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Title: Asbestos - Its production and use, with some account of the asbestos - mines of Canada
Author: Jones, Robert H.
Language: English
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The substance of the following pages was originally comprised in a
series of Letters from Canada to a friend in London, who was desirous of
obtaining all the authentic information possible on a subject on which
so little appears to be generally known.

The use of Asbestos in the arts and manufactures is now rapidly assuming
such large proportions that, it is believed, it will presently be found
more difficult to say to what purposes it cannot be applied than to what
it can and is.

Under these circumstances, although much of the information here given
is not new, but has been gathered from every available source, it is
hoped that the compilation in its present shape may be found acceptable.

  R. H. J.

    _April 20, 1888._



  INTRODUCTORY                                   5-8


  WHERE FOUND                                  12-15


  WHERE USED                                      18

  THE ASBESTOS OF ITALY                        19-24

  CANADIAN MINING FOR ASBESTOS                 24-29

    THE THETFORD GROUP                         29-36
    THE COLERAINE GROUP                        36-42
    BROUGHTON                                  42-46
    DANVILLE                                      46
    SOUTH HAM                                  47-50
    WOLFESTOWN                                    50


  INDEX                                       75, 76


One of Nature's most marvellous productions, asbestos is a physical
paradox. It has been called a mineralogical vegetable; it is both
fibrous and crystalline, elastic yet brittle; a floating stone, which
can be as readily carded, spun, and woven into tissue as cotton or the
finest silk.

Called by geologists "asbestus" (the termination in os being the
adjective form of the word), the name of the mineral in its Greek form
as commonly used (ἄσβεστος), signifies "indestructible." The French
adopt the same derivation, calling it "asbeste" (minèral filamenteux et
incombustible). In Germany it is called "steinflachs" (stone-flax); and
by the Italians "amianto" (from ἀμίαντος, pure, incorruptible);
so-called because cloth made from it was cleansed by passing it through
fire. Charlemagne, we are told, having a cloth made of this material in
his possession, one day after dinner astonished his rude warrior guests
by throwing it in the fire, and then withdrawing it cleansed and

As a modern pendent to this well-known legend, the following is current
in Quebec. A labouring man, who had left the old country to seek a
better fortune in the Dominion, found employment at once on arrival in
one of the many lumber yards on the St. Lawrence, where his energy and
activity, supplemented by great bodily strength, soon secured for him a
good position. It so happened, however, that one evening, on returning
from their daily toil to their common apartment, some of his
fellow-workmen saw him deliberately throw himself into a seat, kick off
his boots, and then pull off his socks, and having opened the door of
the stove, coolly fling them in on to the mass of burning wood. Possibly
no particular notice would have been taken of this, judged as a mere act
of folly and waste on the part of the new-comer; but when, almost
immediately afterwards, they saw him open the stove door again, take out
the apparently blazing socks, and, after giving them a shake, proceed
just as deliberately to draw them on to his feet again, that was a
trifle too much! Human nature could not stand that. Consequently the
horrified spectators, having for a moment looked on aghast, fled
precipitately from the room. To them the facts were clear enough. This,
they said, was no human being like themselves; such hellish practices
could have but one origin. If not the devil himself, this man certainly
could be no other than one of his emissaries. So off they went in a body
to the manager and demanded his instant dismissal, loudly asseverating
that they would no longer eat, drink, or work in company with such a
monster. Enquiry being at once set on foot, it turned out that some time
before leaving England the man had worked at an asbestos factory, where
he had learned to appreciate the valuable properties of this mineral;
and being of an ingenious turn of mind, he had managed to procure some
of the fiberized material and therewith knit himself a pair of socks,
which he was accustomed to cleanse in the manner described. He was, as
has been said, an unusually good workman, consequently his employers had
no wish to part with him. Explanation and expostulation, however, were
all in vain; nothing could remove the horrible impression that his
conduct had made upon the minds of his superstitious fellow-workmen; go
he must and did, nor could the tumult be in any way allayed until he had
been dismissed from his work and had left the yard.

Leaving this digression, however, it may be said that the peculiar
properties of the mineral were known long before Charlemagne's time. The
ancients, who believed it to be a plant, made a cere-cloth of it, in
which they were accustomed to enwrap the bodies which were to be burned
on the funeral pyre, so that the ashes might be retained, separate and
intact, for preservation in the family urn, an aperture being left in
the cloth to allow a free passage for the flames. How they succeeded in
weaving this cloth is now unknown. It has been suggested that its
accomplishment was effected by weaving the fibres along with those of
flax, and then passing the whole through a furnace to burn out the flax.

The lamps used by the vestal virgins are also said to have been
furnished with asbestos wicks, so that the modern adaptation of it to
this purpose is only another exemplification of the truth of Solomon's
saying that "there is nothing new under the sun."

The mineral has been variously described. In general terms it may be
said to be a fibrous variety of serpentine, closely allied to the
hornblende family of minerals, the Canadian variety of which is called
by mineralogists "chrysotile." In the local vernacular of the mining
districts this is "pierre-à-coton" (cotton-stone), perhaps as expressive
a term as can be found.

The ore takes a variety of forms; much of it (especially that found in
the States) is of a coarse woody character, of but little value for
mercantile purposes.

Sir William Logan, in his "Geology of Canada," says that foliated and
fibrous varieties of serpentine are common in veins of the ophiolites of
the Silurian series, constituting the varieties which have been
described under the various names of baltimorite, marmolite, picrolite,
and chrysotile. The true asbestos, however, he says, is a fibrous
variety of tremolite or hornblende.

In _Le Génie Civil_ for September, 1883, Canadian asbestos is thus
described: "La chrysotile du Canada n'est pas comme l'amiante ordinaire
formée d'un paquet de fils d'un blanc verdâtre et remplissant des
cavités irrégulières: c'est une véritable pierre d'une densité comprise
entre 2 et 3, qui se trouve en couches de 3 à 10 centimètres
d'épaisseur. Cette pierre possède la propriété de se reduire en fibres
perpendiculairement à sa longueur sous un effort très faible. Ses fibres
transversales sont plus résistantes et beaucoup plus facile à filer, à
tisser, et à feutrer que l'amiante ordinaire." This is as good a
description of chrysotile as can be found anywhere.

Until the discovery of the Canadian mines, the variety here spoken of as
amiante (amianthus), was esteemed the most rare and delicate kind, on
account of its beautifully white, flexible, long, and delicately laid
fibres. This variety is generally found buried in the centre of the
older crystalline rocks in the Pyrenees, the Alps of Dauphiny, on Mount
St. Gothard, in North America, in the serpentines of Sweden, the Ural
Mountains, Silesia, and New South Wales. The most beautiful specimens,
such as are preserved in museums and mineralogical collections, have
mostly been brought from Tarantaise in Savoy, or from Corsica.[1] In
this latter place it is said to be so abundant that, its mercantile
value being unknown, it has often been used, instead of tow, as a
material for packing.

In a handbook published by the Dominion Government in 1882 (before the
discovery of the mines of chrysotile) on the mineral resources of
Canada, it is said that--

"What is commercially known as asbestos is really a term used to denote
a peculiar fibrous form assumed by several distinct minerals, rather
than to designate any particular species. Tremolite, actinolite, and
other forms of hornblende and serpentine, passing into fibrous
varieties, assume the name of asbestos, and the 'Geology of Canada' does
not give the mineral as a distinct one, but recognizes it under these
different headings. As yet comparatively little asbestos has been found
in Canada."

This is sufficient to show how small was the interest, even so recently
as that, attaching to this substance in the very country which was so
soon to find it taking important rank amongst her natural productions.

That singularly beautiful mineral termed "crocidolite," which displays
such sheens and radiances of gold and bronze and green as give it the
appearance of satin changed into stone, is nothing more than compressed
asbestos. The derivation of its name is not happy. It is said to be from
κροκος λιθος, simply crocus-coloured or yellow stone. This is doubtless
its general colour, but the finest crocidolite is anything but

Having heard that there were some fine specimens of asbestos on view at
the recent exhibition of the United States products at Earl's Court, I
made a journey there specially to see them. In this, however, I was
disappointed. There was but one small tray of so-called asbestos
(amphibole) on view; and this was of a coarse woody character, very
similar in appearance to a sample I had had sent to me recently from
California. It was, moreover, of a very poor colour and certainly not of
the kind that would readily find a market. I found there, however, a
piece of unmistakable chrysotile, grouped amongst a miscellaneous lot of
American minerals. The exhibitor at once told me, in reply to my
questions, that this was not an American product at all, but that it was
a "vegetable matter" found in Canada. He evidently did not know much
about it, and said it was not asbestos at all. It was not by any means a
fine specimen: it had somewhat the appearance of ordinary Thetford No.
1, though differing slightly in colour. I could get no further
information about it, except that it had come from near Ottawa.

At this exhibition I found a splendid display of crocidolite, the sight
of which well repaid the visit. I secured a good specimen, but found, on
enquiry, that like all the superior qualities of this mineral, it had
been brought from Griqualand (South Africa). The sample I secured was of
the kind that in the States is called "Tiger-eye," as I presume, from
its general tawny-coloured streaky brilliancy. The exhibitor said it was
a silicate of iron occurring in asbestos-like fibres. It is of an
exceedingly hard, densely compact nature; from its hardness difficult to
work, but susceptible of a very high polish. A few years ago it was
thought to be a precious stone and accordingly commanded a high price,
but recent discoveries of large deposits considerably reduced its value.
It is used for a variety of ornamental purposes, for which, from its
extreme natural beauty, it is peculiarly adapted. The grain is very fine
and in its rough state the fibres are singularly distinct.

There is another very singular substance worth alluding to here, which
is often put forward as a substitute for asbestos, and which is said by
the manufacturers to be fireproof, frost-proof, vermin-proof,
sound-proof, indestructible, and odourless. This is a good deal to say,
but is in a great measure true. It is largely used in the United Slates,
especially for insulating and other purposes of a like kind. I mean the
artificially manufactured material called "Mineral or Slag Wool," which
is made from the refuse of the furnaces at ironworks, by, it is said,
passing jets of steam through molten slag. This material is manufactured
on a somewhat extensive scale by the Western Mineral Wool Company, of
Cleveland, Ohio. There is no doubt it is a very useful substance for
many of the purposes for which it is recommended, but it can scarcely be
expected to compete to any material extent with asbestos from its total
want of elasticity and lubricity. Even the finest quality on being
crushed between the fingers has a harsh, gritty, metallic feeling, very
different from the silky, springy, and greasy feel of the natural fibre.

In connection with this manufactured article, a very curious natural
production is called to mind, the origin of which is somewhat similar
though brought about by natural causes. I refer to the product of the
lava-beds of Hawaii, called by the natives "Pélé's hair." Miss C. F.
Gordon Cumming, in her "Fire Fountains of Hawaii," speaks of this as
"filaments of stringy brown lava, like spun glass, which lie scattered
here and there, having been caught by the wind (when thrown up) in
mid-air in a state of perfect fusion, forming fine lava drops, a rain of
liquid rock, and so drawn out in silky threads like fine silky hair."

"In fact, this filmy, finely spun glass is known as Pélé's hair--Rauoho o
Pélé. It is of a rich olive green or yellowish brown colour--a hint for
æsthetic fashions--and is glossy, like the byssus of certain shells, but
very brittle to handle. Sometimes when the great fire-fountains toss
their spray so high that it flies above the level of the cliffs, the
breeze catches it sportively and carries it far away over the island;
and the birds line their nests with this silky volcanic hair. Sometimes
you can collect handfuls clinging to the rocks to which it has drifted,
generally with a pear-shaped drop attached to it." This, it is evident,
would crumble and break off short in the fingers, and the mineral wool
when handled has just the same gritty brittle feeling one can imagine
Pélé's hair to have.

Returning to asbestos, however, its formation or actual origin is at
present unknown. In its pure state it is as heavy as the rock in which
it is found, so closely are its fine elastic crystalline fibres
compressed together. These have a beautiful silky lustre, varying in
colour from pure white to a dusky grey or green, sometimes of a
yellowish green; the direction of the fibres being transverse to the
walls of the vein. The essential point in which it differs from any
other known mineral consists in its being at once fibrous and textile.
Its quality is determined by the greater or less proportion of silicious
or gritty matter with which its fibres are associated. When crushed out
from the rock, these fibres, which vie in delicacy with the finest flax
or the most beautiful silk, can be corded, spun, and woven into cloth in
precisely the same way as any other textile fibre.

Of good quality it is only found in serpentine. One instance of its
having been found in quartz is mentioned; but, even in that case we are
told, when six feet of the superficial quartz rock had been blasted
away, the inevitable serpentine was found cropping through.

According to Mr. Ells,[2] the serpentines in which it is found are
intimately associated with masses of dioritic or doloritic rocks, of
which rocks certain varieties, rich in olivine or some allied mineral,
the serpentine is, in many cases, an alteration product. They are
frequently associated with masses and dykes of whitish rocks, which are
often composed entirely of quartz and felspar, but occasionally with a
mixture of black mica, forming a granitoid rock. They occur generally
not far from the axes of certain anticlinals which exist in the group of
rocks called by Sir William Logan the "altered Quebec group."

For centuries asbestos was regarded merely as a mineral curiosity.
Indeed, it is only within the last few years that it has developed into
a valuable article of commerce, the first modern experiments in the use
of it practically extending no farther back than 1850.

