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The Kerr Addison mine near Virginiatown, Ontario ranks among the top gold mines in Canada, producing at its peak more than half a million ounces of gold every year. No one deserves more credit for turning the mine into the enormously successful venture it became than William S. Row. He joined Kerr as manager of the new mine in 1937 when it was a small, 500-ton-per-day producer. He was to guide it to its half-million-ounce status in the space of a decade. This was, as a Noranda executive noted during a ceremony marking the pouring of Kerr’s 10 millionth ounce in 1982, “Bill’s creation.” At the time, the Kerr mine stood among only a handful of North American mines ever to achieve that production record.
Row was born in Curries, Ontario, in 1904 and graduated from McGill University as a mining engineer in 1927. Upon graduating, he joined the Cerro de Pascoe Copper operation in Peru. In 1930, he worked at the Frood mine in Sudbury and later joined the engineering staff at the Lake Shore mine in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, becoming assistant chief engineer and finally shaft captain before moving on to Kerr Addison in 1937.
His remarkable success at the Kerr mine was duly noted by his superiors when in 1955 he was appointed executive vice-president and director of Kerr Addison. Five years later, he was appointed a vice-president and director of Noranda, Kerr’s parent company. He became president and chairman of Kerr in 1967 and, in 1974, reached the pinnacle of his career when he was named chairman of Noranda.
Not only did Row devote his tireless energy and formidable skills to Noranda and its stable of companies, but he also served as a director of the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) and the Ontario Mining Association (OMA). He became president of the OMA in 1950-51 and president of MAC in 1963-64.
For his outstanding achievements, he was awarded the Inco Platinum Medal from the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum in 1977 in recognition of his “Hard Rock Miner” qualities. On his death in 1984, he was one of the best known and most respected of what was known in affectionate terms as an “old-time miner”.