Working at the Mine

In 1902, the mine employed 94 men and accommodations for the workers was provided by the Company in the form of tents and log cabins. The Canadian Copper Company preferred to employ married men because they were more reliable and less likely to lose productive working time. They were also less likely to leave, which meant reduced turnover and retraining for the Company. For these reasons, the Company went to the added expense of building more homes on a larger scale in 1903. Despite the stereotypical attitudes of the upperclass versus the working class, a healthy, happy, and educated community did emerge.

Creighton Mine timekeepers office - 1918.  Photo courtesy of the Greater Sudbury Historical Database.With the Canadian Copper Company's preference for married men as employees came the need for an infrastructure to support the families of the miners. By the fall of 1903, school classes were being held in one of the Company's new two-room log cabins. Religious services for various denominations were also held in this building. For the miners, this was an opportunity for their children to learn the language of their new country.

In the early days, the mine workers would line up at the paymaster's office, sign the payroll book and receive their pay in cash (there were no banks operating in the mine camp at this point). In February of 1903, the Company proposed the establishment of a boarding house for the workers. They were rented out by salary workers and foremen and were still occupied 73 years later.

Within the next few years, as the demand for nickel grew and the workforce expanded, the Canadian Copper Company constructed single family dwellings which included electricity (even if it was only a single bulb) and running water. While these utilities meant a great deal to the residents in Creighton, they were quite inexpensive for the Company to provide as the utilities were surplus to the mine's needs. In later years, deductions for rent, hydro, and the employees club would appear right on the company pay cheques.

Many of the immigrant miners working in Creighton did not speak English and for safety reasons, shifts working at the mine were divided along ethnic lines with a foreman who spoke both the language of the miners (Finnish, Polish, Ukrainian, Italian, etc.) and the language of the shiftboss (invariably English). While the Canadian Copper Company was not above using ethnic backgrounds to pit one group against another, these "competitions" helped to encourage the preservation of ethnic diversity in the area, thus creating a much stronger community. The village of Creighton Mine may be seen as a non-typical single industry town in terms of the sense of community that the Company inadvertently created.


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