is a town
A town is a human settlement larger than a village but smaller than a city. The size a settlement must be in order to be called a "town" varies considerably in different parts of the world, so that, for example, many American "small towns" seem to British people to be no more than villages, while...
in the district
Districts are a type of administrative division, in some countries managed by a local government. They vary greatly in size, spanning entire regions or counties, several municipalities, or subdivisions of municipalities.-Austria:...
of Timiskaming, province
A province is a territorial unit, almost always an administrative division, within a country or state.-Etymology:The English word "province" is attested since about 1330 and derives from the 13th-century Old French "province," which itself comes from the Latin word "provincia," which referred to...
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...
, with a population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...
of 1,223 (as per the Canada 2006 Census
The Canada 2006 Census was a detailed enumeration of the Canadian population. Census day was May 16, 2006. The next census following will be the 2011 Census. Canada's total population enumerated by the 2006 census was 31,612,897...
In 2001 Cobalt was named "Ontario's Most Historic Town" by a panel of judges on the TV Ontario program Studio 2
Studio 2 was a daily current affairs newsmagazine on TVOntario in Ontario, Canada. The show won several Gemini Awards, and was hosted by Steve Paikin and Paula Todd , and first aired in 1994. TVOntario announced the program's termination on June 29, 2006...
, and in 2002 the area was designated a National Historic Site.
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...
was discovered in the area in the summer of 1903, during the construction of the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario Railway from North Bay
North Bay is a city in Northeastern Ontario, Canada. It is the seat of Nipissing District, and takes its name from its position on the shore of Lake Nipissing.-History:...
to the communities of Haileybury and New Liskeard, north of Cobalt. Within a few years the area was one of the largest silver producing areas in the world. Speculation over mining stocks led to riots on Wall Street
Wall Street refers to the financial district of New York City, named after and centered on the eight-block-long street running from Broadway to South Street on the East River in Lower Manhattan. Over time, the term has become a metonym for the financial markets of the United States as a whole, or...
in New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...
. The town was incorporated in 1906. Its population swelled and peaked at 7,000. In 1911, silver production exceeded 30,000,000 ounces (937.5 tons). Mining continued until the 1930s, then slowed to a trickle. Activity renewed in the 1950s then slowly dropped off, and there are no longer any operating mines in the area. However, one mill still operates in the area, and there continues to be exploration
Exploration is the act of searching or traveling around a terrain for the purpose of discovery of resources or information. Exploration occurs in all non-sessile animal species, including humans...
, including exploration for diamonds.
The silver mines of Cobalt, and the prospectors and miners that discovered them and worked the mines, have left an indelible mark on Canadian history, and the town is known as the birthplace of hard rock mining in Canada. The ore
An ore is a type of rock that contains minerals with important elements including metals. The ores are extracted through mining; these are then refined to extract the valuable element....
in Cobalt was close to surface, which meant that men with limited experience could prospect and begin mining, and then hone their skills as the mines went deeper. Those who learned their trade in Cobalt moved north, discovering gold in Kirkland Lake and Timmins
Timmins is a city in northeastern Ontario, Canada on the Mattagami River. At the time of the Canada 2006 Census, Timmins' population was 42,997...
and further afield in Canada and around the world. The mining in Cobalt was done with the use of wheelbarrow
A wheelbarrow is a small hand-propelled vehicle, usually with just one wheel, designed to be pushed and guided by a single person using two handles to the rear, or by a sail to push the ancient wheelbarrow by wind. The term "wheelbarrow" is made of two words: "wheel" and "barrow." "Barrow" is a...
A pickaxe or pick is a hand tool with a hard head attached perpendicular to the handle.Some people make the distinction that a pickaxe has a head with a pointed end and a flat end, and a pick has both ends pointed, or only one end; but most people use the words to mean the same thing.The head is...
s, hand steel
Hand steel is a mining term that applies to the use of a chisel-like tool. The chisel is struck violently with a striking tool, usually with a sledgehammer. It is one of the several mining techniques used in traditional mining and one of the several with the use of basic hand tools. Hand steel was...
Dynamite is an explosive material based on nitroglycerin, initially using diatomaceous earth , or another absorbent substance such as powdered shells, clay, sawdust, or wood pulp. Dynamites using organic materials such as sawdust are less stable and such use has been generally discontinued...
The Cobalt Silver Kings
The Cobalt Silver Kings are a defunct ice hockey club which played in Cobalt, Ontario, Canada from 1906 to 1911, notably during the 1910 NHA season, founding season of the National Hockey Association forerunner of today's National Hockey League...
played in the inaugural 1910 NHA season
The 1910 NHA season was the first season of the National Hockey Association men's ice hockey league. The season started on January 5, but was suspended immediately and the league then absorbed the Ottawa and Shamrocks teams of the Canadian Hockey Association and the season continued from January 15...
Cobalt, Haileybury, and New Liskeard were formerly known as the Tri-Towns. When Haileybury and New Liskeard were amalgamated into the city of Temiskaming Shores in 2004, Cobalt decided to remain a separate town. However, the two municipalities continue to have a close relationship, including the operation of a shared public transit system.
