The Paymaster Mine is commonly known to be located 4 miles southeast of Timmins, In Tisdale Township. This massive gold mining operation was first claimed by the Standard Gold Mines Limited on seven potential mineral zones that they had owned. In general the very first company shaft to come into production was located on two separate claim areas that we're known as claims HR908, and ME15. Development of the No.1 shaft was now being taken place as this shaft was now resting at about 83 feet below the surface. It also had contributed several feet of crosscutting that was known to go on for 40 feet.
Another expansion was being made when the Standard Gold Mines Ltd had now sub-contracted the whole entire mining operation. Almost all ownership of this massive gold mine project was soon given to the West Dome Mines Ltd. Within the same year of 1910, the company decided to deepen the No.1 shaft to about 123 feet, and also started constructing two more shafts towards this mining claim. The No. 2 shaft was no reaching 28 feet while the No 3 shaft was sitting at around 114 feet below the ground. As production within that year had become significantly high, the West Dome Mines Limited had also started designing the No.4 shaft which as to be sunken to about 76 feet. Two ore producing levels also became designed within all four shafts but much of the work was being focus on the No.1 shaft that include 204 feet of crosscuts on the 105 foot level.
By 1915 the mine was yet again ready go through another expansion stage when company officials decided to start sinking the shafts even more further down below the ground. Development of shaft No,1 was now being drilled to about 1,350 feet, while shaft No. 2 rested at 30 feet, shaft No. 3 had rested at 595 feet and the last shaft known as No.4 had only reached 114 feet below the surface. Even the No.1 Paymaster Mine shaft was said to have developed into a rich producing gold mine shaft with eleven levels being fully developed. Each of these highly profitable ore levels became developed on the mines 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 750, 900,1,050, 1,200, and 1,325 foot sections. As development within this mining zone became so high, the mine was now totalling 18,866 feet of drifting and 7,365 feet of crosscutting on all levels. A small milling facility was also built to process the rich gold ore from 1915 to 1930. All production and development was now being achieved by two mining firms known as West Dome Mines Ltd and West Dome Lake Gold Mines Ltd.
Some of the mine shafts were know to have closed down due to low grade resources in 1930. So the main shaft to become in charge of all production at that time period was strongly considered as the No.5 shaft. Gold production from the No.5 shaft was strongly known to be a lot more higher in profit then the previous mine shafts and the market for gold was extremely down during this time period. So nevertheless, the No. 5 shaft was no experiencing heavy expansions when it was being sunken down to about 4,462 feet below the surface. Another development of Winze Shaft No.2 was designed from the 2,046 foot section and had went down to 4,202 feet. Soon enough company officials needed to produce more gold so Winze shaft No. 6 was now being drilled from the mines 4,059 foot section to its 6,157 foot section so that more ore could be retrieved. Mine development on the No.5 shaft zone was now reaching 197,294 feet of drifting and 82,577 feet of crosscutting. When the ore became more heavy the newly designed company had started building a whole new milling facility that would end up treating 365 tons of extracted rock per a day. The mine site had even developed so big that 9 shafts we're being put into production and had also included 6 winze shaft operations. All of this mine development and work was being carried out by two other firms known as the Paymaster Consolidated Mines Ltd and the Porcupine Paymaster Ltd. The final closing of the mine had soon occurred on April 1966.
Who knew what Hector Poitras was thinking that cold February morning in 1945, when he stepped onto the cage at the Paymaster No. 5 shaft getting ready to ride down into the mine with his co-workers? It was a Friday. Maybe he was going to a dance that night, or maybe to see a hockey game at The Mac or the South Porcupine Arena. For whatever reason, Poitras didn’t have his mind completely on the job.
Poitras was a young rookie miner. That’s probably why another miner, an older fellow, gave him a friendly nudge and asked him why he didn’t have his cap lamp with him. Poitras had to get off the cage and head for the lamp room, thus missing his ride underground and possibly facing a bucket load of you-know-what from the shift boss. That mistake would save his life. The cage had begun its descent into the depths of the mine. Eight men were on the upper deck. Eight were on the lower deck.
The incident itself took only seconds, at about 7:55 that morning. The cage was moving at a normal speed of about 1,200 feet per minute when the rope broke, said the Ministry of Mines report. There was no evidence to the rope being jerked or kinked, said the report. The break sent the cage into a free fall, racing to the bottom of the shaft, instantly collapsing into a wreckage of bent steel and broken bodies. Sixteen men lay dead and dying. It became the second-worst mining disaster in the brief history of the Porcupine Camp. The worst had occurred 17 years earlier, in February 1928, when 39 miners died in the fire at the Hollinger Mine. This coming Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 will be the 70th anniversary of that horrible event. There was no obvious reason why the rope broke. The steel-wire hoist rope had been purchased by Paymaster in March 1941. It had been kept in dry storage for several months and then placed in service in August 1942. Official records showed the rope had been regularly greased and tested by mine employees.
The official Ministry of Mines report revealed the one-inch thick rope was supposed to have a breaking strength of 102,000 pounds, 51 tons. The combined weight of the cable, the cage and the men inside was only 11,700 pounds, less than six tons.