The rocks around Elliot Lake offer clues about the processes that shaped the Earth. Formed more than 2.5 billion years ago by volcanic activity, this very ancient land surface was shaped by massive earthquakes, periods of glaciation, plus extreme weathering, making this area famous the world over for the variety of rocks found here. Millions of years after these cataclysmic events, vegetation and animals appeared. In more recent times, pictographs discovered on rock faces have indicated that human beings were present in this area several hundred years ago, perhaps even longer.


I researched the geological history of this area, getting advice from Rob Henderson, a former geologist with Rio Algom.  I also referenced an excellent guidebook,” Geology and Scenery, North Shore and Region”, written by Robertson & Card and published by the Ministry of Natural Resources.


·         The top of the mural represents the Archean era ,  more than 2500 million years ago, when volcanic activity  formed ancient volcanic and sedimentary rocks.  Examples of Archean (known as Algoman granitic) rocks can be seen on the west side of Highway #108 along the power line after exiting Highway # 17.

·         The next level depicts sedimentary rocks from 2200 to 2500 million years ago, known as the Keewatin banded iron formation (found very close to the airport, on the east side of Highway #108.

·         The dark band of rocks is an intrusion of the Nippissing  Diabase, formed  about 2160 million years ago by further earthquake activity.  These intrusions can be seen in many rock faces along Highway #108.

·         A glacier formation, in the next band on the mural, represents several glacial periods in this region when rocks were moved and shaped by the force of the ice.  Rivers deposited silt and sediment in other locations.

·         The area below the glacier is the Mississagi Formation, which is the large rock face that can be seen across Horne Lake.

·         From the Paleozoic Era (400-600 million years ago) there is a narrow band of rock containing fossils.  Some evidence of fossils has been found around the Boland River area.

·         Below the band of fossils, the Gowanda conglomerate is depicted.  This type of rock was mined for Uranium.

·         As vegetation followed the formation of the rocks, Birch trees are part of the strata.  Birch trees are one of the oldest species of trees found world-wide.

·         In the water below the trees are found  representatives of Amphibians, Reptiles and Fish which first evolved in the water.

·         Brick-red rocks, found just north of Elliot Lake (the Oompa Lake fault), serve as the backdrop for some of the animals & insects that have evolved in this area.


·         The pictographs on the rock face at the bottom centre are from the Gowganda Formation, and are similar to some of the vestiges of ancient rock art found on Rooster Rock on Quirke Lake.  According to the “Geology and Scenery of the North Shore”, human inhabitants were present in this region at least 9000 years ago.

      Linda Finn 2014

For information about Linda and her work visit

This mural was created in 2014 by Susan Krupp.

Susan is a local artist who creates work in a variety of styles.  Her work is on display at the Gallery at the Centre.  You can also see more of her work on her website.

She told this story at the unveiling.

The Back Door Staking-Bee


Radioactivity first buzzed in the Elliot Lake region in 1948 when partners Aime Breton & Karl Gunterman found deposits of radio active conglomerate near Lauzon lake.


This got the attention of geologist Franc Joubin, a young geologist who with his trusted and inexpensive geiger counter  confirmed this in both the Breton and Gunterman  mines.

Initially he found only trace quantities so Joubin a little discouraged left the area and returned to consulting. He never let go of Elliot Lake though and really believed in his hunch that something BIG  existed in 

the area.


So, in 1953 Joubin convinced his friend Joseph Hirshorne to finance a diamond drilling program in area to test his theory.

Eventually uranium ore was discovered and this site opened and became Pronto mine.


Around the same time Joubin got his hands on  Collins 1915 Geological Survey map which showed Z shaped contact between huronian sediments and pre huronian rocks stretching 130 km. In geological language this equalled the potential for the presence of uranium.

This was a great discovery and so in mid 1953 it was decided that 4 teams, 2 from Preston East Dome mine and 2 from Pronto would explore the Big Z.


