Wabush/Knob Lake 1953 by George Cousins


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After many years of prospecting in harsh and very forbidding terrain, immense deposits of iron ore were confirmed at the south-west tip of the Labrador-Quebec border in north-eastern Canada.The problem was that the area was very isolated and the only access was by seaplane or overland trek. No roads,no railroads,no people.
The discovery led to the forming of the Iron Ore Company of Canada, and the decision to establish initial camps at Wabush and Knob Lake, with the intention of developing the mines and eventually building a railway from Sept-Iles, Quebec, on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River.
In 1953 I was part of a survey team which set up and operated short range radar stations all over this largely unexplored wilderness. The stations were used to send control signals to aircraft using aerial 35mm. cameras to photograph the entire area and produce accurate maps which were then used to assist in the routing of the railroad and the mine sites. Actually, the aerial survey covered all of Canada and took about 7 years to complete. This photo was taken at Knob Lake in the summer of 1953. There were only a few rough buildings and everything came in by seaplanes such as the Canso amphibian you see. On the shore are the alternate methods of transportation, canoes.
Taken with a Voightlander 35mm. camera I borrowed from a friend, with Kodachrome ASA10 film, scanned in 2004 with a Canoscan 4000US scanner.


  • Mike Oxley
    Mike Oxleyabout 5 years ago

    This is just great, George! Fascinating write up, too.

  • Glad you enjoyed it Mike, I’ll post some more of those places. I was really a point-and-shoot guy in those days (not much more now..haha!! ) But the slides stayed quite good over the years.

    – George Cousins

  • Stan Wojtaszek
    Stan Wojtaszekabout 5 years ago

    This image says it all, George; flying boat and canoes in one shot. How would anybody have survived without either?

  • Too true, at that time anyway. The idea of building a railway out to Sept-Iles was mind-boggling, but when you have that much iron ore waiting to be picked up…..!!

    – George Cousins

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