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James J. McKinley no photo available


James J. McKinley

James H. McKinley and Ernest J. Darragh were contractors providing lumber for a railway being pushed north through the thick Ontario bush. On August 7, 1903 the two partners were walking the right of way scouting for trees suitable for railway ties. As they passed through a rock cut on the banks of Long Lake (now called Cobalt Lake), south of Haileybury, their curiosity was aroused by a pink stain. They stopped to pick up a few loose rock pieces which were unusually heavy. A quick wash of the rock in a nearby river and then a bite into blackened metal flakes to find the flakes were soft. McKinley and Darragh wisely sent their rock samples for expert examination to two places – Ottawa and Montreal. The Ottawa 'expert' reported bismuth; the Montreal assayer reported native silver assaying 4,000 ounces to the ton! The black colour of the soft metal was caused by "tarnished silver." A mine followed three years later, the first of the Cobalt Silver Rush.

Last Updated on: 2024-02-28