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Archival description
Cassiar Asbestos Corporation Ltd. fonds English
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Manager's Progress Photographs

This file contains photograph from early construction of Cassiar Mine and townsite. Photographs were stapled to inter-office correspondence paper and sent with pages of photo descriptions. Photographs have been removed and rehoused, maintaining original order.

Asbestos Milling in Welshpool, Australia

Photographs of asbestos milling in Welshpool, Australia. Collection depicts the mazza machine, mixing plant, beam rollers, paper machine, asbestos feeder, asbestos store house, asbestos transport, bower separator, laboratory equipment, curling box rollers, pipe turning lathe, pipe flexural tester and pipe coupling multi parter.

Cassiar Aerial Photographs

Photographs depict aerial views of the Cassiar townsite, plantsite, tailings pile, mine road, bench and pit mine, mine buildings (tramline loading station, crusher, shop, and garage), and surrounding mountain range. Here "aerial" refers to photos depicting a large area and taken from the air or from a high point of elevation.

Box Inventory

The Cassiar Asbestos Corporation and townsite records encompass a massive archival holding of approximately 1,600 bankers boxes. A box level inventory was created by student employees of the archives over a 15-year period. This inventory is provided here for access purposes only and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

In 1952 the Cassiar Asbestos Mining Corporation constructed an asbestos open-pit mine and mill and created a town site for its workers that became the town of Cassiar, British Columbia, 50 miles south of the Yukon border, and 80 miles north of Dease Lake. For 40 years Cassiar was a thriving asbestos mining town with a population at its peak of about 2500, with production statistics for 1989, recording over 60 million tonnes of ore mined, producing a billion dollars of new wealth. In 1989 Cassiar added an underground mine to the site, and despite attempts to run it profitably, in 1992 the entire mine closed partially due to the global market decline in the demand for asbestos, resulting in the closure of the town, and the move of its workers and families out of Cassiar. An auction was held to sell off all the mining equipment, townsite infrastructure, its buildings, people’s residences and the site was bull-dozed, with many houses burned to the ground. Today little remains in this remote area of Northern British Columbia to mark Cassiar’s industrial, economic or social history.

In 1992 the University of Northern British Columbia acquired the holdings of CAMC and the Cassiar townsite recognizing its potential for academic research, as the records could provide insight into natural resource industry extraction operations in Northern BC from mid to late 20th century, illustrative of ‘boom & bust’ industries, and to provide context to the development of the Cassiar Asbestos Mining Corporation and the history of the ‘life’ of a one-industry company town. The holdings document mining operations by CAMC and of the town site of Cassiar, originally consisting of the equivalent of 1800+ bankers’ boxes, including records on construction, engineering, operations, administration of CAMC, tallies of extractions, labour and union activities, corporate events and visits by dignitaries (including Prime Minister Trudeau who visited CAMC’s northern operations unit in Clinton Creek in 1968 and M.P. Iona Campagnolo in 1978). As CAMC was owner of both the mine and the Cassiar town, the company provided municipal services (i.e. sewer, water, and electricity) for its workers and their families. The archived municipal records document townsite construction, including the creation of health, education and community services such as Cassiar’s private hospital, school, library, community centre, hockey arena, and retail store. The holdings also include extensive visual documentation of natural and man-man landscapes within this remote and scenic area of Northern British Columbia. The formats of the archival holdings are diverse consisting of textual, photographic, cartographic materials, electronic records, films, promotional video-recordings, and a near complete run of the Cassiar community’s print newspaper.

Board of Directors

File contains photographs featuring members of the Board of Directors of Cassiar Asbestos Corporation Ltd., which was formed on the 17th of May, 1951. Cassiar's forerunner was a company named Conwest, formed in 1534, a consolidation of two companies owned by Fred Martin Connell and his brother W. Harold Connell. The first board of directors included the Connell brothers, George Armstrong, John E. Kennedy, Charles & Arthur Mortimer, and Charles Rainforth Elliot (chartered accountant and secretary-treasurer of Conwest & Cassiar). Directors depicted in this file include F.M Connell, Harold Connell, Charles Elliot, John E. Kennedy, George Armstrong, Ken A. Creery, John Drybrough, Tam Zimmermann, George Washington Smith (president of Bell Asbestos Mines), Nick Gritzuk, Jack Christian (general manager, president, and CEO). Other individuals depicted include Fred Murry, Andre Beguin, Plato Malozemoff from Newmont Mining (co-founder of Cassiar with F.M. Connell), Alfred Lloyd Penhale (founder and CEO of Asbestos Corporation of Canada Ltd.), C.B. Brown, Pierre Marcotte, Francis Parker Smith (brother of George Smith), Bill Oughtred, Bill Johnson, and a Mr. Janitsch. File also includes a portrait of an unidentified director of Cassiar from Turner and Newall in England, taken at the corporate club in Toronto. Group portraits were taken at the Cassiar Valley, the office building, "House 130," fishing outings, and at formal events in unidentified locations.

