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Miners' skills underground were used on the front lines

The recruitment office during the First World War was where the 101 Mall is today
Thirteen soldiers and one officer standing outside the recruiting ofice for Forestry Draft in Timmins

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify the location of the recruitment office.

The impact of the First World War was immediately felt the morning it broke out. Men looked for the next thrill and adventure, signing up by the dozens. 

Six hundred young men went to the trenches from Timmins. These men were mostly young and newly working rather than experienced professionals. The Porcupine Advance listed 100 men who joined the Pioneer Regiment’s 2nd Battalion and only six were identified as professionals and merchants.  

The men from the Porcupine Camp could sign up in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces at J.P. Bartleman’s shop, which served as their local recruiting bureau. The building was located at the northeast corner of Pine and Algonquin, near where the entrance to the 101 Mall is today.

Many of the first to enlist ended up in the 58th Infantry Battalion. Many miners who enlisted became overseas engineers or sappers. The 2nd Battalion, the Canadian Pioneers, called for miners familiar with tunnel construction; therefore, miners were extensively used along the front for their underground skills which became handy when digging tunnels was needed. They took on some of the most dangerous jobs which required long tiring days in the soil. One of their main jobs was to lay explosive chargers under enemy territory to provide hidden access routes to the front lines under the battlefields of France. 

The Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre regularly provides TimminsToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.

Find out more of what the Timmins museum has to offer here and read more Remember This columns here.