Also noteworthy is that in 2001 the town voted overwhelmingly to stop adding fluoride
Fluoride is the anion F−, the reduced form of fluorine when as an ion and when bonded to another element. Both organofluorine compounds and inorganic fluorine containing compounds are called fluorides. Fluoride, like other halides, is a monovalent ion . Its compounds often have properties that are...
to the drinking water.
Private dwellings occupied by usual residents: 532 (total dwellings: 569)
- English as first language: 76.0 %
- French as first language: 19.5 %
- English and French as first language: 2.0%
- Other as first language: 2.4 %
The mining activities in Cobalt have left a significant environmental legacy. Millions of tons of mine waste rock and mill tailings
Tailings, also called mine dumps, slimes, tails, leach residue, or slickens, are the materials left over after the process of separating the valuable fraction from the uneconomic fraction of an ore...
were dumped on the land and in local lakes. In Cobalt ores, silver was associated with arsenic
Arsenic is a chemical element with the symbol As, atomic number 33 and relative atomic mass 74.92. Arsenic occurs in many minerals, usually in conjunction with sulfur and metals, and also as a pure elemental crystal. It was first documented by Albertus Magnus in 1250.Arsenic is a metalloid...
minerals. Little of this arsenic was ever recovered - most of it ended up in the tailings and waste rock. Today this arsenic contaminates surface water in the area and poses risks to the environment.
The Cobalt area is also laced with many miles of underground mine workings, as well as surface trenches, pits and shaft openings. As a result, there are risks of collapse, or subsidence
Subsidence is the motion of a surface as it shifts downward relative to a datum such as sea-level. The opposite of subsidence is uplift, which results in an increase in elevation...
of underground mine workings, and many areas that have been fenced off to prevent entry.
Tourism and attractions
Visitors to Cobalt can visit the Cobalt Mining Museum, which boasts the world’s largest display of silver, as well as "The Bunker" which is a military museum, and a firefighter's museum. The Heritage Silver Trail is a self-guided driving tour of several mine and mill sites in the area. The trail is well marked, guiding visitors around the backroads of Cobalt. At each site, signs are posted, identifying the site, and providing a brief description of the site. The trail guides visitors to many of the remaining mine headframes in the Cobalt area, some of which are quite picturesque, and stand as an important reminder of Cobalt's past.
Visitors can also take a tour of an old underground mine. Tours start at the Mining Museum, and are guided by museum staff. The narrow damp tunnels of the mine give a real appreciation for the conditions under which miners worked, and tour guides sprinkle the tour with many stories to help bring the past to life.
On February 14, 2008, plans were announced to convert the vacant Fraser Hotel building into a complex which will include The Bunker museum, housing units, tourist accommodations, and a proposed culinary school.
Passenger rail service is provided from the Cobalt railway station
The Cobalt Railway Station is located in the town of Cobalt in Ontario. It is a stop for Ontario Northland's Northlander trains.The station itself is occupied by the offices of the Historic Cobalt Corporation and the Bunker Military Museum; passengers must wait outside to flag down the train and...
on the Northlander
The Northlander is a Canadian passenger train operated by the Ontario Northland Railway in Ontario.It operates 6 days per week year-round in both directions and connects Cochrane with Toronto...
- Charlie Angus
Charles Joseph Angus MP is a Canadian writer, broadcaster, musician, and politician. Angus entered electoral politics in 2004 as the successful New Democratic Party candidate in the Ontario riding of Timmins—James Bay. He was the NDP parliamentary critic for Canadian Heritage from 2004 to 2007,...
, federal Member of Parliament for Timmins—James Bay
Timmins—James Bay is a federal electoral district in Ontario, Canada, that has been represented in the Canadian House of Commons since 1997. Its population in 2001 was 84,001....
- Mike Bolan
Michael George Bolan was a Canadian politician, who represented the electoral district of Nipissing in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1977 to 1981. He was a member of the Ontario Liberal Party.-External links:...
, former provincial MPP
- Kent Douglas
Kent Gemmell Douglas was a professional ice hockey defenceman and coach.-Early career:Douglas started his career with the Kitchener Canucks in the Ontario Hockey Association...
, hockey player, winner of the Calder Trophy in 1963.
- Edward James Gibson Holland
Major Edward James Gibson Holland VC was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.- Early life :Holland was born in Ottawa, Ontario, and attended Lisgar...
, awarded the Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....
for service in the Boer War
The Boer Wars were two wars fought between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics, the Oranje Vrijstaat and the Republiek van Transvaal ....
died in Cobalt in 1948.
- Walter Frederick Light
Walter Frederick Light was a Canadian business executive.Born in Cobalt, Ontario, Light served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. After the war, he received a degree in Electrical Engineering from Queen's University in 1949...
, President of Northern Telecom 1974-1979, CEO and chairman of Northern Telecom 1979-1984.
- Bruce Lonsdale
Bruce Lonsdale was a Canadian politician. He represented the riding of Timiskaming in the Canadian House of Commons from 1980 to 1982...
, former mayor of Cobalt and federal Member of Parliament for Timiskaming
Timiskaming was a federal electoral district in the northeastern part of Ontario, Canada, that was represented in the Canadian House of Commons from 1917 to 1925, and from 1935 to 1997....
- Elmer Sopha
Elmer Sopha was a Canadian politician, who represented the electoral district of Sudbury in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1959 to 1971. He was a member of the Ontario Liberal Party.-Career:...
, former provincial MPP