TV viewers in Ontario are about to get an insight into life in Timmins and its rich mining history.

TVO is releasing a two part documentary on Wednesday, March 6th at 9 PM called Northern Gold. The documentary is produced by Alibi Entertainment and it’s an original TVO Documentary.

The two hour documentary looks at the history of mining in Northern Ontario told through the lens of one mining town: Timmins.

Our news reporter spoke with the Director and Producer of Northern Gold, Catie Lamer. She said they were looking to do something with TVO for a while and that the organization was looking at exploring gold as a theme.

“We started digging into different histories,” said Lamer, “and realized that there was a very untold, hidden history, in some ways, of northern Ontario’s huge impact in the gold mining industry. And how the gold industry really shaped a lot of Ontario and even Canada’s economy. It’s something that we felt was under-explored and under-represented in the wider Canadian culture. So we really wanted to bring that to people.”

The production team for the project quickly learned how deep the history of mining runs in Timmins and how far back it goes.

“In terms of Ontario, I think Timmins has one of the biggest histories in the gold industry. So it seemed like a natural town to really explore. Starting with the Porcupine Gold Rush. And it just sort of expanded from there. And everybody was coming to Timmins. And so the history really is a Timmins history. So it just seemed like a really natural place to start.”

Northern Gold took about a year and a half to produce, according to Lamer. The crew filmed in Timmins on three occasions in the winter of 2018. Lamer said the film-making process was steady and surprisingly beautiful during the winter months.

“It was a pretty smooth process, I have to say,” she said. “We really wanted to shoot in winter because we felt it really encapsulated northern Ontario. And we wanted to show Timmins in winter. And, you know, we had so many beautiful days. We were in a couple snow storms. But for my Director of Photography and I, it was really fun. In terms of the weather, it was sort of our friend. There were some struggles, but more than not it was great.”

Lamer says her crew found great people to interview with and speak to during the filming process.

“Shooting in Timmins was a dream,” she said, “Everybody helped facilitate. People were so friendly, opening up their spaces.”

The crew shot interviews at the McIntyre Arena and Airport Hotel, and Lamer says people were really kind at both spots. She said Timmins is a great place to spend some time.

Lamer admits she didn’t know a lot about the history of Timmins before producing Northern Gold. She says she thinks the history of northern Ontario is unknown for a lot of Canadians.

“As somebody who is not from northern Ontario, who doesn’t know too much about the history, I was amazed that such a big story and such a big part of Canadian history is really unknown. I went to public school in Ontario but I felt I didn’t really know about northern Ontario history. So everything that you see in the documentary is something that I didn’t know before I started making it. And […] I’m an average Canadian. I felt like, if I don’t know about this, I think a lot of people don’t know this. So that’s why I was so drawn to make it. And I think that there’s just so much in the documentary that we’re uncovering and exploring. And I hope that other people find value in that too.”

There are some things in the documentary that even viewers familiar with northern Ontario’s mining history may not know. The documentary goes into the gold industry that fueled a lot of immigration in the early 20th Century with Europeans coming to far-flung regions in Canada. Northern Gold also looks at high grading and gold thefts that took place, plus a look at where Timmins is at today.

“I think there’s a lot of different things that we uncover in the documentary that people will find interesting and unknown.”


Lamer says she hopes what people take away from the documentary is a deeper understanding of Ontario and Canada’s history.

“I would hope that people learn something that they didn’t know before they started watching,” she said, “And that they begin to explore other areas of Canada and other histories and really look at the way Canada was shaped and how it was shaped and what that means for Canadians today.”

Northern Gold airs on Wednesday, March 6th at 9 PM on TVO. You can also watch the documentary online at


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