Miners’ Memorial, Cemetery, Timmins

On 10 February 1928 a disastrous fire took the lives of 39 men who choked on carbon monoxide in the gold mine where they were trapped. Among them were eight Finnish immigrants and one Ukrainian. Their names were inscribed on the memorial stone fashioned from imported Finnish black granite and erected by the Finnish Organization of Canada.

The back-breaking labour of miners in Cobalt, Porcupine (Golden City), Kirkland Lake and other centres took place in appalling conditions and produced huge fortunes for Bay Street stockholders. In 1913-14 the Western Federation of Miners organized workers in the district, but their efforts were suppressed. Provincial authorities did little to protect the miners, and after the Hollinger Fire the Workmen’s Compensation Board denied benefits to the widows and orphans of the Finnish victims because they could not produce matrimonial documents. The Hollinger Fire led to an outburst of anger against the gold barons, and provincial mine safety legislation followed. Timmins was one of the first areas to get mine rescue stations in 1929. The fire has been described as “a great awakening for the workers the like of which we have never seen in Northern Ontario”.

Photo Credit: Multicultural History Society of Ontario