Thetford Mines

Musée minéralogique et minier de Thetford Mines

Useful Information

Location: 80 km south of Quebec City. Highway 20 east to Exit 228, then Highway 165 south to Thetford Mines.
Open: Mining Museum: end-JUN to 04-SEP daily 9:30-17.
Open Pit Mine: JUL to AUG daily 10:30, 13:30, 15:30. SEP daily 13:30.
Tours leave from the museum, reservations are recommended.
Underground Mine: JUL to SEP daily 10.
Tours leave from the Tourisme Amiante's office, 2600 Frontenac Blvd. W. [2006]
Fee: Mining Museum: Adults CAD 6.95, Children (7-17) CAD 3.04, Children (0-6) free.
Open Pit Mine: Adults CAD 17, Children (7-17) CAD 10, Children (0-6) free.
Underground Mine: Adults CAD 46, Children (0-13) not allowed. Reservations required.
Classification: asbestos mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: Open Pit Mine: D=2 h. Underground Mine: D=2 h.
Address: Musée minéralogique et minier de Thetford Mines, 711, boulevard Frontenac Ouest (Route 112), Thetford Mines (Québec), Canada, G6G 7Y8, Tel: +1-418-335-2123, Fax: +1-418-335-5605. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1876 discovered by Joseph Fecteau, who was looking for blueberries.
1976 museum founded.
1978 museum moved from Black Lake cultural centre to Thetford Mines.
MAY-1997 new museum inaugurated.


Thetford Mines were discovered by Joseph Fecteau who was looking for blueberries in the area. He spotted a rock which he thought contained gold. Later the gold was found to be asbestos, which is less valuable but still important. After only two years three asbestos mines were operating.

The exhibition starts at the Musée minéralogique et minier de Thetford Mines (Thetford Mines Mineralogical and Mining Museum) and continues with an open-air and an underground mine. The museum has a collection of 15,000 objects including rocks, minerals and fossils. A central exhibit is Earth's oldest rock, 3.8 billion years old and discovered in northern Quebec. There are photographs and equipment for mining operations. Lamps, blasters, safety helmets and a worker's uniform are on display. Mining is dangerous work, and so the mines had boards with hooks. Medals on the hooks are marked with an employee's number, and placed there when the miner enters the mine. When an accident happens, there is always a current list of miners which are inside the mine.

The underground mine extracts chrysotile asbestos, an ore used in the manufacture of insulation products and siding material for homes. The chrysotile fibres are not harmful, as they do not have the necessary size. Visitors get navy blue coveralls, boots, a four-pound belt with a lamp and battery pack, and a yellow safety helmet. Then an elevator brings the group 304 meters down into the mine. This is about sea level. However, the working level of the mine is below, at a depth of about 550 m. 40 to 60 men work underground at any given time, the mine has about 250 employees.

The open-pit mine operates only during the summer, from May to November. The tour starts with a short talk about asbestos mining. The tour is done by bus, and the bus really enters the working mine. 100-ton trucks heading to the rim to dump their loads honk a greeting to the visitors. The tour then continues with the plant, where asbestos fibres are packed.

Asbestos is not really an ore, it is a certain asbestiform (fibrous) mineral. The special thing with asbestos is the fact that it looks like thin fibres, and it is possible to spin it and weave it. The result is a fabric composed of rock, which is isolating and heat resistant. The rock contains 5% asbestos. It is dynamited, an electric shovel scoops the pieces into a dump truck which takes them to a crusher. The crushing "frees up" the asbestos, and a machine then separates the asbestos fibres by length.