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Barnes, Michael.

Erin (Ont.), Boston Mills Press, 1986. 263pp, cloth, $29.95, ISBN 0-919783-52-X. CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Neil V. Payne

Volume 15 Number 4
1987 July

". . .pieces of native silver as big as stove lids and canon balls. . .four veins, all of which were very rich, had been found within sight of the railway," This was how Willet Miller, a professor of geology from Queen's University, described the first claims registered in the Cobalt area in 1903. Soon a full-scale mining boom was underway that opened up the wilderness of northeastern Ontario and established the Canadian mining industry.

Cobalt is important for the more than the $300 million worth of silver produced from its mines and the numerous fortunes that got started on Cobalt silver, such as William Wright who used his earnings to found the Globe and Mail. Cobalt's main contribution was as a training ground for the prospectors, miners, and others who fanned out and established numerous other mining centres in Northern Ontario and Quebec and indeed throughout Canada. It was the birthplace of modern hardrock mining in Canada.

Incredible finds of gold at Porcupine and Kjrkland Lake soon after the rich silver deposits of Cobalt-finds that in each case led to numerous mines producing vast riches consistently for several decades—ensured that mining would become a mainstay of the Canadian economy instead of the fly-by-night, boom and bust, world of dreamers ii had been.

Fortunes in the Ground is basically a local history with national implications. It reads like an adventure story with lots of larger than life characters-both the winners and the losers-that made it all happen.

The book is glossy, oversized (8 1/2 x 11 inches), and profusely illustrated with pictures of the people and places described in the text. The pictures are so fascinating that many potential readers would gladly purchase the book for the pictures alone. It has a lengthy bibliography but unfortunately no index nor list of illustrations.

As a good local history, this will be a must buy for libraries in Northern Ontario. It will also be a valuable de-resource for the study of Canadian history and economic development, particularly at the high school level. Most important, students and teachers will enjoy reading the book or just looking at the pictures.

Neil V. Payne, Kingston C.V.I., Kingston, Ont.
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