June 16, 1949
(1900 - 1949)
On Saturday June 11, Valentino Bellon was one of three men chosen to receive the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (CIM) John T. Ryan trophy from Toburn Manager, Mr. Hotchkin at a gathering of employees at the Legion Hall.
The John T. Ryan Trophy is an annual safety award presented to metalliferous mines which in the previous year experience the lowest reportable injury frequency per 200,000 hours worked in Canada. Bellon was selected from Toburn because he had worked there for 18 years without a compensable accident. The Toburn Mine in 1948 was the only mine in Canada without a single major compensable accident.
That Saturday night, Bellon had listened to a speech by Angus Campbell, President of the Mines Accident Prevention of Ontario. "In 18 months," he said, "Toburn has not had one compensable accident with over 6 days of lost time. Even we of the mining industry wonder at such a record. Many people wonder if there is such a record. Mining can be a dangerous business. Too often in the past, accidents have taken their grim toll of broken limbs and life itself."
Five days later Bellon was dead, killed instantly by a three-ton rock fall at Toburn. The rock had crushed him against the side of a stope.
A 48-year-old naturalized Canadian of Italian birth, Bellon lived at 96 First Street with his wife, Adele, and daughters, Loretta (11) Mary (9). He was a timberman and a shift boss at Toburn.
Bellon and partner John Ramsay had been working for several months replacing old timber in the 561 west stope. On June 16, Bellon decided to remove some loose below the staging. Two ladders were hung below the staging and the two men worked from the ladders, sounding the back for loose as they went down. Bellon had a safety rope which he held for added security. Using a short scaling bar he reached over to pry off some loose from the hanging wall. In doing so, he caused a large slab to fall from directly overhead. The rock struck and squeezed him against the footwall before sliding down and lodging on the muck below. Ramsay went immediately to his partner's assistance and found him unconscious and apparently dying! He placed him in a more comfortable position and went for help. Dr. T. Kelly arrived and pronounced Bellon dead. Death was caused by crushing injuries to the chest and pelvis and was almost instantaneous.
Interment occurred in the Kirkland Lake cemetery. The inscriptions on his headstone read:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF VALENTINO BELLON - BORN AUGUST 29, 1900 - DIED JUNE 16, 1949 - "REST IN PEACE"
The photograph was given by the Bellon family. They wish to add that Valentino is sadly missed by his loving wife, Adele, and daughters, Loretta and Mary.