If you don’t have time to go through the 200+ pages The City that Was!, why then not take a few minutes and read the following 50+ short testimonials ? This will give you a good idea of what Theresa Gold mines meant for all those workers, miners, engineers, investors, clergymen, children, professionals, politicians and so many others.
Enjoy your reading!
Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble.
Zorba the Greek
I will not come out of the Klondike a rich man but as a true miner, poor but free.
Lorenzo Létourneau, one of the first French Canadians to settle in Klondike in 1899. He later returned to Quebec and became Mayor of St-Constant.
The future of the United States won’t be decided on the shores of the Thames River (London) but right here on the shores of the Potomac (Washington).
Franklin Delano Roosevelt President of the United States from 1933-1945
The depression hit Canada at the core of it’s economy. Recovery was much slower than in other countries. From 1929 to 1933, Canadian economy suffered a serious drop and it was not until 1940 that the Gross National Product exceeded that of 1929. Unemployment rate which was at 2,9% in 1929, reached 25% in 1933. With such a rate, Canada’s economy struggled with economic and social issues never encountered before.
Linteau, Durocher, Robert et Ricard (In « Quebec since 1930 »)
1934-1945 : TESTIMONIALS FROM DIFFERENT ACTORS ON THERESA GOLD MINES
Following Msgr Hallé and Father Couture’ suggestion, we will develop this mine with the objective of providing work for the Natives and increase their revenue. As of today, thanks to generous donators and friends, this mine is now under construction. A large group of Indians are already working on the site. We have drilled deep shafts, built a mill and various camps. All of this has been done with exclusive French Canadian capital.
Alphonse Caouette, founder and President of Theresa Gold Mines from 1934-1954
Chief Chapais (Ojibwe) and Father Couture had made a deal: 25% of the mine revenues would go to Ojibwes.
Eugène Gilbert, mine worker and son of Joseph Gilbert
A ceremony was organized at Lake St-Thérèse six miles from Hearst the day Father Couture took possession of his airplane. Mrgr Hallé in pontifical vestment blessed the seaplane in the presence of Mrgr Zoël Lambert, Rev. Antoine Brosseau who was Pastor of Hearst’s Parish and Rev. Alphonse Corriveau among others.
Lorenzo Cadieux, president of the Canadian Historical Society (1960)
I was in desperate need of a plane mainly because our mission spread over hundreds of miles in Northern Ontario. In case of an accident, a serious illness or for the sake of helping a starving family, our plane still remained the best way of transportation. For years, Louis Bisson and I flew thousands of miles from one Ojibwe camp to another. What a consolation it was to bring joy and comfort to those people in needs!
Joseph-Marie Couture s.j., Jesuit missionary for Northern Ontario, known as The Flying Padre
The Timmins had an option to purchase shares of the mine. They probably spent 200 000$ in drilling operations and sending gold to Noranda to be refined and tested. Without any conclusive outcome, they opted out. There was not enough gold on that side of the Making Ground River.”.
Omer Groulx, mine worker
Msgr Lambert saw Theresa Gold Mines as a way to achieve the financial salvation of Hearst Diocese. He put a lot of faith in that project. He used his huge personal network across the country and abroad to promote the mine. As if it was his last hope.
Rev. René Grandmont, archivist and Chancellor of the Diocese of HearstGrandmont
From a geological point of view, the land is ideal for gold deposit. The most interesting part of the land lays near post #1 and claim # 16 775 known as the Ste-Theresa vein.
J.W. Morrison, engineer
Several meetings took place at Michel Hallé’s house with Father Couture and Msgr Hallé. They were all deeply involved in the project. In order to raise funds, Michel Hallé would criss cross Quebec Province selling share at 1$ a piece. A lot of money was needed for machinery and payroll.
Marcel Léger, member of the Theresa Management Team
“Father Couture convinced my father to invest in Theresa Gold Mines. Dad was an influent businessman in Courcelles (Qc). People trusted his advices. He in his turn convinced Notary Wilfrid Gilbert and his brother in Law, Charles Fortin (Sirop de sapin Fortin) into financing the mine. My father acted as vice-president on Theresa Gold Mines’ Board and I myself served as director for six months”
Laval Pagé, investor
-Charles Fortin from Robertson City is serious and does not like things to drag on. He will be ready as soon as the War ends to support the mine. I am so glad that he be a personal friend of yours. You’ll see, with him onboard, financing will pour into the Theresa.
