Londonderry (then called Acadia Mines) was the location of a large iron mine and works until the 1920s. While no longer used to produce iron, the colours reported from this site included a wide range: Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Brown Ochre, and Indian Red. This sounded promising and we thus made it the first stop of our pigment collection trip.
While Aaron (my brother) and I had gone fully expecting to have to explore some of the cavernous mines, one of the local men, Ed, was kind enough to take us on a tour of his town before we got to that. His tour included the Coke Furnaces, the Slag Dump, the site of the Old Dam and the old Sunday baseball field. To our surprise, this tour ended with a huge pile of leftover ore from the Londonderry Ore Mountains itself (left over from when the company went bankrupt) to which we were told, “help yourselves, boys!”
For the next few hours we carefully picked our way through the surface of the pile, learning through on-site crushing which rocks seemed promising to produce pigments. By the end, our hands were quite brightly coloured!
After saying our farewells to Ed and his wife, we left Londonderry with some large bags filled with promising pigment rocks. We expect that these rocks will produce the brown ochres and the indian reds we read about. When I get back to Ontario I will begin the process of claiming these pigments and write further.
2 thoughts on “Londonderry Pilgrimage”
OUR FAMILY LEFT Londonderry in 1923. My father was born on Westchester Mountain. It was sad to see how Londonderry went down from a prosperous town to almost a ghost town. Although I was only a small boy when we lived there, I remember a lot about the people and the stores and hotel that were still operating.
Thanks for posting your comment, Roy. It’s been years since I’ve returned to Londonderry but it remains one of my favourite places to find colour in Canada. Your family’s experiences sound really interesting and I’d love to hear more about what you remember of Londonderry. Perhaps we could find a time to connect by phone and talk some more?