served on council for the Town of Haileybury. In 1997, Brian authored Ghosts of Haileybury, a historical book bringing to life the lives of the many people and events of this Northern Ontario community.

In June 2023, Brian formally retired from teaching. Brian and his wife Susan are proud grandparents and enjoy the summer at their cottage. Brian enjoys writing, photography, fishing, and researching the history of the local area. He is presently an active Board member of the Cobalt Historical Society.