Mond Mine Village

Excerpted from "Industrial Communities of the Sudbury Basin" published by the Sudbury & District Historical Society, c1986. Thanks to Bill Mäkinen, author of the Mond article in the book, for permission to include the history and the photographs in the Gallery

The Victoria (Mond) Mine provided the raison d’étre for the village of Mond and its lifespan coincided with that of the mine, from 1901 to 1923, although the last house was not removed until 1936.  The village of Mond was located two miles north of old Highway 17 West and about three miles south of Fairbank Lake in Denison township. It had a rolling, well-drained site with a small creek running through the village. Gravel underlay much of the site, providing a  reservoir of fresh water, and today a gravel pit bites deeply into the southwest part of the former townsite. The site and the surrounding area was originally well forested; logs in the homes reached two feet in thickness and stumps left by the logging firms, which had earlier worked the land, areas much as three to four feet in diameter. The nearby lakes, Ethel (Mond), Fairbank, and Skill (May), provided many recreational opportunities. Mond was located within easy walking distance of the mine, and the C.P.R. and the Algoma Eastern (“Agony”) Railway provided access to Sudbury.

Estimates of the number of residents vary, but the population was probably at the lower end of the 300-500 range with both a permanent and a transient element. Ethnically, Mond was a “League of Nations’ with Finns, Ukrainians, Poles, Italians, French and British among the population. The Finns and Ukrainians had their own halls. A former resident claimed that there was no “class distinction”  On the whole, the many ethnic groups got on well together even though they could not always understand each other. Language was a natural cement within the various ethnic groups; it is claimed that Matti Manninen, a Finnish shift boss, had all the Finns on his shift, and that Ballantyne, another shift boss, had mainly British workers under him.

Public buildings in Mond included two general stores, a school, the Finnish and Ukrainian halls, two Mond Nickel boarding houses, a Slovak boarding house, and Finnish boarding house with a pool room. Only one sauna existed in the town and was operated by Mr. Fred (Francis)Laine. He provided Saturday night public saunas for 15 cents per person.

Most of the houses were constructed of pine logs or were frame buildings with “lap siding”. The Mond Nickel Company owned some of them, as many as twelve at one point after I913, but most were privately owned and built on land leased from the company. Electricity was unknown in the homes, with the exception of superintendent Mumford’s. Kerosene lamps were the order of the day. Home heating was accomplished mainly by wood stoves, although one former resident claimed that “everyone had a coal stove?’ Coal cost between $8 and $9 a ton. The company bought a carload of coal each fall for the Mond residents, who purchased it from the company. Firewood was cut in the bush with bucksaw and axe and was hauled by horse and sleigh; it was then cut into shorter lengths with a portable gasoline circular saw. As 40 to 50 cords were needed each year for heating and cooking, much work was involved.

Nearly everyone had a barn with some cows, chickens, pigs and calves, and potatoes were grown; thus, some degree of self-sufficiency existed. Butter, cheese and milk were sold, though there was no pasteurization at the time. The men worked 10 hours a day, 6 days a week for the company and had no vacation. Farming was, therefore, a family enterprise. These efforts represented a very important supplement to the family income at a time when, as in 1921, muckers received $3.70 per day, drill operators (runners) $4.20 per day, underground machinemen $4.00 per day, and a rockhouse worker $2.60 per day.

Water from wells was in good supply because of the gravel site. Wells were, for the most part, individually owned and yielded heavily in low-lying areas. There was also a town well. Buckets were used and there was no running water. Water was heated on the kitchen stove as no electricity or hot water tanks were available. Sewage facilities were virtually non-existent. There were no septic tanks or field beds and dishwater was “heaved out the back door?’ Sinks were also rare. Outhouses provided toilet facilities and Mond employees served as “honeydumpers” or “scavengers". There were no telephones except at the mine. Nor, until 1919, were there any radios and then, as one resident recalled the best reception was after midnight.

>The horse was essential to transportation in Mond, pulling buggies, wagons and sleighs  According to the season. A livery stable for the rental of horses in Mond was operated by Sam Anderson. The first motor car in Mond appeared in 1913. It was owned by Matti Manninen who used it as a jitney (taxi). By the time the mine shut down there were 13 cars in Mond, mostly Model T Fords (“Tin Lizzies”). To travel at 30 mph was “flying” in those days. A trip to Sudbury and back on the original corduroy road took all day. The highway was not passable in winter and usually not useable until late spring. Ploughing the highway did not begin until about 1937.

The railway and steam engine played a significant role in transportation in the area. The Algoma Eastern Railway, originally the Manitoulin & North Shore Railway, was located immediately south of Mond, having reached there in 1911. A train went west in the morning and east in the evening and took more than one hour to get to Sudbury at a fare of one dollar. Passengers from Mond, using the railway, had to stay overnight in Sudbury. A box car served as the Mond station of the Algoma Eastern Railway and was located a short distance south of the village. The Algoma (Sault) branch of the CPR had been built through the future site of Victoria Mines earlier, in 1883 or 1884. There were two trains daily in each direction enabling a traveller to go to and from Sudbury in one day on this line.

There was an elementary school of two stories and two rooms, with approximately 45 students per room. The left side was for boys and the right side for girls. Grades 1 to 8 were taught by two teachers and the “basics” such as history, spelling, composition, grammar, and literature were stressed. After the public school in Victoria Mines closed in 1913 the children travelled the two miles to the Mond school until about 1927. No secondary school was available locally so students travelled to Sudbury. They had to pay $10 per month for tuition and this was reimbursed by the Mond Nickel Company. Although there were no church buildings in Mond, itinerant ministers occasionally held services in the school.

There were no permanent medical facilities in town but a doctor came once a week from Victoria Mines, and later from Worthington. During the flu epidemic in 1918 the school became a hospital. Victims included the strong and healthy, who usually died of pneumonia because they did not take care of themselves after initial contact with the disease. Pine coffins were made at the mine. Mr. Fred Laine, took 21 victims from Mond to the cemetery during the epidemic. The public cemetery was in Whitefish near the new Highway 17 West.

It seems that culturally and athletically, Mond was an active community. Football, tennis, high jumping, running, boxing, etc. were taken up. The Finns had a Voimestula Seura or athletic club which included an active gymnastics team. The “higher class” Mond Club, which was a renovated log cabin, had an orchestra which included pianos and violins. Teacher Harley Barton played the violin in this orchestra. Band music, plays gymnastics and dances featuring accordion music were among the activities carried on at the Finnish Hall.

Amusements at Mond were characterized by active participation. In winter, toboggan parties for the whole family, skiing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, and skating on the rink near the mine were typical pastimes. In summer, Sunday picnics at Ethel Lake, blueberry picking, croquet, baseball, and tennis were enjoyed by the “Mondites"  Hunting and fishing in and around the nearby lake areas were enjoyed in their seasons. Also popular were the Victoria Day parade, the summer fair on 1 July, and the fall fair. The fairs were held at the picnic grounds on the south side of the town and included games, races, and baby shows. Softball competitions took place against Crean Hill and Worthington.

After 1923 most of the homes were torn down as they were on company land and were not, for the most part, worth moving. Many were sawn up for firewood. The community of Mond has virtually disappeared from the map, its former existence evidenced by little more than a few hidden foundations. Nature has been healing the marks left by man and, with the exception of the Mond roast yard, has proved to be a skilled physician.

More photos can be found in our gallery.