The CanMet Mine Site

This is the last unexplored mine site in this area for me. That’s not to say that I have completely explored all the others though. There are still roads within many of these mine sites that I have not explored, and I will attempt to do so at some point

However, this is the first time I have entered the CanMet mine site, although I have passed the gate many times before. It was a beautiful, cool, sunny day, with some clouds to make the pictures more interesting. So, here we go into the CanMet mine site;

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The main gate is a little bit different than most of the other gates I’ve seen, using expanded metal to cover the open areas of the gate.

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Once inside the gate, there is a continuous down grade nearly all the way in.

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It was soon clear, that this site, like the Spanish/American mine site that I visited recently, did not see all that much traffic.

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I had checked my GPS topographic map before I came here, so I did have some idea of where the road goes, but maps don’t tell the whole story. If you look at the Google Map, at the top of this post, it looks pretty straight forward, but I can guarantee you that, when you’re on the ground, it’s not so simple.

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A small river running through the site. This river follows alongside the road for a while, and then flows through a pipe underneath the road.

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The road became less and less defined, the further I went in and, eventually, it was all but gone.

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I came to the first open area here, but I knew that this was not where the mine was located. It is possible that there were some structures here in the past though. I do know that this mine site had it’s own milling facilities, and that the tailings from the CanMet mine were consolidated with those of the, close by, Stanrock mine.

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As you can see, this is definitely the road less travelled.

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The forest was closing in on me.

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There were even mushrooms growing on the road.

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Here’s a short side road that went down to the lake. Let’s take a look.

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This is Quirke Lake. Many of the mine sites were located around Quirke Lake but, as far as I know, Quirke was never used for the dumping of mine tailings. Then again, like I’ve mentioned before, even the government doesn’t know where all the mine tailings in this area went to.

I have now installed some foam wind baffles on the cameras stereo microphones, so we’ll see how they work on the next outing. You’ll also notice that this video seemed to end a bit abruptly. I’m still getting use to this camera, and I may have accidentally put my thumb on a button, which caused the video to end.

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This is one of the shots I took during that video. They come out a bit different than the shots taken in still mode.

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Quirke doesn’t seem that rough here, but there was a fair bit of wind today.

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Old, rusted metal parts could be seen everywhere in this site. These mine sites were beehives of activity back in the day and some of the miners families would actually live in these sites year round.

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I head back up towards the road, to continue my hike.

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The road continues along, not too far from the shoreline of Quirke Lake.

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I see another clearing ahead.

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A large grassy area appears, and the road all but disappears.

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I continued on, even though I had no road to follow, and Quirke Lake came into view again. All this open area could mean there was some mine activity here at one time.

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I have to say, it was quite the scenic spot, almost estate-like.

I looked around this area for any sign of the actual mine shaft, but I found nothing, and I wasn’t all that sure where I was now, because there were no visible roads anymore.

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I stayed at this spot for a while, taking all kinds of pictures, for obvious reasons.

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Then I continued on, looking around for any sign of the mine shaft. Usually, it will be in the form of a candy cane shaped vent pipe, which can be very difficult to see in all this high grass, and bush.

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I saw this rusted pipe in the ground, and it looked like a pipe that might be under a road, so this could be an overgrown road that I’ve stumbled across.

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I’d stop, every now and then, to get some shots of the rugged beauty of Quirke Lake.

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An interesting hole in the ground. Looks like it might have been a pipe going down to Quirke Lake. I’m not a mining expert, but I have seen pipes like this before, in other mine sites. I’m guessing that the mine shafts would have had pumps running 24/7, to keep the mines free of water that would seep in from the surrounding rock.

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These open, grassy areas are not as easy to negotiate as one might think. There was hardly a level spot, and the grass hides all the rocks that are just waiting to break your ass, should your attention wander.

Still no sign of any mine shaft, or vent pipe. As I have often said, it’s not a priority to find the mine shafts, I have a great time just exploring these sites. It’s just an interesting addition to the hike, if I can find the mine shaft.

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A fantastic view, on a beautiful sunny day, is enough reward for me, and I surely got many of those today.

Then, just as I was about to give up the search, and head back, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something through the bushes.

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Unbelievable! Way down in a natural depression, surrounded by trees, I catch a glimpse of the concrete cap on a mine shaft. This was just pure luck. At that very moment, I was just turning to head back.

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This shaft is marked as CanMet No 1. This infers that there might be more than one shaft in this mine site. When I returned home, I looked again, on Google Maps satellite view, and I believe that I see the other shaft, which I have marked with a balloon on the map above. As I said, everything appears to be so simple, when looking at that satellite shot but, let me tell you, as one who has been there and done that, there’s nothing simple about it. You can see that the shaft I marked as the possible second shaft is very close to the road, but I didn’t see it. I didn’t see the other smaller shaft that I marked on the map either.

