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The History of Marmora
Settled in 1820 by Charles Hayes, Marmora became the first iron mining community in Upper Canada. The village was originally named the Marmora Iron Works; the name Marmora being the Latin word for marble, a common geological feature in the region.
Charles Hayes, Canada’s first industrialist, created his empire by mining the rich iron deposits located at the western end of Crowe Lake. The ore was then barged five miles across the lake and down the Crowe River to a smelter situated in the village of Marmora. Two huge furnaces fed by charcoal, limestone and iron ore were controlled by blasts from two enormous bellows. These bellows were powered by a waterwheel on the Crowe River. The foundry produced tons of molten iron. *
By 1875, the days of Hayes Ironworks were over; production was too expensive, and competition from foundries in more accessible locations provided too great a challenge to overcome. *
Enter Thomas Pearce who purchased the Ironworks site and created a new industry from his lumber operations by building a sawmill and planing mill. He also operated a woolen mill, blacksmith shop and carpentry shop.
Few remnants of those bygone days remain. However, close to the Marmora dam, a large “bear” of iron marks the last blast of the Ironworks magnificent furnace. Nearby the foundations of the Pearce Lumber sawdust burner can be seen.*
On the west side of the river, upstream from the dam are the remains of St. Mattilda’s church, Marmora’s first interdenominational place of worship. Built in 1825, it was eventually taken over by the Catholic Church and renamed Sacred Heart.
In 1953 iron ore once again revitalized Marmora. The magnetite ore body was discovered in 1948 by a government aeromagnetic survey. Bethlehem Steel began operations at the Marmoraton Mine creating a huge open pit mine covering 75 acres. The mine closed in 1978, but the mine site can currently be viewed by the public.
*The early history of Marmora can be found in:
“A Species of Adventure” The Story of the Ironmasters of Upper Canada by Andre L. Philpot
In 2005 a 3000 year old Projectile Point of the Late (Terminal) Archaic Period was found on Tecumseh Drive, in Marmora. The site is called Marmora 1. Referred to as a Hind Point, this projectile point is side-notched and is likely made from Gull River chert of the Gull River formation, perhaps collected from the nearby outcrop at the "Fossil Cut" on Hwy 30 north of Havelock.(Chris Anderson, Personal Communication 2005)
Shari Prowse. Heritage Planner/Archaeologist, The Ontario Ministry of Culture.
The projectile Point now resides in the Visitors Centre along with a booklet outlining the Archaeological investigations that took place.
Residents of the area are invited to participate in sharing any archaeological information or artifacts that they have discovered with Typhany Choinard at the Visitor's Centre.
Latest page update: made by MysticGnome
, Jun 17 2009, 11:45 AM EDT
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