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History General


Cradle of the Demon Metals, Birth of a Mining Superpower

by (author) Charlie Angus

House of Anansi Press Inc
Initial publish date
Feb 2022
General, Environmental Policy, Natural Resources
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2022
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 2022
    List Price

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Finalist for the 2023 Trillium Book Award

The world is desperate for cobalt. It drives the proliferation of digital and clean technologies. But this “demon metal” has a horrific present and a troubled history.

The modern search for cobalt has brought investors back to a small town in Northern Canada, a place called Cobalt. Like the demon metal, this town has a dark and turbulent history.

The tale of the early-twentieth-century mining rush at Cobalt has been told as a settler’s adventure, but Indigenous people had already been trading in metals from the region for two thousand years. And the events that happened here — the theft of Indigenous lands, the exploitation of a multicultural workforce, and the destruction of the natural environment — established a template for resource extraction that has been exported around the world.

Charlie Angus reframes the complex and intersectional history of Cobalt within a broader international frame — from the conquistadores to the Western gold rush to the struggles in the Democratic Republic of Congo today. He demonstrates how Cobalt set Canada on its path to become the world’s dominant mining superpower.

About the author

CHARLIE ANGUS is a nationally recognized politician, author, and musician. He has published nine books and is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including the Trillium Book Award finalist Cobalt: Cradle of the Demon Metals, Birth of a Mining Superpower. Angus has served in the Canadian Parliament for twenty years. He has earned a national reputation as a fierce fighter for social justice and Indigenous rights. Angus was the founding member of Toronto punk band L’etranger. He is the leader of the roots band Grievous Angels; their ninth album is Last Call for Cinderella. Angus lives in Cobalt, Ontario, with his wife, author Brit Griffin. They have three daughters.

Charlie Angus' profile page


  • Short-listed, Ontario Trillium Award
  • Nominated, Forest of Reading Evergreen Award

Editorial Reviews

This immersive history includes a trenchant warning about the unknown costs of the race to a clean energy future.

Publishers Weekly

Charlie Angus passionately and comprehensively pulls apart the existing narrative about Northern Ontario by exploring the extraordinary history of an overlooked town … In deftly handled prose, Angus details the media manipulation, violence, and government collusion (or ineptitude) that would gradually turn mining corporations into superpowers that spin fictional stories of a ‘nicer’ frontier in Ontario’s north. In actuality, Cobalt suffered municipal dysfunction, disease, xenophobia, murder, and catastrophe, and ushered in an era where the land was transformed into a series of company towns in order to bolster economies in the south and grow a nation.

Quill & Quire

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