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Noranda: The Founding of an Empire

Black-and-white photograph of several log cabins, a horse-drawn wagon and many piles of logs.

The first Horne mine settlement close to the future location of Noranda city.

Shortly after hearing a barrage of rumours related to immense mining opportunities in the Rouyn township, Thompson-Chadbourne Syndicate, a mining company ran by financiers from New York and Ontario, decided to acquire a large quantity of mining concessions. This included Lake Tremoy Syndicate founded by Edmund Horne. Thompson-Chadbourne Syndicate was incorporated in Toronto as Noranda Mines Limited, a name that would have a profound impact on the township’s mining history.

Black-and-white photograph of 15 men in fancy suits, three of whom are wearing fur coats, standing in front of a log cabin.

A group of directors in front of the Horne mine manager’s office.

James Y. Murdoch, a young Toronto lawyer, was hired first as a legal advisor, but accepted a temporary assignment as the company president. He would finally occupy this role for 33 years.

Engineer L.K. Fletcher was also hired to conduct drilling operations. Since Edmund Horne’s mining concession was initially yielding poor results, Fletcher preferred drilling on the Powell property located two miles northwest of the Horne mine.

Black-and-white photography of a rudimentary railway with some trees and several buildings.

A headframe, or a shaft, at the Horne mine in Noranda.

However, in late 1923, Sam Thompson, one of the company’s major shareholders, made a trip to the Rouyn township and asked Fletcher to drill on Horne’s property, even though it did not look very promising at first. The samples of the second drilling revealed that the deposit had a high content of copper and gold. Quickly, a shaft was dug, and Noranda Mines was guaranteed a prosperous future.

Black-and-white photograph, taken from a plane, of Rouyn and Noranda in their early days. A lake is in the middle of the photo. It is hard to see details from this height, but you can still see that the city of Rouyn is more populated than its neighbour Noranda.

Aerial view of the Rouyn township in the mid-1920s.

For more details :

Odette Vincent, dir., Histoire de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Québec, IQRC, 1995, p. 288.

Pierre Barette, Noranda : de Murdoch à Pannell, Rouyn-Noranda, Groupe de communication PAT, 2008, p. 13.

Benoît-Beaudry Gourd, Le Klondike de Rouyn et les Dumulon. L’histoire du développement minier de la région de Rouyn-Noranda et d’une famille de pionnier, Rouyn-Noranda, Collège de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, 1982, p. 30.