Warfield (B.C.)



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Warfield (B.C.)

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Warfield (B.C.)

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Warfield (B.C.)

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Cominco Ltd. fonds

  • PR-1419
  • Fonds
  • [ca. 1884-1985]

The fonds consists of the records of Cominco Ltd., including those created under its previous name, the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada Limited. Most of the records were selected by Cominco from its offices in Vancouver and Trail, B.C.

The fonds includes textual records, approximately 8700 photographs, maps, films and sound recordings which include oral histories with former employees. The records document the industrial activities, personnel, and the social history of the communities where the company was active.

Documentary forms include but are not limited to: correspondence; photographs; annual reports; news clippings and scrapbooks; lab reports; payroll records; journals, ledgers, cash books and other financial records; sound recordings of interviews, oral histories and radio broadcasts; transcripts connected with the Cominco oral history project; films (including those of mining operations); maps; informational publications, pamphlets and brochures about the company; engineering and geological reports; subdivision plans and city plans; property/lot plans; and the president's files.

Subject matter includes topics such as mineral exploration, mining, smelting, fertilizer production, research and development, legal matters, finance, personnel and labour relations, public relations and advertising, company history and environmental pollution.

Topics and locations reflected in the records include but are not limited to: Trail area operations at Warfield and Tadanac; the Sullivan mine at Kimberley; the Bluebell mine and concentrator at Riondel, B.C.; the Con mine in Yellowknife, N.W.T.; the H.B. mine and concentrator at Salmo, B.C.; Calgary facilities for production of ammonia, ammonium nitrate and urea; Benson Lake (Vancouver Island) mine and concentrator; the mercury mine at Pinchi Lake, B.C.; the Box mine at Goldfields (Athabaska Lake) Saskatchewan; Wedge copper mine at Newcastle, New Brunswick; Pacific Coast Terminals Limited operations in warehousing, docking, loading and shipping at New Westminster and Port Moody, B.C.

The records document Cominco’s operations in fields such as zinc die casting through the purchase of National Hardware Specialties Limited and its plant in Dresden, Ontario. The records reflect the continuing research and development carried out at Trail, and, after the mid-1960s, at the new research centre built at Sheridan Park, Ontario.

Records of subsidiaries and affiliates include those of operations in the United States and overseas. These include but are not limited to: Cominco Products, Inc. a wholly-owned subsidiary created to carry out fertilizer warehousing, liquid fertilizer conversion and product marketing at Spokane, Washington; the development of phosphate rock mining interests in Montana; the Magmont lead mine and concentrator at Bixby, Missouri; Rubiales mine, Lugo Province, Spain; the Black Angel mine and concentrator, Marmorilik Fjord, Greenland; and Cominco Binani Zinc Limited (CBZL) in India.

Photographs and textual records document the important role played by Cominco, beginning in the 1920s, in exploring the northern regions of the four western provinces and the Northwest Territories. The company pioneered aircraft prospecting which led to the discovery of gold, uranium, oil and copper. Exploration by Cominco influenced settlement patterns and laid the foundation for the creation of an aviation service in northern Canada.

The fonds also consists of records of Cominco’s participation in the Manhattan Project's heavy water production program during World War II. Textual records are contained in series MS-2500. Photographs are contained in series MS-3176, consisting of images which include: primary plant and secondary cell plant, (including construction of, starting in November 1942); the oxygen stripper tower, booster room, cooling tower, boiler plant, and evaporator building. See the files referring to Project 9, Heavy Water, No. 9 Project, or P-9 Project.

Other notable records include those concerning the international dispute between Canada and the United States over pollution from the Trail smelter and its effects on the agricultural lands in the U.S. Cominco was involved in an international tribunal in 1932 (Trail smelter dispute) as a consequence of sulphur-bearing smoke damage to crops. See file of negative filmstrips titled Smoke Control – Mathews films Tribunal Case 1932 [photographs]. Among other topics the photographs appear to include images of areas in Idaho and Washington State. They are possibly connected with MS-2500, box 457, file 1, “Survey of agricultural conditions (Mathews) - appendix D8”, dated 1935.

The fonds also consists of records of subsidiaries, affiliates, and predecessor companies, including the West Kootenay Power and Light Company Ltd. and the Canadian North-eastern Railway Company (previously Portland Canal Short Line Railway).

The fonds consists of the following six series: MS-2500 Cominco selected records; MS-3176 Cominco photographs; AAAA1498 Cominco films; AAAA1499 Cominco sound recordings; MS-0888 Summary of the history of Cominco; MS-0015 Cominco papers.

Cominco Ltd.

