Culture of Mining

Mining settlements throughout Canada have similar development patterns, characterized by their beginnings as temporary settlements during a period of prospecting or exploration. Often these were settlements of tent or log cabin camps, with trading post-style supply and distribution centres. In these original settlements, resources were developed as quickly as possible, and the community ceased to be sustainable once they were exhausted, therefore was considered to be temporary from the beginning.

A second scenario is seen in the boomtowns of gold rush areas. Here a period of rapid urbanization was seen. Characteristic of this development are false front buildings, often with the facade applied to the existing front of a log cabin. In the longer term, townsites either further developed into cities, with false fronts being replaced by brick and stone buildings, or the boomtown turns into a ghost town. The ghost town phenomenon still represents an important chapter of rural settlement in Canada. With the exploration of remote areas – even those that were quickly abandoned - transportation infrastructure was greatly expanded. Many roads and railroad were built largely to support mining, especially in the north.

A third pattern of development, the company town, is characterized by government management of settlement, which led to more legal oversight of development and formal planning of communities.

The most recent mining town development is the fly-in town: designed to avoid temporary towns and to centralize services within a region, goods and workers were flown in from existing communities to a mine location. While this served regional development goals, by supporting existing infrastructure and populations and diluting the impact of mine closure, no local infrastructure is developed and fly-in settlements are reminiscent of the tent camps or early exploration. This model does work strongly to support Aboriginal employment, as it can accommodate traditional lifestyle patterns.

Mining was strongly impacted by rising awareness of negative environmental impacts, and many companies now consider the triple bottom line in any new development: economic, environmental, and social impacts. Community diversification is key, as the social and economic impacts of mine closure have now been seen in communities across the country. Governments have made efforts to support tourism initiatives, long-term development visions and to discourage the creation of single-industry towns to avoid these scenarios in the future.

Homespun Naturals
Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre
Community Prospecting
Bell Island Mine Museum
Yukon Trapper’s Cabins
Tiny Lights Festival
Wearable Traditions