A stunning industrial landscape that became a beloved local asset is threatened with destruction.
Why it matters:
Situated inside a hollowed-out hill and stabilized by rock pillars, the Wallingford-Back Mine is a unique, semi-natural former mine site. It was first exploited by miners in 1924 to produce feldspar and quartz, and would later become one of the largest mines in North America. The site was permanently closed in 1970, and has since become a natural treasure and local asset, popular with paddlers in the summer and skaters in the winter.
Why it’s endangered:
Though the Wallingford-Back Mine has attracted recreationalists since its closure, the site began to attract an abundance of visitors in 2016 after it was featured in media stories as a nearby “secret destination.” But with no designated parking, bathrooms, or garbage cans, the site was ill-prepared for visitors, and conditions quickly deteriorated, leaving the site in a state of disrepair.
In April 2017, the Papineau Regional County Municipality accepted a recommendation from the Quebec Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources to permanently block access to the mine (an estimated $200,000 investment). Some residents and members of the “Save the Mine Back” Facebook group feel the decision is bittersweet: though the site has averted demolition, they are disappointed that it will not be developed as an open local attraction.