Posts Tagged ‘cobalt’

“‘Bling Pig’ Raid,” Kingston Daily Standard. September 4, 1912. Page 01.

Heavy Sentences Were Imposed On Ten Offenders at Cobalt.

Cobalt, Sept. 4. – The biggest ‘blind pig’ raid in months occurred when the Provincial police rounded up thirteen alleged illegal sellers of liquor here and in South Lorraine. Yesterday ten convictions were registered with Inspector George Morrison, prosecuting. Three cases were adjourned till to-day.

The following are the sentences imposed yesterday: Patrick Redmond, $200 or six months in jail; Alphonse Beland, four months in jail; Spiers Romanus, $100; George Peterson, four months: Luke Farrell, four months; John Major, $300 or nine months; Peter Peterson, $100; Joseph Perreault, ten months; Fred Paquette, $300; Bert Deschenes, twelve months.

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“News of the District,” Sudbury Star. August 10, 1918. Page 04.

Cobalt Nugget: Alarming stories of an armed camp, with alleged deserters from the C.E.F. holding off intruders with real, business like guns, were circulating in town yesterday. The location of this miniature fortress was given as in the district behind the Casey-Cobalt Mine, east of New Liskeard. It was declared by one party that four men, armed, ordered some people who had approached their camp to depart in peace and haste, reinforcing their commands with a display of firearms. The intruders who had no intentions of disturbing the men, obeyed with alacrity, it is said. Neither the Dominion or the Provincial police had any knowledge of any such camp, they announced.

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“Blind Piggers As Road Makers,” Toronto Star. July 23, 1910. Page 07.

They Are Doing a Lot of Fine Work in the North, These Prisoners.


Have Lots to Eat and They are a Contented Lot – They Bet on the Fight.

Special to The Star.
Cobalt, July 22. – Road-making by ‘blind piggers’ and other short term men is working to perfection. Not only are roads being built that bever would have been constructed if free labor had been employed, but the men are losing the sallowness and the furtiveness inseperable from the trade of whisky peddling in prohibition areas.

There are five guards watching 48 prisoners, and if these guards have revolvers or rifles, certainly the prisoners never know it. Dr. Reaume determined to test the innate decency of human nature, and he has been justified. They have to work, certainly, but no harder, not half as hard, as most of the pioneers in the North Country.

It was inevitable that some of the Wilder spirits should first of all try to get away, but they were speedily caught. One of these, considering the conditions under which they were working, had only about three more days to serve when he broke away. He was caught and now he is serving a year at Kingston. The other man was dealt with just as severely. Since then there has not been the slightest attempt at insubordination. If the men did want to get away they could as far as the railway, there to be taken by Chief Caldbeck or some of his henchmen.

The majority of them are short-term prisoners absolutely without any criminal record. It is necessary in this north country where all the elements of a wide open American border town are assembled, to deal with mere rowdiness and small offences with far far more severity than in the cities. And in consequence many of these men, if they had sinned in Toronto as they have here, would merely have had to pay a fine. Often the incarceration within the gloomy walls of the North Bay jail transformed a weak and erring man borne down by temptation into one with a deep and abiding hatred of society. The taint and the sullenness of the cell lay upon them, and they came back into the world thrice as dangerous as they went in. Yesterday one of these men who had just finished his enforced task on the road came into a local newspaper office and complained he had been detained one day longer than he thought was right. Is it possible to conceive of a man cowed by the ordinary prison rules doing such a thing?

Brown and Strong.
These men go north pale and in ill health, they come back browned and strong and upright. They are taking the keenest interest in their work. One of them, an ex-policeman convicted of forgery, has developed a genius for bridge building and he is swaggering along the grade of the road being constructed through the wilderness with a foot-rule sticking out of his pocket, possibly a far more useful member of society than he has ever been in his life before. They all live under canvas and the idea of a chain gang s simply too foolish to be considered. Men the Government are employing are eating with these prisoners, and all the difference between them is that one is working for the Government, and incidentally the good of his health, and the other is getting paid for his work. The ‘convicts’ are already beginning to growl because they are not being paid. They believe that they are doing just as good work as the hirelings. Some of them provide obdurate, it is true, but they are coaxed into doing their daily stunt by means almost laughable in their mildness.

One of the really tough men on the gang is now feeling what it is like to live on bread and water again inside four walls at Matheson. Here’s a man who might easily under other circumstances be knifing or gunning and he is merely sent to Coventry and into his own society for a few days to recover from his sulleness.

Plenty to Eat.
The men have all they want to eat, not roast turkey or ice cream certainly, but plain, wholesome, food and good. And they are all given tobacco to chew or smoke as their tastes incline.

The other day when Inspector Caldbeck went through just after the Jeffries-Johnson fight the gang quit work to hear the news. There was hardly a man there who had not a wager on the event, and that night there were all kinds of IOU’s passing from hand to hand, due in a month, two months or three months’ time as the term expired.

And the North wanted roads. All the appropriations had been made for the year without any proper provision for the betterment of the trail into Porcupine. And the North was preparing to be very sore indeed about it, for if any camp has refrained from wildcatting and sat down in sober sweat of the brow to make good that camp is Porcupine. To find themselves as they were now, cut off from the main source of supplies, without any prospect of improvement would have lost Sir James Pliny many friends.

So, the making of the country’s roads by the ‘blind piggers’ is double felicitous in result.

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Ethnic tensions and settlement in early 20th century northeastern Ontario, from Kerry M. Abel, Changing Places: History, Community, and Identity in Northeastern Ontario. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s Press, 2006. pp. 287-290.

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