Its uses in the arts and manufactures are of a very important character,
and now that it is clearly demonstrated that a fairly abundant supply
can be obtained at a moderate cost, there seems no reasonable limit to
be put to the demand, new uses for it being continually found. These
will, of course, rapidly increase as its value becomes more clearly and
widely known.

It is found in most parts of the world, but in only a few places of a
sufficiently valuable kind or in quantities large enough to give it any
commercial value. The main sources of supply at present are Canada and

A good deal has, at times, been found in Russia; and I remember an
incident which occurred a few years ago at some extensive ironworks in
that country, with which I was at the time connected, which amusingly
illustrates how little was then known there of the nature and properties
of the mineral. The iron ore, in the district referred to, is found in
bunches or nodules, near the surface of the ground; and in order to get
it, the peasants dig out pits about seven or eight feet in depth, and
then burrow, rabbit-like, into the surrounding earth in all directions
below. When all the ore is got out from one spot, they dig another pit
further afield, and so they go on until the particular patch of ground
they are working on is exhausted. On the occasion referred to, some of
our men, in their burrowing, threw out a considerable quantity of
asbestos. They had not the slightest idea what it was. In fact, they
knew nothing at all about it, except that it was not what they were in
search of; and, consequently, as it obstructed their work, they threw it
all out in a heap near the piles of ore. Presently, one of the foremen
or overlookers saw it, and wanted to know what all that rubbish had been
put there for. "Here," said he, to some of the men, "just clear up all
that mess at once, and fling it into the furnace, and get rid of it."
And this was immediately done, with what result you may imagine.

Recently, however, it is said that enormous quantities of asbestos have
been found in Russia, although I cannot learn that any use is made of it
there at present. Its mercantile value must of course depend on its
quality and distance from market. I have had a great number of specimens
sent me, but they mostly turn out to be a coarse kind of so-called
bastard asbestos, which would not pay for extracting. Now, however, we
are told that from Orenburg to Ekaterinburg the country is thickly
dotted with asbestos deposits, while near the Verkin Tagil ironworks
there is a hill called Sholkovaya Gora, or Hill of Silk, which it is
asserted is entirely composed of asbestos. The ore here is also said to
be of the best white quality, well adapted for all the most important
purposes to which asbestos is applied. I should much like to see a
specimen of this; its value could be easily determined on inspection. In
the Gorobtagsdat district of Perm, again, there are said to be large
deposits cropping out above the surface, and also that enormous
quantities could be had there for nothing, as at this moment it
possesses no value in the Ural region. I imagine it would be found of
considerable value if a practical man were sent out to see to its
fiberization on the spot, when it might be compressed, packed, and
exported in the same way as cotton. There can, however, be little doubt
that if its quality is as good as it is represented to be, it will very
soon be utilized, and will then form a very important addition to the
vast mineral wealth of that region.

As might be expected, asbestos is also found in China, but, as a matter
of course, the use to which it is put there is one we should little
dream of here. For instance, in the translation of a Chinese medical
book by Dr. Hobson, of the London Medical Mission, asbestos is seen to
figure (of all places in the world) under the head of _tonics_, in
company with such heterogeneous substances as "dried spotted lizard,
silkworm moth, human milk, parasite of the mulberry tree, asses' glue,
stalactite," and a few more surprising things. Perhaps it may be just as
well for us that we are not yet educated up to so fine a point as that,
and that consequently the mineral we are speaking of does not yet find a
place in the British Pharmacopoeia, but is left to exhibit its
apparently more natural properties in the arts and manufactures.

A correspondent of _The Financial News_, writing from Barberton in
January, 1888, says that at Komali Fields, fifty miles from that place,
asbestos has just been found, but that it was as yet too soon to discuss
the merits of the find.

In sending you an account of the Canadian asbestos industry, you will
scarcely expect me to give you any very detailed information about its
Italian competitor. Any account of the one, however, would necessarily
be so incomplete without some mention of the other, that I will do the
best I can with the little information I have been enabled to obtain on
the subject of the Italian mines.

Experiments with the view of utilizing asbestos in Italy appear to have
been first successfully carried on in 1850 by the Chevalier Aldini, of
Milan, and others, mainly with the object of turning the mineral to
account in the manufacture of asbestos cloth. The Chevalier had a
complete suit made of it--cap, gloves, tunic, and stockings--for the
purpose of testing its protective powers for firemen; and of this I
shall have something to say presently.[3] But it was not until twenty
years after this that any success was attained in the manufacture of
asbestos millboard and paper, the commercial value of which is now
assuming such large proportions.

About the same time the manufacture of asbestos into packings for piston
glands was successfully accomplished in America; and some two years
afterwards a company, calling itself "The Patent Asbestos Manufacturing
Company, Limited," was formed in Glasgow for the purpose of making
piston packings according to this American invention. In 1880 this
Glasgow Company united its business with that of Messrs. Furse Brothers
and Co., of Rome, asbestos manufacturers, as well as with that of the
Italo-English Pure Asbestos Company, and, when the amalgamation was
complete, the new Company, taking the name of "The United Asbestos
Company, Limited," became possessed of nearly the whole of the known
Italian mines, and, consequently, of a practical monopoly of the trade
in asbestos from that country.

Italian differs very materially from Canadian asbestos, not only in
appearance, but in formation also, as well as in the mode of extraction.
The two are, in fact, entirely separate and distinct kinds of the same
mineral; notwithstanding which their intrinsic qualities are practically
the same, and the uses to which they are put are almost identical.

An extraordinary specimen of Italian asbestos, obtained from one of the
mines of the United Asbestos Company, situate in the Valtellina Valley,
is in the possession of that company, and is no doubt the finest piece
of asbestos ever brought from Italy, whether as regards strength or
fineness of fibre. Any one interested in the matter would, I have no
doubt, be readily permitted to inspect this natural curiosity, on
application to Mr. Boyd, the courteous manager of the company, in Queen
Victoria Street.

Just about this time (1880) Canadian asbestos, also, was being much
talked about and sought after; and it is therefore perhaps scarcely to
be wondered at that the company which first began to work the mineral in
Italy on a large scale, and which, at great expense and trouble, had
managed to secure the whole of the Italian mines, and so become
possessed, as they supposed, of a monopoly of the trade, should have
viewed with jealousy the rapid progress made in public estimation by the
Canadian ore when once it was introduced to the market.

It is not my purpose, however, to enter on the vexed question of the
relative merits of the two varieties, which would be altogether out of
place in a letter of this kind. But I think we may safely conclude that
both possess undeniably good qualities, and that there is an ample field
for both, inasmuch as the peculiar properties which render one kind
unsuitable for some particular purpose are often precisely those which
best adapt it for another. Each variety will assuredly make its own way
and take its proper place in public estimation as further experiments
and greater experience in the use of it shall bring its special value
more prominently to light.

Ample proof has been given of the valuable qualities of Italian
asbestos; and if any proof were needed of the intrinsic value of its
Canadian competitor, nothing more would be required than to point to
such houses as that of John Bell & Son, of London; of Wertheim, of
Frankfort; or to the Johns Manufacturing Company, or the Chalmers-Spence
Company, of New York, whose world-renowned manufactures are made of
Canadian asbestos alone.

The essential characteristics of both sorts are alike in this respect,
that they are absolutely indestructible by fire, or even when exposed to
the action of any known acid; the Canadian variety possessing in
addition, in a very high degree, that strange peculiarity (which is also
claimed for one of the Italian sorts), and is common also to plumbago
and soapstone, of being a self-lubricator. Good Canadian fibre is known
at once by its soft, greasy, soapy feeling; and one of the leading New
York firms claims for its products, made entirely of Canadian asbestos,
that they will resist even the flame of the blowpipe; and further
asserts that this mineral transcends all previously thought-of materials
for fireproofing, in that it is not only absolutely indestructible by
fire, but that its power of resistance cannot be worn away or diminished
by lapse of time or hard usage, as invariably happens in the case of
such applications as tungstate of soda.

Regarding its use, Germany is a very large consumer. In France the
consumption is not so great, although manufacturers in that country are
now beginning to bestir themselves, especially in regard to some very
valuable kinds of paper, which they are making entirely out of Canadian
fibre; and Paris has now set the world an example by the adoption of the
Chevalier Aldini's plan of clothing firemen in a dress of asbestos

America, however, is the country where the most rapid strides are being
made in the development of every branch of this new industry, and there
also the Canadian fibre alone is used.

A considerable quantity of it is made use of in England, in the
manufacture of some valuable kinds of packing for engineering work,
millboards, felts, lubricants, paint, and the like; but in England we
lack in some degree the readiness which is found on the other side of
the ocean, in the adaptation of new materials and new methods of work.

Whether it be that Englishmen are influenced by climatic or other
causes, certain it is that they are slow to adopt new systems, to
cultivate novel ideas, or to move out of old grooves. Consequently, when
new materials, or even novel applications of those long used, are
suggested, they ponder over them, hesitate, and weigh the chances, and
in so doing not infrequently let slip valuable opportunities; whilst the
keener and more enterprising American, once he sees the drift of the new
matter, will, to use his own expression, "catch hold" at once. It by no
means follows, however, that this is the fault of the manufacturers
alone; they have naturally to gauge the requirements of their customers,
and prefer to limit their make to what they know they can sell.

The finer kinds of asbestos, the strong fibres of which are of a pure
white colour and of a fine silky texture, being at the same time free
from silicic acid or metallic oxide, are comparatively rare; and, on
account of their lubricating qualities, are especially valuable. This
particular kind, I am told, is at the present time only to be found in
Canada and some parts of the States. Whether this statement is correct
or not, I am not in a position to say; but that it is found in Canada I
know, for I have there personally witnessed the blasting out of many
hundreds of tons. In the Dominion it is invariably obtained from hard
rock somewhat difficult to work.

In an interesting paper on Italian asbestos, to be found in the "Journal
of the Society of Arts" for April, 1886, to which I have been indebted
for a good deal of information respecting the Italian mines, I find a
very singular statement given as the result of long observation by the
_employés_ of the United Company in Italy. It is there said that "if
asbestos be found on the surface of a rock exposed either to the south
or south-west, the product is generally fairly abundant and of good
quality. If exposed to the east there is fine quality, but very small
quantity; whilst if exposed to the north the quantity is plentiful but
dry and hard, and on entering the rock all traces of it are lost."

Whether this be at all consistent with Canadian experience I cannot say.
The lie of the ground and the course of the veins being so different, it
is quite possible the theory may have no applicability at all to
Canadian mining. But it is certainly suggestive and interesting, and I
will cause inquiry in this direction to be set on foot at once.

In the same paper I find the following given as analyses of the two
varieties. The first is stated to be by Professor Barff, but by whom the
latter was made does not appear. According to these there would be
little doubt which was the most valuable for general manufacturing
purposes, but as there is nothing to show what kind of Canadian ore was
submitted for analysis, or by whom the analysis was made, you must take
it as an analysis only, _quantum valeat_.

                                        ITALIAN.  CANADIAN.
  Lime and magnesia                       37·84      33·20
  Silica                                  41·69      40·90
  Oxide of iron                            3·01       5·75
  Potash                                    ·85     traces
  Soda                                     1·41        ·68
  Alumina                                  2·57       6·60
  Moisture evaporated at 100° C.           3·04        --
  Loss on heating to white heat, water
    of hydration, and organic matter       9·56      12·50
  Chlorine                                  --         ·25
  Loss                                      ·03        ·12
                                         ------     ------
                                         100        100

Three distinct kinds of asbestos are said to be found in Italy, viz.,
Grey, Flossy, and Powdery. The grey is a long, fibrous variety,
possessing, in addition to strength, the much-prized saponaceous
quality; and this is mostly found in the two Alpine valleys of
Valtellina and d'Aosta. The flossy, which has a smooth, silky
appearance, but a dry feeling when touched, is found and worked in part
of the chain of mountains which bound the valley leading from Susa to
Turin, and at an elevation of about 8,000 feet above the sea level. This
is the kind which is mostly used in the manufacture of gas stoves. It is
commonly found in thicker seams than the grey, lying mostly in a
horizontal direction, but dipping rapidly as the rock is entered. The
third is a powdery kind, which, while possessing all the heat-resisting
properties of the two others, crumbles in the hand when touched. This
variety is found in the same range of mountains as that last mentioned,
but at a much lower level; it appears to have been first brought to
light by a landslip exposing to view a seam of it three feet wide. When
first seen it is said to have had a pasty consistency, but on exposure
to the air it dried and crumbled into powder.

Italian ore, generally speaking, is won by running driftways, or
tunnelling into the face of the rock. In Canada the mineral is got out
by open quarrywork, no tunnelling there being possible. The serpentine
rock in which the asbestos or chrysotile is there found is so split and
seamed in every conceivable direction by the veins and stringers that if
tunnelling were attempted the first blast would inevitably bring the
whole superincumbent mass down about your ears. You might as well
attempt to tunnel through loose sand or gravel. In other words, the
relative difference in the two modes of winning the ore appears to be
that the Italian asbestos may be said to be won by tunnelling into the
face of the rock; whilst the Canadian chrysotile is found in veins,
running, it is true, with the greatest irregularity, but yet with a
distinctly perpendicular declension. The Italian variety, again, seems
frequently to be found, or the seams to end, in pockets, some of which
have been known to contain a ton or a ton and a half of asbestos, after
exhaustion of which all appearance of its presence ceased. The Canadian
ore, on the other hand, generally runs in veins and seams, which almost
invariably improve both in quantity and quality the lower you go down,
but where or how it ends has never yet been discovered.

