Wallingford-Back Mine

The Wallingford-Back Mine in Mulgrave-et-Derry, Quebec, is on the 2017 Top 10 Endangered Places List. 

Created by the National Trust for Canada

June 8, 2017

Location 

Mulgrave-et-Derry, Quebec

Why it matters

Situated inside a hollowed-out hill and stabilized by rock pillars, the Wallingford-Back Mine is a unique, semi-natural former mine site. It was first exploited by miners in 1924 to produce feldspar and quartz, and would later become one of the largest mines in North America. The site was permanently closed in 1970, and has since become a natural treasure and tourist destination, popular with paddlers in the summer and skaters in the winter.

Why it’s endangered

Though the Wallingford-Back Mine has attracted recreationalists since its closure, the site began to attract an abundance of tourists in 2016 after it was featured in media stories as a nearby “secret destination.” But with no designated parking, bathrooms, or garbage cans, the site was ill-prepared for visitors, and conditions quickly deteriorated, leaving the site in a state of disrepair.

In April 2017, the Papineau Regional County Municipality accepted a recommendation from the Quebec Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources to permanently block access to the mine (an estimated $200,000 investment). Some residents and members of the “Save the Mine Back” Facebook group feel the decision is bittersweet: though the site has averted demolition, they are disappointed that it will not be developed as a tourist site.  

Every year, the National Trust publishes its Top 10 Endangered Places List as part of its mission to raise awareness of the value that historic places bring to quality of life, local identity and cultural vitality.

First published in 2005, the Top 10 Endangered Places List has become a powerful tool in the fight to make landmarks, not landfill. The National Trust believes that historic places are cornerstones of identity, community and sense of place, yet every year, more are lost due to neglect, lack of funding, inappropriate development and weak legislation. By shining a spotlight on places at risk, the Top 10 Endangered Places List raises awareness about their plight and bolsters the efforts of local advocates working to save them.

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