On the other side of the Black River, Holtyre is ten minutes east of Highway 11 on road 572. Like its cousin Ramore, Holtyre is a tiny three-street (Euclid, Gleason, Pearl) francophone hamlet.
Dwight emailed me to tell me that Holtyre was built in the early 1930’s after gold was discovered. The town was named after 2 mines: Hollinger and Macintyre – hence the name Holtyre. The mine had high grade gold which was mined from 1935 to 1988 – over half a century.
Up until the late 70s there were 2 stores, a large hotel, bowling ally, 2 schools (English and French – K to 8) and gas station. There was (and is) a larger school bus business that first started by transporting miners to the Johns Mansville Asbestos mine site between Holtyre and Matheson after WWII – the business evolved from there.
Dwight also emailed to tell this story: supposedly in the mid-70’s the gold mine changed ownership and it was decided to save costs, close the smelter, and truck the raw ore to Timmins for smelting. Sounded logical, and for nearly 20 more years, this is what happened. In order to make room on the property, they decided to simply burn the old smelter building down – after all, it was over 40 years old and well used. The thing is, that inside of the structure had been in place since 1935 and was made of wood. Gold dust from the smelting process had been building in every crevice and crack in the old building. When they burned it down, there was enough pure gold that had melted into clumps on the ground, that when it was collected (as I understand in quite a surprising panic!), the new owners paid for the mine – that day. It was clear profit from then on. Who would have guessed – certainly not the previous owners !
I noticed some interesting houses with two level front balconies, kind of like in New Orleans, but less extravagant. I wanted to take a photo, but Holtyre is so small that I felt oddly conspicuous and didn’t take any photos directly in town. (And hey, on my journeys I’ve been taking photos of everything and anything, so if I feel too out of place, then you know I felt weird!) I think it was because the community was just so small and was also off the road. I had no reason to be there, so it felt a bit weird. So instead, I took some shots of a local farm. The tiny photo doesn’t do it justice…it was such a great summer evening the first time I was in Holtyre.
Holtyre has its own church, a playground, and an inordinate number of school buses. I think there is a school bus operator in town, but there were also old buses in a few fields and yards, so I wonder what’s up.
I didn’t see any stores in town, but then again I skirted around and didn’t stop too long. I’m sure there’s a variety store. I don’t think there is a caisse or a gas station. There is an abattoir outside of town, if you happen to have any animals that need butchering.
For an archive of the more than 450 comments (yes you read that correctly. More than four-hundred and fifty!) that were posted to Highway11.ca’s profile of Holtyre between 2008 and 2012, please click here.