A Brief History Of The Toburn Gold Mine In Kirkland Lake



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 1906 - The railway reached Swastika and opened up access to the Kirkland Lake area

1911 - In July "Swift" Burnside staked three of the original Toburn claims at the east end of Kirkland Lake. By that time, Burroughs also had claims covering part of the Toburn and Bill Wright had already staked part of the Wright-Hargreaves mine property

1912 - Bill Wright tried to stake the Burroughs claims when they came open on January 8, 1912. Riding down from Matheson in a boxcar after visiting the mining recorder's office there, he arrived at Swastika at 6 am. He and his partner headed east to the Toburn but when they got there the Burroughs claims had already been staked by Harry Oakes and the Tough brothers. Harry and his partners had snowshoed six miles through the dark from Swastika and started staking when the claims came open at midnight. The temperature was -40F and Harry is said to have worn five pairs of pants to keep out the bitter cold. The men had used a candle in a tin can as a source of light to read their compasses as they staked in the dark.

Harry and the Toughs joined up with "Swift" Burnside and his three claims to the north. Together they found a few veins over the winter and got C.A.Foster, then mayor of Haileybury and a Cobalt mine owner, to finance the mining of first few tons of high-grade ore from the now famous "Kirkland Lake Break". By September of that year the first ore was processed and provided the capital to purchase a stamp mill on what was then known as the "Tough-Oakes-Burnside" property.

1913 - 1953 - By 1913, the mine was in full production at a modest rate of 100 tons a day and struggled along until 1931 when Toburn Gold Mines Limited was incorporated and installed a new, larger mill to allow for increased production. The Toburn operated until 1953 and produced 1.2 million tons of ore at a grade of almost half an ounce per ton.

2006 - After closing in 1953, the Toburn lay dormant until it was eventually allowed to revert to the Crown. The Northern Prospectors Association is presently working toward securing the property to preserve the last remaining original headframe on the "Mile of Gold". The NPA is looking for public and private partners to refurbish the site and turn it into a premier tourist attraction at the eastern entrance to the town

2008 - The NPA has finally secured title to the parcel of land on the corner of Burnside Drive and Highway 66 which includes the Toburn headframe, office, hoistroom, shop and garage. Work is underway to repair the buildings and connect services. Some of the buildings will be rented to provide operating revenue while others will be renovated as historical exhibits. The property will be transferred to the Town of Kirkland Lake and operated by a volunteer committee (Toburn Operating Authority).

The Toburn Operating Authority is a non-profit organization of volunteers from the community who have an interest in preserving the mining history and structures of Kirkland Lake's mining past.




Toburn Operating Authority Members

  • Gary Lauria

  • Kate Clarke

  • Kelly Gallagher

  • Mike Leahy

  • Mike Sutton

  • Olivia Greaves

  • Richard Dubinsky

  • Rick Owen

  • Roger Dufresne

  • Ron Hillgren


Toburn Operating Authority Volunteers

  • Ann Black

  • Dan Nadeau

  • Fred Kiernicki

  • Gary Grabowski

  • Graeme Bishop

  • Jean-Marie Messier

  • Katimavik

  • Matthieu Davis

  • Rob Dell

  • Robert Jones

  • Tom and Holly Woollings

  • Tony Bishop