Tag Archives: Bernard Farrell

Deed of Mines? Linda’s Mailbag — Amy De Ridder

Deed of Mines? Linda’s Mailbag — Amy De Ridder




Good morning! Recently purchased a property on Black lake and found a pile of old information and wills and a very little about a deed of mines on a large property by a Bernard Farrell in 1872 I’m interested if you have ever heard of any mining property near Black Lake and any history about that area! Thanks Amy De Ridder




Lake Details: Black Lake contains many islands and inlets to explore. There is a large wildlife population within its vicinity.

Dimensions: 846 acres, Maximum Depth of 70 feet

Graphite was next discovered on Lots 24 and 25, Concession 5 of old North Burgess Township southwest of Black Lake (outside the TRW) in 1917. The occurrence consists of lenses highly charged with flakes of graphite, within crystalline limestone, a contact metamorphic deposit related to intrusion of a pegmatite dyke. The Timmins Mine, as it was known, was worked from 1918-23 by Noah Timmins of Montreal. Numerous pits were opened, and diamond drilling carried out. A mill was installed and operated experimentally, but the operation was never economically viable.–Geology, Mineral Deposits and History of Mining in the Tay River Watershed

1881 Census

Name: Bernard Farrell
Gender: Male
Marital Status: Married
Age: 76
Birth Year: 1805
Birthplace: Ireland
Religion: Catholic
Nationality: Irish
Occupation: Farmer
Province: Ontario
District Number: 111
District: Lanark South
Sub-District Number: F
Subdistrict: Burgess North


The first mining “magnate” in the Tay River Watershed area was an interesting combination of medical humanitarian and industrial visionary. Dr. James Wilson (1798-1881) was a physician and surgeon from Scotland, who emigrated to Ontario in 1818 at the age of 20, a young man fresh from medical school in Edinburgh. He first settled in the village of Lanark, but moved to Perth in about 1822, setting up a rural medical practice there until 1869, when he returned to his birthplace in Scotland to retire. By the 1830’s, he was starting to take a strong interest in the various rock outcrops that he encountered as he made his rounds to his rural patients in his horse and buggy. He was particularly fascinated with the variety of colourful minerals in the Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks west of Perth, and in the fossils that he found in the Paleozoic sedimentary rocks east of town. At that time, the science of geology was in its infancy. The conventional view was that the rocks and fossils had been placed where they were by the hand of God at the time of Creation, and hadn’t moved since. To contradict this concept was considered to be blasphemous in the least, as Charles Darwin was to discover some 20 years later. Whether or not Dr. Wilson worried too much about challenging the conservative beliefs of the majority of his pious neighbours we shall never know, at any rate, he was particularly interested in minerals that might be worked for the benefit of mankind. Untrained formally in geology himself, he kept in touch with the leading earth scientists of the day, including Sir Roderick Murchison, a British pioneer in stratigraphy. He accompanied Sir William Logan, founder of the Geological Survey of Canada, on some of the latter’s surveys, and supplied him with much information on local geology, for which he did not always receive Logan’s acknowledgement. He was the first to recognize the presence of the minerals apatite (calcium phosphate, useful in making fertilizer) and phlogopite (a form of mica) in old North Burgess Township, and to encourage the entrepreneurs amongst his friends to exploit these deposits for profit. These men included his good friends the Honourable Roderick Matheson, a wealthy merchant, magistrate and later senator who lived on Gore Street in the lovely stone house now occupied by the Perth Museum, and William Morris, who headed up the company which built the first Tay Canal. Dr. Wilson and Matheson first obtained property on Lot 5, Concession 8 of North Burgess Township (Crown grant to Matheson of the north half on Feb. 23, 1852, and the south half on October 6, 1853). Wilson obtained a grant of the north half of Lot 2, Concession 8 on July 8, 1852, and Matheson bought the south half on July 16, 1853. Actual working of the deposits (on Lot 2) began in 1855, Canada’s first phosphate (apatite) mine. Interest eventually shifted to Matheson’s property on Lot 5 (now part of the Burgess Wood subdivision), where in 1870, the first recorded commercial shipment of phosphate occurred. By this time, Wilson had returned to Scotland. Before he left, he gave his extensive rock and mineral collection to the Honourable Mr. Matheson, who stored them in his warehouse in Perth. Matheson died of a stroke in January, 1873, while writing a letter to his friend Dr. Wilson, no doubt telling him of the success of their first joint mining venture. The mineral collection was donated by his son, Colonel Allan Matheson, to the local museum, then housed in the high school. When the Perth Museum opened in 1967 in  the former Matheson House on Gore Street, the collection found a permanent home there.