It may possibly be, however, that the more correct way to put this would
be the very opposite of what I have just stated; because if you stand
and face the rock when laid bare in any of the Canadian mines and trace
the downward course and increasing strength of the veins, it would
really seem as if this strange mineral substance, at some former time,
when in a state of violent ebullition, had striven energetically to
force an outlet into the upper air, splitting the overlying rock in all
directions in its passage upward from below; and that, as it gradually
cooled off and expended its force, the rifts in the rock, which now form
the veins, became narrower and narrower, until, when the surface of the
ground was at last reached it had only just sufficient energy left to
bubble over through the cracks, where it then cooled off and hardened
into thin lava-like ridges. These ridges are to be seen in all
directions in the asbestos districts of Canada, wherever the peculiar
yellowish-looking stone forming the upper crust of the asbestos-bearing
rocks is found. And notwithstanding the plainly visible evidence that
these rocks, from centuries of exposure to the elements, have been worn
away on the upper surface until they have assumed a rounded,
water-washed, boulder-like shape, the narrow ridges spoken of have
apparently always remained in the same state, alike indestructible and

If you will imagine to yourself the mountain masses of almost
perpendicular rock, which contain the horizontally-lying seams
frequently found in Italy, to be thrown backward and downward so as to
lie face uppermost, and so that you could walk on the face, you will get
a rough idea of the lie of the veins in the Canadian serpentine. And
possibly on further exploration the analogy would be still further borne
out by these veins being found to terminate in reservoirs or pockets,
just as it has been said is usually found to be the case in Italy. No
one has yet gone far enough down to test the depth of the veins in any
Canadian mine. It will no doubt presently be done. All that would be
required would be to bore until the next series was reached. The
experiment, if expensive, would be both valuable and instructive,
especially bearing in mind the well-known fact in Canadian mining that
the deeper you follow the veins into the ground the better the quality
of the cotton becomes.

There is one more point of distinction between the two kinds, and that
is in the surface indications, which may possibly be due to atmospheric
influences. In Italian exploration the prospector is not guided by any
hard lines or ridges on the rock surface of the ground, as in Canada. On
the contrary, he finds cracks in the perpendicular face of the rock
filled with a white powdery substance which, when the surface is broken
away, is said to assume a leathery appearance, after which, when further
entry is made, the true asbestos is found.

Thus, it will be seen that there is not only a considerable difference
between the two sorts of asbestos which supply the demands of the
market, but that the mode of winning it is also different; as are,
moreover, the natural indications which guide the explorer in his search
after the mineral.


[1] "Encyl. Brit." Art. "Asbestos."

[2] A member of the Geological Survey Department, Ottawa.

[3] See _post_, p. 66.


And now I will leave the subject of the Italian mines altogether, and
proceed to give some account of the asbestos mining industry as carried
on in Canada; mainly the result of my notes and observations during a
residence at the mines.

The main sources from which the supply of asbestos in the Dominion is
derived lie in the province of Quebec, in the counties of Megantic and
Beauce. The serpentine rock in which it is found crops up at intervals
all along the belt of what has been previously alluded to as the
"altered Quebec group"[4] (pre-Cambrian), throughout a range of over 120
miles in length, occasionally attaining a width of more than 2,500 feet,
mostly bearing from north-east to south-west, and crossing the Coleraine
District nearly east and west. It extends almost uninterruptedly from
the boundary of Vermont, in the State of Maine, running north-eastward,
to some distance from the Chaudière River, a little beyond the latitude
of Quebec.

Large tracts of serpentine, probably containing the mineral in paying
quantities, occur at Belmina in Wolfe County, and in the vicinity of
Brompton Lake; but although the work of exploration has been carried on
in several places with fair prospects of success, the profitable working
of the mineral up to the present time has been mostly confined to
Broughton, Thetford, Coleraine, and Danville.

In the Shickshock mountain region of New Brunswick, said to be a
detached area of the pre-Cambrian formation, which constitutes the chief
mineral belt of the Eastern Townships (within which the last-mentioned
districts are comprised), serpentine and chromic iron are the only two
minerals which have as yet been recognised. Looking, however, to the
fact that these two minerals everywhere accompany the deposits of
chrysotile, as well as the ores of copper, lead, and antimony, with
occasionally richer deposits of gold and silver, in the region to the
south-west, it would scarcely seem unreasonable to anticipate
discoveries of asbestos in the as yet unexplored region of the Gaspé
peninsula. The range here extends through the northern portion of the
peninsula in rear of Saint-Anne des Monts, and further east on the lower
part of the Dartmouth River.[5]

Indications of asbestos are found at most points throughout the whole
serpentine formation. The developments, so far as is yet known, are
principally, as we have said, in the districts around Thetford and
Coleraine. There can, however, be no valid reason why chrysotile of the
richer sorts and in paying quantities should not be found at other
points, it being only reasonable to suppose that future exploration
will materially extend the area over which profitable mining operations
can be carried on.

In the Blue Book on the "Geological Survey of Canada, 1882" (Mr.
Willimott's report), published by the Dominion Government, it is stated
that "there appears to be unlimited quantities of asbestos distributed
throughout the entire serpentine belt which attains its greatest
prominence in the townships of Thetford and Coleraine. Its existence is
generally made apparent by a whitish shining substance found coating the
serpentine, arising from the decay of the outcropping veins. But this,"
he says, "must not be taken as always indicating the presence of
workable veins."

The character of the rock varies considerably, and in some places it is
even now apparently in the transition stage between the original rock
from which it is derived and a true serpentine, having still almost the
hardness of felspar, while it yet retains the general aspect and colour
of the serpentine in which it is found. Large masses of dioritic rock,
having the aspect of dykes, are found in most of the quarries, possibly
representing portions of the original rock not yet altered to

It may be taken as a general rule that wherever the true serpentine
occurs asbestos will be found, though it is difficult to say how the
veins have been formed, or how the fact of their existence is to be
known with any degree of certainty, except by the light superficial
indication already mentioned, which seems at present to be the only, but
by no means infallible, guide. The asbestos traverses the serpentine in
irregular veins ranging from mere threads or stringers to a thickness of
three or four, and in some cases it is asserted of as much as six
inches; the fibre always, unless affected by the dislocation of the
containing rock, lying at right angles to the sides of the fissure.

The rock is often impure, the impurity arising mostly from the admixture
of particles, occasionally of small irregular thread-like veins, of
magnetite or of chromic iron, which break the continuity of the fibre
and cause very careful cobbing of the ore to be necessary in order to
get rid of these impurities. This is particularly the case at Thetford,
as we shall see when speaking of Messrs. King's mine there.[7]

In other districts the fibre is discoloured (and the value of it
consequently much reduced) by the infiltration of water impregnated with
the oxide of iron. This is especially the case in the Black Lake
district, more particularly on the property of the Anglo-Canadian
Company, where the serpentine is a good deal shattered by the action of
the weather, or possibly from other causes. This discoloration ceases as
a general rule, or at any rate becomes considerably diminished in
intensity, in proportion as the containing rock becomes more solid. It
is, however, a most serious matter as affecting the character and
pecuniary value of these mines.

In the case of nearly all the mines there are large quantities of
so-called bastard asbestos found in and about them. This is a woody,
brittle variety of apparently as yet unformed mineral, for which at
present no use seems to have been found; but, judging from the course
new applications of the mineral are now taking, there can be little
doubt that this inferior article will presently command its price in the
market, a use being found for it in some of the many purposes for which
coarse pulverized asbestos is found to be applicable.

Many other very singular types are also to be seen. Some of the pieces
as they lie on the ground, after blasting, have so much the appearance
of a wood-cutter's choppings (being, in fact, in the coarse and peculiar
grain of the fibre, so like chips of wood), that, if placed side by side
with actual chippings from rough timber exposed to the weather in the
woods, the one could in no way be distinguished from the other, except
of course by handling, when the weight and stony feeling of the asbestos
would make the difference at once perceptible.

Chrome iron is frequently found, sometimes as at Thetford and South Ham,
in very large quantities in close proximity to the asbestos-bearing
rock. In the iron, where this is the case, although the stringers of
asbestos may be very minute, they will almost certainly be found
intersecting the ore, just as we have already seen that the grains and
threads of the chrome iron often cut and spoil the fibre of the

The marketable value of asbestos is determined in the first instance by
the colour, coupled with the thickness or width of the fibre in the
vein. The colour, it may be said, largely depends upon the locality of
the mine, and will be distinguished at once on inspection of the rocky
gangue. At Thetford it is of a greenish hue, being there found in the
darker coloured serpentine; whilst at Broughton the ore is of a pearly
yellowish green, the surrounding rock being mostly of a grey or pale
green colour. This difference of colour in the ore, however, in no way
affects the value of the mineral, as when crushed out the fibre is
mostly of a uniform whiteness.

There are other distinguishing characteristics in the ore even of
closely adjacent mines, of so marked a nature that an expert has no
difficulty in determining the locality of the mine, or even of the mine
itself, from the appearance of the ore.

Although scarcely within the scope of the present remarks, it is worthy
of note that serpentines of an ornamental character are very abundant in
Canada; some very beautiful specimens of which were recently shown in
London, at the late Colonial and Indian Exhibition at South Kensington.
Many of these contain small quantities of chromium and nickel, and are
associated with soapstone, potstone, dolomite, and magnetite. A band of
limestone also occurs at Templeton containing masses of a light-coloured
translucent serpentine. These, however, beautiful as they are, do not at
this moment specially concern us, as none of them contain asbestos in
workable quantities, the stone being entirely of an ornamental
character. They are exploited with some success by the Canadian Granite
Company of Ottawa, and are used by them for monuments, mantelpieces,
vases, and such like. One would certainly think that their importation
into England would meet with success, seeing that there is always a
demand here for fine marbles and stones for architectural and other

Sir William Logan says: "Les serpentines, dans toute l'étendue de leur
gisement, fournissent de très-beaux marbres vert-de-mer souvent
ressemblant au vert antique."


Although the existence of asbestos in Canada, in one at least of the
above-mentioned localities, was known to geologists for many years prior
to 1877, it was not until the autumn of that year that a mine was
discovered which proved to be of any commercial importance. This was
first found by a farmer, named Fecteau, in the township of Thetford;
and, true to its reputation, Thetford has continued to be the
head-quarters and main source of the supply ever since.

This, the first regular Canadian mine, was opened up in 1878 by Messrs.
Johnson and Ward. The demand at first for the produce of this mine was
exceedingly limited; indeed, great difficulty was experienced in finding
a market at all. The output the first year was only about fifty tons;
but the great value of the mineral being soon ascertained, exploration
on the serpentine belt in this neighbourhood was prosecuted on an
extensive scale, which resulted in asbestos being found in workable
quantities over a very considerable area.

The mine spoken of is now the property of the Johnson Company, of which
the Hon. George Irvine, Q.C., is president, and Mr. Andrew Johnson, who
now represents Megantic in the Provincial Legislative Assembly at
Quebec, is the resident manager. The features of this and the
neighbouring mines are very similar. They consist of a massive
serpentine, varying in colour from a dark green to almost white,
intersected by numerous veins of asbestos of varying thickness,
remarkably free (except in one instance) from any admixture of foreign
substances. A large extent of this mine is now opened. It is being
worked with energy and success, its produce being second to none that
has yet been put on the market. According to a statement given in the
Canadian _Mining Review_ for October last, its output for 1886 was
approximately 375 tons, the total output of the mine up to the end of
that year being given as 2,500 tons. I was recently informed by the
president of the company that they had now made a contract for the sale
of the whole of their output for the next five years. The produce of the
mine is nearly all No. 1, and is worth from $80 to $100 a ton.

Adjoining the Johnson Company's mine is one belonging to the "Boston
Asbestos Packing Company," of which Mr. Hyde Rust, of Boston, is
treasurer, and Mr. T. Sheridan, local resident manager. This mine is
being steadily and efficiently worked, and being practically on the same
level with that of the Johnson Company, the produce is of a very similar
character. It is remarkably good, and some exceptionally fine asbestos
has been got out here. In a pamphlet published a short time ago by the
Canadian Government on the mineral resources of Canada, it is stated
that the yield from this mine (including of course that last mentioned),
is pronounced by European manufacturers to be the finest and strongest
fibre of the kind known; and it is further stated _that there is no
question at all as to the profitable nature of asbestos mining in this
belt of country_.

The output of the Boston Company's mine, according to the authority just
cited, is about 400 tons per annum. Mr. Ells, of the Geological Survey
Department, Ottawa, says that in 1886 the quantity extracted was about
700 tons, and the total produce of the mine to the end of that year
about 3,000 tons. There must, I imagine, be some misapprehension of the
figures here, and I feel sure that those given above are nearer the

The value of the output of this mine is certainly as high, it is
possible taking it all round, that it may be higher than that of the
last mentioned. Steps are now being taken to introduce machinery and
prosecute the work on a more extensive scale.

The next mine here is one of a more recent date, worked by the Brothers
Ward, and owned by them conjointly with the Hon. James Ross of Quebec.
It is turning out fairly good material, and judging by the indications,
coupled with what has been already done, there is no reason to suppose
that this mine will not presently be as remunerative as those already

The output of this, on the same authority, is 150 tons, which is, I
believe, the extreme limit of what has yet been done. This mine has been
opened now about four years, and in that time has produced, as near as I
could learn when last there, about 400 tons. It is said to be worth from
$70 to $80, but I did not hear of any of it fetching more than $70,
which is doubtless its present value.

