A Town Called Asbestos

Aug 25 2015, 9:16pm

Andrea and her dog

The small town of Asbestos, Quebec was once home to the largest asbestos mine in the world. At the time, the widely-used natural resource was considered to be the town's "white gold." But in the 1990s, after it was found that prolonged exposure to asbestos and its dust/filaments was linked to lung cancer, the mining and use of asbestos was phased out of most western industrial nations.

However, it was only a little less than four years ago that mining finally ceased in the town of Asbestos.

German photojournalist Matthias Walendy travelled to Quebec in 2014 to document a place that, to paraphrase his notes, has lost its identity:

"In 2014, I went to Asbestos to stay there for four weeks. I was interested in its industrial and commercial history and in the lives of the people living in a town now bearing the name associated with an unhealthy and harmful image. I found a place that tries hard to look into the future in a positive and optimistic way, yet at the same time looks back sadly into the past, longing for the good old days. Some people strongly believe that the present situation will change some way, thinking that the world will somehow understand how important asbestos is. Others have simply lost any hope.

"Before I went to Asbestos I had expected the people there to be rather full of scepticism, shame, and even anger. But they were glad that someone had come who was interested in their past and to whom they could tell their point of view."

View from the mine

Mural in a restaurant

The history of the town in a mural at the parking place of the shopping center

The undertaker of Asbestos

Lucien "Lou" Richard, Baseball-Legend of Asbestos and former mine-worker

Vacant building of "Asbestos Inc."



House from former times

Kassandra and Junior Edner

Quad riders. The mine area is opened for riding quad.

At the entrance of the town

In the mine

In the mine

The 1er Avenue in the morning

The office of the owner of the Jeffrey-Mine Bernard Coulombe

Serge Boislard, former president of the "Movement Pro-Chrysotile"


The last church in town

Dr. Gilles Morin, former doctor of the "Mine Jeffrey Inc.“

Pieces of asbestos in a little box. It was a present.

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