Wilfrid Gilbert, notary (in a letter to Alphonse Caouette)
Since last September 3rd, the date we entered the war with Germany, everyone knows that the national mining production has made a huge leap overnight. Stocks which had been relatively stable in the mining industry for years jumped when the price of gold was established at 38,50$. A lot of funds were transferred from USA to Porcupine area in Ontario. Is it not a huge opportunity for us to seize?
Michel Hallé. Editor of Theresa Gold Mines Bulletin
By 1939 there was a small mill near the river. Our family was already involved in logging and milling in Strickland Ontario as my father Thomas-Louis was the first to join Alphonse Caouette and clear the field. During the war, the Caouette family was alone on the site with an Indian maid and a man named Lucien Gosselin from Sherbrooke. He was hiding not to go to war. Dad spent all winter (of 1944) cutting wood with Arthur Rouleau. Both were paid by Mr Caouette who was then helped financially by stakeholders from Lac St-Jean and Charles Fortin (Sirop de sapin Fortin).
Pierre Brassard, member of Theresa’s family owned saw mill
Monday May 8th, we went to Sherbrooke and bought a fully equipped gas driven compressor and a jackhammer…all for the price of 1 500$ which we will split between Notary Wilfrid Gilbert, Michel Hallé and myself.
Charles Fortin, investor and President of Les sirops de sapin Fortin Robertson Qc
Well let me tell you what a nice visit I missed last month! While I was away from Montreal, Louis Bisson came to see me. He was unable to return later as he had to ferry a Bombardier from Dorval to England. He told our gatekeeper he would be away for a long time.
Msgr Joseph Charbonneau, Archbishop of the Diocese of Montreal and Chancellor of the Université de Montréal (in a letter to Alphonse Caouette)
…I happily met your father who has just seen, in the company of Mr Hallé and Vincent, a representative of the now famous American syndicate. .. Since I knew there was no secret between your father and yourself, I felt justified to let him know your anxiety about the conditions of this Theresa Gold Mines. He was a little surprised and told me some facts known to him and Mr Hallé would quite easily calm your apprehensions. Father Couture and yourself know my disposition towards your undertaking. They remain the same today-…
Msgr Joseph Charbonneau, Archbishop of the Diocese of Montreal and Chancellor of the Université de Montréal (in a letter to Alphonse Caouette)
-Why don’t you give a job to those who subscribe 500 to 1000 shares? … If Theresa hires say 50-100 mine workers, it is easier to sell a 1000 $ share to their parents. No string attached… Somebody did it here in La Beauce and raised 25,000$ in a project less attractive than a gold mine…
Me Louis-Alfred Ferland, barrister and solicitor, Ste-Marie de Beauce
« Hi Louis, comment ça va ?
Bisson spoke English and French equally well…Don, you’ve always liked the challenge of the Artic.
It was a statement, not a question.
Sure, I grunted…
Powell has asked me to make an exploratory flight to Baffinland. He told me it’s very urgent and top secret.
Great, Louis, right up your alley. Nobody’s ever flown up there”
So, in case something happens to one of our aircraft, the other will survive.
Yes our. I want you to be the pilot of the second Norseman.
“No way!, I exclaimed.
Bisson’s face dropped…
I took a deep breath and stuck out my hand.
Sure, Louis, Ill’s be proud to be your wing man.
It was the 14th of February 1942.
Don McVicar , pilot and navigator (Crimson Road et Ferry Command Pilot)
-I flew Churchill for a while. I was impressed by his simplicity. He would spend hours in the cockpit asking questions about aviation. He had his scotch up there and would look all around. I think he would have dreamt to be a pilot. Did you know he was half American ?
Captain Louis Bisson, aviator and Father Couture’ pilot. Known as the Canadian Charles Lindberg. Bridge over Autoroute 13 in Montreal bare his name
1945-1984 : TESTIMONIALS FROM DIFFERENT ACTORS ON THERESA GOLD MINES
You may be certain that we are living for nothing else than the Theresa. Our faith is not lessening. It has been doubling to the extent that even our mildest dreams of the future are mountainous. Further, they are not built on fantasy. We have a great mine, a great cause and I am certain that we shall see it succeed
Marcel “Buster” Caouette, pilot and Executive Director of the Theresa Gold Mines. Son of Alphonse Caouette.
