They never discovered a single showing or hoisted a ton of ore, but Norman and Richard Pearce chronicled the burgeoning Canadian mining industry in the pages of The Northern Miner weekly newspaper for more than 50 years, holding it accountable and helping mold into one of the most open industries in the country.
Through the paper, the Pearces fought for cheaper power for mines, campaigned against unfavorable legislative proposals and damaging taxation and sought new and improved roads and railways the industry needed. It is an indication of their ability to stand up to some of the dominating personalities of the day that, although they found themselves in a number of libel actions, always as defendants, they were never required to pay damages.
Eventually, the paper became recognized as an independent authority on its industry with the largest mining circulation in the world.
Richard Pearce was born in 1892. He started his newspaper career with The Toronto World daily newspaper. His first mining story, in 1908, was based on an interview with J.B. Tyrrell, Canada’s famous geologist and explorer. In 1914, after being turned down for enlistment in the army, he moved to Cobalt to represent the Toronto newspaper. In 1916, he purchased The Northern Miner before it had completed a full year of publication. During the busy war years, he expanded the printing facilities and created a self-contained plant.
At the end of the war, Pearce’s older brother, Norman, returned from overseas. Richard convinced him to join him in Cobalt in 1920 and help with the paper.
Norman Pearce, born in 1889, also had a background in the newspaper business. During the period 1908-1915, he had worked as reporter, financial editor and then city editor of The Toronto World and editor of The Sunday World. When he moved to Cobalt, he became co-owner and co-editor of The Northern Miner with his brother.
Norman handled financial concerns while Richard covered the news by travelling extensively to active mining camps.
They soon enjoyed a boom in the mining industry which resulted in a circulation of more than 40,000 papers. Richard wrote the first success stories of many in the exciting times before the stock market crash of 1929. That same year, The Northern Miner moved to Toronto.
The paper survived the Depression and, indeed, prospered when Great Britain went off the gold standard in 1931. The Pearces played active roles in the newspapers affairs during those years, and even after they turned over the duties of editor and publisher in 1949. They continued to serve on the company’s board of directors for many years after.
In 1916, it was only a pioneer spirit which would have inspired anyone to take up a commercial printing operation in northern Ontario. Optimism was high, money was scarce and type and printing equipment meagre. But from such a beginning the Pearces guided The Northern Miner to take its place as the voice of the Canadian mining industry.
Norman Pearce died in 1967. Richard Pearce died in 1972.