The same gentlemen own some very promising-looking land on the other
side of the railway, which, in fact, bisects their property; but as this
is on a lower level it looks very much as if they will be troubled with
water when they begin to open.

The only other mine now opened at Thetford is that owned and worked by
Messrs. King Brothers. It is in the same vicinity and bears much the
same character as those already mentioned. The output is given at 175
tons per annum.

These four mines form the Thetford group, and are at present by far the
most important in the province. They are on a lower level and are
consequently worked at a greater depth than those next to be described.
The output for this reason moreover is of a more uniform character, and
does not require such close classification as some of the other mines
farther on. Practically, No. 1 and No. 3 are the only divisions here,
the produce being mostly available for No. 1. No. 3 is a very inferior
kind, merely the refuse in fact, which is sold and shipped in bulk at
$10 a ton, without being bagged up at all, and is mostly used for
cement, boiler covering, &c.

The Thetford river marks the western limit of the serpentine on these
properties, the rocks on the other side of the water being mostly
altered slates and sandstones. To the east of the railway, which cuts
directly across the area, the serpentine forms a knoll with an elevation
of about 90 or 100 feet above the line of rails; all the workings at
present being confined to this portion of the area. They consist of open
cuttings on the face of the hill, apparently very little having as yet
been done to ascertain the value of the ground between the railway and
the river. There are certainly good indications there, and when I was
last at Thetford I found Mr. Ward prospecting in this part with some
success. Here, however, is the place where the water trouble will first
arise, which will have to be provided for at the outset.

The essential peculiarity of the veins at Thetford is that they are
occasionally associated, as already mentioned, with grains and threads
of chromic iron and also of magnetite. The magnetite forms rather
conspicuous masses between the veins of asbestos in Messrs. King's mine,
where it sometimes entirely replaces the latter.[8]

As a general rule, however, the surface veins at Thetford are nearly as
pure as those lying deeper in the rock, the reason being that the
surface is mostly naked rock only scantily clothed with vegetable mould,
moss, or other foreign element, contact with which deteriorates, by
discolouring, the fibre, as is found to be the case in a very marked
degree in the mines next to be described.

It is a peculiarity of the veins of asbestos that they are never
continuous. They vary very much in size, and, in precisely the same way
as other mineral veins, they are affected by faults or slides, which not
infrequently cut off completely a valuable working face. Where this
occurs the slicken-sided character is very marked.

Sheets, also, of imperfect or immature asbestos, having a long coarse
woody fibre, are frequently to be seen lying all along the sides of the
fault; but, although there is a good deal of this, the general quality
of the produce of all the Thetford mines is excellent. The fibre is fine
and of a smooth silky texture, very easily worked. The veins are mostly,
especially in the lower cuttings, more free from impurities than those
of Coleraine.

No steam power is at present used in this district, the whole of the
proprietors at present continuing to rely upon hand labour; the Boston
Company are, however, as just mentioned, now seriously turning their
attention that way, with a view of increasing their output.

The Thetford mine-owners are one and all kind and hospitable men, always
ready to give every information and to facilitate an inspection of their
works by anyone who will take the trouble to visit them; a trouble which
I always found very amply repaid by the courtesy with which I was
received, and the candour and obliging readiness with which all my
inquiries were immediately answered.

The workers in the mines here are mostly resident on the spot,
sufficient accommodation having been provided for them in the immediate
neighbourhood of the mines; the proprietors, who appear to act with a
liberal consideration towards their men, deeming it incumbent on
themselves to look after their welfare; and they find their account in
so doing, in not running short of hands at critical times.

The practice at Thetford is to close down entirely for the winter
months, it not having yet been found advantageous, in view of the
limited market, coupled with the difficulty of outdoor quarrywork, to
encounter the extra expense of working at this season. Some of the
owners, Messrs. King in especial, being largely interested in the lumber
trade, to which they devote themselves in the winter, are able to find
plenty of employment at that season for their men and others, who then
go off into the woods.

At Thetford, as elsewhere, great mistakes, arising mainly from
inexperience and want of the knowledge now possessed, were made when the
mines were first opened up, which will inevitably entail serious loss in
the future; as an instance, much valuable ground is now seen to be
covered up by the dumps, which will unquestionably have to be moved
presently when the land is wanted for working.

The same want of foresight, for which there was less excuse with the
Thetford experience to guide them, will inevitably cause trouble in the
near future at Black Lake, on the property of the Anglo-Canadian
Company, even to a more serious extent. The parties who first opened up
the ground here evidently knew what they were about, but their immediate
successors, being destitute of all practical mining knowledge, have, by
their neglect of professional assistance, committed such errors of
judgment as will presently occasion very serious expense to the company.
At their main pit many thousands of tons of waste rock have been dumped
on to some of the richest part of the ground, and this must be again
moved before that ground can be worked. From the peculiarity of the
work, there probably exists no class of mining which so absolutely
necessitates the services of a practical mining engineer, in marking out
the land in the first instance for mining and dumping, as that for
asbestos does.

The cost of extraction varies in different localities, depending mainly
on the mass of barren rock to be encountered and removed. At Thetford
the cost may be put at from $20 to $25 per ton, the latter probably
being nearer the average. On the Anglo-Canadian Company's property at
Black Lake it is a more serious matter. There the quantity of barren
overlying rock and earth is enormous, and detracts immensely from the
value of the mines. The minimum cost here is $28.

In addition to asbestos, it is worthy of note that the whole of the
Thetford district is rich in minerals. Among others some large and
valuable deposits of chromic iron are found in the immediate
neighbourhood, within but a short distance of the asbestos mines.


Four miles farther down the line of railway from Thetford we come to the
Coleraine group of asbestos mines, situate at Black Lake.

The pioneer of these mines was a Mr. Noel, now resident at Richmond,
near Sherbrooke, in the same province, who, in 1881, discovered and
opened up a mine of a promising character here, which in 1882 he sold to
Mr. Charles Lionais, who was until recently the resident manager of the
mines owned by the Scottish Asbestos Company, at Black Lake and

The mine first opened here was called by Mr. Lionais the "Eureka," and
some time afterwards he opened another on the same estate which he named
the "Emelie." The property on which these two mines are located
subsequently came into the possession of the late Mr. Sénécal, and was
by him transferred to the "Anglo-Canadian Asbestos Company, Limited," on
the formation of that company in London, in the autumn of 1885.

The estate owned by the Anglo-Canadian Company comprises 325 acres, and
has a frontage of 1,350 feet extending backwards over the hills as far
as Lake Cariboo. Until recently this was the only place in the district
where machinery was employed to get out the ore.

The peculiar characteristic of this property, as distinguished from the
mines forming the Thetford group, is that much exceedingly heavy work,
necessitating of course great expense and showing very poor results,
must of necessity be done before the good veins, if any such exist, as
it is believed they do, are reached. Much of this has already so far
been done at the Emelie, that at length this portion of the property
bids fair, in capable hands, of proving to be a moderately paying mine.
Great results were prophesied from it at first, but so far it has by no
means realised expectations.

The surface veins, not only at the "Emelie" but all over the property so
far as yet proved, are not only thin, but are much discoloured by the
infiltration of water which is so strongly impregnated with the oxide of
iron as almost to destroy its value. It was thought, and as it would
appear with some show of reason, that the output would greatly improve
in value as a lower depth was reached; but although there has
undoubtedly been a sensible improvement in quality, the general result
is disappointing. Started as a No. 3 mine, as such in all probability it
will continue. The output from this Company's mines for 1886 was 330

The No. 3 quality of asbestos, which has hitherto been the main produce
of this mine, fetches so low a price in the market that alone it would
not pay for working. This, as already explained, is mainly on account of
its bad colour and general coarse quality. This latter having somewhat
improved, a considerable proportion of the produce would cease to be
classed as No. 3 if it were not for the bad colour. It therefore
occurred to me that it might be possible to remove this defect without
injuring the fibre, and in consequence I had some experiments made with
this object in view, and ultimately succeeded beyond my expectations, in
replacing the discoloured fibre by one sufficiently bright to enable it
to take rank as No. 1. These experiments, it is true, were only
conducted on a limited scale, but, so far as I am aware, there is no
reason why it should not be done on a large scale, which would very
materially increase the value of the article.

There is ample room for opening up in a more judicious way on other
parts of this property on what seems likely to be good paying ground;
and a mode of doing this without incurring any further expense might
easily be devised, and, if this were done, other seams of better quality
might be hit upon.

Another point in the company's favour is that, if judiciously selected,
there is abundant room for dumping without encroaching on the
ore-bearing grounds--a most important matter when consideration is taken
of the enormous quantity of waste rock to be here encountered and

The buildings on the estate are well constructed, and are in an
efficient state of repair, but at present there is an insufficiency of
dwelling-houses on the property. These are a necessity in the district,
for securing and retaining a better class of labour. No great expense
would have to be incurred in supplying this deficiency. Lumber and
labour are both comparatively cheap, and the buildings in themselves,
moreover, would always return a fair interest on the outlay.

The property on which the "Martin" Mine is located closely adjoins the
last mentioned. This has recently been acquired by "The Scottish
Asbestos Company," of Glasgow, with the intention of working it in
conjunction with their mines at East Broughton. Judging by the elaborate
preparations for work which are being made, and the expenditure which is
being incurred in buildings and machinery, it is evidently the company's
intention to carry on work vigorously in both places.

Their property at Black Lake covers 102 acres, and is described as being
a mile long by 520 feet wide. The output is given as 300 tons, but I
should doubt very much if it has yet reached this figure.

The ground here and in front of the Anglo-Canadian Company's land rises
very rapidly, from the level of the Quebec Central Railway, until it
attains a height of nearly 600 feet, being then about on a level with
the Thetford mines. The great serpentine belt crosses both properties,
and is bounded along its northern margin by quartzose granulite,
separated from the serpentine by a narrow belt of soapstone. It is
claimed for property of the Scottish Asbestos Company, that not less
than three-quarters of it consists of the rock formation that seems to
be the asbestos matrix.

This property is well laid out, and has a considerable number of
dwellings already erected on it for the workpeople. It is also traversed
by a good road leading down to the line of railway.

On a narrow strip of land, dividing the properties of the last two
mentioned companies, is a small mine called the Frechette-Douville Mine,
which (working the same seams of ore), was doing very well when I was
there. The output of this is not large, but the quality was very good,
and this in consequence is no doubt a very paying mine.

These are the only mines at present being worked at Black Lake, but from
indications on other properties lying on the same line, there can be
little doubt that other mines will presently be opened up in this
locality. Capital is all that is wanting at present, but, as the demand
for the mineral increases, the necessary capital for producing it in
larger quantities will no doubt be forthcoming.

The companies working at Black Lake when I was last there were working
at a great disadvantage as compared with those at Thetford, in the want
of a station on the line. The Post Office arrangements were also of a
very primitive character, nor was there any wire nearer than Thetford.
All this, however, has been remedied, and there is now at Black Lake not
only a station but also a post and telegraph office, in addition to many
new houses for the accommodation of the workpeople.

The cost of mining, for the reasons already given, is, and must of
necessity be, greater at Black Lake than at Thetford, and cannot be put
at less than $28 a ton. After removal of the surface earth and rock, the
proportion of refuse rock is about twenty-five tons to one of asbestos.

In regard to communication, Black Lake is 80 miles from Quebec, and
about 60 from Sherbrooke; the latter being a rising place, where all
stores, &c., needed for the mines are obtainable and from whence lines
radiate to all parts of the States.

There are several other places in the vicinity of Black Lake where,
although all that has yet been done may be called simple exploratory
work, the indications are such as to warrant the expectation that
valuable results may be looked for. This is especially the case in what
are known as the Reed and Haydon properties which extend over about 200

On Dr. Reed's land, or rather on that part of it known as the "Coleraine
Mines," which is about 100 acres in extent, the ground has already been
opened up in ten different places, each of which shows good No. 1
asbestos in quantities sufficient for profitable working.

The outcroppings here, moreover, are far superior to anything that can
be seen on the ground lower down where work is now being carried on. A
practical mining engineer who was recently sent to examine and report on
this property says that it is 100 per cent. better than that at Black
Lake; that 75 per cent. of the whole is veritable asbestos-bearing land,
and that he knows of no other asbestos mine so well situate for
practical work, or showing such advantages in timber, water, and,
dumping ground. The timber is sufficient for all practical purposes for
at least twenty-five years.

And Mr. Ells, in his Annual Report to the Minister of the Interior, for
1886, speaking of his visit to the asbestos district and of his
inspection of these properties, makes special mention of them as
follows: "In the vicinity of Black Lake several other areas occur, in
which the exploratory work done, though not very extensive, shows
indications that _fully warrant_ the statement that a valuable and
profitable output may be expected. These properties are known as the
Reed and Hayden properties, and are situated on lots 27 and 28, Range B
of Coleraine. In various open cuts in the side of the hills numerous
veins are disclosed, ranging upwards to a width of two and a half
inches, with surface indications apparently in no way inferior to those
of the adjoining properties now being worked at this place, _or even of
those of Thetford mines_, not only as to the _number_ and _size_ of the
veins, but also as to the _quality_ of the fibre. These indications
appear at many points on both the Hayden and Reed properties, which
embrace a total of 200 acres."