Official Handshake at Formal Event

Photograph depicts group of 15 men posed in formal room. George Washington Smith (President of Bell Mines) sits in centre on left, shaking hands with Alfred Penhale. Bottom, left to right: Mr. Janitsch, Andrew Johnson, G.W. Smith, Alfred Penhale, unknown, Bill Johnson. Top, left to right: unknown, unknown, C.B. Brown, Pierre Marcotte, F.P. Smith, unknown, unknown, Bill Oughtred, Jack Christian.

Benjamin Film Laboratories

Photographic slides of map of Canada depicting different geology and geography interests such as: mines and reserves, physiographic regions, soil regions, permafrost limits, underdeveloped hydro potential and development corridor.

Construction

Subseries consists of photographic material pertaining to building construction at Cassiar and Clinton Creek. Photos were taken of all the major structures during the building of the Cassiar plant in the early 1950s and the Clinton Creek plant in the early 1970s. There are also photographs pertaining to the new mill that was built at Cassiar in 1970-1971. Smaller scale construction jobs have been included: police station, powerhouse expansion, fiber storage building, sewage collection and treatment plants, accommodations and outside work camps.

Exploration and Development

Subseries consists of photographic material pertaining to early geological exploration and planning of the mine sites, plant sites and town sites of both Cassiar, B.C. and later Clinton Creek, Y.T. This subseries also includes photographic material capturing mining locations not owned by Cassiar Asbestos Corporation for what is believed to be corporate research and development purposes.

Documented Exploration

A collection of 10 photographs of documented exploration in the early 1950s in and around the Cassiar area. Noted locations are Quartz Creek, Mocassin Mines, Blue River Bridge and the Alaska Highway.

Christian, Elliot, & the Connell Brothers at Formal Affair

Photograph depicts close view of four men in formal attire holding beverages while having a discussion. Left to right: Jack Christian (President Cassiar), Fred Martin Connell (Chairman and Chairman of Conwest Exploration Company Limited), W. Harold Connell (older brother of FM and Director of Conwest), and Charles Rainforth Elliot (Director and President of Conwest Exploration). Framed painting visible on wall in background.

Christian, Elliot, & the Connell Brothers at Formal Affair

Photograph depicts close view of four men in formal attire holding beverages while having a discussion. Left to right: Jack Christian (President Cassiar), Fred Martin Connell (Chairman and Chairman of Conwest Exploration Company Limited), W. Harold Connell (older brother of FM and Director of Conwest), and Charles Rainforth Elliot (Director and President of Conwest Exploration). Framed painting visible on wall in background.

Photographic Material

The Photographic Materials series consists of 6100 photographs, 900 slides and negatives documenting a wide variety of subject areas pertaining to both the operations of Cassiar Asbestos Corporation Ltd., and the company township of Cassiar, B.C. Types of subject areas found within this series include, but are not limited to: mine, plant, labour, and townsite operations at the company towns of Cassiar and Clinton Creek (including community activities associated therein and townsite development); construction of plant and mine buildings ; mines and equipment not owned by Cassiar Asbestos Corporation, but which are believed to have been used for operational research purposes ; aerial photographs ; company exploration of further mineral deposits outside of Cassiar ; official tours ; community images, promotional material ; executive portraits. The Photographic Materials series has been further subdivided into the following 4 subseries: Exploration & Development, Construction, General (Mining) Operations & (Townsite) Community Operations, and Corporate Affairs.

Early Cassiar Site

A collection of photographs from the site that Cassiar was being built in the early 50s. Photos depict lumber piles, early camp area, the first buildings, mountains, and the creek.
Along with this collection there are a set of images also from the early Cassiar site mainly depicting a dirt road and various individuals and machinery along it.

Miscellaneous Community Photos

  • File contains photographs done to item level description, depicting miscellaneous people and locations at or around Cassiar, B.C. This includes a photograph of renowned prospector William (“Bill”) Storie, Bill Pratt with a fox, a community gathering in a someone's home, and a hockey game.
  • Also included but not to item level is a photo of "David Madore" as part of his application to Cassiar, photo of "William Field" a local hire maintenance mechanic, and photos of a RNWMP Post sign (Royal North West Mounted Police) that depicts annotations "Indian grave" , "Miners Cabin" , "Road House" , "Customs House" , "St. James Church" , "Swansons Store" etc., and 15 negatives of various individuals at what appears to be someone's home.
  • Also included is cabin at Boya Lake, which used to be named Chain lake, located off the Stewart-Cassiar highway. This land of this cabin may have been involved legal issues , which was related to people at Cassiar.
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