Discoveries were made and staked out BUT staking laws only allowed for 9- 40 acre claims per staking licence and these were quickly used up by the teams.


Undeterred, Joubin and his team devised what was later to become known as the Back Door Staking Bee. This involved a mysterious expedition which took off from S Porcupine  carrying a dozen geologists, mining engineers, 80 prospectors and several young lawyers.


Planes also carried more than 50 tents, geiger counters, axes, bush gear and several tons of food.  The planes took off at irregular intervals heading north landing on lakes, sometimes as close as a pitcher's throw from the CPR and Trans Canada Highway.


No one paid much attention to the plane traffic. They assumed these carried timber cruisers or sportsmen. locals figured the mining people had given up on Algoma years before.


Each evening the stakers would sit down with the lawyers they'd brought and legalize the claims staked that day, saving time and eliminating days of legal paperwork. 


After 4 weeks in the bush  more than 1,600 mining claims were staked and on July 11th, 1953 lawyers appeared at recording offices in Sudbury, SSM, Timmins and Toronto  with stacks and stacks of notorized claims. 


Even though in the 50's prospectors were mining for uranium more than any other Canadian metal – this was BIG and once this news leaked  it touched off a chain reaction and by the end of August more than 8,000 claims had been staked in Algoma by people who hadn't been in on the original expedition. Some were Preston employees and some were completely inexperienced men who were paid wages for a days worth of staking, a bonus and then flown home.


This staking frenzy led to the opening of 3 additional mines in 1956; Buckles mine, named for Joubin's right hand man,  Lacnor mine, named after member of the Big Z survey team and Nordic mine.


By 1959, there were 12 operational mines in the Elliot Lake region resulting in 30 billion dollars being injected into the Canadian economy.

A bit of cloak and dagger in Elliot Lake's origins!








Mining Monument & Miners Memorial Park

The Miners Monument was officially opened on April 28, 2007 to honour the community's mining legacy.

Created by Laura Brown Breetvelt, a former Elliot Lake resident, this monument was built to honour the hard working miners who risked their lives each day and the community and families that supported them. Adjacent to the Monument lies the Mining Memorial, where names of workers from the Elliot Lake mines who died of workplace accidents or occupational illnesses are engraved for posterity. The Monument and Memorial Park provides a breathtaking view of the Horne Lake Escarpment and access to scenic nature trails as well as picnic facilities and parking


More information about Laura can be found on her website


Haven is very special to me. It was first executed in plaster, and measured

only 12 inches in height. The smaller version was the seed of a concept that

would take several months to mature into the idea for the sculpture that you

see here. It is all tied to my joy of expressing myself through sculpture; this

was a very new form of art that I discovered at White Mountain Academy of

the Arts.


The smaller version was a neutral form, but very soon after starting Haven, it

took on a feminine energy. During its construction, it had many visitors, and

many had names for it, like “Mother” “Goddess” and even “Mary”.

However, for me, it was all about the “haven” that I  had found, as an artist,

at White Mountain Academy. It was also about the “haven” offered by Elliot

Lake, where I  made good friends and always felt welcome. This sculpture

was my way of expressing all those feelings.


I feel much gratitude to the teachers of White Mountain who supported and

encouraged me when I expressed the wish to undertake this extensive

project. I am also very grateful to a fellow student, Michael Masterson, who

helped during the three months it took to accomplish the project.


I wanted to create a sculpture that felt like “coming home”, and many times

during its construction, visitors would snuggle into its arms, and I sat inside

of it myself to calm down and think. It is my wish that you get that feeling

too, as you stand in front of Haven.

Francine Noiseux


Materials: Wood, Wire Mesh, Paper Mâché, Foam,  Acrylic Paint 


Francine Noiseux is a Métis artist, of French Canadian and Mohawk descent. While growing up, not much was said about her Native heritage, however, in her late 40's, Francine began researching her roots. The more she discovered about that part of her ancestry, the more she espoused the Native traditions. Ms. Noiseux also came into her own as an artist later in her life. Although she practiced many forms of art while raising her family and working full-time, it wasn’t until her early retirement that she was able to devote herself fully to art.