Between these properties and Cariboo Lake the serpentines extend in an
apparently continuous ridge, and show, at intervals, very good
indications of asbestos. This area, however, has not yet been
sufficiently explored for much to be said, from actual observation, of
its value as asbestos land, though it seems reasonable enough to suppose
that this portion of the serpentine belt will be presently found equally
valuable with that of the adjoining section.

In the vicinity of the Coleraine Station of the Quebec Central Railway
(the next station to Black Lake), serpentine also occurs; but the main
ridge, extending south-west, keeps to the north-west for about a mile
and a half, where it forms a conspicuous hill feature. An opening
recently made on this south-west extremity by Mr. Kennedy disclosed the
presence of a number of asbestos veins, one of which, occurring near the
surface had a width, it is said, of nearly four inches. Sufficient work
has not yet been done to determine the persistence and value of these
veins, though when I was last leaving the district I was given to
understand that energetic operations would commence immediately on the
opening of the working season.

A peculiarity here is the occurrence of a considerable quantity of mica
in direct contact with the asbestos, a circumstance which has not
hitherto been found to be the case anywhere else.


The finest vein of asbestos ever yet worked in Canada was discovered at
Broughton, when the Fraser Mine was first opened and worked by Dr. Reed;
although doubtless the largest, most continuous, and consequently best
paying veins have been found at Thetford, some of which, it has been
stated, were over six inches in thickness. I confess I have not been
fortunate enough to see anything like this, but I have seen many veins
there, the produce of which was of surprising beauty, and specimens of
which I have before me as I write, which are broad enough and good
enough for any purpose to which the fibre can possibly be put.

It must, however, be borne in mind that the same rule obtains with many
other things as is noted in the vegetable world--namely, that the
largest specimens are not necessarily the best. The broader veins of
asbestos do not, as I have already remarked, yield as a rule fibre of so
fine a quality as those of a medium, or even of a small size. The length
of the fibre, moreover, cannot be determined with any absolute certainty
from the thickness of the vein. On the contrary, the broader veins are
not seldom found to be separated at right angles to the length of fibre
by minute bands of serpentine, chrome, or magnetite, sometimes even by a
separation without any perceptible layer of rock, the only indication of
this being an irregular, scarcely visible line, readily detected by the

Under the hammer the big veins, in which the separation exists, are at
once divided into two, or it may be into three lengths of fibre; but if
the cotton be pure and clear, this is no very great detriment. Veins of
an inch or an inch and a half extracted from compact rock seldom have
these intersections. The veins, moreover, are extremely irregular in
character, a small vein at the surface frequently developing into one of
considerable size lower down, or breaking off altogether. This is the
special characteristic of the veins in the Coleraine district--notably
at Black Lake--at the mines of the Anglo-Canadian Company, and at
Danville. At Thetford, on the other hand, where the ground is of a more
uniform character, and at a lower level than at Black Lake, fine veins
are frequently met with just below the surface, which continue for a
considerable distance with very little change.

It will clearly be seen, therefore, that it is not possible properly to
appreciate the value of such a mine as this without inspection and
thorough examination by an expert. Fine specimens can at any time be
obtained, and have before now been exhibited at a distance as being the
produce of some particular mine for which a purchaser was wanted, when
anyone visiting the spot would at once see the utter impossibility of
such having been the case; and even if it were proved to be true that
the specimens exhibited came from the place indicated, it would be
important to know at what depth they were got, with the nature and
general disposition of the mine, as well as the proportion of
superincumbent rock requiring to be removed before the valuable veins
could be worked. Without a knowledge of this it is self-evident that no
practical estimate of expense to be incurred could possibly be made.

The discovery at Broughton made a great stir at the time; but the big
vein there was to all appearance soon worked out, the supply thought to
be exhausted, and work in consequence discontinued.

That, at any rate, was the view taken by the gentleman who then worked
the mine. About 130 tons, I was told, were got out, which fetched from
$100 to $120 a ton. It would now be worth a much better price.

The Scottish Asbestos Company have since then purchased this property,
and from the extensive preparations they are making for work, and the
great outlay they are incurring for machinery, buildings, and plant, it
is clear that they do not by any means coincide in the view above
expressed. The stratification at Broughton is peculiar, and different
from anything that is found either in Thetford or Coleraine. It is
quite possible, therefore, that the Company's advisers may be right, and
that the surface deposits will be found to continue in richness and
volume lower down. The developments at present consist of an open cut 15
to 20 feet deep by 8 feet wide following the vein and the serpentine
reef is laid open for a length of about 900 feet.

When I last visited Broughton, in the autumn of 1886, I went over the
ground in company with the late Mr. Fraser, who was then resident on the
property, but was unable, from the quantity of water in the cut, to
trace any of the big veins which had previously been worked. It was
evident, however, that in consequence of a sudden dip downwards
considerable expense would have to be incurred, and much very heavy work
done, before the seam could be reached again. The belt of serpentine
here is very narrow, and the veins of asbestos are closely pressed
together. The strike is east and west, and the dip 30°.

There are prospects here to the north-east, apparently of as valuable a
character as those of the mine already opened. A few days after my
visit, I was shown some fine samples from the surface work of this
place, where the ground had just been stripped, and these bore the
precise characteristics of the fine vein already spoken of. The
Broughton ore has a pale yellowish hue, as distinguished from the
greenish metallic lustre which distinguishes the finer samples from
Thetford. This does not, it must be observed, in any way deteriorate or
injuriously affect the clear whiteness of the fibre when crushed out,
although it at once identifies the locality of its production. There
are, in fact, as I have already mentioned, certain peculiarities, even
of colour, attaching to the ore of each locality of so marked a
character that an expert can at once tell, on inspection, from what
locality it was obtained.

There is great abundance of soapstone (steatite) at Broughton; much of
it of good quality, and some of it is remarkably pure. I brought away a
singular specimen, having all the grain and even the fibrous markings of
asbestos, which was nevertheless pure and unmistakable unfibred

At present no use is being made of this material at Broughton, but at
Wolfestown, in the same province, there is a manufactory for its use,
and here slabs of very fine quality can be procured. A workable bed of
very superior quality has been found also at Potton, and there is
another at South Ham, near the antimony mines on the Lake Nicolet
estate. Reduced to powder, the softness and unctuosity of steatite have
caused it to be used, in the same manner as plumbago, for lubricating
purposes, and when finely ground it is employed for giving a surface to
some kinds of paperhangings.

The substance called Venetian or French chalk, used by tailors and
others, is nothing more than steatite. It can be readily cut with a
knife, and is infusible in any ordinary furnace heat.

Slaty varieties, of which there are many, are comparatively useless.


There is a mine at Shipton, about four miles from the village of
Danville, contiguous to the line of the Grand Trunk Railway, which has
been for some time worked by Mr. Jeffery, whose acquaintance I had the
pleasure of making in Montreal, but I much regret that time did not
permit of a visit to this mine, so I can give no details of my own
personal knowledge.

The outcrop of the serpentine here, I am told, is quite limited, with
steep sides till round it. It however contains numerous veins of
asbestos which, though mostly of small size, are of good quality. Faults
are numerous, and these considerably affect the value of the property,
some of the good veins, with a thickness of two inches, for instance,
being cut off completely at a distance of fifty feet from the surface.

In a pamphlet published at Ottawa, by the Department of Agriculture of
the Dominion Government, I find it stated that the whole output of this
mine has been contracted for the next ten years. This is said to
amount to 100 tons per annum, and its value is given as $60 per ton.


This mine, the property of Dr. Reed of Reedsdale, Megantic, is situate
on the Nicolet Estate, in the township of South Ham, 7-½ miles from
the Garthby Station on the line of the Quebec Central Railway. It was
first described as being situate on Big Island, in the centre of Lake
Nicolet, where the serpentine rocks rise very abruptly to the height of
seventy feet, forming precipitous cliffs on the western side of the
island. Recent exploration, however, has shown that the main body of
asbestos is on the hill-side, and is of such extent as altogether to
eclipse that proved to exist on the island, which was at first thought
to be the chief source of supply.

The mine on the island is not being worked, but has been fully proved by
numerous openings which have been made at the most promising points,
revealing in every case veins of asbestos of remarkably good quality and
in great abundance. These, as mentioned, are now known to pass under
the lake, and can be seen cropping out in many places on the shore and
the hill-side.

The mineral as seen on the island presents many points of difference
from that at Thetford and Coleraine; and in the Geological Survey of
Canada, I find it is stated to consist of four varieties, viz.:--

1st. Small veins, rarely exceeding half an inch in width, the fibres not
easily separable. This, however, does not detract from its commercial

2nd. Apparently occupying a position at right angles to the veins above
noticed, is a coarse fibrous mineral, resembling rope, and evidently
derived from the associated picrolite. The extreme length which these
fibres may attain could not be determined, but judging from exposed
portions, it cannot be less than three feet.

3rd. Veins somewhat resembling the latter in aspect, but much finer in
texture. The fibre can be separated with great facility, though firmly
attached at one end to the parent rock.

4th. A steatitic asbestos rock, resembling "Mountain leather," forming
important masses, which enclose small concretionary pellets of asbestos,
the centres of which contain a nucleus of serpentine.

Very little (the report says) has yet been done on the island to develop
these asbestos veins, perhaps owing to the difficulty of transport
across the lake. This, however, would probably be more than
counterbalanced by the magnificent returns which this locality promises
to afford.

Dr. Reed at present is altogether neglecting the asbestos and devoting
his attention to the development of a very promising antimony mine on
the shore of the lake.

Indeed this estate might very justly be termed a typical Canadian
mineral estate, and is, in its way, unique, for comprised within its
2,000 acres, there are found to exist not only rich veins of antimony
and asbestos, and, as was stated in the notice of Broughton, enormous
quantities of soapstone, but there are also immense deposits of iron,
magnetic, chromic, and bog ore, as well as copper and sulphur. Silver to
the value of $4 per ton of ore is found with the antimony, and reefs of
auriferous quartz run through the entire property, from which a
practical miner from Australia, who was examined before the committee
appointed in 1887 by the Dominion Government to investigate the
gold-fields of Canada, stated that he had taken samples which on assay
gave 2-½ ozs. gold to the ton. Nickel also is found on the property,
and cobalt.

Everything necessary for the working of those valuable deposits
already exists on the ground--unlimited water supply, and timber for
building and mining purposes, as well as for charcoal for any furnaces
that may presently be erected: sufficient, if judiciously managed
according to the rules of forestry such as obtain in Germany, Austria,
and Russia, to last until a new growth matures. In regard to transport,
the roads are good, and a line of rail connecting the Grand Trunk with
the Intercolonial will touch the property next summer, and will, it is
expected, have a station there just below the antimony mine. In regard
to steatite, the quantity here is so enormous that an expert (Captain
A. M. Evans, of the firm of Blakemore and Evans, the well-known civil
and mining engineers of Cardiff), who was lately sent by me to report
on this property, speaking of steatite, says, "All I can say is, there
are mountains of it."

This mineral is a more or less pure and compact talc. When pure and of
close hard grain it is used as a refractory for lining furnaces,
especially those designed for anthracite. It is in demand also for gas
burners, not being liable to rust or corrosion, and also for the
construction of small portable furnaces and open stoves. It is used also
in the manufacture of paints. When very strongly heated, steatite loses
the small portion of combined water contained in it, and then in
consequence becomes much harder.


The description of the asbestos area of Wolfestown is given by Mr. Ells.
It is situate on the north-east extremity of a serpentine ridge which
extends south-westerly, with many interruptions, from the road leading
from Coleraine Station to Wolfestown, in the vicinity of Lake Nicolet.
It belongs to Mr. John Bell (John Bell & Co., asbestos manufacturers,
London), and considerable sums have been expended on the property in the
way of exploration. The surface indications are said not to be equal to
those at Black Lake, but show at several points numbers of veins, some
of which are from one and a half to two inches thick.

A very fair showing of workable veins has been exposed on the upper part
of a deep cut, which it is proposed to intersect at a considerably lower
level. Should the same rule of increase which holds good at Thetford and
Coleraine obtain here, there should be good paying ground exposed when
the lower level is driven in past the cap of barren rock, provided the
veins already disclosed are not cut off by faults, whose presence is
noted here as at other points.

The total amount of asbestos taken from the Belmina district Mr. Ells
puts at about twenty-five tons.

Considerable quantities of chromic iron are found on the hills in this
area, which embraces about six hundred acres.

The foregoing are all the Canadian mines now in work, as far as I have
been able to learn, certainly all of any importance. There can be no
doubt, however, that as the demand increases further explorations will
be made, and new mines discovered, as well as that increased capital
will be put in to further develop those already at work. At the present
time the supply scarcely keeps pace with the demand, and capitalists are
beginning to wake up to the importance of this industry; _it having been
now conclusively proved that mining for asbestos, properly conducted,
shows a more steady return for the money invested, with less elements of
risk, than mining for any other known mineral_.