Houses for Carmelus Bolduc and Charles-Édouard Fortin were built in 1946. Wooden boards came from a mill owned and operated by Thomas-Louis Brassard. Sawdust and paper were used to isolate the walls. Time would do the rest.
Colette Gilbert, Eugène daughter and he eldest of the Theresa children. Later elected Longlac Ciy Councelor.
In the spring, I went to Longlac helping Father Couture restoring and painting his shack. It took me five weeks. On May 15th, I returned to the mine. Carmelus Bolduc and his brother in law, Charles-Édouard Fortin were the first to arrive.
Arthur Rouleau, mine worker
So we bought a diesel from Dominion Engineering for 80 000$, It was a huge oil driven motor. It was a beast to move during winter. We had to load it on sledges and haul it with the snowmobile. It was so heavy. We experienced problem with that engine but once installed Hydro Ontario began supplying electricity.
Yves Gilbert, member of the Theresa Management Team. Married to Thérèse, daughter of Alphonse Caouette.
I used to hide the beer far in the woods out of Mr Caouette sight. From time to time we would plan a getaway to Longlac and Geraldton. Sometimes we would come back to the mine pretty drunk. None of us could leave Geraldton without being watched by the police. As far as alcohol was concerned, French Canadian had then a bad track record.
Florian Nadeau, mine worker
It had been my responsibility to choose the location of the mine shafts. We cleared the land and built houses and the Community Center. We hired experienced people who had previously worked for the Timmins. Our blacksmith was an Irishman by the name of Anderson. Paul Désilets was our diamond driller and Al Lauzon our superintendent. Brothers Alex and Tom Dupont were among our miners. Alex was a good mechanic. Laurent St-Aubin was named Captain. We started the mine operation with this small group of workers.
Fernand Cloutier Chief Engineer
Such was live in the deep forest of Northern Ontario, a thousand miles from Montreal. We were paid half the wage. Number of hours were never an issue. Overtime was a day practice. Nobody cared. We were young, motivated and highly driven by Mr Caouette’s leadership.
Maurice Gilbert, mine worker and son of Joseph Gilbert
Everybody had a specific role in the kitchen. Mine workers would have lunch at a fixed time. Jeannette would take care of those working nightshift. Nobody can imagine how many egg sandwiches she prepared! Baking pies was my Monday specialty and routine!
Gisèle Couture, cook. daughter of Rose-Anna and Donat Couture
I was accompanying Msgr Charbonneau when he first went down into the mine. At that time, there was no elevator. Miners would descend three to four at a time in something that looked like a metal container
Rev Léo d’Auteuil, priest, archivist and historian
They held a meeting at Caouette’s house. Msgr Lambert, Father Couture and I believe Msgr Charbonneau were attending. We had arrived at the mine about a week or two before. I was 19 years old with 250$ in my pocket, free as a bird. At that meeting, Caouette came to me and said “Bertrand, I’m sure you would make a good miner”. I said “No way!” While I was later painting Carmelus Bolduc’s House he came back to me and said: “ So young man, why don’t you give it a try?”. I said “OK, why not !”.
Bertrand Paradis, miner
Every Sunday, I say Mass in the Community Center. At the far end of the building near the stairs leading to the small shop lays my little chapel where I keep the Most Blessed Sacrament. In the 1946 census, there were 137 people. Theresa’s population is now well over 200. (in a letter to a diocesan colleague)
Pastor Alphonse Corriveau, “Parish” of Theresa Gold Mines
I was thirty five years old and saw no future in Shawinigan. We were told we would become millionaires at Theresa Gold Mines. At the end of five years, we would each be given a new car with a limited number, a Buick. Mine would carry number 14.
Charles-Édouard Fortin, mine worker and author’s dad
Weather was so hot when we built the Office in 1946! I was then working as a mixer and was shoveling cement into the wheel baskets. When we arrived at the mine, we had no nets to protect us against the mosquitoes. I could hardly sleep as there were so many.
Sylvio Fortin, mine worker
We had to travel by canoe to secure groceries for the families. Everything was carried on our six horse powered canoe. Two of us would make the 8 mile trip to Longlac. One would carry the groceries while the other would take care of oil, gasoline and iron, all stocked into barrels.