In 2002, Francine read about White Mountain Academy, and was immediately attracted by the Native content of the curriculum. She put together a portfolio and applied to the Academy.  She was accepted, and moved from North Bay to Elliot Lake in time to start the semester in September. It was a White Mountain Academy that Francine discovered Sculpting and Traditional Native Arts. At the end of her first year, she won the Kijadjiwan Award, and graduated in April of 2004 with honors. Francine stayed in Elliot Lake for one more year, taking a drawing course at the Academy, and enjoying the social life there. In July 2005, she decided to move back to North Bay where she was originally from. 

Francine is now an active member of the North Bay Art Association, and has participated in several shows, winning an award for Sculpture and being featured in a summer-long printing show. She has given many workshops in Traditional Native art, especially drum making. Her work is sold at The Little Shop, which is tied to the Kennedy Gallery. She is a member of the White Water Gallery and the Kennedy Gallery. Francine is also a member of the Northern Kwe Spirit Drummers, a women’s drumming group active in her community. She divides her time between her art, volunteer work, friends and her health. Francine calls it “full-time.


Dawn of New Time

Artist: Conrad Bobiwash

Location: Lester B. Pearson Civic Center, main Stairwell

Subject: Canadian Winter Sky and Bird figure.

Medium:  Gesso, acrylic, canvas



Dawn of New Time is a native inspired piece that features a winter’s night sky and a traditional native bird. It is a beautiful and striking piece to behold. Subtle light colours are used in the sky and bright colours are used on the bird, the contrast adds interest and character to the piece. The sky illustrates movement and gives the piece a whimsical feel, that brings the painting to life.  This piece was commissioned during the 1990’s as part of a local art project.


Conrad Bobiwash is a native artist who lives in Blind River.

You can find more information about him at


The Golden North        

Artist: Sharon Cousineau

Location: Lester B. Pearson Civic Centre, main Stairwell

Subject: Canadian North

Medium: Gesso, acrylic



The Golden north is a painting that highlights the natural beauty of the north; it features stark contrast that adds depth and intrigue to the piece. It showcases the beautiful northern landscapes with hints of gold throughout the piece. The painting is located in the main stairwell of the Lester B. Pearson Centre in Elliot Lake.


Sharon Cousineau was an artist who live in Elliot Lake during the 1990’s when this piece was commissioned as part of a local art project



Artist: Steven Hearns

Location: Lester B. Pearson Civic Centre, main Stairwell

Subject: Rebirth

Medium: Acrylic paint, Canvas



Rebirth is a native inspired painting,


Steven Hears was a native artist who lived in Elliot Lake in the 1990’s when this mural was commissioned as part of  a local art project.  Steve also had some of his work reproduced as etchings on glass by Prestige Glass



Artist: Francine Noiseaux

Location: Lester B. Pearson Centre, Lobby

Subject: Embodying the feeling of safety, security and belonging.

Medium: Wood, Wire Mesh, Paper Mache, Foam, Acrylic Paint


 See the separate item regarding the background of Haven.


Civic Centre Painting

Artist: Alan Wilson

Location: Lester B. Pearson Centre, Lobby

Subject: Lester B. Pearson Centre

Medium: Watercolour



This is a creative watercolour scene of the Civic Centre, and what it represents. In the piece the building fills the bottom half of the page, and the top half is filled with the arts that can be seen in and throughout the building. Drama masks, actors, dancers, and musicians are all a big part of the Civic Centre. The theatre, gallery and numerous art pieces displayed throughout the building make the Civic Centre Elliot Lake’s Arts & Culture hub, as the painting suggests.Lester B. Pearson




Artist: R.B. Donaldson

Location: Lester B. Pearson Centre, Lobby

Subject: Lester B. Pearson

Medium: Watercolour


This is a portrait of the former prime minister of Canada, located at the refreshment bar outside of the theatre. The colours are warm, which gives the painting an inviting feel. The piece pays tribute to Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson who held the Algoma, Manitoulin, Kapuskasing Riding. It is an exquisite portrait that pays homage to a historical figure.


