Joseph Burr Tyrrell

Section H, Lot 154
Toronto Necropolis

Born in Weston in 1858, the son of an Irish immigrant who was a successful builder and contractor, and close friend of John A. Macdonald, as a young man, Joseph Burr Tyrrell crossed the continent several times, and astonished the scientific world by his discovery that dinosaurs had once roamed Alberta’s Bad Lands. In 1893, through his father’s influence with the prime minister, he secured a job with the government’s Geological Survey of Canada, and set out on a journey across the Barren Lands to Hudson Bay. He was hailed as a hero after negotiating an uncharted river, and arriving safely in Fort Churchill. In 1897 he was sent to Dawson City to seek out gold fields comparable to those of the Klondike. However, impatient with the path his career was taking, he returned to Ottawa in 1899 and resigned. Within a year of returning to the Klondike, Tyrrell was earning $20,000, but his expenses were more than $14,000. By 1906, the Klondike fields were drying up. The new mineral boom was in Northern Ontario, so Tyrrell moved to Toronto and opened an office as a mining consultant. By the 1920s he was one of the major figures in the development of some of Canada’s most famous mines, and he was a millionaire. In 1923 the most talked about mine in Ontario was Kirkland Lake Mine. Tyrrell ordered miners to keep digging and at 1,800 feet they struck gold worth over $100 million. Tyrrell was made president of the company, and held the position for 27 years. He refused to retire until age 95. Late in life he bought 600 acres of land for an apple orchard, which later became the Metropolitan Toronto Zoo. On August 26, 1957, Joseph Burr Tyrrell died at the age of 99. Watch the Heritage Minute on Joseph Burr Tyrrell.


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