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Sometimes referred to as “the King of the Minemakers” at the height of his career, James Boylen was best known for the discovery and development of the volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits in the Bathurst area of New Brunswick in the early 1950s.
Prospector, entrepreneur and financier, he was responsible for bringing into production at least eight mines, the most notable of which were the mines of Brunswick Mining and Smelting Corp. He was the driving force behind exploration and development in the Bathurst area in the 1950s and the development of several mines in Newfoundland.
The exploration effort in the Bathurst area was of historic as well as of economic significance. The discoveries in the area established the use of the ground and airborne electromagnetic methods of searching for deposits and provided conclusive proof of the geological concept of volcanogenic sulphide deposits. These major steps served to steer Canadian exploration toward more scientifically based successes and resulted in a new geological model for mineral exploration that has since been used around the world.
Boylen was born in Weston, Ont., on Aug. 10, 1907. He grew up in Alberta but left home at age 14 with his older brother, Fred. They eventually made their way to the Larder Lake area of northeastern Ontario, the end of the rail line, and set up headquarters for dealings in the fur trade and other trading post activities. It was the equivalent of the more modern general store and supplied everything necessary for trappers and prospectors.
It wasn’t until the mining rush into Rouyn in northwestern Quebec in 1922 that he began his prospecting career. By 1927, he was devoting all of his time to prospecting and mine development in all parts of Canada. During the Depression years, he made his living by staking claims and doing contract assessment work for others.
In 1934, when the Depression was at its worst, there was a gold rush into the Sturgeon River area of Ontario. It was also the year Boylen established an office in Toronto from which all of his many operations (more than 50 mining companies at his peak) were run and deals negotiated.
In the 1940s, the list of his successes began to grow. He incorporated Dulama Gold Mines in 1944 and developed the project to the mill stage. He formed Anacon Lead Mines in 1948 and brought that mine into production the same year. In 1950, he brought the Montauban Mines property to the mill stage, did the same in 1951 with United Lead and Zinc Mines and, in 1963, brought the Advocate Asbestos mine into production in Newfoundland.
His greatest success, however, was in New Brunswick. In 1952, he formed a prospecting grubstake. It financed his major 1953 discovery that was to develop into the huge base metal orebodies of Brunswick Mining and Smelting. Some financial backers pulled out when metallurgical problems with the ore delayed the project. Boylen, however, overcame numerous obstacles and eventually brought the mine into production with smelting facilities established nearby at Belledune, N.B.
Boylen died in 1970.