Megantic County’s Early Copper Mining Companies
How Copper Mining Became the Douglas Family Business
Dr. James Douglas, Jr. (1837-1918) is well known in Canadian mining circles and among copper metallurgists for his years with the Phelps Dodge Company/Corporation and his career in Arizona and New York. AIME’s James Douglas Gold Medal for Achievement in Non-Ferrous Metallurgy reflects the respect Douglas earned in his remarkable life. Less well-known is how he came to copper and copper metallurgy in the first place. His “how it all started” story is the topic of this year’s Fathi Habashi Lecture. Douglas’s start in mining took place in Quebec’s Eastern Townships after he set aside a career as a Presbyterian minister and after the collapse of his next choice career as the administrator of his father’s (Dr. James Douglas, Sr.) Beauport Asylum. The lecture examines the circumstances that led Douglas, Jr. to involve himself in several failing copper mining companies. His career in the copper business is rooted in the investments his father made in the following Megantic County copper mining companies: Megantic Copper Mining Company (1852), Megantic Mining Company (1854), Lower Canada Mining Company (1853), Quebec and St. Francis Mining and Exploring Company (1854), English and Canadian Mining Company, Limited (in UK 1858). The Harvey Hill Mining and Smelting Company of Leeds (1863), English and Canadian Mining Company, Limited (1865), The Consolidated Copper Company of Canada (in UK 1872), The Harveyhill Copper Company, Limited (in UK 1873). All but two of the companies operated at Harvey Hill. Two problems frustrated all the companies: 1) ore too lean to be profitable, and 2) exhaustion of operating capital. Herein lies the origins of the Hunt and Douglas Copper Process.