Elliot Lake Nuclear and Mining Museum

Useful Information

Location: 235-245 ON-108, Elliot Lake, ON P5A 2T1.
(46.384578, -82.643538)
Open: closed.
Fee: closed.
Classification: SubterraneaMining Museum MineUranium Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Address: Elliot Lake Nuclear and Mining Museum, 235-245 ON-108, Elliot Lake, ON P5A 2T1.
Amelia D'Amato, Museum Curator, Tel: +1-705-848-2287-2402.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1948 prospectors Aimé Breton and Carl Gunterman discover radioactive minerals.
01-JUN-1953 The Backdoor Staking Bee campaign starts.
09-JUL-1953 more than 1,400 claims covering 56,000 acres filed.
15-OCT-1955 Pronto Mine established at the site of the original discovery.
1959 Atomic Energy Commission refuses to extend the contracts beyond 1962.
1960 six mines closed.
1966 two mines closed.
1966 Nuclear Museum created.
1970s mines opened due to raising uranium price.
1990 mines closed due to end of Cold War.
1996 last Rio Algom mine closed.
1992 last mine closed.
28-APR-2007 Miners Monument inaugurated to honour the community's mining legacy.
2019 museum closed.
2023 scheduled reopening.


The Big Z is the contact between old granites and rhyolithic rocks and an area of younger sedimentary deposits. It appears in the form of a "Z" on the geological map. The uranium ores are in the lowest layer of the sedimentary rocks, which is called a reef. The largest deposits of uranium were found in the middle and north arms of The Big Z formation.


The Elliot Lake Nuclear & Mining Museum is the home of the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame, an exhibition on the mining heritage of Canada. The museum explains the local history from the early days with trapping and logging to the era of the Uranium mining. Elliot Lake was once nicknamed the Uranium Capital of the World.

The urianium mining started with two prospectors, Aimé Breton and Carl Gunterman, who found a rock at the Sault Ste. Marie recording office which sent their Geiger counter clicking. It was labeled "Long Township", which was actually long, it was the name of an area of 95 km² heavily wooded country. They nevertheless researched and when they actually found the ore, they staked the area, and started looking for a buyer. But unfortunately they had no ore, the minerals on the surface had only traces of uranium, the uranium on the surface had been leached out during centuries of weathering. No mining company was willing to invest money. But prospector-geologist Franc Joubin found investor Joseph Hirshhorn, and they financed a $30,000 drilling program. The drilling was successful, the ores underground had a high uranium content.

There is a geological structure which was named The Big Z, the contact between old crystalline rocks and younger sedimentary rocks. This structure had been mapped by W.H. Collins for the geological map of the Geological Survey of Canada in 1925. So the purchased all the claims in the suspected area. This was difficult, as secrecy was vital, they feared a gold rush situation. So they found men and obtained miners licences for them from different mining recorders' offices throughout the province. A dozen geologists, mining engineers, several young lawyers, and 80 prospectors used regular vacationers planes from Timmins to stake claims. They started on 01-JUN-1953 and on 09-JUL-1953 they returned to the recorders' offices, where they filed more than 1,400 claims covering 56,000 acres. This campaign became known as the Backdoor Staking Bee.

But with the filing of the claims, and probably because of the spectacular heist, a major rush started and invading prospectors staked an additional 8000 claims. Diamond-drilling rigs and their crews were flown into the area. The main uranium deposits were found in the middle and north arms of The Big Z formation. Pronto Mine was established at the site of the original discovery with a mill designed to process 1500 tons of ore daily. Plans were implemented to establish eleven separate mines, each bigger than most other uranium mining enterprises in the world. The Canadian Government negotiated contracts with the Atomic Energy Commission of the United States to a total of more than $1.5 Billion worth of uranium oxide. This was the early Cold War, uranium was needed for building atomic bombs, but also for power plants. And the contracts had very tight delivery deadlines. More than one billion tons was to be delivered by 1963. The mines had to be brought into production with great speed.

But the U.S.A. had own resources, which were also developed, and producers all over the world delivered uranium. The Atomic Energy Commission refused to extend the contracts beyond 1962. Rio Tinto announced that four of their six Elliot Lake mines would close within the year of 1960, the other two would be closed 1966. The population of Elliot Lake dropped from 25,000 to 5000 people.

During the 1970s, many countries now had atomic power plants, the uranium price went up. Again mines were opened, though not in the same "gold rush" style. They were in operation until 1990, when the end of the Cold War and the disarmament of atomic weapons caused falling prices. In 1996, the last mine was closed. The mines were decommissioned, which gave the miners work for some years, but at the end the economic backbone of the city was gone.

It seems the building of the museum was knocked down and the museum is currently closed. The given address and coordinates are outdated. A reopening is scheduled for 2023, but so far no date and no final location were published.