Fortunes from the ground

View the complete tour Chibougamau, birth of a city at the 49th parallel with the BaladoDiscovery app for free on Android or iPhone/iPad

Turn stones into millions

Prospecting activities in Chibougamau date back to 1870. But the real mining boom came when the deposits were mined in the 1950s. And although everyone benefited, from simple miner to owner, much of the wealth headed south of the Canadian border.

In the 1950s, big mining companies were formed by buying up smaller ones. At the time, there were eight major mines.


The lives of miners

The miners, from 17 to 25 years of age, worked six days a week. They shared shifts and took turns sleeping in the bunkhouses. After the day shift, which ended at 3:30 p.m., they would go to the hotel. When the Campbell MIne built them houses in town in the early 1950s, their wives came to join them and start a family.

Full reference for the photo: Miners at Chapais’s Opémiska Mine.

P121 Fonds Mines Opémiska.


In memory of the pioneers

The streets of Chibougamau still bear traces of the presence of the mining pioneers, as their names show.

Fleury Street
Gabriel Fleury, originally from France, started out in the fur trade and later became one of the first prospectors to reside in Chibougamau around 1937.

Campbell Boulevard
E. O. D. Campbell, New York businessman and founder of the Campbell Mine, made most of his stock market fortune in Chibougamau.

McLean Street
D. W. McLean, nicknamed Duck McLean, was manager of the Campbell Mine and a member of the first Chibougamau town council, formed in 1954.

Dufresne Street
A. O. Dufresne was a student when he was part of the first Chibougamau Mining Commission in 1911. He became Deputy Minister of Mines of Quebec in 1947.

Wilkie Street
Ray Wilkie, originally from Australia, built Chibougamau’s first assay laboratory for mine samples.

Full reference for the photo: The front page of the Chibougamau Miner in 1950

P17 Fonds Larry Wilson.


Larry Wilson

Although he came to Chibougamau to find a mineral spring, Lawrence “Larry” Wilson (1896¬–1963) was better known for his penchant for scotch. This book lover and former international journalist founded the Chibougamau Miner, Chibougamau’s first newspaper, and also built the first public library.

In 1952, Larry Wilson published Chibougamau Venture, a book describing the beginnings of the Chibougamau mining camp.

Full reference for the photo: Cover of Chibougamau Venture, the book by Larry Wilson published in 1956. Fonds Helen Filion (original English version)


The population has now a Caisse

In 1964, a group of 29 Chibougamau residents founded the Caisse Desjardins de Chibougamau to establish a financial institution of their own, based on Alphonse Desjardins’s philosophy.

Since 2001, the Caisse has been the headquarters for the Chapais and Chibougamau area. It has about 6,900 members.