The Caland and Steep Rock Iron Mines represent amazing feats of engineering and construction. Long before the days of computerized projections and simulations, engineers in the first half of the 20th century were able to accurately predict how moving 280 million cubic yards of water, silt and gravel would affect the area around what would be five of Canada’s premier iron ore mines.
First opened in 1943, these mines would supply raw materials for everything from World War Two Hawker Hurricanes (made in Thunder Bay) to toasters and nails in the late 1970s. Although the mines closed in 1979 and 1980, they are still quite a sight to see- horrifying in their destruction of the land, but beautiful in their complexity.
Before you visit the sites, consider visiting the Atikokan Centennial Museum‘s mining gallery to learn about Atikokan’s mining history and to see artifacts from the Steep Rock mine.
There are many amazing viewing points on roads around the sites that are accessible year-round by quad, vehicle, or snow machine, however, be prepared to jump in and out of your vehicle in order to get the best view.
*We recommend visiting in the fall when the colours are changing and most leaves have fallen. As the leaves fall there will be clearer sightlines to the buildings and pits.
Be warned your shoes might turn red after a day exploring because of the high iron levels in the soil!
Safety Note: As the Caland and Steep Rock Iron Mines are in the process of “Enhanced Natural Recovery” there are some areas that are not accessible. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is working to stabilize and remediate the area and have identified areas that are not safe for visitors to enter. When visiting please respect all barriers and signage to ensure a safe experience.