David McLennan interview

SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Early Cominco-Trail history PERIOD COVERED: 1916-1955 RECORDED: Vancouver (B.C.), 1977-07 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Born in PEI in 1890; went to Seattle and worked as a plumber; came to Vancouver and went to Trail in 1916; worked in Rossland installing a heating plant; went to work at Ainsworth in the power plant for Number 1 Mine at Centre Star; came back to Trail. His impressions of Trail, including the wooden sidewalks; vegetation; the pollution caused by the smoke and what was done to prevent it; population and makeup of peoples; the production of acid for fertilizer ("Elephant Brand"); schools and quality; community and Trail holidays. Then went to Warfield; his first Impressions. TRACK 2: Employee/employer relations; brief mention of Tadanac; beginning of the union; working conditions and how they changed after the union; unionist Harvey Murphy; change in security during the Second World War, and problems associated with it; plant during the Second World War; women worked; various personalities, including S.G. Blaylock, George Murray, R.W. Diamond; safety precautions.

Edward and Eda Rowlands interview

CALL NUMBER: T3146:0001 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Early Cominco-Trail history PERIOD COVERED: 1914-1950 RECORDED: Vancouver (B.C.), 1977-08 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Mr. Rowlands: Welsh birth; came to Canada in 1924. Engineer in Trail machine shop; Herb Clark; Cominco men as civic officers; work at Warfield; heavy water plant in Second World War; pollution and fertilizers. Depression hours and wage; first impressions of Trail; description of slag piles. Rory McLaren; Pat Sullivan; Trail hospital; pollution and health; early buildings in Trail; social; life; radio; involvement in sports; Pete McIntyre; Brown; Caledonian Days; Blaylock and George Williamson playing tennis; the company choir and its leader, Gwyllym John. TRACK 2: Population; flowers; and vegetation of early Trail; work he enjoyed. George Murray; J.J. Buchanan; R.W. Diamond; Blaylock. Work spirit in early days of the company. Mrs. Eda May Rowlands (nee Randell) speaks; she came to Trail from Nelson in 1914; father worked in carpenter shop at Cominco; Trail in 1914; natural settings; Trail Creek; pollution; the fire in the summer of 1917 or 1918; sand storms. She taught school in Annable, Kerr Creek, Wynndel and Trail Central schools. Italians as stone workers in Trail. Social life in Trail; early stores; Lloyd Crowe was the manager of the company store; holidays.;

CALL NUMBER: T3146:0002 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Early Cominco-Trail history PERIOD COVERED: 1914-1950 RECORDED: Vancouver (B.C.), 1977-08 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Sports in Trail; the old arena; the town butcher, Steve Matobitch. Raising their family in Trail. The Eleanor Hotel. [TRACK 2: blank?];

James Martin interview

SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Early Cominco-Trail history PERIOD COVERED: 1912-[1948?] RECORDED: Vancouver (B.C.), 1977-08 SUMMARY: James Herbert Martin arrived in Canada in 1912 from England; worked on a farm in Fleming, Saskatchewan. Came to Trail in 1921, where he obtained a job in a labour gang with a Mr. A. Hector; worked eight hours a day, seven days a week. Worked as a switchman, then a motorman, and finally as a shift boss; know two aldermen of the city, Martin and Milliken. Trail was very dry and had numerous fires. The Depression was difficult for everyone, especially single men. Wartime was also difficult; women were brought into the plant to work; heavy water was produced at Warfield. The union organised by Harvey Murphy brought administrative difficulties, but better salaries; early concessions lost; pension plan improved. Because of pollution, the company had to continually replace fences throughout the town. Intermittent flooding of rivers. The flood of 1948 caused a crisis.

