SIR LYTTLETON GROOME, Attorney-General of Australia, was present as a guest of the Club, and was introduced in very cordial terms by President Brooks. He was received warmly by the members and expressed briefly and happily his pleasure at being present, and his interest in the subject on which Hon. Mr. McCrea was to speak.
The President then introduced Hon. Mr. McCrea, who was greeted with hearty cheers as he rose to speak.
HON. CHARLES McCREA.
Mr. Chairman, and Gentlemen of the Empire Club,--First let me express my appreciation of the very kindly manner in which you have received my name; and secondly, let me express my appreciation of the courtesy extended to me to address a Club which has played such an important part in the development of all that is Canadian and all that is best for the Empire. (Hear, hear)
My subject,--"The development of the Mineral Industry in Ontario,"--is one so large, and of which so much may be said, that in the short review which
Hon. Charles McCrea was educated at Queens University and Osgoode Hall. He is a Barrister and Solicitor by profession. In 1911 he was elected to represent Sudbury in the Ontario Legislature, succeeding the Hon. Frank Cochrane. He was re-elected in 1919, and in July, 1923, was chosen Minister of Mines. In 1924 he visited England to interest British capital in the development of the great mineral treasures in Northern Ontario.
I will give today I hope you will feel more keenly interested in that section of your Province, Northern Ontario, which promises not only to rival but to outshine any other mineral area in the known world. (Hear, hear)
The development of the mining industry in the Province of Ontario may be divided into two periods: The first period ending with the close of the last century, 1900; and the second period commencing the twentieth century, 1901, and onwards. In the first period, which was prior to the discovery of Cobalt and the discoveries of Porcupine, and the areas uncovered since the T. & N.O. Railway was commenced, September, 1902, we had discoveries of gold in the Province, and gold-mining. We had also silver-mining. We had iron-mining and we had nickel-mining. Let us take a short look at that period. It was one where, after considerable effort in the mining of gold, silver and iron, the book was closed so to speak, and there might have been written in the mind of the general public at the end of that book the word "failure," because the impression went abroad as the result of that initial effort, -first, that gold-mining was not profitable in the Province of Ontario, and, further, that silver-mining, so far as anything was then known, had been exhausted, and that the future for mining was a dismal one.
We had discoveries of gold as far back as 1866, down in the County of Hastings, and other sections of the eastern area, as well as in the areas north and west of Lake Superior. Considerable effort and considerable money was spent in an endeavor to put gold-mining on its feet, but these mines, one by one closed, and Ontario's gold-mining had a black eye; so much so that geologists in England gave out to the world the idea that the formation over here was not such as was likely to see gold-mining on a commercial basis. That had a tremendous influence in the subsequent endeavor to develop the gold fields of the Province of Ontario.
In silver, it was in 1866 that Thomas McFarlane discovered silver in Lake Superior at what was afterwards known as the Silver Islet Mine. On a small area 80 or 90 feet in diameter they found native silver, and after working it for a number of years and taking some $3,500,000 out of the deposit, the book was also closed so far as silver-mining was concerned.
Gold in value produced in that period, up to 1900, from the commencement of gold-mining in Ontario, amounted to somewhere in the neighborhood of a little more tan $2,000,000, and the peak of production in its best year was less than $425,000 for the whole Province of Ontario.
In the period which I shall come to in a moment or two,--the second,--we find one mine alone producing in less than two weeks more than the whole year's banner production of the first period: for the Hollinger Mine today is producing in excess of $1,000,000 a month,-and that is just one mine.
While those discoveries of gold and silver had whetted the appetite of men who had a fondness for mining, and while there was many brave hearts who looked to the future development of mining in the Province of Ontario, it was not until the second period, or what might be referred to as the era that is, to me, the beginning of the great renaissance in mining in the Province of Ontario, which starts somewhere in the new period commencing 1901, that mining really developed in a large way.
