Trivia Quiz: Murdochville: the Turbulent Past of a Young Mining Town

Duncan Crabtree*
Murdochville. Photo - Facebook

--March 20, 2019.

1. What mineral, discovered 20 kilometres from the Gaspésie littoral in 1909 led to the founding of Murdochville, one of Quebec’s youngest municipalities?
a. Bronze
b. Copper
c. Nickel
d. Gold

2. In what river were traces of this mineral fist discovered by Alfred Miller?
a. York river
b. Dartmouth River
c. Saint-Jean River
d. All of the above
e. Both a and c

3. Who was James Murdoch, the man after whom the town was named in 1953?
a. The first president of the Noranda Mining Company
b. The founder of the former miners’ camp
c. The leader of the first miners’ union
d. A legendary fisherman who had fished the nearby rivers for decades

4. Approximately how many men were employed by the mine at the conception of Murdochville in 1953?
a. 100
b. 1,000
c. 10,000
d. 100,000

5. Why was the first Murdochville town charter, proposed by Gaspé Copper Mines, a subsidiary company of Noranda mines, refused by Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis in 1951?
a. Because Noranda mines was an American company, Duplessis feared American influence in the town charter
b. The charter proposed a property tax rate for mining families that was below the provincially-determined minimum
c. The charter established a regional police force that would be partially funded by Noranda Mines
d. The charter required the mayor and all municipal councillors of Murdochville to be able to speak English

6. What factor(s) encouraged Gaspé men to settle in Murdochville and mine copper?
a. Stable, high paying jobs compared to fishing in Gaspésie
b. Modern public services and town facilities
c. The peacefulness of a town in the wilderness
d. Nearby lakes provided ideal summer getaway spots
e. All of the above
f. a and b only

7. What part of the development of the Murdochville economy did the federal government fund in 1950?
a. The building of mining infrastructure
b. Road access between Murdochville, Gaspé and L’Anse-Pleureuse
c. The building of ports in Gaspé and Mont-Louis
d. The installation of four cables under the St. Lawrence River to supply Murdochville with power

8. How did many tons of copper did Noranda Mines estimate were in the Murdochville area in 1938?
a. 100 thousand
b. 850 thousand
c. 7.5 million
d. 20 million

9. In relation to the 1938 estimate, how much smaller or larger were the reserves determined to be by 1956?
a. ½ the size
b. 8 times larger
c. 1/8 the size
d. 3 times larger

10. The Murdochville miners’ strike in 1957 was the longest single union conflict in Quebec history. How long did it last?
a. 1 month
b. 7.5 months
c. 1 year
d. 3.5 years

11. Which action, taken by the Noranda Mines Company, precipitated the strike?
a. The firing of the local union president
b. Court action to delay union certification for 14 months
c. The claim by the company that strike-breakers would be used to end any illegal miners’ strike
d. Noranda made a pact with the Duplessis government to resist the demands of an illegal strike in order to secure more contracts

12. The leaders of which prominent Canadian labour organization(s) participated in the Murdochville miners’ march in August, 1957, demonstrating its significance to the greater union-government struggle?
a. The Canadian Labour Congress
b. The Quebec Federation of Labour
c. The Canadian Catholic Federation of Labour
d. All of the above

13. What was the end result of the Murdochville march?
a. The Quebec provincial police had to intervene when miners began to riot
b. It ended after an attack by strike-breakers
c. The Quebec government realized it had to provide better collective bargaining rights to Quebec workers
d. Public opinion turned against the strikers

14. Which future Canadian prime minister supported the Murdochville strike, joined the miners’ march and referred to it as a “fight for recognition” for workers?
a. Brian Mulroney
b. Jean Chrétien
c. Pierre Elliot Trudeau
d. Lester B. Pearson

15. What was/were the consequence(s) for miners who had participated in the strike?
a. Many were not re-hired
b. They were kicked out of Murdochville
c. They had to take significant pay cuts
d. They were imprisoned for short terms
e. All of the above
f. a and c only

16. The United Steelworkers of America (USWA) union, which led the illegal strike of 1957, was actually legally certified by 1965 but never again posed a significant threat to the Gaspé Copper Mines. Why not?
a. USWA had lost its credibility in the public eye
b. The area was booming too much for miners to be dissatisfied
c. Miners were much more hesitant to strike, even legally, after the conflict of 1957
d. It lost in a lawsuit by Gaspé Copper Mines in 1970

17. What was the result for Murdochville miners when both an important underground and open pit mine were closed in December of 1982?
a. Their pay was abruptly cut leaving some without power over the holidays
b. Half of them were laid-off
c. The miners were told the town would likely shut down at some point that same decade
d. Some miners were promoted to corporate positions in the Mines Gaspé company, while others were left with no job

18. What event in 1987 took the life of one miner and confined 50 others 900 metres underground for 24 hours at copper deposit E-32?
a. A mine collapse due to a badly planned explosion
b. A mine flood due to a nearby river overflowing
c. An underground fire
d. An underground oil spill

19. Once the Murdochville open pit mines, underground mines and copper smelter had all discontinued operation by 2002, what fate did the unionized miners and town residents both decide for the town in referenda?
a. To shift the town’s main economic activity to outdoor sports and recreation
b. To re-employ miners at a call centre for the SAAQ
c. To encourage the Quebec government to install windmills near the town to create new work opportunities
d. To demolish the town with bulldozers

20. Which mountain represents Murdochville’s current and future economic prospects as a town that attracts backcountry skiers and other outdoor tourists?
a. Needle Mountain
b. Copper Mountain
c. Miller Mountain
d. Porphyre Mountain

*Duncan Crabtree, a History student at Bishop's University in Sherbrooke, interned with QAHN in 2019.

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