THE LAST MINE It is still nighttime. The sun has yet to rise and the sky has this dreary dark grey colour that forecasts a cloudy day. Gilles, 55, is getting ready for another day at work. The road that leads to his house goes through a rather pastoral landscape. Rolling hills, stonewalls, lonely trees, and the mist in the air are reminiscent of an Irish landscape. Here and there a silhouette of a farmhouse with one or two lights on emerges out of the darkness. Past the highest peak, the scenery that lays ahead morphs. It is an arresting experience; the bucolic becomes lunar, the fields, the windy roads and the rustic farmhouses give way to large tailings, looming and lifeless. It is at the bottom of this road that stands the city of Thetford Mines, the result of over a century of Asbestos mining. Gilles lives amidst this unorthodox landscape. The path to his home zigzags through abandoned mining properties. He was born here. Like his father and grandfather before him, he started working in the asbestos mine as soon as he could. He did so for 35 years, until Black Lake Operation, the last remaining mine in a region that once boasted ten, closed. “We’re not just loosing money”, Gilles said over breakfast. “The people that have built this industry did so with their hearts and souls. A bit of that is being lost too.” The Last Mine Story and images by Laurence Butet-Roch. Thetford Mines, Quebec September 2009 to December 2011.