History of Elliot Lake

First Nation and Algoma

Long before the fur trade, logging and mining activities, the Elliot Lake area was the summer home of the Ojibway Nation on the North Shore.  Many artifacts have been unearthed in our area and include a major native village on the shore of Elliot Lake, just over the hill from St. Joseph's General Hospital.  There is a persistent rumour that a burial ground is on an island on Elliot Lake giving this area a very mystical and interesting history.  Pictographs (native rock paintings), have been discovered on rock outcrops on Quirke Lake, 10 miles north of our museum and the whispers of Gray Owl at the turn of the century in Algoma and indeed Elliot Lake, make our Museum a must for visitors.

Pre History of Elliot Lake

The name "Elliot Lake" first appeared on a Dominion Map in 1910.  It is widely believed that the name Elliot belonged to a logging camp cook who drowned in the lake prior to that date.  History tells us Elliot's remains were never recovered. This part of Algoma is rich in folklore of the early Ojibway Nation, fur trading and in later years vast logging operations that lasted until 1950. Tourist outfitters have been active in the immediate vicinity as remote wilderness locations since the turn of the century, catering mainly to American sportsmen who have kept their ties to our location to this very day.  The discovery of uranium in 1953 prompted the now famous "Back Door Staking Bee" that ultimately saw the opening of 14 uranium mines in the Elliot Lake area.  World demand for this mineral dictated a feast or famine syndrome that has forged Elliot Lake into a very resilient community that will continue to dominate mid Algoma.

Elliot Lake, a Short History

The City of Elliot Lake owes its existence to the uranium mining industry.  In the early 1950's, when a huge ore body of uranium was discovered in the Canadian Shield near Elliot Lake, the Provincial Government created a special agency to ensure the development of Elliot Lake as a viable community.  This agency known as the Planning and Development Department of the Ontario Ministry of Housing was formed in October of 1955.  Members of the special board included Franc Joubin, E.B. Gillanders, W.E. Willoughby and P.L. Percy Brown.  Controlled and planned development ensured that Elliot Lake would not turn into a shack town.  For the next 40 years Elliot Lake produced most of the world's uranium. The city withstood many ups and downs related to a one-industry community but in past years diversification plans stabilized the economy.  A few of the diversification successes include a treatment centre for substance abuse, a thriving tourism industry, forest products harvesting and a very successful retirement living program that has attracted  2,000 retirees from all over Canada, the US and Europe.  Elliot Lake has been leading the way in Ontario since 2003 for affordable, pristine waterfront lots.  In its' early mining days, Elliot Lake produced most of the worlds uranium and in doing so spearheaded mine development in safety - ventilation and environmental concerns that have made Elliot Lake an industry leader.  In January of 1991 the provincial government officially proclaimed Elliot Lake as Ontario's fiftieth city.

In 2015, Elliot Lake celebrated its 60th Anniversary.