Cobalt Historical Society Presents
Another Selected Chapter in Temiskaming History

June 1st, 2019

9:30 am to 3:00 pm at
the Golden Age Club,
22 Argentite Street, Cobalt

Exciting speakers will address a number of fascinating subjects concerning Temiskaming history.

Debra North | Maggie Wilson | Bruce Taylor | Robert "Rocky" Larocque

Registration form here in PDF format for download

Debra North

Debra North: Annie Saunders, Cobalt's First Nurse

Through extensive research Debra has been able to follow this amazing woman from her birth in England to her arrival in Cobalt. Annie resumed practising her profession when she had not planned to nurse again, due to ill health. Through pictures, some not seen publicly before, the viewer will have the opportunity to walk in this dedicated woman's footsteps as she devoted nine years of her life to Cobalt. In order to develop a full understanding of this woman's sacrifices, the presentation will include details and photographs of her children and family life.

Debra North is a Registered Nurse, author and historian. For a number of years she has been studying the history of nursing and women's lives in Canada. She is presently focusing her research to Cobalt as it was her mother's hometown. Her first book, which came out in March of 2018 is called A Northern Hope and details her grandparent's experiences in Cobalt and Haileybury from 1904 to 1928. Her second book is now available on amazon The Sterling Women of Cobalt 1903 to 1914. It highlights the lives of over 45 women, who experienced the first decade of Cobalt's existence.


Norm Hawirko

Maggie Wilson: Horatio Barber and the Open Call Mining Exchange

Horatio Barber was known to be a wealthy eccentric who was famous for his aviation exploits, but little was known about how he made his fortune in mining. Barber's early and later years are well documented, but little is known about the period when he left home in 1892 and returned in 1908. According to all available documents, Barber was by turn a scholar, gent, miner, promoter, speculator, mining consultant, pilot, Captain, insurance broker, colonial development officer. It seems that the man never sat still. We present our research into the details of how Barber came to Ontario, set up shop as a stockbroker, and mine consultant. We follow Barber from the UK to Australia, California and finally to Cobalt and Larder Lake. We will fill in the gaps and then some.

Maggie Wilson was born in Kitchener, and lived her working life in several communities in Southern Ontario. She met her husband Reiner Mielke, who introduced her to rocks and minerals and the Town of Cobalt. She graduated from the Mining Engineering Technician Program at the Haileybury School of Mines. In 2016 they moved to Cobalt and could not be happier with the decision.

In 2017, with the sudden loss of Vivian Hylands, Maggie stepped into the role as President of the Cobalt Historical Society. Besides mineral collecting, Maggie enjoys research and writing, and she looks forward to sharing new stories about Cobalt and its mining heritage. The work is like a treasure hunt. New discoveries are just as exciting as stumbling upon a nugget of silver on the mine dumps.


Bruce Taylor

Bruce Taylor: George Taylor Hardware-Cobalt Branch (1905-1941) Cobalt Employees Who Made a Difference

One company that established a store very early in the history of the Cobalt silver camp was George Taylor Hardware Limited, which started selling hardware and other supplies to prospectors and the early mines out of a tent on Haileybury Road in 1905. Management of the Taylor Hardware Cobalt Branch recruited many talented and hard-working men and women over the years, and a significant number of them advanced to positions of responsibility within the Taylor organization and elsewhere over the years. Many served in WWI and WWII. This is the story of some of these people who made a difference.

Bruce Taylor was born at Kirkland Lake, and attended primary and secondary schools in New Liskeard. He is a graduate of the Haileybury School of Mines, and Michigan Technological University, where he obtained a BSc in Geological Engineering. Bruce worked in the Canadian mining industry in Quebec, Northwestern Ontario, Timmins, Temagami, and as Manager of the Adams Mine near Kirkland Lake. In retirement, he took up researching local history, and has had several books published, including; Place Names of Temiskaming, Steep Rock- The Men and the Mines, New Liskeard- The Pioneer Years, The Age of Steam on Lake Temiskaming, Stephen Lafricain- The Grand Old Man of The River, and several genealogical-themed publications and journal articles.

