Wednesday, February 25, 2009



After completing his engineering degree, my father took a job with Hudson's Bay Mining and Smelting Co. Ltd. in Flin Flon, Manitoba. Flin Flon is located on the Saskatchewan border about 850 km. from Winnipeg. It was here in 1915 that David Collins, a local trapper, discovered mineral ore. He gave it to Tom Creighton, a prospector. This discovery led ultimately to the development of a large mine and a town whose population grew from 5,000 in 1935 to 10,000 by 1950. The name Flin Flon came from a novel that either Creighton or some other prospector was reading at this time in which the main character was called Flintabbetey Flonanton.

After World War II, particularly during the Great Depression, thousands of people moved north to Flin Flon as the mine developed. Not only copper was found, but nickel, zinc, cadmium, and I think perhaps silver as well. Today, Flin Flon is a city, and HBM&S (now called Hud Bay Minerals Inc.) continues to be the main employer, with a large smelter at Flin Flon and big ore deposits at Thomson, Manitoba. Tourism has also become a significant part of the local economy.

Flin Flon is located on the Precambrian Shield which extends in a huge horseshoe shape around Hudson's Bay. It is an area of granite bedrock interspersed with many small lakes and bogs containing muskeg. Much of Shield country has coniferous forests, though at Flin Flon itself there were not that many trees. Because of the rock, the developed part of the city extends over a large area.

I'm not sure when my father arrived in Flin Flon. He left a photo (see above) of a strike that occurred there in July 1934, so possibly he arrived soon after his university graduation, which would have been in the spring of 1934. From various photos I've seen, his life there must have been enjoyable. He had lots of friends, a sail boat, and much outdoor recreation which I'm sure he loved. Unlike many if not most of the men in the town, he didn't work underground.

In the photos, from top to bottom, are the mill at the HBM&S plant; Schist Lake, typical of the many lakes in and near Flin Flon; my father on the left with his friends (I was surprised to see photos of my dad with a gun, as to my knowledge he never owned one); the 1934 strike; and, finally, two photos of Flin Flon.

1 comment:

Grumpy said...

Reading your blog is like getting a personal history lesson. I'm enjoying it immensely.