Pierre Beauchemin was a towering figure on the mining horizons of the province of Quebec.
As one of French Canada’s most outstanding mine makers, he was the founder of one of this country’s leading mining organizations, the Sullivan Group of companies.
A rough-hewn coureur de bois raised on the shores of the St. Lawrence and in the woods of Abitibi, he had a firm faith in the mineral wealth of his native province, and pursued this faith with tenacity and perseverance.
Out of the mining companies under Beauchemin’s management, no less than six were brought into production for one of the best averages in mining.
It started, in 1927, with Beauchemin and three brothers, Adelaide, Jean and Joseph, staking their whole future on what was then seen as an insane gamble, by mortgaging their lumber business to acquire a major interest in a 210-acre gold prospect in the Val d’Or district of Quebec.
Their leap from lumber to mining was spurred on by a concurrent depression period, which forced Beauchemin and his brothers to abandon their Amos, Quebec lumbering operations.
Geologists and engineers said the Val d’Or area gold property was worthless; financiers said Beauchemin and his associates were dreamers. But Beauchemin clung to his faith, and the gold mine – then known as Sullivan Consolidated Mines became a reality. It was brought into production in May of 1934.
“It may have been a seventh sense. Call it intuition if you like,” he said later. “I just knew that the Sullivan mine was going to be good.” He was right.
The copper-zinc deposits of East Sullivan Mines, also discovered in the Val d’Or area in 1945, became Beauchemin’s next conquest amongst the province’s mineral riches, adding base metals diversification to the Beauchemin gold interests.
Beauchemin’s East Sullivan operation is said to have owed its existence to a campsite chat he had, on the Bourlamaque River in 1923, with an Ontario prospector, Charlie Hughes. The two men discussed the favorable geologic terrain, and remembering this, Beauchemin almost 20 years later staked the ground which became the East Sullivan mine.
Then, to swell the growing list of his accomplishments, he fathered such other operations as the Quebec Lithium Corporation, giving the nation its first and only lithium mine. He became Canada’s “Mr. Lithium”, as a result.
Reaping many awards for his work in advancing the cause of the mining industry in Quebec, Beauchemin was honored with honorary doctorate degrees from two universities in his home province – Laval University and Montreal University.