The next time I return to this site, I will try to verify the second shaft, and locate the smaller shaft too. Also, as a note of interest, in researching the CanMet mine shaft, I found some information stating that the No 1 shaft was enlarged, at some point, which explains why it appears to be much larger than the supposed second shaft. At some point also, this shaft was used as a ventilation shaft for the near by Stanrock mine shaft. I was really surprised at this, since the Stanrock shaft is still quite a distance from here. I measured that distance,as the crow flies, on the map to be 1.1kms, to the Stanrock No2 Shaft. These shafts must have side shafts(compartments) that travel sideways, for a long distance. However, the ventilation shaft did not have to go all that way, if Stanrock had a side shaft going towards CanMet, it could have just connected up with that. Still, quite interesting.

You can tell how difficult this would be to see from ground level. It was sunk into a natural hollow, and with the trees around it, almost impossible to see until you are right on top of it. Of course, it’s easy to see from the air, or from a satellite.

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The vent pipe coming up from the shaft.

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The proud explorer poses with his find.

A last look at the area of the shaft, and then I start the trek back.

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Looking down from a hill, you can see, what must have been, the road coming into the mine shaft.

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From that same hill, looking out, over the trees, to Quirke Lake.

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This was a road, but nature has taken it back. If you look at the Google Maps route on top of this post, you can see I did a loop in this area. This is because I couldn’t see a road on the way in. When I got up to a high spot, near the mine shaft, I could, barely, make out the outline of an old road, so I followed that back out.

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Going back across the grassy areas.

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And back into the bush.

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At this point, I decided to try something that I’ve never done before, although I do it when I’m kayaking now and then. I took a video as I was walking through the bush, just to give a bit more perspective on what it’s like.

It’s a bit shaky, since I’m walking, but it might be of interest.

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I saw this collection of leaves on the ground, and decided it was worth a shot. 🙂

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The hike out was nearly all on an upgrade, which was a bit of a workout. It was getting a bit warmer at this time too.

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Anytime I’m hiking in these mine sites, my senses are always on full alert, eyes constantly scanning from side to side, both close up, and far away, ears listening for any sounds that might seem out of place. Even though I do hike with my music playing, it’s not that loud, I can still hear even small noises in the bush, or in the distance.

I’m not necessarily listening for bears either. I’m exploring a new place, and I have no idea what I might find, so it only makes sense that I be on alert. This is still the middle of nowhere, and I need to take every precaution to ensure that I get back out, in one piece.

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As I was scanning the bush, on the way out, I noticed some shapes that didn’t look natural. Here we have a set of concrete piers, that probably supported some kind of conduit through the bush. My guess is, it was probably a water conduit, since these mine sites, especially the ones with milling facilities, used a lot of water for processing purposes.

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Again, it’s interesting to see how nature takes back what belongs to it. The same will happen when we humans are all gone, and the deafening silence of the wilderness is all that remains.

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How quickly we’ll be forgotten and, the earth, in it’s own way, will probably be saying something like “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” 🙂

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I saw quite a few deer tracks on the road in here today.

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Ahhh, I can see the inside of the CanMet mine site gate ahead. I was getting pretty hot by now, with that long steady climb on the way back.

So there it is, the last mine site in the area has now been, at least partly, explored. I’ll be back, as I will to the other mine sites, to do more exploring at some point. However, right now, I have an appointment with the Timster. 🙂

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by icrcc on September 8, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Great pictures. I feel like I was exploring the area with you. Thanks.

    Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback ic, that’s just what I want to hear. I know that there are a lot of people out there who can’t get to places like this, for one reason or another, and I try to create these posts so that it’s like a guided tour. I’m always refining the way I do things, and it’s satisfying to hear that someone out there can see that.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Don McKee on April 4, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    My Dad worked the Can Met mines from 1957-1960. My brother and I were born near by in Blind River and Elliot Lake. We lived in a small house supplied by the mining company near the shores of Quirke lake during that time before our family moved back to Edmonton. We visited the site in 1970 and only the foundations were left. I did find a dinky toy truck that was interesting to find and still have it today.

    Reply

    • Thanks for sharing that info Don. I really like hearing from people who worked/lived in these mine sites. I didn’t see much of anything left at the CanMet site, except for the concrete caps on the actual mine shaft. It was one of the more picturesque sites I’ve visited, with large evergreen trees down by the shore of Quirke Lake.

      Reply

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