Donat Nadeau, mine worker
In 1948 my father sold his land for 10 000$ and moved to Theresa. By 1952, he had lost everything. He was earning 50 cents an hour.
Robert Poulin, son of a mine worker
We had shares and didn’t care how hard we had to work. Msgr Lambert had preferred shares and he donated one to each of us.
Philippe Quirion, mine worker
“Among the visitors, sometimes there were some English people. When they saw the statue we would hear them say: what the hell is that ?
Jean-Louis Fortin, author of The City that Was.
When we arrived at Longlac from Shawinigan, we had to take a small boat heading towards the mouth of the river which was almost a mile ahead from the pier. We were confronted with waves five foot high. Water was splashing all over at each bump as I was totally dedicated protecting my two youngsters for a certain unavoidable drowning. I had the fear of my life… At Theresa, women’s role was to maintain houses in order, raise the children, cook and sew. The first year, we would take the snowmobile and attend the mass in Longlac. The church was full of Indians. It looked pretty strange to me. In the following two years, we stayed isolated in Theresa Gold Mines as there was then no road to Longlac. For me, taking a boat was out of the question!
Laurence Gilbert (Fortin), author’s mom
Amandine Fortin (Champagne) was in labor. Her contractions were becoming stronger and stronger as the boat docked at Longlac’s pier. They all jumped in a car heading toward Geraldton but had to stop a few miles further on the road. The little one was born along the highway. “We will call him “TransCanada” joked one of her companions.
Jeanne Duval, teacher
Everyone who worked as a miner was like a bother. We were all friends. There was no one who resented the other. Everyone was watching to save the life of the other. If there was a danger, we would notify the work team.
Grégoire Morin, mine worker
On Saturday nights, we had plenty of movies to watch. Most of the time, it used to be plane fighting. Children were not permitted to attend so they gathered on the balcony as one of them taller than the others would watch through the window and describe the action. Yvon Quirion would bring us chips, cigarettes and sodas.
Maurice Brassard, member of the Theresa family owned saw mill
The young ones would skate, play tag and baseball. It was a long time before they could get books. ».
Annette Charbonneau, teacher
Even though Rev Corriveau would forbid us to watch movies, we would watch them by climbing the ladders. We were sometimes annoying Beside playing cards, we often sang songs of Rev. Charles-Émile Gadbois. Whenever he was visiting us at the mine, we would sing all day long with him. We loved it!
Our children were called “The children of the river” by the Caouette’s. Theirs did not mingle whatsoever with ours. Maybe they raised their children differently…
Simone Gilbert, daughter of Joseph Gilbert and wife of Carmelus Bolduc
Those who lived at Theresa came out with a trade. They learned among other things wood-working, welding, mining and different ways of building a house. They all became jack of all trades.
Adrien Noël, mine worker and subsequently ordained priest
When bored we clowned around playing tricks on each other. We had of course some gloomy moments but never got depressed and rarely got into a fight. After a trip to Quebec, we always got a down. It wasn’t fun. Zénéphat Tanguay felt so lonely. He was married and had to leave his family behind.
Eudes Paradis, miner
Theresa Gold Mines’ parish was no different than others. Rev. Corriveau was always there for us. Mine workers were normal people living ordinary life. Although clergymen were omnipresent, there was absolutely no religion loving culture among mine workers.
Bruno Jodouin, miner
Msgr Lambert assured us that we could never lose a privileged share. Mr Caouette for his part would often say that Theresa’s motto was similar to that of Columbus knights: “strength in numbers”.
Irène Simoneau, investor and mother of Jean Simoneau, author of The Theresa
First of all, there is no question for Mr Caouette to sell his shares of the mine for one million. If he was made the offer, the bidder should not be too pushy because he would be met with a clean and dry refusal.
Msgr Zoël Lambert, administrator of the Diocese of Hearst
Minerals did not speak highly to Père Gédéon especially since his Parish Pastor, a known liberal, had convinced him to invest in a gold mine named St-Theresa Gold Mines. For sure that priest had been a victim of a promotor without conscience. His Pastor had proclaimed forcefully in Sunday mass that this mine of Far North was protected by nobody else than St.Theresa of the Child Jesus herself! Many parishioners invested into that mine and lost their savings. For his part, Gedeon had been cheated a 10 000$.