Hand Carved Walking Sticks

Artist: Franz Ohler

Location: Lester B. Pearson Centre, Lobby

Subject: Native inspired walking sticks

Medium: Wood,



The walking sticks are displayed in the Lester B. Pearson Centre; they were made to be awarded annually to an outstanding male and female Couruers De Bois Outdoors club member. They were dedicated to the memory of the artist’s late wife. The curved sticks have a rustic charm, and retain many of their natural aesthetics, making them very unique and beautiful. The handles are intricately carved heads that make the walking sticks memorable and unique.



Wooden Quilt

Artist: Elliot Lake Woodcarving Club

Location: Lester B. Pearson Centre, Lobby

Subject: Elliot Lake Wildlife

Medium: Wood, varnish, Acrylic



The Quilt was donated to the City of Elliot Lake in recognition of the 50th Anniversary. The Elliot Lake Woodcarving club designed the piece and the members carved out the squares leaving a stunning end result. This piece symbolizes all the many things that represent Elliot Lake the beautiful native species, and nature that surrounds.


Miner Salute

Artist: Dennis Gagnon

Location: Lester B. Pearson Centre, Mining Museum 

Subject: Miner

Medium: gesso, acrylic, canvas


This painting pays tribute to the mining heritage of Elliot Lake and the miners that lost their lives in the Elliot Lake mines. The piece is dark and has a serious tone that is captivating to behold. It depicts a moment frozen in time underground, a simple everyday lunch break.


More information about Dennis can be found at


Heritage Quilt

Artist: Elliot Lake Quilt Guild

Location: Lester B. Pearson Centre, Mining Museum 

Subject: Elliot Lake Quilt.

Medium: fabric, thread 

The Heritage Quilt is a large textile art piece that pays homage to the things that represent Elliot Lake, the mines, gorgeous landscapes, landmarks, local flora and fauna, and aboriginal background. This piece was designed and executed by members of the Elliot Lake Quilt Guild. The piece features meticulous detail work and displays our local talent.


The Miner

Artist: Dave Hind

Location: Lester B. Pearson Centre, entry  square

Subject: Sculpture

Medium:  Steel, stone


The Miner was commissioned by Dennis and Carole Prodan  to celelebrate  all the miners and their families.  They wanted to recognize the contribution these people made to the development of Elliot Lake.  The sculpture was donated to the downtown  Art Project in 2014 and relocated at the Civic Centre.


Dave Hind was a sculptor who worked as a metals technician at White Mountain Academy.  He now resides near Hamilton.  Many of his new works are on display in that area.   Check out his website at





Uranium Symbol


Spectacular Uranium Atom Symbol Began as only a Few Sticks and Some Scotch Tape !


The striking stainless steel representation of an uranium atom that greets tourists and locals, as they drive in to the city of Elliot Lake started out as an inspired idea by students and staff at Elliot Lake Secondary School in the early 1970.s.  The idea progressed to an eight inch model consisting of a few sticks held together by scotch tape.

Trial and error seems to be the underlying theme in the development of the statue-like symbol from sticks and tape to its current impressive presence.

In 1975, the idea and makeshift model was brought to the attention of Ed McAfee, then Plant Supervisor at Rio Algom Limited Quirke Mine, located approximately 12 kilometres north of Elliot Lake.  McAfee immediately thought of the concept of a structure commemorating the significance of uranium to the then town was a great idea.  But building the prototype, constructing the actual symbol and installing it in time for the opening of the 1975 Uranium Festival as the town requested proved to be a very daunting task.

Robert (Bob) Renault, retired master mechanic at Quirke Mine, recalls the saga of the development and construction of the uranium atom symbol in precise detail.  McAfee handed the sticks and tape model over to Renault, who in turn consulted head draftsman Frank Merhar.

