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Ernest Craig was born March 19, 1888 to Irish immigrant and laborer John Craig (1841-1921) and his wife Mary Neil (1861-1955) in Kearney, Ontario. By 1891, the Craig family was living on a farm in the Township of Perry, Ontario. The fourth of twelve children, Ernest Craig left school early and started working at the mining camps in eastern Canada. By the late 1910’s, Craig had reached the level of Mine Manager in Elk Lake, Ontario.
On September 10, 1918, Ernest Craig married Mary Rath (1883-1962) in Flinton, Ontario. The couple moved to Northern Ontario and had two children, Barbara Craig (1921-2013, aka Barbara Mather) and Donald Craig. During the 1920’s, Craig worked at King Kirkland Lake Mine (Forman in 1921, Manager in 1922) in the Township of Label, Ontario. He was also the Superintendent of Lebel-Oro property in 1923 and later he was in charge of the South Bay Power Plant in Gowganda, Ontario.
In 1928, Thayer Lindsley appointed Ernest Craig as the first General Manager of Falconbridge Nickel Mines. Craig helped develop both the new mining company and the new town. Within the first year and a half, the shaft was sunk to 1,000 feet with over 4,000 feet of underground tunnels. Sporting events flourished in Falconbridge with Craig’s support and Camp Falcona was created for the children of the employees.
In 1941, Ernest Craig with his brother Robert Craig (1895-1959) established the Craig Bit Company in North Bay, Ontario to mass-produce the “Craig Bit,” a detachable drill the brothers invented which tripled productivity in mines. Their company became North Bay’s second largest employer. During the Second World War, the Craig Bit Company also manufactured large shell components for the military.
In 1945, Ernest Craig retired from Falconbridge Mines Ltd. He moved to the Peterborough, Ontario area and became a consultant for Ventures Limited (the parent company of Falconbridge Mines). While in this capacity, he recommended the creation of a new mine in Nephton, Ontario. Craig became Vice-President and General Manager of American Nepheline and aided with their setup as a new mine. He also became President of manufacturers J.J. Turner & Sons Company Limited in Peterborough, Ontario.
In 1957, Craig retired from American Nepheline and moved with his wife to Toronto, Ontario. Ernest Craig passed away September 28, 1960 at the age of 72.
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To learn more about Ernest Craig, visit The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame http://www.mininghalloffame.ca/inductees/a-c/ernest_craig.
To read his death notice, see "Dies in Toronto," The Sudbury Star, September 29, 1960, p. 1.