Bruce was the founding member of the Temiskaming Genealogy Group, and member of several local historical societies. Bruce and his wife, Linda live in the Central Ontario town of Cannington, but spend their summers at their cottage on Twin Lakes, near New Liskeard.


Robert Larocque photo

Robert "Rocky" Larocque: Historical Photo Analysis: Exploring the Early Landscape of Cobalt

A glimpse through the camera lens of the early photographers provides one with an intriguing look at the early years of the mining camp. The early images we have today of the landscape offer the viewer a great wealth of details regarding the growth of Cobalt during the first few years after silver was first discovered in late 1903. They are the visual story of a moment frozen in time, that were captured in the lenses of medium & large format cameras of the day. They are the stark images of a bygone era that tell us how the rag tag assortment of canvas tents and haphazard shacks constructed along the shoreline of Long Lake would become the 'Silver Capital of the World' in just a few short years.

While the stories we share today have evolved over the decades, the photographs of the landscape remain as a constant reminder of what the town was really like during the period. Understanding the images that have been preserved requires a methodical approach to authenticating the historical details and the makeup of the landscape through the years. Although they certainly depict the early life of those who flocked into the mining camp in search of fame and fortune, more important is the fact that they are the richest source of the truth of Cobalt's much fabled history. With an ever-evolving persona, Cobalt was transformed from a crude railway worker's camp in 1903 to a booming city by 1912.

The intrepid photographer's who ventured north to seek work in the New Ontario, have provided us with an insight to how this transformation took place. The work of photographers such as Alex MacLean, Lake & Lewis, Bogart & Stokes, and others recorded the various chapters of the town as it grew into a thriving metropolis. A close study of them allows one to see the dramatic changes that took place as the mining camp gained momentum. Their images provide us with a vivid story of the streetscapes, the architecture styles and the flow of the various structures that came and went during these years. Studying the key details of the landscape and assorted structures that came and went during these early years, we can form a timeline that will accurately date the various aspects of the town itself. As such these historic images provide one with a sense of balance between the legendary tales of the town, and the real story of what has become Ontario's Most Historic Town

Rocky was born and raised in the Hydro colonies along the Montreal River, living first at Hound Chutes, then at Fountain Falls and finally at the Upper Notch. Now retired he currently resides in Kitchener where he was employed at the University of Waterloo for almost 35 years in Student Housing Administration. He attended public school in Cobalt, riding the hydro school bus until the beginning of grade 8 when the Upper Notch hydro colony was finally disbanded in 1969. Moving to New Liskeard, he went on to finish his grade school and then graduated from New Liskeard Secondary School before attending Canadore College in the Arts Program. He then moved to Kitchener in 1977 where he attended Conestoga College studying photography, a passion he inherited from his grandfather Wes Rice, who was well known for his photographs that documented the history of the Matabitchuan hydro colony. Working with the same large format cameras of the period, his grandfathers compositions included large hand tinted canvases he developed in his home-made darkroom, as well as 8mm film footage of life in the hydro colonies that supplied power to the mines in Cobalt. Following in his grandfathers footsteps Rocky developed a passion for landscape, nature and macro photography. Combining that with a natural interest in history, Rocky has focused that curiosity on the landscape photographs of Cobalt, primarily on images that depict the earliest days of the mining camp. Rocky is extremely interested in dissecting and analyzing the images in order to build an accurate history of the landscape, and the architectural makeup of the rapidly evolving mining camp. His particular interest lies in the years between 1903 and 1912, a time of great changes that unfolded in the town. He believes that the true story of how Cobalt grew from a railway workers encampment to the Silver Capital of the World can be told through the landscape images of the many photographers who went north to explore the discovery during those years. In the past he has put that ability to use helping to solve the mysteries surrounding many images of the early Cobalt landscape that have been posted on the various Facebook sites. A northern boy at heart, Rocky continues to return to the north on a regular basis, spending much of the summer at the family cottage on Four Bass Lake at the Matabitchuan where his parents grew up. His son Daniel, who currently manages the Bunker Military Museum, has inherited that passion for history and photography. Their photographs and aerial footage of the area continue to document the rich history and natural beauty of the Tri-Town area.

It's going to be a great day; hope you can join us!


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