5,000 signatures to save abandoned mine in Quebec

A former quartz and feldspar mine that closed in 1972 has become the latest tourist attraction in western Quebec.

Over the past year, the Wallingford-Back Mine, located approximately 60 kilometres northeast of Ottawa, has seen an influx of visitors who are mainly attracted to its old-looking infrastructure, imposing rock pillars, and the pristine turquoise waters of an adjacent lake. But both visiting the mine and swimming in the lake are considered illicit activities.

Since the site is off-limits, the provincial Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources issued an ultimatum to the regional municipality of Papineau to either invest money to develop the mine as a tourist site, or demolish it by dynamiting the surface pillars.

Given this situation, a citizen’s group called Les amis de la mine Back has launched a petition that aims at gathering 5,000 signatures to formally ask authorities to protect the site. “Outstanding beauty and undeniable historical value have been used to describe the old Wallingford-Back mine,” they say. As of Monday morning, 4,133 people had joined their cause.

The head of the group, Chantal Crete, told The Canadian Press that there needs to be a development plan for the place, since visitors' cars usually block the only narrow road that leads to the mine, there are no garbage cans or bathrooms, and some people have become a security risk and a nuisance for the closeby town of Mulgrave-et-Derry.

"On the site next to the mine Lac Brûlé," reads a Facebook post by Lyne Desjardins , who is asking to keep the area clean.

"On the site next to the mine Lac Brûlé," reads a Facebook post by Lyne Desjardins , who is asking to keep the area clean.

Papineau's council is expected to make a decision about the mine's fate at a meeting on Oct. 19.