Along with many other prospectors of his generation, Edmund Horne came to northern Ontario at the turn of the century with hopes of finding his pot of gold. Success was elusive, but rather than give up, Horne decided to venture across the border into Quebec, based on his belief that good geology did not stop at the Ontario border. This conviction grew over the years, and ultimately led to the discovery of the magnificent Horne copper and gold mine which formed the foundation for Noranda, one of Canada’s great mining companies.
Born in Enfield, Nova Scotia, Horne was a miner and prospector of wide experience long before he ventured into the wilds of Quebec’s Rouyn Township. He worked for several years at the Oldham gold mine near his home before wanderlust seized him. His travels took him to Colorado, and then to the gold camps of British Columbia and California. In 1908, Horne caught wind of the silver discoveries in Cobalt, and came to northern Ontario to start the most important chapter of his wandering miner’s odyssey.
Horne first entered the Quebec hinterland by canoe in 1911. Although this visit did not result in a discovery, the favorable geology on the west side of Osisko Lake in Rouyn Township reinforced his view that the unexplored wilderness of Quebec was worth serious investigation.
But others felt the region was too isolated, and it was not until 1914 that Horne was able to revisit the prospect. What is now Noranda ground was prospected, and a showing of well mineralized, heavily fractured rhyolite was discovered. Horne decided to take samples home for assaying, and stake the ground later if they kicked. Unfortunately, the samples showed no gold, and so bitter was Horne’s disappointment that he decided he was “all washed up on golden dreams.”
But this despondency was short lived, and Horne returned to Ontario’s established gold camps where he optioned claims and raised enough money to grubstake his next venture into Quebec. Horne returned to his prospect at Lake Osisko in 1917, took more samples, and returned to Ontario. But once again the assays ran disappointingly low.
It was not until the spring of 1920 that Horne found enough supporters to grubstake yet another expedition. Using the chain of lakes route, Horne and prospecting partner Ed Miller set out by canoe for Rouyn Township, and began staking ground in September of 1920. Surface exploration started the next season, which was to result in the discovery of several encouraging showings. The assay results from these and other showings continued to be positive, and new money was raised.
Horne’s backers, the Tremoy syndicate of residents from New Liskeard, Ontario, then sold their interests to another group of adventurous men who were willing and able to finance and develop the copper and gold prospect. It turned out to be one of Canada’s greatest orebodies, “the Horne”, and Noranda was born in 1922. Today, Noranda employs more than 32,000 people, and has assets of $11.8 billion.
The name Horne lives on in Quebec. At the same location as the original mine stands Noranda’s worldclass Horne copper smelter. This mining camp owes much to Horne, who was clearly a courageous man with faith in his own ideas, able to see beyond the horizons of his day.