Neil King, a prospector, first staked claim to this site in 1903. Having discovered a promising quantity of silver on the site, he approached M.J. O’Brien, a wealthy owner of several companies, credited with developing much of what is now Canadian National.
King offered the claim to O’Brien for $5,000. O’Brien, known for driving hard bargains, counter-offered $4,000. King accepted, and O’Brien opened a mine in 1906.
After the end of World War I, Edward, then Prince of Wales, toured Canada. As part of the tour, he visited the O’Brien mine and was presented with a bar of silver as a souvenir.
Preliminary estimates for the claim were that it would produce in excess of $10,000,000. In fact, this estimate would prove to be quite low. The mine would remain in operation until finally closing in the 1950’s.
When I arrived at this location, I was hoping to find more than I did. By this time, all that had survived “rehabilitation” was the ruins of the mill as pictured. The site’s history, however, is substantially richer.
After taking the pictures here, working my way toward the bottom of the structure, I noticed an old, overgrown road leading into the woods. I decided to follow it to see where it led. A short distance away, I found what I presumed had once been one of the shafts now filled in. I continued along the trail and arrived at the site of the 104 Mill.
I was researching some family history and came across your article. Iwas very interested, since my father, a Ukranian immigrant, worked at the O'Brien mine from approximately 1937 to 1953. After coming to Canada, he moved to Cadillac, where work was more plentiful. He married my mother in '39 in Cadillac. I was later born there in 1948. When the mine started closing down, the family moved to Hull, QC, where my mother's family was located.