When you think of underground mining, you probably think Sudbury or Thunder Bay. While it’s true there are relatively few active mines in Ontario’s Highlands today, there was a time when the land was pockmarked by small pits and trenches as attempts were made to exploit the vast mineral wealth at or near surface in people’s backyards (literally).
Having been at one time operated by the General Electric Company, the Silver Queen Mine (1905~1920) was one of the larger mica/apatite mines in the area, but what really makes it special is its place of honour at the heart of Murphys Point Provincial Park near Perth. Dedicated park staff and volunteers have gone to great lengths to restore, not only the mine itself, but also an impressive array of heritage building, artifacts, and interpretive dioramas – an entire way of life!
Although quite small compared to the vast underground workings in some of the great mining districts of today, the cavernous underground pit is jaw-dropping when you consider that it was carved out of solid rock using only hand, horse, and later, steam power in the early 1900s (okay, the had some dynamite too). Whether you join a regularly-scheduled guided trip into the mine, take part in one of the many special heritage events, or just meander the scenic interpretive trail on your own, you’re sure to marvel at the ingenuity of early settlers on the Canadian Shield.