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Thetford Mines
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The province of Quebec in eastern Canada is home to the Thetford Mines Destination, encompassing a part of the province's central-southern region. Located west of the destination’s central portion is the city of Thetford Mines, the namesake of the destination, which approximately 24,981 residents inhabit.[2] Thetford Mines is mainly recognized as “the Asbestos Capital of the World,” as a significant amount of the asbestos mineral can be found within the city’s mines.[1][6] The city itself is situated on the Bécancour River in the Appalachian Mountains.[9] Natural areas and forested regions characterize various parts of the destination, which often draws those who enjoy outdoor activities. A number of fishermen frequently utilize Grand lac Saint-François, considering that it is the third largest lake south of the St. Lawrence River. Adjacent to this particular lake is Frontenac National Park, where people can go hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and wildlife viewing, as well as snowshoeing during the winter.[5] The summer season in Thetford Mines has been described by former tourists as “comfortable,” “wet,” and “partly cloudy.” Visitors who have previously toured Thetford Mines recommend going to the city any time between late June and late August for warm-weather activities, as climatic conditions are fairly moderate throughout these months.[4]

What Thetford Mines is known for

Located in central-southern Quebec, the Thetford Mines Destination contains a few cities and towns, including Sainte-Marie, Saint-Georges, Beauceville, Lac Mégantic, and the destination’s namesake, Thetford Mines. Prominent cities of the province—such as Québec City to the north and Montreal to the southwest—bound the Thetford Mines Destination outside its perimeters. Regarding the namesake of the destination, Thetford Mines, the city occupies a total urban area of 87.92 square miles (227.70 kilometers square), slightly west of the destination’s central region.[1] An estimated total of 24,981 residents account for the current population of the city. According to the 2016 Canadian census, 25,403 inhabitants were recorded, indicating an annual decline rate of -0.24% since that census.[2]

A notable aspect of Thetford Mines is its abundant production of the asbestos mineral—more particularly chrysotile—that can be found throughout the location’s mines, hence the city’s name. The fiber was sought after for its “unique fire, rust, and rot resistance” and its “tensile strength and sound absorption.” Some miners even referred to the mineral as “the miracle fiber” due to its previously listed characteristics. In historical times, asbestos was used in Thetford Mines for constructing buildings and Navy vessels, especially in the 1960s; however, it was later discovered that the asbestos fibers presented health hazards, namely an increased risk of lung cancer and issues related to the respiratory system, consequently discontinuing its use.[6] Aside from the asbestos mineral, Thetford Mines is also reported to be one of the top maple syrup-producing regions in the world during the spring season.[1]

In terms of attractions, many people who visit Thetford Mines are in the city to engage in outdoor activities. Some visitors also come to observe Thetford Mines’ encompassing landscape. Near Black Lake, located south of the city, an observation platform offers a view of a lake that had formerly served as a mining well. The British Canadian Mine’s facilities may also be seen from this platform.[7] Moreover, an out-and-back trail that extends to about 8.6 miles in length can be found in fairly close proximity to Black Lake, allowing people to utilize the route for hiking and biking.[8]


The Thetford Mines Destination comprises several residential districts, forested regions, grasslands, and lakes. Such lakes within the vicinity of Thetford Mines include Black Lake, Lake Aylmer, Lake Nicolet, Lac Breeches, Lac à la Truite, and Grand lac Saint-François, the latter of which neighbors Frontenac National Park. A number of other lakes and marshes can be found in Frontenac National Park, creating a relatively diverse range of habitats for wildlife. Over 200 species of birds and 30 mammal species dwell in the Frontenac National Park. The lakes throughout the park provide shelter for otters and ducks, while the hills are inhabited primarily by white-tailed deer. Visitors are often drawn to the park, as well as other natural areas, to undertake outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and wildlife viewing. For those who take an interest in fishing at Grand lac Saint-François, some of the potential catches include pike, walleye, landlocked salmon, and perch.[5]

In 2009, a lake in Thetford Mines, known as Black Lake, experienced a rockslide that resulted in extensive damage to a section of Route 112, making the road inoperable and hazardous for drivers. The route was closed in 2011 and later rerouted as a new section opened in 2015. In a report done by the Canadian Geotechnical Journal, researchers observed nearly 70 meters of vertical movement at the crown of the slope. As the stability of the slope was analyzed, the study showed that about 50 million cubic meters of rock slipped over a lateral extent of approximately 1,100 meters.[3]

Concerning Thetford Mines’ year-round climatic conditions, the warm season generally lasts from May to September, with the daily high resting around 63 degrees Fahrenheit on average. Temperatures typically rise to 73 degrees Fahrenheit during July, the hottest month of the year. It should also be noted that the highest amount of precipitation occurs in July, with an average of 13.3 days that receive at least 0.04 inches of precipitation. As for the cold season, the average daily high drops to roughly 30 degrees Fahrenheit from December to March; however, the coldest month of the year, January, experiences daily temperatures that range between 2 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit on average.[4]


During Thetford Mines’ earliest years of settlement, the Abenaki peoples resided in the area and partnered with the French in the fur trade. The Abenaki population began to diminish due to several decades of contact with Europeans that exposed the people to diseases. Following the British Conquest of 1760, British and Loyalist settlers arrived in the region. It wasn’t until 1876 that the asbestos mineral was discovered, which is supposedly attributed to Joseph Fecteau, a local resident. Fecteau came across the mineral as he was taking a break from cutting hay. He showed the mineral to Roger Ward, a visiting fur trader, who analyzed and determined that the mineral was asbestos. This, in turn, led to the region gaining mining rights in 1877 through Ward’s efforts. The arrival of the railway in 1879 provided an easier way to transport larger quantities of asbestos to Lévis, Quebec. Three years later, the village was named Kingsville after a mine owner by the name of William King. Kingsville was eventually incorporated as a city in 1905 and was then renamed Thetford Mines. The name “Thetford” derives from a town in Norfolk, England.[9] 

Thetford Mines was one of the world’s largest asbestos mining and production centers over the course of the 20th century.[9] The city was often referred to as the “Asbestos Capital of the World” or the “City of White Gold.” After years of using asbestos for insulation, Canada ended up banning the use of asbestos in homes and schools. The city’s last mine closed in 2012, and Thetford Mines resorted to the manufacturing of other products.[1] In present times, many of the city’s attractions and historic sites regard the historically significant events that involved the discovery of minerals in Thetford Mines. One particular site is a museum called Minéro Musée de Thetford, which displays archival photographs, mining objects, minerals, and testimonies of experiences from people who lived through the city’s mining history.[10]