I have a map with me (Province of Ontario), but I shall only refer to it for the purpose of fixing your attention on some features of mining in Ontario which many of you perhaps do not know; for if I were to ask what grasp any individual here has, outside of the mining engineer who has been in the North, and the miner who has studied the development of the Province of Ontario and its possibilities, no doubt most of you could say you had some ideas, but I will venture the view that, in the case of the man who is not familiar with the North Country, those ideas are very hazy, and that he knows little or nothing about it.
The Province of Ontario, shown in the colored section, extending from Quebec on the eastern boundary to Manitoba on the west, and including the new District of Patricia, has an area of 407,000 square miles. The southern part is the older section of the Province of Ontario, with an area of 77,000 square miles. The balance of that area has some 330,000 square miles, and it is referred to today as Northern Ontario; and the combined areas are three and a third to three and a half times the size of the British Isles.
This Northern area has a formation which geologists refer to as pre-Cambrian. Practically, that refers to the entire country with the exception of a bit in the Hudson Bay and James Bay section (which are on the lake region, and referred to as Paleozoic), and except that, the entire area is described as pre-Cambrian. I do not know why that name was given, but geologists tell me that is the name given to a formation of rock which is the oldest known in the world; that that rock is in places metal-bearing; and that in that formation may be found the best and most deep-seated mines in the world.
If we go over to the country of our friend, Sir Lyttleton Groome (present), we find that in Western Australia, where there is a great mining development, it is in this pre-Cambrian formation. If we go down to the great deep mines in Brazil, the St. John de la Roy, down between six thousand and seven thousand feet, we find it is the pre-Cambrian formation. If we go over to the "Black Hills of Dakota, we find it is pre-Cambrian. So in the mining sections of British Columbia it is pre-Cambrian. Down on the Rand, South Africa, where the greatest gold production of the world is had, and which has furnished millions of pounds sterling to the trade channels of the world, that also is the pre-Cambrian formation, and the mines there are down between six thousand and seven thousand feet. The great mines of India, in the Kolar region, are also the pre-Cambrian formation.
So in these areas of the world where the mines go down in depth between six thousand and seven thousand feet, the rock formation is pre-Cambrian, and when we realize that we are but commencing the development of the great pre-Cambrian shield of Northern Ontario, we get a fine idea of what may be obtained in this whole formation, and what we may reasonably expect by deeper workings in the opening up of mines. Our minds grasp the possibilities which lie ahead of us, and that we are just beginning to turn back the edge of the cover, and that we are already finding areas of wonderful riches. If you grasp this, then you begin to realize that we are commencing the renaissance period in mining in the Province of Ontario, and no man can predict what the future will be for this country and for the British Empire. (Applause)
During my visit to London, at a dinner given one night for me over there, His Grace the Duke of Devonshire, a former Governor-General of Canada, and one of the best friends over there that Canada has (hear, hear), told the story truly, and gave expression to his own enthusiastic feelings based upon years of study which men who occupy his position give in relation to various sections of the Empire. After a very kindly introduction of the Minister of Mines for the Province of Ontario, he said this: "Gentlemen of London, the areas which Mr. McCrea will speak about are areas which give promise of a great future. I have seen enough myself in those areas, and have learned sufficient about the country, to make the statement that mining in that area is not to be computed in years, but can only be computed in centuries."
When a man in the position of His Grace, and his prestige in London, undertakes to make a statement of that kind, which is in keeping with the belief of the geologists and trained men in the Department of the Government, then we begin to grasp something of the capabilities of that area. There was not very much known of it prior to 1900, and to show what can be accomplished even in the short space of a lifetime, let me get down to a personal matter.