After many lengthy consultations and discussions among McAfee, Robert (Bob) Blewett (machinist) and Merhar, the idea was deemed viable and an order was placed for polished stainless steel tubing. However, the three could  not decide on the exact design.

The team decided, as an interim measure, to build a model out of iron, since it would bend more easily than steel, and be easier to work with.  The iron prototype consisted of spheres, four feet in diameter with several wooden balls attached.

“They played around with two spheres each having various numbers of balls,  and this trial and error process went on from February 1975 until April of 1975 when I got involved with the project, once the final design was decided,” says Renault.

“By then there was a strong push just to get the job done in time to present it to the town and to Mayor Roger Taylor, on the occasion of the opening of the Uranium festival in late June,” adds Renault.

The next task was to go to the site and determine the exact diameter or the spheres and the balls as well as the height of the pole on which they would be mounted.  “I can recall this phase as if it were yesterday,” says Renault. “We took a truckload of sixteen foot planks out there, several wooden balls and once again our MO was trial and error.”

“We cut and stood the planks up at various heights, drove back and forth on the highway, decided what height was most visible and offered the most effective perspective.  After several attempts, we decided the spheres had to be 12 feet in diameter, mounted on a 12 foot pole with the balls being  5 inches in diameter.  In looking back at the whole process, it was a lot of fun.  But at the time, with the presentation date looming, it seemed kind of tense.”

Now that the team had a firm design, Ed Laflamme, welding shop foreman at Quirke set about making special machinery to bend the steel tubing for spheres, It then had to be welded and the four inch diameter steel pipe, 12 feet in height constructed.

In May of 1975, with just 2 months until the presentation, the pipe on which the steel spheres was to be mounted went in to the lathe and Renault recalls that machinist, Grenville Pierce, began the extremely time-consuming and arduous and exacting polishing process.  Crocus cloth, a very fine emery paper and 20 pounds of jewelers rouge, ordered from Montreal were on hand for polishing the entire structure.

Now the search for the 5 inch stainless steel balls was on.  Armed with a list of machine shops in Toronto, Renault set out to find a company to spin 1/16th inch steel in to the needed 20 balls.  He got lucky, in that he found a shop that could produce them, but alas they said the process would take two weeks.  “With a bit of persuading and overtime money, I managed to get the balls delivered in time.  But they came in ‘rough’  and also had to go through the lengthy polishing process.”

“We had two lathes working the entire week with 2 machinists working non-stop just to polish them, as well as the cluster of smaller balls in the centre that represent the nucleus of the atom.”

Finally the components were ready to assemble.  This process, lasting two weeks, took place outside the Quirke machine shop.

On June 27th the finished product was loaded on to a five ton truck  and taken to the current site of the Uranium Symbol, from which a display Air Jumbo, a machine used for drilling underground , had been removed.

On the 28th of June, Ed McAfee, Superintendent of Rio Algom’s Quirke Mine proudly presented the shining new symbol to the town mayor Roger Taylor.

Renault recalls that, while some people regretted the removal of the Jumbo, the vast majority of citizens of Elliot Lake were very impressed with the new installation and were happy with the new and enduring symbol of Elliot Lake’s Mining Heritage.


Taken from Milestones and Memories of Elliot Lake


There are two murals in the ELNOS building.  Both are located in the stairwells.  One can be accessed from the entry on Ontario Ave. as you climb to the Third floor  The other is accessed by the entry from the parking lot and is in the stairwell up to the Medical Clinic on the second floor.

Both of these murals were created by Steven Hearns as part of a local mural project in the 1990's.

Steven was a native artist who lived in Elliot Lake at the time.  He worked often in the woodland style.  These are two good examples of his work.  Some of his designs were adapted and produced as etched glass plaques which were produced and distributed by Prestige Glass of Elliot Lake.


This mural was created in 2013 by Susan Krupp.