Le Père Gédéon in the romance of Le Crime d’Ovide Plouffe written by Roger Lemelin p.161
Quebec politicians under Prime Minister Duplessis were surely against the mine. Probably because too many funds were drained towards the neighboring Province…I was very upset when I saw in Roger Lemelin’s Romance Le Crime d’Ovide Plouffe low charges against the mine and it’s promoters… I knew from my father (-Notary Wilfrid Gilbert)- this was said from time to time at the National Assembly. Dad was in a good position to know as he an organizer of Patrice Tardif, a member of Duplessis”s Union Nationale. Sometimes, bad things were said behind closed doors
Raymond Gilbert, Theresa Gold Mines’s accountant and in the first years of the mine, responsible for transporting gold to Longlac Railroad Station on a train to Ottawa
I saw the mine as something fundamentally providential and Catholic mainly because of Father Couture. The missionary was extraordinary influential. He wanted to help Indians on one hand and build a blooming French Canadian City on the other.
Omer Bolduc, investor
I have a plan. A plan that can secure funding of Theresa Gold Mines. Right here, a few miles from St-Hyacinthe there is a piece of land near a river where we could build a Cultural Center, a theater, a Radio Station and a Recording Studio.
Rev. Charles-Émile Gadbois, founder of La Bonne Chanson and CJMS Radio Station
We started off the evening by having a supper, watching a film on Theresa Gold Mines and listening speeches from Mr Caouette, Mr Robidas, Dr Noël, Pastor Énis, Rev. Papillon and Jules-Marie Leblanc. Mr Caouette kept us going 2 hours and a half. He promoted the creation of Theresian Clubs in every region. This event in Sherbrooke was hailed as a turning point in Theresa Gold Mines history.
Jules-Marie Leblanc, investor
I was among those who organized the 1951 banquet at New Sherbrooke Hotel. More than 500 people attended and listened to Mr Caouette’s speech. The atmosphere was extraordinary. People were carried out by a wave of enthusiasm toward the mine and convinced the investment they were invited to make would certainly turn them rich.
Elma Lessard, investor
I served as engineer from 1949 to 1952. This was the most important experience of my life. Shortly after graduation, I was invited to develop a mine, build a mill in the middle of nowhere under teeth-chattering cold. We worked 14 hours a day. Professionally speaking, it was an extremely enriching experience. And on a more personal note, I still feel amazed by Caouette’s unique talent for creating enthusiasm and rally for his project.
André St-Arnaud, engineer
I do not believe that Mr Caouette’s tried to play people implicated in the mine. They honestly tried all their best. They raised a lot of money. Of course they could never tell a potential investor that investing in a gold mine was a risky gesture. Being entrepreneurs, they had to say there was a chance of success. Marcel Caouette was however too bluntly positive. He thought gold nuggets would jump to his face. He always believed in the success of Theresa mine and when he realized the contrary, it absolutely broke his hearth. He was so sincere and optimistic!
M.A.T. Kirk, Ontario mining inspector
I’m am grateful to the Council of Arts of Canada for its support. But I do not believe my research is completed. I strongly believe that future research should focus on the importance Theresa Gold Mines had on Msgr Charbonneau. This aspect has to be investigated and some questions addressed. Were the early days of the diocese of Hearst affected by this episode? Did Quebec nationalism draw on this economic adventure? And if so, how?
So many aspects of the mine still deserve to be looked at in more depth. Nobody need to be ashamed of the failure of a project. My parents said it best: “all those friends we have made are worth more the money we have lost”.
Jean Simoneau , son of Irène Simoneau (investor) and author of a book on Theresa Gold Mines called La Thérèsa , 1991, 591 p.
AND FOR A CONCLUSION…
CLICK on the album cover and listen to HUMBLY HE CAME, a lyrics of George Moustaki that perfectly fits Msgr Charbonneau’s arrival at the Achdiocese of Montreal and departure to Victoria . (JL Fortin)
Humbly he came
Nobody knew his name
He was so poorly dressed
Looking for a place to rest
Because his feet was bare
They didn’t really care
So humbly he came
His leaving was the same
Like a ship without a crew
A stranger passing through
He left the way he came
And never came again