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Thayer Lindsley, the father of such mining giants as Falconbridge Ltd., Ventures Ltd. and Frobisher, has been described as the greatest mine finder of all time. Not only did he found Falconbridge, a multinational organization ranked now among the largest mining companies in the world, but throughout his long and extraordinarily dedicated career, Lindsley either found or was involved in the development of such other famous Canadian mining names as Sherritt Gordon, Giant Yellowknife, Canadian Malartic, United Keno Hill, Lake Dufault and Opemiska Copper, Connemara in Southern Rhodesia and Whim Creek in Australia.
His geological and creative genius touched the fortunes of perhaps more than 185 companies in all.
In a book on exploration he published in 1966, he aptly described the kind of attributes that made he himself a giant among mining men:
“To be a successful mine finder,” he said, “one must have determination, knowledge, tenacity, a rugged constitution to withstand the rigors of outdoor life, and enjoy overcoming obstacles of every description. Also, a little dash of imagination and enthusiasm is helpful.”
He had an uncanny perception of geology that helped him build a world-girdling empire of mining properties.
An associate said of him:
“He was a geological genius. He had an astonishing ability to look at a geological map in three dimensions and quickly circle the location of probable ore with a big red crayon.
“Two of the secrets of his great success were his voracious reading habits, and a true photographic memory enabling him to discuss in great detail, even down to assays, little known ore deposits in parts of the world he had never visited.”
Thayer Lindsley was born in Yokohama, Japan, where his father, a New England American, was a Canadian Pacific Railways executive. Returning to the U.S., Lindsley took a civil engineering degree at Harvard, moving to Canada in 1924 with a $30,000 stake from an iron mine in Oregon.
It was in 1928 that Lindsley, along with a group of associates, including his brother Halstead, founded Ventures Ltd., as a holding company for various properties. And in that same year, on August 28, Falconbridge Nickel Mines Limited was incorporated as a Ventures subsidiary.
Sherritt Gordon Mines Limited also came into being in 1928, in a partnership Lindsley formed with R.J. Jowsey and several of his Ventures associates.
Lindsley served continuously from 1928 to 1956 as president and a director of both Ventures and Falconbridge, almost equalling the length-of-service record of James Murdoch, as president, at Noranda. In 1962, Ventures Limited was merged with Falconbridge and Ventures passed from the mining scene.
Lindsley remained a director of Falconbridge, however, until 1967, when he accepted the honor of election as Director Emeritus.
Even at the age of 90, four years before his death, Thayer Lindsley was still working on gold mines in France and Ontario, silver mines in Utah and Mexico, and many other projects.
He was, truly, one of the greatest mine developers of all time.