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An Unwelcome Neighbour

Mining companies and residents of Malartic wanted to put an end to the squatter village. This contributed into the decision to demolish Roc-d’Or.

Black and white photograph of a wide gravel road lined with good-quality buildings. On the left, the sign for Cleman’s store and a hotel. Several cars are parked on either side. In the background, the headframe of a mine shaft.

Rue Royale street, Malartic, circa 1940 (Société d’histoire de Malartic, Musée minéralogique de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue fonds).

The mining company opposed squatting from the start. Their ceaseless complaints often referred to clandestine pubs and bawdy houses. The Roc-d’Or Inquiry Report recounted the mine managers’ grievances. For instance, that the village corrupted the morals of miners.  They complained miners “[who] go there to spend their money on drink and immorality”. What’s more, the village was a hotbed for unionization.

Black and white photograph of a man in a suit and tie wearing glasses and a thin moustache.

William B. Hetherington, Malartic’s first mayor (from 1939 to 1946), date unknown (Société d’histoire de Malartic, Ville de Malartic fonds).

Housing was scarce in the mining camp. So, at first the companies and government authorities tolerated the squatting situation in Roc-d’Or. But, grumbling resumed after the incorporation of Malartic in April 1939. Municipal Council and the mine managers both protested the very existence of the squatter village.

Black and white photograph of a good-quality, two-storey building. In two places, posters bearing the name of the locality:

Canadian National Railway Company Malartic Station, date unknown (BAnQ Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie, Postcards).

The people of Malartic disapproved of the illegal businesses in Roc-d’Or. In their view, the situation interfered with the development of their own municipality. Malartic’s elected officials then became the most ardent supporters of Roc-d’Or’s destruction.

Black and white photograph of a gravel road under construction with a row of recently-constructed buildings in the background. Two women walking behind a car that raises a cloud of dust. In the foreground, a bridge and a small pile of rocks. The photograph bears the inscription

Rue Royale street in downtown Malartic circa 1950 (BAnQ Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie, Postcards).