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Mining Towns Take Hold in Abitibi

In the early 1920s rich gold and copper deposits drew thousands of people to Rouyn Township. To accommodate them, two new towns sprang up, Rouyn and Noranda.

Black and white photograph of a street lined with rudimentary buildings and electricity poles. Six men and two horses work on paving. Boardwalks line the street.

Main avenue of Rouyn’s main avenue in 1927 (BAnQ Rouyn-Noranda, Fonderie Horne fonds).

Rouyn was the main lodging site for prospectors, mine workers, adventurers and traders. The settlement was a distance from the mine, across Lake Osisko. It was fast-growing and harboured many illegal businesses.

Black and white photograph of Osisko Lake with the town of Noranda, the Horne smelter, and the mine headframes in the background. In the foreground, a building used by Bergeron's Boat House.

The town of Noranda and its foundry, date unknown (BAnQ Rouyn-Noranda, Joseph Hermann Bolduc fonds).

Noranda Mines Inc. opened the mine and built the foundry and company town bearing its name. Every aspect of public life was under company’s control, including the development of its town.

Black and white photograph of a street with rudimentary buildings on either side. Cars and pedestrians are out and about in the centre of the unpaved roadway, which is dotted with holes full of water.

View of the town of Val-d´Or town from the rooftop of St-Sauveur-les-Mines Cchurch in 1937 (BAnQ Rouyn-Noranda, Canadian National fonds).

In the midst of the Great Depression, in 1934, the President of the United States of America increased the price of gold. A gold rush ensued farther east of Noranda. Two towns surged in the newly-opened mining district: Val-d´Or and Bourlamaque. Val-d’Or, like Rouyn, was a squatter encampment. Bourlamaque was a company town modeled on Noranda.

Black and white photograph of a street lined with log cabins. Men are at work on pavement. In the background, a water tower and a mine headframe.

Bourlamaque, a mining village built near Lamaque Gold Mines, in 1937 (BAnQ Rouyn-Noranda, Canadian National fonds).