I am unable to say, with any degree of exactness, what is the amount of
the aggregate output of the Canadian mines; but I saw it stated in a
local paper that, in 1885, it was under 1,500 tons, and that in 1886 it
had reached 2,000 tons, giving an increase of over 500 tons for the
year. This is quite sufficient to show the rapid strides the business is
making, and is probably near about correct, judging by the rate of
progression in the imports to the States, for instance. The value of
manufactured asbestos imported into the United States from Canada, in
1880, is given in the Government Returns as under 10,000 dollars. In
1884 it had risen to 48,755 dollars, and it has been increasing yearly
ever since. That the demand is rapidly increasing is unquestionable, not
only for the present articles of manufacture, but for the new purposes
to which it is being daily applied. More capital will, doubtless, soon
be put in, and then new lines, which almost indicate themselves, will
prepare the way for continued success.

As regards the progressive output of crude asbestos at the mines, since
its introduction in 1887, the following may no doubt be taken as
authentic, being extracted from the "Statistical Report on the
Production, Value, Exports, and Imports of Minerals in Canada during the
year 1886 and previous years," by Eugène Coste, M.E., published by
authority of the Dominion Parliament. In this Report the production and
value is given as follows:--

                       Value at the Mines.
             Tons.          Dollars.
  1879        300            19,500
  1880        380            24,700
  1881        540            35,100
  1882        810            52,650
  1883        955            68,750
  1884      1,141            75,079
  1885      2,440           142,441
  1886      3,458           206,251

The mode of extraction in all Canadian asbestos mines is by open quarry
work. Whether the drills are worked by compressed air, or by hand in the
old-fashioned way, the effect is the same. When a sufficient number of
holes of the proper depth are drilled and duly charged with dynamite or
powder, they are linked together, and fired by a battery in such a way
that the face of rock shall be thrown outward on to the floor of the
pit. The asbestos is then picked out, the adhering rock roughly broken
off, and the ore piled into boxes or tubs, which are loaded on to
trolleys, and run off on tram-lines to the cobbing-sheds. The refuse
rock, of which there is always an enormous quantity (probably as much as
twenty tons of rock to one ton of asbestos), is loaded into cars, run
off and shot over on to the dumping-ground.

Boys are employed in the cobbing-sheds to chip, or cob, the rock cleanly
from the ore, an operation which is much more troublesome with thin
veins than with those of the better sort to which, as I have already
said, the waste rock is less firmly adherent. This cobbing is a very
troublesome and expensive process, costing about 5 dollars a ton. After
cobbing, great care is required in sorting the ore into the respective
grades of Nos. 1, 2, and 3. It is then put up in bags of about 160 lbs.
each, marked, and stacked away in the bins ready for shipment. All this
is done in a very rough and ready style, and the waste is simply
enormous: there is no doubt, however, that as the ore increases in value
more scientific appliances will be adopted with good results. At present
thousands of tons of rock containing only thin veins of asbestos are
dumped on the refuse heaps as waste which would all be crushed if a
proper machine were at hand, and the valuable material saved.

In the cobbed state ready for market the ore is worth at the mines at
the present time from 50 dollars to 55 dollars for No. 2, and from 80
dollars to 100 dollars for No. 1. It is evident, therefore, on a
comparison of the cost of extraction with the price realised for the raw
material, that there is ample margin for good profit.

Wages run from 1 dollar to 1 dollar 75 cents a day, according to the
nature of the work performed, for men, and from 50 cents to 1 dollar for
lads and cobbers. The comparison of the cost of production, therefore,
with the value of the raw material, shows a very large margin of profit.

There is no scarcity of labour, a sufficient number of hands, mostly
French-Canadians, being always forthcoming; but at those mines where
there is an insufficiency of houses for married men, accommodation has
to be found in the barrack-like building for single men; the married
men, who cannot be accommodated, residing frequently at a long distance
from their work, which causes them to be of a migratory disposition, and
gives considerable additional trouble to the management.

A disadvantage in the employment of French-Canadian labour lies in the
great number of festivals incident to their religion, with consequent
loss of work at the mines, but apparently there is no remedy for this at
present. The greatest curse of the place, however, is gin. Although the
district is under the Scott Act, and the sale of liquor consequently
prohibited, like every other place where the sale is interdicted there
is no difficulty, if you know how to go about it, sometimes even if you
don't, in getting as much as you please. At any rate I never yet was in
any such place where I did not find it to be so.

Here is an instance: On one occasion I had been out driving in the
pouring rain for several hours, had got drenched to the skin, and was
bitterly cold. I pulled up, therefore, at a likely-looking house, went
in and called for some brandy, but to my disgust was told no liquors
could be supplied, as it was against the law. As I turned to go out
again, in no very cheerful mood, the man, seeing the state I was in,
evidently took compassion on me, and said, "Better try some bitters;" so
calling to mind the old saying that all bitters are warm barring a
bitter cold day, which only proves the rule, I assented. He then pushed
over a tumbler and a black bottle, when I at once poured out and
swallowed a pretty strong dose, feeling when I had done so as if I had
swallowed a streak of forked lightning. As soon as I had recovered my
breath I muttered my thanks and paid up. "Have another?" says he, with a
twinkle in his eye. "No, thanks;" I replied. "Guess you'll remember our
bitters," he then laughingly said, prefixing the name of the place,
which I afterwards found was in a district where prohibition was very
strictly enforced, and which I therefore purposely omit, his breach of
the law having no doubt saved me from the dangerous effects of a chill.

The hip pockets in the men's pants form very convenient receptacles for
the bottles, and are always pretty well filled after pay days and
holidays. The liquor most in favour is a vile compound called gin. It is
supplied in the regular square Dutch bottles from the familiar
green-painted boxes in which "Hollands" is exported, and which are
labelled "De Kuyper;" but the vile stuff is not much credit to that
gentleman's manufacture if it be so, which is much to be doubted.


[4] _Ante_, p. 13.

[5] "Geol. Hist. Can.," 1880.

[6] See _ante_, p. 12.

[7] See _post_, p 33.

[8] "Geographical Survey of Canada."

[9] _Ante_, p. 27.


In regard to the many varied uses to which this mineral is now put,
foremost must be placed the numerous valuable articles manufactured for
engineering purposes.

Were I to attempt to enumerate the various kinds of packing, mostly in
the shape of millboard, in use for all kinds of engines, for steam
joints, cylinder and steam chest covers, pipe flanges, &c., this part of
my little book would have the appearance of a manufacturer's catalogue.

The rapidly increasing favour with which high pressure steam is now
regarded by engineers, recently necessitated the introduction of a
packing capable of resisting the higher temperatures and pressures; as a
consequence manufacturers of asbestos goods had to devise improved
methods of manufacture in order to meet the new condition of things, and
this they succeeded in doing in a way to give universal satisfaction.

For washers asbestos has many advantages over rubber; its weight is
less, they can be frequently used, and half the thickness of rubber is
mostly sufficient.

The fibre, Sir Frederick Abel says, is as effectual for closing the
breeches of big guns so as to prevent the passage of gas, as for
ensuring safety, in the same way, for miners' lamps. In these last, it
had for a long time been found very difficult to get a good joint
between the metallic and the glass parts of the safety lamp, and a great
many different materials were tried for filling these joints in such a
way that air should not be able to pass through. In many cases, the air
was contaminated with a certain amount of gaseous material which would
be likely to render the whole explosive, and if this got through the
joint between the glass and the metal, there would be very serious risk
of explosion. After a great number of substances had been tried and
found unsatisfactory, some hundreds of experiments were made by Sir
Frederick Abel and Sir Warington Smyth, with asbestos washers, which, in
the end, were found to maintain their condition most admirably.

With regard to closing the breeches of big guns, we are informed also on
the authority of Sir Frederick Abel, that the only contrivance which
could be called an approach to a perfect arrangement, was one devised by
a French artillery officer, M. Dubange, which consisted of a kind of pad
of asbestos fibre attached to the breech-closing arrangement. This, from
its mineral nature, was nearly indestructible, and, consequently, lasted
without material deterioration for a great length of time,
notwithstanding that it was subjected to the enormous pressures which
are now developed in the bores of very heavy guns.

In connection with the Whitehead torpedoes, we learn from the same
authority, that in these and other similar receptacles, within which
charges of wet gun cotton are enclosed, the use of asbestos is now found
to overcome a great difficulty. The vessels containing the damp cotton
have to be soldered, in order to keep them perfectly air-tight, and
thus prevent the water from escaping; and in order to do this, with
anything approaching safety, the space between the gun cotton and the
metal surfaces which have to be soldered, were formerly filled with damp
felt wads or discs. This answered the purpose; but Sir Frederick Abel
states that it was found after they had been stored for some time, that
the effect of the moisture on the felt was to cause it to undergo a kind
of decay or fermentation, resulting in the formation of gas to such an
extent that the vessels were distended, and threatened to burst, and
sometimes actually did burst with considerable violence. Asbestos
millboard was then substituted for the felt, and the difficulty and
danger were then removed; gas was no longer evolved, whilst the
operation of soldering could be performed with safety, the material
remaining perfectly unaltered.

In the manufacture of time-fuzes again, asbestos washers are found most
valuable. Washers of india-rubber and wash-leather were formerly used,
but these in time became hard, and acted on the metal surfaces with
which they came in contact in such a manner as to cement them together,
instead of keeping them mobile, and it was not until the introduction of
asbestos washers that difficulties in connection with the proper action
of these ingenious contrivances for the explosion of shells in a given
time after their discharge, were removed.

One of the latest uses to which asbestos has been proposed to be applied
in connection with warfare is as a coating for ironclads. It is alleged
by the inventor of the process that if asbestos be packed between the
armour-plates it will arrest, or certainly minimise, the inflow of water
after the penetration of a ship's side below the water-line. This has
already been tried by the Admiralty, and an interesting account of the
trial may be found in the _Army and Navy Gazette Supplement_, for August
28, of last year, and in the _Globe_ of the previous evening. Should the
results of further trials corroborate the success of the first, it is
manifest that a great impetus will be given to the asbestos trade,
whilst it will, at the same time, raise confidence in our fighting
ships, by practically preventing them from becoming waterlogged in

An eminent firm of manufacturers in New York have recently supplied,
under contract with the United States Government, a quilting for boiler
covers for their model warships, the _Dolphin_, _Chicago_, _Atlantic_,
and _Boston_. These quiltings weigh about two pounds to the square foot,
and are at all times removable. The same firm make removable pipe
coverings a speciality.

Certainly some of the uses to which this mineral is now being put are
sufficiently astonishing. Who, for instance, could have imagined that a
substance of such comparative specific gravity as crude asbestos could
have been manufactured into a cloth available for aeronautical purposes
in which absence of weight is of such primary importance? Yet here it
appears to be the one thing wanting to give success to that despair of
aeronauts, military ballooning. Many years have now passed away since
scientific military men first turned their attention to this subject;
and it is now long since the War Department of the Government first
authorized experiments to be made with the view of utilising balloons in
warfare, and notwithstanding all the time and money which has been
expended, until now the result in the way of practical success has been
_nil_. No use of balloons was made even in the late Egyptian campaign,
which shows that up to that date English military men had no great faith
in their usefulness or availability.

The difficulties to be encountered are doubtless sufficiently
formidable. Gas, it is clear, could not be carried into a hostile
country or into remote and nearly inaccessible districts. Even if
procurable at all near the battle-field it could only be obtained by a
long and difficult process of generation at the very time when speed and
simplicity would be the main factors of success. Gas, therefore, being
practically out of the question, it seems to have occurred to Mr.
Spencer, the well-known balloon manufacturer, that it would be better
after all to revert to the original conception of Montgolfier. The
old-fashioned fire-ball, which acquired its power of ascension from
rarefied air produced by burning straw or something similar, was, of
course, of far too dangerous a character, and had been productive of far
too many fatal accidents. It remained, therefore, to construct a balloon
of some uninflammable material, in order to obviate this difficulty; and
with the assistance of his friend, Mr. Fisher, the Secretary of the
United Asbestos Company of London, he ultimately succeeded in so doing.
A balloon was accordingly constructed, the whole of the lower part of
which was formed of fine asbestos cloth, and the remainder of canvas,
covered with a fireproof solution. The first trial took place in the
grounds of the Welsh Harp, at Hendon, and this has since been repeated
at Chatham, under the inspection of the Royal Engineers' Committee, and
on both occasions, I am informed, with success. The balloon, which was a
model only, stood about 30 feet high, and was suspended between two
uprights, between which it hung down like a limp rag. It was of a
cylindrical shape, having a deep zone at the equator, and a containing
capacity of about 300 feet. Attached to the neck was a copper
spirit-lamp. As soon as a light was put to the spirit the inflation
commenced, and the balloon was fully distended in a space of about five

The immense advantage gained by this method over the tedious and
difficult process of inflation by gas, even under the most favourable
circumstances, is sufficiently obvious, whilst it is at the same time
apparent that the quantity of spirit requisite for an endless number of
ascents could be carried about with the greatest facility. Another
advantage remains to be considered, in that whilst the large volume of
gas required for an ordinary balloon is in itself deleterious, the
rarefied air in the new fireproof balloon is perfectly innocuous, and it
can be raised or lowered at will simply by turning the neck of the lamp
a little up or down. It is perhaps somewhat superfluous to say that the
Russian Government at once adopted these balloons for war purposes.

