MARMORA IRONWORKS 1823
In 1821 an Irish immigrant, Charles Hayes, began building here one of the province’s earliest smelters and foundries, which by June, 1823, was ready to produce pig iron from ore mined near present-day Blairton. Economic difficulties and transport problems soon ended Hayes’ venture, but his principal creditor, the Hon. Peter McGill, continued operating it until 1826. In 1837 the government rejected a proposal to use convict labour for the works. Joseph Van Norman’s attempt in 1848 to revive the enterprise was frustrated by cheaper British iron brought up the newly-completed St. Lawrence canal system. The works fell into ruin although mining was resumed in 1866-73, the ore being taken to Cleveland and Pittsburgh for smelting.
– Erected by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board, Department of Public Records and Archives of Ontario.
GPS location: 44° 28’ 56.35” N 77° 41’ 02.80” W (44.482222222, 77.683888889)
Located in Marmora Memorial Park
Note: This plaque was hilariously difficult to find. When our researcher found the location but not the sign, he asked a couple of municipal workmen if they knew where it was. “Right inside the garage,” said one. “Somebody ran over it.” They hauled out the sign to allow us to record a photo.
SECOND PLAQUE TEXT:
THE BIRTHPLACE OF ONTARIO’S MINING INDUSTRY
Nature blessed the region around Marmora with a wealth of buried treasure.
Near the site of the future village, and five miles by water across Crowe Lake, at Blairton, a supply of iron ore was found and declared to “absolutely inexhaustible”. Established in 1821, the Marmora Ironworks were operated by their founder, Charles Hayes, and intermittently by his successors, for half a century.
On the shores of Crowe Lake a “marble point” was discovered and the village of Marmora got its name. Here at the edge of the Canadian shield valuable deposits of silver, lithographic limestone, led and soapstone were also found.
Another more valuable mineral was near at hand. In 1866, “Mark” Powell from Malone was prospecting for copper when he discovered gold instead. The Eldorado gold rush began. Over the next decades, gold was found at Deloro, Gilmour and at Cordova. In each location, a frontier community sprang up.
South and east of Marmora, the enormous pit and pilings of Marmoraton Mines, which closed in 1978, bear witness to the important part mining has played in this community.
– Erected by the Marmora Historical Foundation
GPS location: 44° 29’09.41” N 77° 41’ 08.62” W (44.48583333, 77.6855556)
Street location: Main Street at Mill Road