When I went North to take up my residence in the Town of Sudbury, in 1901, the only railway which went through the country from east to west was the Canadian Pacific Railway. Since that time, which is only twenty-three years ago, we have those other (lines of railway, including two short lines down to the City of Toronto, the T. & N.O. up to Cochrane, the Canadian National Railways and the Grand Trunk Pacific, east and west, those other lines which you see at the western end. In that short period of time all those railway lines have been built, and in that northern area, stretching for a thousand miles from Quebec to the Manitoba boundary, we have over thirty-five hundred miles of steam railway. (Applause)
The building of railways has played a very important part in the development of this area. When the Canadian Pacific went through in the eighties, nickel was discovered, and on the development of the metallurgy of this mineral the brains of men toiled for years, so that we have now reached the stage in this Province where, in this pre-Cambrian area opened up by railway development we have the greatest nickel areas known to the world, and we dominate the nickel markets of the world. (Applause) That is a fact that grows more important as we realize that in attaining that position we have only handled the nickel and the copper in those industries. But in recent years progress is being made in the metallurgy of recovering the finer metals such as gold, silver, platinum and palladium, which are associated with nickel and copper, and which are destined to play a very important part in the precious metal trade of the world. During my visit to London, at a little dinner given me one night by Sir Alfred Mond in the Carleton Hotel, there was a large vase on the table, made in the form of a loving-cup. It attracted my attention as soon as I saw it. The outer part of it was silver; the lining of the cup was gold; around the bowl, at the centre of it, went a band possibly three-quarters of an inch wide, attached to the main vase with spikes of platinum. Entwined and engraved across it were maple leaves. I said to Sir Alfred: "Where did you get this magnificent piece of work? And where did it come from?" He replied, "Mr. McCrea, you will be glad to know that those same precious metals are out of the nickel and copper ores of your home district." (Applause) They are working on the metallurgy of those precious metals, and there is a great future in that field.
But I must hurry along for a moment or two more. As you know, Ontario started building the T. & N.O. Railway as an agricultural railway, to tap the claybelt, in 1902. We went north, and in 1903 discovered silver at Cobalt. I do not need to dilate upon just what that meant to the Province of Ontario and the trade channels, as well as to the individuals who were fortunate enough to share the profits. Up to the end of 1923 there had come from the Cobalt fields, and in that neighborhood, some 327,000,000 ounces of silver, and that field is the third or fourth greatest silver field in the history of the world. Mexico had two greater, and I think there was one in South America. It is said that the mines in Mexico furnished the wherewithal to build, arm, and equip the Spanish Armada, which challenged the supremacy of the seas, and which gave rise, because of its defeat, to the great dominance of the British Navy throughout the world. (Applause)
That gives us an idea of the part the precious metal industry of this country will play in the future in making Canada and Ontario stand preeminently in the forefront of the world.
In 1900, as a result of this railway building, six years after, gold discoveries were made up in the Porcupine area, and again the cry went up, when those discoveries were made, "Don't waste your money; you can't make gold production a commercial success in the Province of Ontario;" and the faint-hearted drew back, and walked another way. But men of the grit and the stuff of the chaps who had been in the LaRose Mine put their hundreds and thousands of dollars into development in that country, and they have made what is possibly one of the greatest gold mines in the world out of the Hollinger Mine at the Town of Timmins. That mine is today producing over $1,000,000 per month, with a programme for better development to increase the output from 5,000 tons a day, which they are now raising, up to 7,000 or 8,000 tons. How soon they will reach that figure I do not know, but the plan is under way, and we can look to see that mine producing, within reasonable time, not only $1,000,000 a month, but up to $2,000,000 a month in value from the precious metals of that mine.
Perhaps we do not grasp the significance of those figures, but going back again for a moment to the first period when the total production of mines in Ontario was $425,000 per annum,--and I have no doubt that they thought they were "going some" in those days,--compare that figure with what I have given from one mine alone, which does not take two weeks to turn out that gross amount. But beside the Hollinger Mine are other great mines like the McIntyre, and a little further over, the Dome; and the men conducting those mines do not yet know to what depth or extent the ore bodies even in that area will go. Somebody made the statement that every hundred feet of the Hollinger was worth $15,000,000. You can compute for yourselves what will come out of that mine. Looking back to the experience of the pre-Cambrian mines in other countries, down six thousand or seven thousand feet, what wealth will be poured from the Hollinger, McIntyre and other properties when they get down to deep mining. Not long ago when they pulled out a core at the McIntyre Mine, down below the 3,000-foot level, they found considerable free gold in the core, showing the persistency with which values go down in that formation.
