Mayors and reeves, renowned strongmen and multi-million-dollar lottery winners are among the cast of colourful characters in a newly published book celebrating the centennial of the Town of Kirkland Lake.
Authored by Bill Glover, Gold for a Mad Miner is an anthology of 18 stories celebrating the town’s history, quirks and legends, printed in time to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the town’s founding in 1919.
Glover, who was born and raised in Kirkland Lake, said he’s always been interested in storytelling, and this marks the fifth book he’s written.
Though he’s retired now, he spent close to six decades in the mining industry, first working in Sudbury at Frood and Stobie mines, before establishing his own consultancy firm, which took him to Asia, Europe, South America, the U.S. and beyond.
“I always found the humour in life, and I always tried to find a story some place, whether interesting or funny,” said the 72-year-old author.
As Kirkland Lake’s centennial approached, he viewed it as the perfect opportunity to gather together the community’s best-known and most-loved stories into one volume.
The book’s first chapter, of which Glover is most proud, tells the biographies of all 25 of the town’s mayors and reeves, which required a deep dive into the archives at the local library.
"The Kirkland Lake library has all of the old newspapers from 1924 when they started the newspaper, all on microfilm, so I spent days and days and days, and probably weeks, looking at the old newspapers finding information,” he said.
Glover also dedicates a chapter to the war years, uncovering details about some of those who fought overseas during the Second World War.
The town’s cenotaph lists 157 names of soldiers who died in battle. Glover took interest in 17 of those men, in particular, who had all worked at Lake Shore Mine before deploying. Their story is complemented by that of two brothers, who died just one month apart and had been friends of his father.
“That’s kind of a sad story, but some of this stuff has never been written before,” Glover said.
One story with a notably local flavour details the lore behind the Paiements and the Beaudoins, two Kirkland Lake families who were known as “some of the strongest people that ever lived in this part of the country,” Glover said.
“Old Will Paiement could pick up and throw full 45-gallon drums over the top of the back of a half-ton at about 450 pounds apiece,” he said. “He's a local legend here."
The collection also pays homage to Kirkland Lake’s neighbouring community, Beaver House First Nation, recalls the saga of the Adams Mine garbage story – in which local protestors thwarted a plan to ship garbage from Toronto to Kirkland Lake to store it in the mined out Adams pit – and shares the tale of the three local lottery winners who became multi-millionaires through separate, lucky windfalls.
Glover has printed 400 copies of the book, which retails for $29.99. He’s proud to note that the production remains Canadian – the book is edited by Windsor's Cranberry Tree Press and printed by Marquis out of Montréal.
To date, he’s sold about 130 copies and has shipped some as far as B.C., the U.S. and Argentina.
But the book resonates most with current and former residents in Kirkland Lake who see their own history reflected in his recollections.
“Some of the stories had never been written before; others were my own adaptation,” Glover said. “I did a lot of research for it, and people tell me that it shows.”
Bill Glover can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.