The Precambrian Shield, the oldest geological formation on the planet, lies under most of Northern Ontario. The shield was broken into many sections, or 'provinces.' Timmins sits on what is known as the Superior Province.
The history of the Timmins-Porcupine area goes back beyond the early days of the Porcupine mining camps. Archaeological and historical studies done in the area indicate that the first people to settle in the area were the nomadic people of the Shield Archaic culture, whose first record of existence dates back to 5,500 BC. Others from Europe came to the area in the late 1600s. They were explorers and traders who established outposts in the region to capitalize on the fur trade. It has even been postulated that Radisson and Des Grosseillers trapped fur in the area and had an outpost on Nighthawk Lake. The Hudson's Bay Company established several trading posts along major trading routes in the area. The Northwest Company also operated several posts.
Timmins was founded in 1912 and the community was a byproduct of the Porcupine Gold Rush. Situated 680 kilometres north of Toronto, the camp attracted men and women eager to find their fortune and carve a name for themselves in New Ontario. Starting in 1907, the area became home to dozens of prospectors who explored the areas around Porcupine Lake and the Frederick House River.
It was not until the discovery of the Dome Mine in 1909 by Jack Wilson, a member of the Harry Preston crew, that the area became known as an important gold camp. Benny Hollinger and his partner Alex Gillies were not far behind the Wilson party since they later discovered the Hollinger Gold Mine.
Discovered by Alexander Olifant (alias Sandy McIntyre), the McIntyre Mines completed the string of important gold discoveries in the Camp.
Many other gold mines would open up in the area around the Porcupine Camp in the next 60 years. However, no other gold mines discovered to date have ever equalled the importance of the first mines in the Timmins area, called the Big Three.
Most of the people who came to the Porcupine area settled around Porcupine Lake and Dome Mine is situated one mile from the lake. Four miles down the road, around the McIntyre Mine, the hamlet of Schumacher grew, which was named after Frederick Schumacher who was a druggist and supplier of 'miracle medicines' in a dry camp. A mile from that site, the town of Timmins, which was in fact the company homes for employees of the Hollinger Mines, came to be. This entire area would form the core of the present City of Timmins, Canada's largest city in area size 3,185 km2.
The arrival of the rail system in 1911 accelerated the growth of the Camp. Until then, the trek to Porcupine was done by canoe and foot from Haileybury. That same year, two days after the first train arrived in the Porcupine, the entire Camp was destroyed in the fire of 1911. Because of the importance of the gold discoveries, very few people abandoned the camp and the area was rebuilt within two months.
The 1920s and 1930s were prosperous years. The Great Depression did not adversely affect the economy of the area. Jobs were available from any of the mines and lumbering facilities and farming also offered opportunities for the residents of the area.
A third important event in the history of the Camp was the decline of the gold mines in the 1950s. Until then, the community had been sheltered from the Great Depression and its effects on the economy. The discovery of base metals in the 1960s resurrected a dying industry and today the city continues to prosper because of numerous additional gold deposits and important zinc, copper, nickel, and silver finds. Secondary industries, such as lumbering, government and business services and tourism have also helped to maintain this growth.
In the 1990s, the City of Timmins became a regional service and distribution centre for Northeastern Ontario. In addition to its business based on natural resources, new areas of manufacturing, high technology and a labour-intensive service industry have emerged. Based on our vast wealth of natural resources, our region enjoys a strong and diversified industrial sector, using the latest technological advances to compete on the world market. The city's key industries include mining and smelting, forestry and manufacturing value-added wood products, metal fabrication, retail, service industries, and tourism.
Its people, resources and strong work ethic provide a favourable climate for investors, and there is confidence in the future of the growing community.
The City of Timmins owes its birthright to the riches of the Canadian Shield. On June 9, 1909, Harry Preston slipped on a rocky knoll and the heels of his boots stripped the moss to reveal a large vein of gold, which later became the Dome Mine. This vein was several hundred feet in length and was 150 feet wide.
In 1912, Noah Timmins founded the town to house the employees of the Hollinger Mine. In 1973, the town amalgamated with its neighbouring townships, and the City of Timmins was born. The City has grown since its inception, with a residential population of approximately 46,500. It services a region of more than 118,000 people it is one of the North's largest regional centres.
Building on its solid, industrial foundation, the City of Timmins offers a variety of natural, cultural and recreational diversions. It is a growing community that welcomes your business and provides ample opportunities. Country music superstar Shania Twain is also proud to call Timmins her hometown.
It's all here, waiting for you! Take a deep breath of fresh, Northern air and get ready to experience the Incredible hospitality of Timmins — the City with a Heart of Gold!