Kirkland Lake will produce $3,500,000 this year, and next year it will go up to $5,000,000. That camp is increasing in production rather faster than any other camp in the world. I think the production from that camp last year was something like $2,700,000, and the fields are only tapped as yet. While engineers can estimate, and say you are likely or not likely to get it, it is only the proof of the pudding that brings these things to light. At different places stretching over that Northern area there is evidence of gold found. Exploring, developing and mining between the railway lines will be a work which only years and centuries can accomplish.
The value of the development of that country to the trade of the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario is being felt to a tremendous extent right now. This year the total production of minerals in Ontario will approximate $74,000,000 or $75,000,000, and of that amount $55,000,000 or $60,000,000 will go out for wages and the purchase of equipment and supplies in the work of mining. The reflex action, so far as agriculture is concerned, is shown by the computation that probably $12,000,000 out of that $55,000,000 to $60,000,000 will be paid out of the mining industry and will come back to the agricultural lands of the Province of Ontario, or wherever the source of supply is, for general trade purposes.
If we can turn out $75,000,000 this year, and keep on stepping it up $5,000,000 or $10,000,000 per annum, and if we have an area such as I describe, men of vision can see just what the future will be of this wonderful part of our Province that is your heritage and mine; and if we are going to get the benefit of it, we must put our shoulder to the wheel and help along with the development of it. When this Province, which has adopted a very favorable attitude towards mining, will ask the people of the Province for more money for railways to keep up with the development so that we may control and develop the trade, and when we ask Old Ontario for more money for roads, let us say that it is the best business Old Ontario ever did to see that constant development proceeds in that North country along strong and sane fundamental lines. (Applause)
The attitude of the Ontario Government towards mining is a very friendly one. We are telling the world that the attitude towards capital is one which says:--
"Come in with your millions and help open this country, and we will assure you that you will get fair-play in its investment." (Applause) The tax on the mining industry in the Province of Ontario is looked upon, in financial circles throughout the world, as one of the fairest tax laws known in the world. So much is this so, that while in London I attended a meeting of a Board of Directors of a Mining House, laying before them the possibilities of development in Ontario, and this very question was taken up. At the conclusion of the meeting the Chairman of the concern, who had been mining in almost every country of the world, got up and made this statement:
"Mr. McCrea, you will be glad to know that we have been looking into Ontario and its possibilities, and its attitude toward the mining industry, its taxation, and its general policy; and we are glad to be able to tell you that out of twenty-three countries, or twenty-three different forms of Government under which we are carrying on mining operations, we are going to write the Province of Ontario at the top of the list." (Applause)
That was one of the objects of my visit to London,--to obtain money for the opening of this area. I hope that the people of Ontario will take a greater and bigger interest in it. Mining is a hazardous game. Everybody cannot win, but the average will be such as to keep abreast with the times. Great wealth will be made, and my wish, and the hope of the Government, is that we will have that backing and co-operation from the people who believe it is good business to develop that country, and that with that backing and co-operation we can attract greater publicity from the world by proclaiming what we have, so that in your life-time and in mine we may see a great development not only of Ontario and Canada, but of the British Empire, because in that greater field this area is destined to play a great and important part.
Now, Mr. Chairman, the time is slipping along, and you have not seen any of the pictures. We have a couple of films here. The year before last there came to Ontario the members of the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgy to the number of one hundred and fifty, and we went to the North with them, and we have a film of that very interesting tour. We do not propose showing it today; I am just telling you about it. (Laughter) Then last year came the British Scientists, and they went through the North country, and we took a moving picture of their visit, and we are going to put this picture on the screen, taking about three minutes; then a picture entitled "Winning the Gold," showing the operation of mining and recovery of gold in one of the big mines of the North.
The subject is such a vast one, and so important, that we could talk here for hours of what is going forward in that wonderful country, but perhaps at some other time and on some other occasion I will be permitted to tell you some interesting things about the development of that country. (Loud applause)
The films were shown, and the hearty thanks of the audience presented to the speaker by Dr. Sterling Ryerson.