Thursday, February 25, 2021Canada's Leading Online Business Magazine

The Municipality of Red Lake

Where the Last Gold Rush Rages On

Made up of six town sites – Red Lake, Balmertown, Cochenour, Madsen, McKenzie Island, and Starratt Olsen – the Municipality of Red Lake is the most north-westerly municipality in Ontario. The municipality offers all of the small town business advantages, including a vast number of business development opportunities, a skilled workforce, dynamic industrial sectors, educational and health facilities, and commitment to business growth. All of this situated in the stunning Canadian wilderness where residents and visitors alike enjoy natural beauty, pristine lakes, rivers, forests, clear blue skies and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation.

According to legend, two Chippewa warriors hunted along the shore of a lake. They came upon a huge moose at the waters’ edge. It took a full quiver of arrows to slay the huge animal, whose blood spilled into the lake. The dark colour of the moose’s blood gave the lake a reddish hue. Thereafter, the Chippewa referred to the lake as “Misque Sakigon” – Red Lake.

The quest for furs brought Europeans into the area in mid-1870’s, but chance changed all of this in the summer of 1925, when two brothers, Lorne and Ray Howey, discovered gold under the roots of an upturned tree. This accidental discovery launched the last great gold rush in North America and the founding of the Red Lake Mining District. In 1936, Howey Bay – the heart of Red Lake – was the busiest airport in the world, transporting freight and passengers at 15-minute intervals. In keeping with this tradition, and to better serve business and business development in Red Lake, the municipality commissioned a new airport terminal building, which has received several accolades including Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver designation.


Mining still represents the main motif in the fabric of the local economy. In 1995, Goldcorp discovered the world’s richest grade gold ore (two troy ounces (approx. 31.1g) of gold per metric ton). Since then this mine has become one of the richest gold mines in the world.

Bill Greenway, Red Lake’s Economic Development Officer, told The Canadian Business Journal, “There are ongoing developments on the local mining map.

Goldcorp is the largest operating mine in Red Lake, employing 1,300 people, but there are several new projects on the horizon as well. The Goldcorp Cochenour-Willans site is under rehabilitation, and a new winding tower [the structure above an underground mine shaft] went up last year, as well an underground tram between Balmertown and Cochenour that is well under construction. This tram track will be about six kilometers in length and, once completed, production is scheduled to start in 2014. The Cochenour-Willans project will access the Bruce Channel Discovery and the tram will provide access to the Rahill-Bonanza. Both, the Bruce Channel Discovery and Rahill-Bonanza are currently in advanced exploration stages. Another mine site is being developed by Rubicon Minerals Corporation, a junior mining operation that decided to take a large step and go into production. The Phoenix Zone project is slating production for 2013–14. Another junior mining company present in the area is Claude Resources. This company is doing advanced exploration on the Madsen mine site, and there are many other exploration companies active in the area.”

Due to its historical mining heritage, Red Lake has well developed infrastructure and equipment to support these extensive mining projects. Red Lake has three operational mining processing facilities — the Campbell complex, the Red Lake complex, and the Third Shaft complex. These operations are fully supported with a crushing mill, an autoclave and other equipment, allowing Goldcorp to do its own onsite processing.

Mining Town Challenges

While opening any new mine contributes hundreds of new jobs to the community, a transient workforce is an inherent challenge to mining towns. To address this challenge, the municipality assists mines and offers the transient workforce an opportunity to become permanent residents. To assure Red Lake’s sustainable growth, the municipality continues to develop infrastructure that will support new business beyond mining. Working toward this, Red Lake has created a sustainable community plan that reaches to 2031. This plan identifies the areas the municipality wants to develop to make Red Lake economically, socially, and environmentally feasible. “To accomplish long-term growth, we need to address several vital areas. For example, we are seriously looking at expanding our electrical power supply as our current lines are reaching their capacity. We also have a natural gas pipeline under construction. This pipeline will provide service to residents of Balmertown, Cochenour, and Red Lake. This is a very important infrastructure improvement with significant environmental and economic implications, replacing and/or reducing heating fuel consumption.This project should finish in the fall of 2012,” said Greenway.

Red Lake is also reviewing underdeveloped geographical areas where the municipality may be able to start new residential subdivisions. “Having solid residential options – from affordable to upscale housing – is the key to attracting new business. We are acutely aware of this fundamental need, and are working diligently to fill it,” Greenway summarized. The municipality has already collaborated on an initial housing project with Goldcorp. The plan is to build another new subdivision that will house Goldcorp employees.

Quality of Life

Red Lake’s quality of life surpasses its world class mining infrastructure. The natural beauty and wilderness that surrounds the municipality are the main attractions. Greenway said, “The unspoiled natural beauty in Red Lake makes the municipality unique, giving people the ability to walk out their door and be instantaneously connected to nature, whether it’s out on the lake canoeing, fishing, hunting, or doing winter recreational activities such as snowshoeing or ice fishing.The town also has Ontario’s most northerly 18-hole golf course. The golf course offers a unique golfing experience and hosts local tournaments such as the Hospital Foundation Tournament and the Wasaya Tournament — a fundraising event for First Nations charities.”

Established by chance – by gold found under the roots of an uprooted tree in 1925 – Red Lake continues to sate the global demand for gold. While building on its mining heritage, this municipality offers unique opportunities to residents and visitors, access to unspoiled North American wilderness, and attractive business and industrial investment options.