That very first mine was later sold by the Matheson estate to Robert Chamblet Adams and Joseph S. Roper in 1878. The mineral rights were leased to the Anglo-Canadian Phosphate Company, Ltd. in 1886-93. In 1907, William Lees McLaren, son of lumber baron and Senator Peter McLaren (the latter had worked an adjacent property on Lot 4, Concession 8 together with Arthur Meighan in previous years), bought the property, and worked it for mica for a number of years. This became known as the McLaren Mine, and was one of the largest in this part of the province. After the initial work on Lot 2, Concession 8 commenced in 1855, other phosphate mines soon opened up in the vicinity within the TRW, including the Byrnes (1870), Otter (1870), Old Anthony (1871), and Smith (1883) workings, all now within the Mica Mines Conservation Area. Larger phosphate mines just outside the TRW in old North Burgess Township included the Munslow-Martha (1871), Hanlon (1890’s) and Silver  Queen (1903) Mines. It is interesting to note how many of the old mining families are buried in the old Roman Catholic cemetery in nearby Stanleyville, including Byrne, Hanlon, Smith, Adam and others.


The mineral phlogopite (white mica) had also been recognized by Dr. Wilson, and was produced as a by-product with the apatite in the early days of mining in old North Burgess Township. At first, it did not have much of a market. The first mine worked purely for mica was the Pike Lake Mine, on Lots 16 and 17, Concession 9 of North Burgess Township, at the eastern end of Pike Lake, which was first opened in 1860 by a New York Company. The first sheet mica produced here was shipped to France, where the French navy used it in their battleships. In 1880, Belden’s Historical Atlas of Lanark County noted that, although the operation had been discontinued, ” the supply is in great abundance and the quality of the article first class”.The mine was reopened in 1892 and again in1902, and for awhile, supplied the French Navy with sheet mica for port-holes in its battleships. The mine was so important at the time that the village of Stanleyville was known then as “Micaville”.By 1896, with markets for local phosphate drying up, mica became the most economic product, and a new mining “boom” took place within North Burgess Township, including the TRW. Local businessmen dreamed up new uses for this mineral, and the old phosphate mines were soon being reworked for mica. In time it was being used for stove and furnace windows and doors, irons, toasters, spectacles, goggles, gas-masks, lamp shades, fuse-plugs, separating leaves in electrical conductors and insulators in electric motors. Scrap mica was used for covering steam pipes and boilers, and was built up into sheets called “micanite”, using shellac as a cement. Ground mica was found to be useful in making wall-paper (it gave it lustre), a filler in paint and rubber, as a lubricant in axle-gease, and in pipe-coatings, insulation, fire-proofing, patent roofing and telephone receivers. At one time, there as many as 30 mica mines operating in old North Burgess Township alone. One of the reasons for this region’s viability for mica production was its close proximity to the Rideau Canal, which afforded a cheap transportation route to markets.


Farther from Perth in the TRW, apatite, and later, phlogopite mica, were mined in old South Sherbrooke Township in Lanark County, and old Bedford and Hinchinbrooke Townships in Frontenac County, in the latter two, in the Bobs Lake and Eagle Lake areas respectively. Just outside the TRW in North Burgess Township, the Silver Queen Mine (Lot 13, Concession 5) produced phlogopite mica from 1903 to 1909, and apatite from 1903 to1912. The mica was a light silver amber colour of excellent quality, hence the name. In its heyday, the operation boasted a boarding-house for 20 men, a boiler-house to generate steam for 3 drills and a hoist. Three pits up to 15 metres deep were worked, as well as underground chambers. The Munslow-Martha Mine (Lot 13, Concession 6, North Burgess Township) was another large producer of phosphate in the period 1887-1902, was reworked for mica from large pits in 1891-1907, again in1940 – 42 during WW II. The Hanlon Mine (Lot 11, Concession 6) had a large camp and buildings, with a shaft reaching 53 metres in depth, and produced mica from the late 1890’s to 1909. At its peak, 115 men were employed, making it the largest mining operation in old North Burgess Township.


Major mica mining in the area ended in 1912, and had practically ceased by 1925 when cheap mica began to be imported from Madagascar. Within the TRW, production of mica ceased in the Byrnes Mine (Lots 11 and 12, Concession 7, North Burgess Township) in 1904, at Smith (Lot 9, Concession 7) in 1906, in South Sherbrooke Township in 1911 (McEwen Mine), in the McLaren Mine (Lot 5, Concession 8,  North Burgess Township) in 1918, but in the Eagle Lake area (Green Mine) in 1942, Bobs Lake Mine in 1948, and Otter Mine (Lots 10 and 11, Concession 7, North Burgess Township) as late as 1952.  –Geology, Mineral Deposits and History of Mining in the Tay River Watershed


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)





Gold Mines and Disappearances

Is there Still Gold on Wellesley Island ?

Did Anyone Find the Lost Barrel of Silver Coins That Lies at the Bottom of the Rideau Canal?

What Happened to the Gold on the Ramsay 7th line?

Gold in Dem Dar Hills of Lanark

So What Happened to the Marble at the Tatlock Mine?

My Daddy was a Miner — was Yours?

The Mysterious Tatlock Mine

The Early Days of Working in the Ramsay Mine — Going Down Down Down

Looking for the Artist of this Carleton Place Painting-The Lime Kiln

A Giant’s Kettle in the Middle of Lanark County

Where Were the Miracle Salt Springs in Pakenham? I Love a Challenge!

Gold Mines and Disappearances

Carleton Place Then and Now–Bridge Street Series–Volume 16– Newman’s Hall