Susan is a local artist who creates work in a variety of styles.  Her work is on display at the Gallery at the Centre.  You can also see more of her work on her website.

The artist prepared the following information about the three men depicted.

Elliot Lake exists today thanks to the ingenuity of a few incredible men.

            Joseph H. Hirshhorn, born in Latvia in 1900 came to the United States when he was seven. He was raised in Brooklyn NY. And at age fifteen left school and began his successful journey up the financial ladder starting as a messenger boy on Wall Street.

He was a millionaire before turning thirty thanks to shrewd speculations cashing in before the stock market collapse of 1929.  He became interested in Canadian mining after the gold price rose to US$35 an ounce in 1932.

In the 50’s, he and geologist Franc Joubin were primarily responsible for the big “Z” uranium discovery in northeastern Ontario and the subsequent founding of our city of Elliot Lake.  Hirshhorn Avenue is named for him.

Hirshhorn’s primary role was to provide funding which, for the Blind River developments, ultimately approached $250 million before the overall deal was made with Rio Tinto.

In the 80’s, it was estimated that TMC’s Blind River discoveries had added some $30 million to the economy.

When he began making money, he began buying art!  He amassed a collection of  paintings and sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries.  He studied art, loved and appreciated art.  He allowed non profit groups to use tours of his sculpture garden for fun raising.  He tried to create an art museum in Algoma Mill but met with much resistance.  All of his collection is now on display at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC.

Hirshhorn believed in Canada’s mineral potential and thanks to his business acumen, drive and determination he helped transform Ontario’s north.

            Franc R. Joubin was a committed prospector.  A chemistry and geology graduate of the University of British Columbia, he began his mining career in the gold business with BC’s Pioneer Gold Mines. 

In 1948 the Canadian government legalized prospecting for Uranium, so a young Joubin went searching for it with his $120.00 Geiger counter.

When he learned that Pitchblende had been discovered near Sault Ste. Marie he was one of the first on the scene.

He had a bit of a false start, detecting only traces  of Uranium and as a result returned to his geological consultant practice travelling in search of other metals. But he never gave up on searching for Uranium in Ontario.

In 1953, along with Hirshhorn, a highly secretive staking be was launched in the area.  More than 1400 claims were staked encompassing some 56,000 acres.

The test drills hit Uranium and Joubin was on his way to securing his place in Canadian mining history.

His perseverance resulted in the creation of 9 separate mines and became one of the biggest mining booms this country has ever seen.  Joubin’s passion for prospecting, his skill and determination led to the success and growth of Elliot Lake.  He was inducted in to the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in 1989.

            Steven B. Roman was a Slovakian immigrant who began working in Canada as a tomato picker.  He started farming with his brother but was unsuccessful.  After serving in  the Canadian armed forces in WW2 he began toying with penny mining stocks.  His first success came in 1953 when he sold a $10,000 investment in the Concord Mining Syndicate for $2 million, following the Syndicates discovery of oil in Leduc, Alberta

Roman wen on to buy a stake in North Denison Mines at just over 8 cents a share and by 1954 controlled the company, renaming it Consolidated Denison Mines.  When he purchased 83 mining claims in Elliot Lake for some $30,000 cash along with 500,000 shares of Consolidated Denison, Roman was launched in to the league of major players in the world’s mining industry.  These claims contained what was then the world’s largest deposit of Uranium.

Roman was a passionate entrepreneur.  He build wealth for his shareholders and jobs for Canada by funding, exploring and developing this resource.

Roman admits that he was a dreamer and a risk taker.  Thanks to these attributes, we now call Elliot Lake home.









This mural was created by Linda Duke in 2013.  The painting and poetry express the artist's love of the North.

Linda has lived in Elliot Lake for many years.  She is a member of the Elliot Lake Arts Club.  Her work is on display at the Gallery at the Centre.

This is a self-guided walking tour of the public art displayed in the downtown area of Elliot Lake.

You can download a copy of the brochure in the attachment below.

Take a walk and enjoy the Art.