Nels Bystrom interview

CALL NUMBER: T4135:0010 PERIOD COVERED: 1911-1929 RECORDED: Castlegar (B.C.), 1983-11-07 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Biographical information; father's first trip to Canada; father returns to Sweden during First World War; borrowed money to return to Canada in 1925; logging in Nelson; mother and brothers come to Canada; four days on immigrant train; father borrows money from the CPR to bring him over; route to Canada; immigrant trains; anecdote about trip; life in Sweden; logging in Sweden; anecdote about work; pay in Sweden; unions; workers; paper; union raiding; working for father on Silver King Mountain; driving horses; cut cedar poles and white pine for Mathes; prices and wages in 1928; anecdote; about supplying mine; anecdote about operation of mine; anecdote about supplying mine; anecdote about Eagan's eyeglasses; crew at mine; location and name; camp at Cahill Lake; anecdote about working log deck; anecdote about brutal foreman; camp conditions; wages and costs; flume to Slocan Lake; flume construction; ice chute for log; anecdote about brother's logging accident and hospitalization; compensation; brother loses leg; brother's life after accident; brother's life and family; father and Bystrom, piling lumber at Six Mile Lake, quit over pay dispute; Cotton Logging Company job above Boswell; tools for fallers; piecework cutting cedar poles; peeling poles; camp at Boswell, hot water, sinks. CALL NUMBER: T4135:0011 PERIOD COVERED: 1928-1935 RECORDED: Castlegar (B.C.), 1983-11-07 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Camp at Boswell; hot water tanks; camp quality; anecdote about cork boots; work hours; anecdote about hard worker; recreation in camps; stock crash of 1929; logging camps close; anecdote about trying for job outside of Castlegar; room and board; logging in Princeton; riding freight train to Vancouver; unemployment in Vancouver; hobos on train; freight train to Castlegar; CPR police; walking from Castlegar to Nelson; working in mine; packing equipment in; miners' candlestick; anecdote about packing steel out; father on relief; mother cutting wood; farm produce; homemade pipe boring machine; making pipes. TRACK 2: Wrapping pipe with wire; economics of pipe sales; homemade sawmill; Kootenay Landing; Proctor railroad; anecdote about poor wages; hand drilling for blasting; anecdote about diarrhea in camp; anecdote about driving to Hidden Creek; lived in trapper's cabin; anecdote about boss tricking them into working; work at China creek relief camp; work conditions at camp; anecdote about man being kicked out of camp and him leaving; people in camp; Willow Point relief work; prospectors classes and grubsteak relief program; groceries for a month; three weeks prospecting in Slocan area; came back for groceries; CMS called him to go to work --started June 27, 1934 in lead refinery; work hours; lead explosion; conditions in refinery; open transfer (fired) from refinery; labour gang; anecdote about Joe Fillapelli. CALL NUMBER: T4135:0012 PERIOD COVERED: 1934-1972 RECORDED: Castlegar (B.C.), 1983-11-07 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Anecdote about Joe Fillapelli; "barring down" the lead furnaces; anecdote about "safety first man"; construction with molten slag; lead contract; leaded work conditions; scrap yard; cutting shears; operation; meets wife; sick and crippled people in scrap yard; anecdote about quitting scrap yard; worked storage plant in Warfield until his retirement in 1972; 1942 work on Brilliant dam; work conditions on dam; anecdote about unloading cement; bicycling to work; contract system in storage plant; became shop steward; Castlegar board member; union split; reasons for not joining steel; Al King president; elected to convention in Olympia, Washington, barred from crossing into the U.S.; steelworkers and barring. TRACK 2: Stopped at border; Bert Herridge; anecdote about Herridge getting his border crossing privileges back; member of CCF; quit CCF because it was the political arm of the United Steelworkers Union; Murphy in Communist Party; met lots of Communist Party members; good men; approached to join the CP by Art Erins and Garfield Belenger; reminiscences about Belenger; anecdote about Harvey Murphy; benevolent society and six weeks of Murphy tries for better sick pay; vesting rights to pensions; 1940, moves to Castlegar; fresh air; terms and prices for lots; credit for lumber; built 14 x 20 shack; West owned water system; old lumber for new house; anecdote about pouring foundation; constructs an apartment building; layout of apartment building; sold apartments after he retired; present house bought as a kit from Vancouver; construction of house; contents of kit; agent helped assemble house; framed by nightfall; cost of kit. CALL NUMBER: T4135:0013 RECORDED: Castlegar (B.C.), 1983-11-07 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Food co-op; Sam Muirhead's idea; war rationed items were kept for storekeeper's friends; sold shares at 50 dollars each; bought three lots in Castlegar; lots cleared and building put up on volunteer basis; Cominco employees had two transportation societies; had garage by theatre; food co-op hired Walter Markin as first manager; later co-op in Vancouver recommended Jack Kirby for Manager; Kirby anti-union; first president was Muirhead; second was Bystrom; last president was Dalziel; co-op folded, Kirby fired, co-op liquidated; co-op expansion plans rejected; first co-op operated from his back porch; operations from porch; Transportation Society builds new building; operation of Transportation Society; NDP membership; anecdote about rejoining CCF-NDP; rejoined after merger with Steel; Columbo Lodge Hall meeting of Mine/Mill members where Murphy explained merger.

Robert Portman interview

SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Early Cominco-Trail history PERIOD COVERED: 1924-1964 RECORDED: Delta (B.C.), 1977-07 SUMMARY: Born in England; serviced planes during the First World War; arrived in Trail in 1924; worked as a machinist at the Cominco machine shop. Weather and pollution in Trail. Schools and population in 1924. Went to new Warfield plant; discussion of chemicals and fertilizers; mention of Mr. Varsueld, supervisor, and Herb Clark. [Served?] as an alderman in Rossland; social life while working in Trail; mention of Alec Hector and Joe Filippelli; details of shopping and conveniences in Trail; hospital and arena. Trail and the plant during the Depression, and during the Second World War; immigrants; women workers. Company spirit; hours and holidays at the plant; workmen's committee; union; safety conditions; more on Warfield; stories on Blaylock, Archibald and company airplanes; George Murray.

The mining and metallurgical operations of the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Co. of Canada, Ltd.

The item is an industrial film print made ca. 1977 from footage originally shot between 1934 and 1936. The compilation shows the company's mining, smelting and related operations in southeastern British Columbia including: the Sullivan Mine and concentrator at Kimberley; a power plant on the Kootenay River; the Trail smelter; and the fertilizer plant at Warfield.