Mining in Leeds County

Of the many facets of historical Leeds County, perhaps the least known is its rich mining history and its related industry. Upwards of 15 mines were in operation between 1854 and 1945 of which the Billings pyrite mine on the Chemical Road was perhaps the largest. The Shipman mine on Halleck’s Road was another producer of pyrite but it was short lived due to the high pyrrhotite content which was an undesirable mineral and the short mining season. The Brockville Chemical & Superphosphate Co. at the foot of Ford St. in Brockville converted the pyrites into sulphuric acid, fertilizer and dynamite and was a pioneer in the “lead chamber process” for the distilling of sulphuric and hydrochloric acids.
    Not all mining operations were without scandal and intrigue, however. The Hodge Gold Mine near Mallorytown is a prime example of a mine being operated and shares being sold in a gold mine where no gold was ever found. It was said that the gold content in the rock was too small to be seen — but it was there, at least that is what people were led to believe.
    As time goes on, more information will come to light and a long lost and rich aspect of Leeds County history will be enjoyed by everyone.
    The Steels mine of Black Rapids operated during WW2 and produced high grade quartz for radios in the war effort.
Al Steinburg

Shipman Mine
Entrance to the Shipman Mine, a small pyrite deposit mined for its sulphur. (Photo by Al Steinburg)
Hodge Gold Mine certificate
Stock certificate for the Hodge Gold Mine, Mallorytown. (Photo by Al Steinburg)
Calcite from Steels Mine
Calcite specimen from the Steels Mine, Black Rapids (Red Horse Lake). (Photo by Al Steinburg)
Museum Mineral Display
A display of mineral specimens found in Leeds County, organized and designed by Al Steinburg, partly from his own collection and partly from loaned samples. The inset shows a particularly fine cluster of quartz crystals. (Photo by Bob Stesky)