In further continuance of this part of the subject, that is the
application of asbestos to matters connected with warfare, the
particulars of a very interesting experiment, which may have an
important bearing on the carriage of explosive material in time of war,
was given by Mr. Boyd, the manager of the United Asbestos Company's
works at Harefield, of whom I have already spoken, and to whom I have
been considerably indebted for much practical information, in a paper
read by him before the Society of Arts, on an occasion when, through his
kindness, I had an opportunity of being present. He was referring to the
value of asbestos millboard as a lining for fireproof cases and deed
boxes. The matter, he said, was put to a practical test thus: two iron
rails were supported on brickwork at a height of about eighteen inches
from the ground, and underneath them a strong fire of wood shavings and
chips was made, and when this had well burnt up, a deed box filled with
papers was pushed along the rails to the centre of the fire, where it
was completely enveloped in the flames, and there it remained for a
space of twenty minutes. On the box being withdrawn it unlocked easily,
and the papers were found in perfect preservation, being neither charred
nor discoloured.

On seeing this result, one of the gentlemen present asked if the boxes
could not be used for transporting gunpowder or other explosive
substances. A quarter of a pound of powder was then put in a small bag,
and placed inside a fresh box, which was pushed along the rails into the
centre of the fire, to which fresh fuel had been added. Those present
withdrew to a respectful distance, evidently, said Mr. Boyd, not yet
having absolute faith in the heat-resisting properties of asbestos; and
after the box had been exposed to the fire for twenty minutes the
question naturally arose how it was to be got off again. The manager
himself performed that operation by means of a long iron rod and hook,
after which the box was again opened and the powder found intact. The
question was then asked by some one present who was not yet satisfied,
"Why have the powder in a bag? Let it be laid on the bottom of the box
loose." This was done, and the fire ordeal repeated, again with the same
result. Nothing could well be more interesting or more suggestive to
every one connected with the asbestos industry than the foregoing.

As a final instance of its applicability for purposes connected with
warfare, it may be interesting to mention that I have lately seen it
stated that the fibre would be of great value for use as lint in
hospitals and on the battle-field. Of this I am unable to speak, but if
it be a fact that it can be so used in favourable comparison with the
best lint, as stated, it is certain that its imperishable quality would
be of great advantage, seeing that it could be used over and over again,
only needing to be purified by passing it through fire after each time
of using.

In regard to the use of asbestos in connection with building operations,
much attention is now being given to this in a variety of ways, in
America especially. The building laws of Boston, New York, and
Philadelphia pay special attention to this, and many material
alterations have been required to be made in consequence in the fittings
of several important public buildings, whilst the use of the mineral is,
I believe, rendered compulsory on those wishing to procure licences for
the erection of new theatres, libraries, concert halls, &c. At the
American Academy of Music, in Philadelphia, the underwriters went so far
as to offer a reduction of one per cent. per annum provided an asbestos
curtain was placed in the house. The Fire Apparatus Committee then, it
is reported, succeeded in perfecting "the only barrier of complete
protection to an audience against fire in the world." This curtain, made
of asbestos cloth (97 per cent. pure asbestos and 3 per cent. cotton) is
54 feet wide and 53 feet high. It is hung on wire lines, three-eighths
of an inch thick, connecting with a drum located in the apex of the
roof, and can be raised with ease by two men and lowered by one.

Again, after the disaster at the Ring Strasse Theatre, at Vienna, when
attention was drawn to the great danger arising from the want of some
certain and rapidly applicable means of separating the stage from the
body of the theatre, the Roman Minister of Public Security issued an
order that every theatre should be fitted with a fireproof curtain
capable of entirely isolating the stage from the theatre, and he
indicated an asbestos cloth curtain as one that would meet the case. All
the principal Roman theatres are now supplied with these curtains, the
material having been furnished by the United Asbestos Company of London.
The same company has also recently fitted a similar curtain for use at
the Theatre Royal in Manchester. This is formed of an iron frame holding
the asbestos curtain.

Asbestos fireproof curtains are also in use at the New National
Theatre, Washington; the Criterion, Brooklyn; and in the theatre at
Cleveland, Ohio. They have also lately been supplied to several English
theatres, as well as that at Manchester just mentioned.

The terrible calamity at the Opéra Comique in Paris, coupled with that
which so recently occurred at the burning of the theatre at Exeter,
again set men's minds running in the direction of greater security from
fire in theatres. As a consequence several varieties of curtains, all
involving the use of asbestos, have been contrived. For instance, at the
building of that pretty little theatre (Terry's) in the Strand it was
resolved to replace the usual heavy, cumbrous, slow-lifting iron shield
by a single light-grey asbestos curtain, which moves up and down as
easily as an ordinary window-blind. And the authorities agree that this
is as valuable a protection to the audience as the former ponderous iron
portcullis which, winding slowly up and down, was calculated to depress
the nerves of the audience in the same way that passers-by in the street
are affected by the harsh grating of the iron shop shutters when being
wound down for the night.

Again, in the proposals for a new "Safety Theatre," brought to the
notice of the public by Mr. Henry Irving, stress is naturally laid on
the necessity of sealing the stage, or shutting it off from the
auditorium, so that in the event of fire its perils might be confined to
itself, and to providing an outlet for the smoke, which is often more
disastrous in its effects even than the flames. This he proposed to
accomplish by means of an asbestos curtain which, on being dropped,
would at once become rigid with the wall on either side. This curtain
was proposed to be worked in iron grooves going straight up to the
gridiron floor; and the suggestion was made that this should be used as
constantly as the ordinary act-drop, there being at the same time
nothing to prevent its being made as ornamental as the usual curtain.
It could also be worked as easily, and be just as easily lifted for a
recall. The audience, it was said, would thus have the satisfaction of
knowing that every time the curtain was dropped they were effectually
protected by a fireproof screen, which could be lowered with the same
rapidity as the present curtain.

In continuation of this subject it may be worth mentioning, as showing
the amount of attention which is now being directed to this important
matter, that an experiment was recently made in the neighbourhood of
Oxford Street to test the fire-resisting qualities of another new
curtain for the stage, said to have been invented by Captain Heath. This
experiment took place within a specially built hoarding, within which
there was erected a large model of the Drury Lane stage proscenium.
Captain Heath explained to the company, invited to witness the
experiment, that the curtain was made of asbestos and canvas, and was
rolled on a block of wood placed underneath the front part of the stage,
where it occupied an otherwise useless space, and in no way interfered
with the business of the theatre. The sides of the model were made of
iron plates, and the front entirely of wood. When certain catches were
released counterbalancing weights came into action, and the curtain was
run rapidly up from below. On reaching the top, it pressed tightly and
automatically against the back of the proscenium, turning on at the same
time a supply of water from a perforated pipe which ran along the whole
length of the top of the curtain so as to keep it constantly wet. The
arrangement of the switch used for communicating action to the curtain
was such as to turn on the water and close the curtain against the sides
at will. He also stated that communication with the lever of the switch
could be fitted to any part of the theatre. A very severe fire test was
employed. The model was first filled with inflammable materials such as
shavings and large blocks of wood, over which petroleum was poured. At a
given signal the curtain was raised and the fire lighted. The flames at
once rose, accompanied with volumes of smoke, none of which, however,
found their way to the front of the proscenium. The interior looked like
a furnace. But so effectually were the flames shut off that it was
possible to sit on the fore part of the stage without feeling the heat,
the only thing noticeable being the steam arising from the wet canvas.
This, Captain Heath explained, might be obviated by painting the canvas
in oils. The fire burned fiercely for half an hour, and the universal
opinion of those present was that the curtain was perfectly fireproof,
and that its construction was as simple as it was useful for the purpose

Whilst these sheets are still in the press, yet another theatre dies the
apparently natural death of all such structures, that is, by fire.
Portugal is this time the scene of the disaster, the sufferer being the
Baquet Theatre in Oporto. The calamity was caused by the wings catching
fire from a gas-jet, whereby the whole of the stage scenery was almost,
immediately afterwards enveloped in flames, the furious progress of
which it was found impossible to arrest. Here, then, was a striking
instance of a holocaust being caused by the want of such a curtain as
has been described; for, had such a thing been available, the stage
would have been at once shut off from the auditorium, and even if it had
not been found possible to save the structure, the fire, at any rate,
would have been localised for a sufficient length of time, to have
enabled the authorities to clear the building, and so have prevented the
panic and horror which ensued, and the fearful sacrifice of life which
humanity now deplores.

It is worth while perhaps recording the foregoing, because there can be
very little doubt that something of this kind will presently be made
compulsory even in England for use in theatres and music halls
generally. And it is believed, from the course matters are now taking in
the United States, that the use of asbestos in some form or other will
be made compulsory there for the shelvings and doors of public libraries
and places for the custody of records, for sheathings between wooden
floorings and below carpets, for hearthstones, for the linings and doors
of elevators or lifts, and for the better preservation of Pullman cars
from fire.

The premises of the American Watch Case Company, of Toronto, have their
floorings protected by an asbestos covering, and I saw an announcement
recently in the _Sherbrooke Gazette_ that this covering had saved their
premises from destruction by a fire which had occurred there. In
connection with this part of the subject it may be added that various
attempts have been made for the introduction of asbestos into the
manufacture of lace curtains, dresses, &c., but I believe that the
principal obstacle in the way of success in this line lies in the fact
that in its present state, in the shape of curtains, for instance, it is
found to be an obstinate holder of dust. This objection will, no doubt,
be presently got rid of; and soon we may hope to have heard the last of
those fearful scenes which have at times occurred from the firing of
ladies' dresses at the footlights in theatres.

The Chevalier Aldini's idea, previously mentioned, has been recently
revived in Paris, the firemen there having been furnished with asbestos
clothes. Immediately after this was done it was reported in the papers
that on a conflagration occurring in the basement of a building there,
the firemen arrived, clad in their asbestos suits, and were thereby
enabled to descend at once into the basement, where they extinguished
the fire in a very short time, and so prevented what might have been a
great calamity. And according to the papers it appears that the same
course is now about to be taken in England, and the London firemen at
any rate protected in a similar manner; and there can be little doubt
that this course will presently be universally adopted for the
protection of the men engaged in saving life and property from
destruction by fire. Nothing has yet been discovered that will equal
asbestos for this purpose. It will neither burn nor smoulder, and is as
impervious to fire as well made mackintosh is to water.

Manufactured into cloth and paper, it is in use in sugar refineries,
chemical laboratories, &c., for straining and other purposes, especially
for filtering acids and similar fluids. A coarser kind of cloth is used
for stokers and furnacemen's aprons, for salvage blankets, and gloves. A
special quality of glove made of asbestos cloth, lined with rubber, is
supplied for electric light work.

A further development of the industry is indicated by the announcement
that a New York manufacturing firm has recently taken over a large
contract for the manufacture of mail bags out of asbestos cloth.

It is also proposed to be used as an inner sole or lining for boots and
shoes with the object of keeping the feet warm in winter and cool in
summer, the material possessing the double advantage of being at once a
preserver of heat and a protector from cold.

For cold storage buildings it will doubtless be found invaluable. There
are buildings in New York, principally for fish preservation, which are
built with double walls surrounding the cold chambers, having some kind
of non-conducting material between the walls by way of lining. For this
purpose asbestos would be unsurpassed, and the cheap No. 3 quality would
answer perfectly well.

Mr. Boyd, in the lecture before referred to, says that some years ago,
when resident at Genoa, he was one of the members of a committee for
procuring a new floating chapel for the use of seamen. The old chapel
was built on the deck of a hulk, but the extremely high summer
temperature caused the repairs to be both frequent and costly. The
committee therefore wanted the new chapel to be built of iron, but were
deterred by the fear that its roof and sides, exposed to the sun, would
get so hot as to render the interior unbearable. He therefore proposed
to fill up the space between the outer skin and the inner boarding with
asbestos ground to a rough powder; and this suggestion was adopted, the
powder being tightly rammed in by the carpenters. The result, he informs
us, was so successful that whilst the outside temperature stood at 100°,
the temperature inside, when doors and windows were kept shut, did not
exceed 70°. And he therefore suggests that asbestos powder might be used
in a similar way for rendering the deck cabins of steamers navigating
the Red Sea and Suez Canal more comfortable for the passengers.

For wall and ornamental papers it is being largely used, and a superior
quality of asbestos writing paper is now being made in Paris. One can
easily imagine a great future in this line for asbestos paper written or
printed on with asbestos ink for all kinds of registers and permanent
records, bankers' and merchants' books, and the like. One of the leading
manufacturers in New York already prints his price lists on asbestos
paper. And another has on show fine papers as susceptible of receiving
good impressions from type as any in use in modern books. Coloured wall
papers also are manufactured in great variety, which are not merely
incombustible, but practically indestructible by fire; and which retain,
even after severe heat tests, their colourings, markings and letterings
as clearly impressed and as vividly visible as before. Boards also are
made of asbestos, varying from the thinnest and lightest card to heavy
shelving, fit either for partitions in safes or for use in large

In a recent number of "L'Industrie Moderne" I found an account of a new
process invented by a Mr. Ladewig for manufacturing pulp and paper from
asbestos fibre, which he asserts will not only resist the action of both
fire and water, but will absorb no moisture; this pulp, he says, may be
used as a stuffing and for the joints of engines. He further proposes to
use it in the form of a solid cardboard as a roofing material for light

The process of manufacture consists in mixing about 25 per cent. of
asbestos fibre with about 25 or 35 per cent. of powdered sulphate of
alumina. This mixture is moistened with an aqueous solution of chloride
of zinc. The mixture is washed with water and then treated with an
aqueous solution of ammoniacal gas. The mixture is again washed and then
treated with a solution composed of one part of resin soap and eight or
ten parts of water mixed with an equal bulk of sulphate of alumina,
which should be us pure as possible. The mixture thus obtained should
have a slightly pulpy consistency. Finally, there is added to it 35 per
cent. of powdered asbestos and 5 to 8 per cent. of white barytes. This
pulp is treated with water in an ordinary paper machine, and worked just
like paper pulp.

