GREENSTONE – When history comes knocking, you have to receive it. Greenstone Economic Development Corporation did that at the recent Mines & Minerals Symposium in Thunder Bay. A grizzled prospector approached the GEDC booth and offered some treasures.
Over the years, Robert “Bob” McKellar has deposited several historical documents with GEDC. This time he left two history books, some maps, sundry other documents, and a very old and fragile newspaper.
The two books were authored by Donald F. Parrot: 50 Years Mining Gold: An Autobiography, and A Parrot Family History. A handwritten notation in the latter book reads “To cousin Robert McKellar. We share the same maternal grandparents from Scotland . . .” Parrot played a large role in the Red Lake gold rush.
The newspaper is actually one section from The Evening News-Chronicle, dated December 18, 1940. The section of this Port Arthur newspaper is titled “Annual Mining Review”. This edition was apparently the Christmas edition, for several ads give the readers season’s greetings.
Several pages refer to Greenstone region. For example, one article titled “Long Lac Area Forges Ahead” states that Geraldton alone had five gold mills in production: Little Long Lac Mines, Bankfield Consolidated Mines, MacLeod-Cockshutt Gold Mines, Hard Rock Gold Mines, and Tombill Gold Mines. At the time, Geraldton was the hub of the Little Long Lac gold camp.
There is a reference to Magnet Consolidated Gold Mines and Elmos Gold Mines, apparently without mills, and a list of properties with good prospects: Jellicoe, Ora Plata, Magwell, McLellan, Long Lac, Greenbank, Oklend, Dinwell Lac, Roche, Dunlop, “and several others”. Only the Jellicoe mine went into production (between Magnet Lake and Wildgoose Lake).
Other articles deal with the Sturgeon River gold camp (around Beardmore and Jellicoe), with the new “Nipigon-Beardmore-Geraldton Highway”, and with war news, for World War II was already underway.
Another article titled “Many Beauty Spots Along New Geraldton Highway” delivers a rhapsody about the Orient Bay shoreline and Lake Nipigon itself, and states that from Orient Bay to Geraldton are “many small lakes . . . which are a joy to the holiday camper.”
The display ads are time capsules. The 1941 Ford cars were offered with prices starting at $1,029. The Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario urged readers to buy an electric range for “Mother”, an electric shaver for “Dad”, an electric clock for “Sis”, and an electric train for “Junior”. One could get a one-year subscription to the News-Chronicle for $3.50 if you lived in “Kenora Elect. Dist.” (which apparently included the Greenstone region), but if you lived in Port Arthur, the price was $7.00, or $8.00 if delivered to your door. Go figure.
The Christmas ads, the ones bearing greetings to readers, came from all over the region, including Pulpwood Supply Co. Ltd. from Longlac, Mariaggi Hotel from Geraldton, and Northland Café from Beardmore.
Bob McKellar, the donor of the newspaper, lives in Thunder Bay. He says his forebears arrived in Port Arthur during the late 19th century. He has prospected and worked in the mining industry all his life.
The newspaper is yellow and brittle and disintegrating, so steps will have to be taken to preserve it.
Bob McKellar believes he placed it in good hands.