Recognized as the leader of a group of five men who invested their energies and resources in founding first the LaRose silver mine in Cobalt and later the Hollinger gold mine in Timmins, Noah Timmins is unquestionably a founding father of this country’s mining industry.
Timmins spent his youth in Mattawa, Ontario, where his father operated a general store. The Timmins brothers, Noah and Henry, inherited the store which serviced local miners and loggers. They took a keen interest in prospecting, which prepared Noah for that September day in 1903 when Fred LaRose stopped by and showed him several rich ore samples from Ontario’s Long Lake, renamed Cobalt.
Noah asked his brother to track down LaRose and buy an interest in the Long Lake claims. LaRose had already sold 50% to his employers, Duncan and John McMartin, for $1,500. When a dispute arose over the claims, Noah Timmins brought lawyer David Dunlap into the case to win for the syndicate.
LaRose then sold the last of his interest in the claims, gaining $35,000 in total for the property. Dunlap was given a 20% interest, completing a five man partnership of which Noah was the acknowledged leader.
When the LaRose shaft was sunk below the surface mineralization and into barren rock, Noah followed the advice of Dr. Willet G. Miller and Professor Goodwin, and continued work until high grade ore was encountered at about 100 feet. The mine prospered, and the Timmins brothers moved to Montreal and married the Pare sisters, whose nephew Alphonse Pare was a mining engineering student.
In 1909, Pare informed his uncle Noah about a gold discovery made in the Porcupine by Benny Hollinger and his grubstaker, Jack McMahon. On Noah’s instructions, Pare examined the Ontario property and reported that it should be acquired. The McMartins and David Dunlap joined the Timmins brothers after the initial deal had been made, and Hollinger Gold Mines was incorporated in 1910.
Hollinger began developing its namesake mine which, during its 60 year life, produced about 20 million ounces of gold from the properties assembled by the partnership, the largest single Canadian gold mine to this day. The site was originally marked by a sign nailed to a tree, reading “Timmins”, and a community was born. Noah’s development company purchased land for the town which, through orderly design, was able to avoid the chaos and problems experienced at Cobalt.
Noah again took the lead in seeking new opportunities. In 1924, he provided $3 million for the building of Noranda’s Horne smelter in Quebec. He also provided development funds for the Siscoe mine in Quebec, the San Antonio mine in Manitoba, and the early gold mines at Yellowknife, N.W.T. He also funded the Young Davidson mine at Matachewan, the Ross mine at Holtyre, placer mines in the Yukon, and a gold mine in Colombia.
In published tributes, Noah Timmins is cited as “a man of great ability, of extraordinary vision, and a classic example of the general spirit of the mining industry which lives not for itself but for the common good.” He was a builder, and the company he founded went on to finance the Iron Ore Company of Canada in developing the great iron deposits of Quebec and Labrador. In 1985, he was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame for his innovative genius, adroitness, risk taking and entrepreneurial spirit.