Simpson Copper Mineshaft

Simpson Mine - Bruce Mines Museum

Useful Information

Location: 9221 Trans-Canada Hwy, Bruce Mines, ON P0R 1C0.
60 km east of Sault Ste. Marie.
(46.301811, -83.786071)
Open: JUL to AUG Tue-Sat 11-16.
Fee: Adults CAD 5, Children CAD 4, Students CAD 4, Family (2+*) CAD 10.
Classification: MineCopper Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: D=30 min.
Accessibility: no
Address: Simpson Copper Mineshaft, 9244 Hwy 17 E, Bruce Mines, Ontario, P0R1C0, Tel: +1-705.785-3493.
Bruce Mines Museum, 75 Taylor Street, Bruce Mines, Ontario, Tel: +1-705-785-3426, Fax: +1-705-785-3170.
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.


1846 town founded and named after James Bruce, the first Governor of the Province of Canada and the eighth Earl of Elgin.
1847 begin of copper mining.
1848 Simpson Mine shaft opened.
1849 Simpson Mine closed.
1876 end of coppper mining.
1894 Presbyterian Church built.
1917 church abandoned when the Presbyterian and Methodist churches joined to form the United Church, used as a post office, library and school.
1961 Bruce Mines Museum opened.
1992 restored Simpson Mine shaft opened to the public.
2010 closed due to vandalism.
2012 reopened.


The copper in the area is found along veins of white quartz, surrounded by black diabase. The green stain along the quartz veins is malachite, a copper mineral. Other minerals are bornite, which contains 80% copper, native copper, chalcopyrite (35% copper), and chalcocite (80% copper).


The village Bruce Mines is home to Canada's first successful copper mine. So actually Bruce Mines is the name of the village, the individual mines have their own names. Bruce Mines was founded to accommodate the miners and named after the 1847 Governor General of Canada, James Bruce, the Eighth Earl of Elgin. Many of the first residents were Cornish miners, which immigrated from England to work in the mines. The Simpson Mine was named after George Simpson, director of the Montreal Mining Company. It is the only mine open for the public at Bruce Mines.

A guided tour is offered through a section of the original mine shaft. There are reconstructed buildings like the horse whim and the assay office where the ore was graded and tested. A small exhibition shows mining equipment and mineral displays. Outdoors is a display of more recent mining machinery.

Simpson Mine was opened for the chalcocite and bornite, which contains about 80% of copper. But they were found only in the first 3 m of the mine, then the vein switched to chalcopyrite with only 35% copper. They did not refine the ore on site, it was shipped across the Atlantic for refining. With a loss of 5% in the processing the mining of low grade ore was not profitable and the mine was closed after only a year. At the end the shaft was 30 m long and 15 m deep. For the opening as a show mine, for safety reasons, the shaft was filled in to a depth of about 4 m. A pumping system was installed to keep it dry.

The mine shaft is located inside a patch of forest between Trans Canada Highway 17 and Desbarats Street. It is a little hard to find because it is not signposted, but it's located opposite the Bruce Mines United Church. There is a gravel parking lot on Highway 17 and an elevated wooden trail through the forest to thr mine.

In Taylor Street lies the Bruce Mines Museum, called church on the rock by the locals because it is located in a building which was once the Presbyterian Church, built in 1894. Later the building was used as post office and a school, in 1960 it became a museum. The museum houses over 7000 artifacts, including an unusual Yakaboo canoe. It is a local history museum showing all aspects of local life, but obviously with a big emphasis of the mining history.