In order to manufacture a solid cardboard from asbestos which shall be
proof against fire and water and capable of serving as a roofing
material, sheets of common cardboard, tarred or otherwise prepared, are
covered with the pulp. The application is made in a paper machine, the
pulp being allowed to flow over the cardboard. Among other uses, the
asbestos paper has been recommended for the manufacture of cigarettes,
though its applicability for this purpose is not so readily seen.

Manufactured into paint, the demand for it is continually increasing.
It is used in the Houses of Parliament, as it was in very large
quantities at the several recent exhibitions at South Kensington.

In the form of cement there is nothing equal to it as an efficient
covering for boilers, steam pipes, hotblast furnaces, stills, &c. For
this purpose it is made of about the consistency of mortar and spread on
with a trowel in the ordinary way. Certain chemical ingredients have to
be added, which, while not injurious to the metal, cause the asbestos to
adhere firmly to the plates, so that when dry it becomes quite hard and
can be walked over without being injured. With a boiler carrying say 80
lbs. steam pressure, the application of from 1-½ to 2 inches of this
composition so well retains the heat in the boiler, that a thermometer
with the bulb held close to the outer surface of the covering will not
indicate more than 80° to 85° Fahrenheit. Boilers, steam pipes, &c.,
covered in with this composition will, it is asserted by the
manufacturers, effect a saving of as much as 33 per cent. in fuel.[10]

This cement, which is made from a very cheap quality of asbestos, is now
in common use in Canada and the States, where, as already shown, it is
found to operate with a twofold effect, viz. by lowering the temperature
of the boilerhouse, to the great comfort of the engineers and firemen,
and also, in a very marked degree, economising the expenditure for fuel.
It seems, therefore, strange that its use in this country has as yet
made so little headway. In one of the large palatial buildings recently
erected in London, where engines are required to be in constant work for
pumping water for working the lifts and for general purposes, as well as
for the dynamos, the heat from the boilers forms so great a nuisance,
and occasions so much loss in other ways, that very considerable expense
is about to be incurred, with a view to lowering the temperature. When
conversing recently with an expert on this subject I asked whether the
use of asbestos would not effect the desired object. Yes, he answered,
it would, but it is too expensive. This certainly seems very strange, as
I know that the cement composition referred to is made of the very
commonest quality of asbestos, of the refuse, in point of fact, which
could probably be used for no other purpose. The expense, therefore,
cannot be great, and as to its mode of use, it is simply laid on with a
trowel, like mortar or any similar composition, and when once done is
singularly effective. I have stood in an engine-house where the boilers
were covered with about two inches in thickness of this cement, which
then showed a hard, dry, firm surface; and, when the engines were in
full work, on placing one's hand on the covering there was little more
than a gentle warmth perceptible on the outside surface of the
composition, whilst the surrounding atmosphere was scarcely, if at all,
affected by the heat from the boilers. The boiler quiltings referred to
on a previous page as being manufactured by a New York firm under
contract with the United States Government, for use in some of their
model war ships, would no doubt be as effectual for the purpose, but
naturally they would be more costly, being an altogether different
contrivance, and made so as to be easily removable when required, which,
of course, is not the case with the so-called cement. There is little
doubt, however, that, although the use of asbestos in this form does not
seem to find much favour here, its use for the purpose of coating
boilers and steam-pipes will presently become as general in England as
it already is on the other side, where its valuable qualities seem to be
so much better known and appreciated.

Improved stove pipings are now being manufactured in the States which in
appearance exactly resemble cast-iron. These have the additional
valuable properties of extreme lightness, combined with great strength
and a capability of ornamentation unobtainable with the usual cast-iron
pipes mostly in use; paint in the case of the asbestos pipes not scaling
off under heat as it will do in the case of ordinary iron pipes. The
manufacturers of these pipes claim for them that they combine the
strength of steel with the lightness of paper. Tubes also are made for
electrical engineers which provide them with a non-conducting covering
for their wires both fire and waterproof, so as to preserve the perfect
insulation of the wire.

Asbestos rope is used for fire escapes and similar purposes, as well as
for the transmission of power over places exposed to heat. In dyeing and
printing cloth it is frequently necessary to hang the fabric in loops
from parallel rods for exposure to steam, air or ammonia. In order that
it should hold upon the rods, without straining or slipping, rope or
strips of cloth are usually wound around the poles, but this does not
remove, although it mitigates, the difficulty, because the heat and
corrosive action of the vapours will rot any covering; the first notice
of the deterioration being generally the appearance of small pieces of
rod covering among the cloth which is in process of finishing. Asbestos
rope and cloth are now largely manufactured and used for this purpose
in the United States with very beneficial results.

In commenting on the recent loss of life occasioned by the panic at the
fire at the Exeter Theatre, a well-known journal, speaking of the
various modes of providing for escape, mentions the case of a man of
fashion, a millionaire, who died not long ago, and says that he would
never go to bed in a strange house without having an apparatus of
knotted rope affixed to a ring in the wall, by which he might lower
himself to the ground on an emergency. But, asks the journalist, what if
the rope itself took fire? The answer naturally is, let it be an
asbestos rope, then it will neither burn nor rot.

The use of the fibre in the manufacture of gas stoves is too well known
to need any remark.

As a lubricant it is unrivalled.

Another very important use to which it is now being applied is in the
manufacture of filters. These are specially useful where the liquid to
be filtered is of a caustic or strongly acid nature, or where the filter
with residue is to be ignited without consuming the filter, or where the
residue is to be subsequently dissolved off the filter by acids or other
solvents. In many cases a very finely divided asbestos is desirable.
This is accomplished by a process recently patented in Germany by Fr.
Breyer, of Vienna. The asbestos is first coarsely ground, and then mixed
with some granular crystalline carbonate, which must be soluble in
acids. The carbonate should possess a hardness between 3 and 4, 5,
according to the mineralogical scale. The mixture is ultimately ground
together in a mill. Afterwards the mass is treated with an acid until
the carbonate has been dissolved out. The escaping carbonic gas causes
the asbestos fibres to be loosened and disintegrated from each other so
as to render the mass porous. Of course it must be thoroughly washed
with water before being used.

Again, in the purification of foul gas, as well as for ventilating and
deodorizing man-holes for cesspools, sewers, &c., its use is found to be
unsurpassed by any other known material.

Mr. Boyd, in the paper so often referred to, says in regard to this,
that he was some time previously asked to supply asbestos yarn spun in
such a way as to have good capillary action, and, on making inquiry,
found it was to be used for the above purpose. In describing the mode of
using it, he says that there is placed over the opening rising from the
sewer a hood of galvanized wire, interlaced with this asbestos yarn, the
ends of the yarn dipping into a receptacle filled with liquid
disinfectant, which, as they become saturated, form a disinfecting
screen, through the meshes of which the gases rise, and in their passage
through are purified and rendered innocuous. The system hitherto
previously adopted for deodorizing sewer gas has been to cause it to
rise through charcoal, but it is found that the impurities soon clog
this up, and simply prevent the passage of the gas, whereas in the
arrangement just mentioned (which is that of Messrs. Adams & Co., of
York), the gas rises freely, and is perfectly deodorized.

There are, of course, very numerous other applications of the material
which might be referred to or described, but probably those already
mentioned are the most important and the most interesting; and these, it
is hoped, are at any rate sufficient to indicate the great value of this
singular mineral product, as well as to confirm the statement with which
I started, that this is indeed one of Nature's most marvellous


[10] There is a Patent Removable Covering now manufactured in New York
which is said to be entirely formed of pure asbestos fibre, made in
cylindrical sections of three-foot lengths of the exact size of the
pipes to be covered. In this the asbestos fibres are so interlaced, that
the sections, whilst possessing strength and flexibility, afford so
large a number of air-cells as to give the covering the very highest
non-conducting quality, whilst at the same time it cannot char or be in
any way injured by the most intense heat from without or within. Fire
Felt sectional coverings for boilers and large surfaces are made in
convenient forms in sheets, &c. The same Company also manufacture what
is called a Superator Jacket, both fire and waterproof, being in fact a
flexible sheet of asbestos strengthened with wire netting, the asbestos
being waterproofed by a special process, and provided with patent
lacings, so that the jackets may be effectually kept in place, whilst
being readily removable without cutting or loss of material.


 Asbestos, meaning of, 5
   description, 7, 9
   origin unknown, 12
   only found in serpentine, 12
   places where found, 13
   first successful experiments with, 15
   difference between Canadian and Italian, 16, 22
   where used, 18
   analysis, 20
   Italian kinds, 21
   sources of supply, 13, 24
   marketable value, 28
   first discovery of, 29
   profitable nature of mining for, 31, 51
   annual production, 52
   aggregate output, 51
   uses of, 55

 Aldini, Chevalier, 15, 18, 66

 Amiante, 8

 Anecdotes, 5, 13, 54, 60

 Anglo-Canadian Company, 27, 36

 Antimony, 48

 Ballooning, military, 58

 Bastard asbestos, 27

 Boiler coverings, 58, 70

 Boot soles, lining for, 67

 Boston Company's mine, 31

 Breeches of big guns, 56

 Broughton mines, 42

 Building operations, use in, 61

 Canadian mineral estates, typical, 48

 Carriage of explosives, 60

 China, strange use of asbestos in, 15

 Cement, 70

 Chrome iron, 28, 36, 51

 Chrysotile, 8

 Cloth and paper, 67

 Clothing for firemen, 66

 Coating ironclads, 57

 Cobbing, 52

 Cold storage, 67

 Coleraine group of mines, 36

 Coleraine mines of Dr. Reed, 41

 Cost of extraction, 36, 40

 Coste, Eugène, report of, 52

 Crocidolite, 9, 10

 Curtains in theatres, 62

 Danville, mine at, 46

 Deck cabins of steamships, 68

 Discolouration, 27, 33, 37
   removable, 38

 Ells (Mr.), report of, 12, 31, 41, 50

 Exeter Theatre, fire at, 63

 Exhibition, American, 9

 Extraction, cost of, 36, 40

 Faults in veins, 47

 Filters, 67, 73

 Firemen's clothing, 16, 66

 Fires at theatres, 62

 Fireproof boxes, 58
   curtains, 62

 Frechette-Douville mine, 39

 French-Canadian labour, 53

 Genoa, floating chapel at, 68

 Geology of Canada, 7, 9, 26, 48

 Gold at South Ham, 49

 Heath, Captain, experiments of, 61

 Immature asbestos, 32

 Impurity of rock, 27

 Ink, asbestos, 68

 Italian asbestos, 15
   paper on, 19

 Italy, experiments in, 15

 Italian asbestos, three kinds of, 21

 Iron-mining in Russia, 13

 Irving's safety theatre, 63

 Johnson Company's mine, 30

 Journal of Society of Arts, 19

 Kennedy's discovery at Coleraine, 42

 King's mine, 32

 Limestone at Templeton, 29

 Lint, 61

 Magnetite, 33

 Mailbags, 67

 Main sources of supply, 24

 Marketable value, how determined, 28

 Martin mine, 38

 Merchants' and bankers' books, 68

 Military ballooning, 58

 Mineral wool, 11

 Miner's lamps, 56

 Mining in Canada, 24
   profitable nature of, 31, 51

 Packing, 52

 Paint, 69

 Paper, 67, 68

 Peculiarity at Thetford, 33

 Pélé's hair, 11

 Pierre-à-coton, 7

 Places where used, 18

 Profitable nature of asbestos-mining in Canada, 31, 51

 Printing papers, 68

 Pulp and paper, 69

 Purification of foul gas, 74

 Reed & Hay properties, 40

 Reed's (Dr.), mine, 40

 Registers and records, 68

 Relative merits of Canadian and Italian asbestos, 17

 Rope, 72

 Russia, asbestos found in, 13, 14
   iron-mining in, 13

 Scottish Asbestos Company, 36, 38, 44

 Serpentine, 12, 24, 41
   often impure, 27
   ornamental, 29

 Shipton mine, 46

 Singular statement, 20

 Slag wool, 11

 Soapstone (steatite), 46, 49
   enormous quantity of, at South Ham, 49

 South Ham, mines at, 47

 Steam-power, 34

 Steam-pipe coverings, 70

 Stove pipings, 72

 Theatres, fires in, 62

 Thetford group of mines, 29
   district rich in minerals, 36

 Time fuzes, 67

 Tunnelling impracticable in Canada, 21

 Underwriters, offer of, 62

 United Asbestos Company of London, 16, 60

 Ural region, large quantities found in, 14

 Wages at Canadian mines, 53

 Wall papers, 68

 Want of foresight in mining for asbestos, 35

 Ward's mine, 31

 Whitehead torpedoes, 56

 Willimott (Mr.), report of, 26

 Wolfestown mines, 50


    |             Transcriber's Note:               |
    |                                               |
    | Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the  |
    | original document have been preserved.        |
    |                                               |
    | Typographical errors corrected in the text:   |
    |                                               |
    | Page 40 Haydon changed to Hayden              |
    | Page 50 Balmina changed to Belmina            |
    | Page 58 Nary changed to Navy                  |

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