With gold running deep through the region’s veins, a new documentary is focussing on Timmins’ rich history with the industry.
Northern Gold is an original two-part documentary series debuting on TVO this week.
“It is, in a nutshell, about the history of mining in Northern Ontario told through the lens of one mining town, Timmins, Ontario,” explained director/producer Catie Lamer.
Knowing that TVO was looking at exploring gold as a theme, Lamer started digging into different histories.
In Northern Ontario, she said, they found an “untold hidden history” of its impact in gold mining and how the industry shaped Ontario and Canada’s economy.
“And it’s something that we felt was underexplored and under-represented in the wider Canadian culture, so we really wanted to bring that to people,” Lamer said.
With the Porcupine Gold Rush in the early 1900s attracting people to Timmins, she noted the city has one of the biggest histories in the gold industry.
“And there’s just such a great cross-section of different people that it just immediately made sense,” she said.
For people who live in or have roots in Timmins, there are many familiar faces and spaces.
Participants were interviewed at the historical McIntyre Arena and Airport Hotel.
Outside, the visuals capture well-known streets and landmarks, as well as historic images and videos of the city.
While the rich mining history may be part of every day for people in the city, developing the documentary was a learning experience for Lamer, who is not from the area.
“I was amazed that such a big story and such a big part of Canadian history is really unknown. I went to public school in Ontario, but I felt I didn’t really know about Northern Ontario history, so everything you see in the documentary is something that I didn’t know before I started making it,” she shared.
“And I felt like, I’m an average Canadian, I felt like if I don’t know this, I think a lot of people don’t know this.”
In fact, Lamer said the biggest thing she learned is how much gold there was and is in Ontario.
“I think that before I started I didn’t even know that there was a gold industry in Ontario. It sounds crazy, but that’s what’s true, and once I began to uncover just what a huge role it plays in our economy, that really propelled me to dig further,” she said.
The series touches on how multicultural the city is and what Timmins is like today.
“There’s a lot of different things that we uncover in the documentary that people will find interesting and unknown,” Lamer said.
It’s been about a year and a half since they started developing the doc. During the winter of 2018, they were in town to film three times, including during a couple of snowstorms.
“We really wanted to shoot in winter because we felt it really encapsulated Northern Ontario and we wanted to show Timmins in winter,” Lamer said. “We had so many beautiful days. We were in a couple of snowstorms, but for my director of photography and I, it was really fun, I have to say.”
Northern Gold premieres on TVO Wednesday, March 6 at 9 p.m. After that, you’ll be able to stream it here.