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Timmins history: Who was here when the Great Fire of 1911 swept through

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Timmins history time, and the massive fire of July 11th, 1911 that swept through the fledgling Porcupine Mining Camp.

Timmins Museum director-curator Karen Bachmann tells us that shafts were still being sunk at the Dome, the Hollinger and about 12 other mines. Wives and children of the mining pioneers had started to arrive, as well as merchants to serve their needs.

“And because there’s so much happening here, we have stockbrokers that set up their offices here,” Bachmann notes. “So then we have an influx of all kinds of people who were doing investment in this.”

Among the growing population in the mining camp were reporters from newspapers like the Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Globe, New York Times and the Chicago Tribune.  They and others were reporting on the establishment of mines, which was made possible by investors in all those cities.

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As Bachmann recounts, the Toronto Globe reporter telegraphed out a dispatch on the day of the fire.

“Great disaster has befallen the north country as a result of the terrible heat and lack of rain,” she reads from the report. “The whole country is burning up, with bush fires everywhere. They have been in progress for over a week and reached a climax today, licking up in their path everything before them.”

He went on to predict a great loss of life among the thousands of prospectors in the camps.

Next week: The reaction caused by that and other newspaper reports of the fire.

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