Published on: 11/21/2012 10:09:07 AM Print | Font Sizes:  Normal Text Large Text

Legendary Timmins prospector dies

John Larche
John Larche

Renowned Timmins prospector John Larche died Oct. 8 at the age of 84.

He is best known for his role in discovering the Hemlo goldfield in northwestern Ontario, along with Timmins prospector Don McKinnon who died in August.

“Another one of our mining legends is gone,” said Dean Rogers, president of the Porcupine Prospectors and Developers Association. “He and (McKinnon) are the second generation of legends.”

Larche became a prospector in the 1950s and was self-taught. He was president of the former producing Moneta Porcupine Mine and of Canadian Arrow which had property east of Timmins.

After co-discovering Hemlo, he was co-recipient of the Prospector and Developers Association of Canada's Prospector of the Year Award in 1983. In 2002, he received the Order of Canada.

Larche had been a long-time benefactor to the Timmins and District Hospital and has contributed millions of dollars throughout the years. In 2006, the hospital's Imaging and Cardiopulmonary Department was renamed in his honour.

“He was humble, tireless and hardworking,” said Rogers. “He was a great family man and kind and generous to a fault. He was soft spoken and very knowledgeable.”

Larche was born in Blind River and moved to Timmins at a young age. According to a history of the Hemlo Gold Mines, he quit school at 15 to work in the Timmins gold mines. He also worked for a short period in auto and aircraft plants before prospecting full time.

He and McKinnon had studied the Hemlo area for 20 years, with Larche using a tractor and backhoe and the other poring over documents. They acquired the claims they wanted in late 1979.

In August, Larch attended the unveiling of three bronze statues of early Timmins prospectors at the city's museum.

“It was great to see him there and he was certainly recognized during the speeches,” Rogers said.

He was also recognized as one of the 100 Faces of Timmins during its centennial year (2012) and was given a key to the city along with two other prospectors earlier this year at a special dinner and ceremony.

“He certainly was an institution in town,” he said.

Larche is survived by his wife Dolores, five children and 16 grandchildren.   

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