Mirrors of Stone

Mirrors of Stone

Fragments from the Porcupine Frontier

By Charlie Angus, Photographs by Louie Palu


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Mirrors of Stone delves into the many ethnic cultures that thrived in the mining areas of Northern Ontario from the 1920s to the 1960s. The stormy history of hardrock mining camps has never fit into the comfortable cliches by which Canada “tells its story.” Angus unearths the dark sides of this history–“the wild tales of bootleggers, mobsters, and prostitution rings” and in so doing opens up new ways of seeing Ontario’s history and culture.

This is Angus’ third work on the economic and cultural history of Northern Ontario, and the second collaboration between Angus and Louie Palu. We Lived a Life and Then Some (BTL, 1996) tells the marvelous story of Cobalt, Ontario, and Industrial Cathedrals of the North (BTL, 1999) portrays in images and words the ghostly mining structures now largely abandoned in the north.

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[The] personal perspectives [in the book] give the book a passion often missing in “grounded academic history.” [Angus’] findings are presented in casual prose that will entice the casual reader. His considerable reliance on the memories of both men and women (the latter are far more than an afterthought here) should interest more serious students of history. [This is] a book worth reading and looking at for anyone interested in the North, in mining, in the capitalist-worker relationship and more.

– Labour/Le Travail


Part I Strangers on the Land
Prologue The Road to Emmaus
Chapter 1 Relics of the Pioneers
Chapter 2 Outlaws in Murphy Township
Chapter 3 The Short, Unhappy Life of Natasia Baldiuck
Chapter 4 Joe Basill Gets Whacked
Chapter 5 The Hollinger Fire
Chapter 6 Joe and Lola
Part II Strangers and Memory
Prologue Stumbling through History
Chapter 7 Burning Crosses and Red Co-operatives
Chapter 8 The Afternoon Matinee
Chapter 9 The Night in Moneta
Chapter 10 Henry and the High-Graders
Chapter 11 The Paymaster Disaster
Chapter 12 Breathing the Powder
Chapter 13 Death by a Thousand Cuts
Part III A Changed World
Prologue In Search of the Synagogue
Chapter 14 The Mystery of Bill Barilko
Chapter 15 Battle of the Broulan Reef
Chapter 16 The Birth of the New Dragon
List of Interviews