Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Gold Mining In Manitoba - History

Gold was first discovered in Manitoba by William Molson on the north shore of a lake that today is called Molson Lake. Molson was part of a geological survey in 1872 and mentioned the a discovery of gold in that area. It was not until 1896 that the first claims were staked in the West Hawk Lake area.

During that time a farmer / prospector named Loucks, also traveled by canoe from Prince Albert Saskatchewan to Reed lake Northern Manitoba and staked out some mineral claims. Loucks removed samples valued at $9 gold, the gold price was $20.67 per once at that time.

From The Manitoba Historical Society Website

“””South-eastern Manitoba may he able to claim that it was one of the first areas in the Province to record the discovery of gold but it cannot claim to be the first gold producer.

Reference has already been made to the Loucks' discovery at Reed Lake in 1896, but it may be said that the first systematic search in the area north of The Pas, begun in 1907, culminated in the discovery of the Kiski-Wekusko claims at Herb (Wekusko) Lake in 1914 by Richard Woosey and M. J. Hackett. Parties had moved into the area north-westward from Ontario and north-east from Saskatchewan.

The first recorded production was that of 1917 when a shipment of 28 1/2 tons of gold quartz ore was made from the Moosehorn claim to Trail, B.C., the average return being $91 a ton. (Authors note: That's real high grade considering the price of gold during that time)

The discovery of gold at Herb Lake in 1914 and of copper ore at Flin Flon in 1915 soon attracted attention to the mineral possibilities of Northern Manitoba, and this was stirred again by the discovery of a high-grade copper deposit at the Mandy property in the fall of 1915; and there for the first time a diamond drill was used at a Manitoba mine. The Rex claim at Herb Lake was the first to have a mill installed and became the second gold producer of the area using the amalgamation process to recover the gold from the ore.

In the period 1917-1927 most of the gold produced in Manitoba came from the Mandy mine at Schist Lake and the Rex (later the Laguna) mine at Herb Lake. Small productions were recorded from the Gold Pan, the Kingfisher, and the Selkirk properties of the Rice Lake area.

Owing to its rich character and the high price of copper, for it was in war- time, the Mandy quickly became a producer. It is also recorded that the first diamond drill to be used in Manitoba was put to work at the Mandy in 1915.

Mining of the ore followed development of the orebody and in the years 1917 to 1920, 25,000 tons of ore, averaging $91 a ton in recoverable metal, were mined hauled 40 miles in winter by sleighs to Sturgeon Landing, then shipped by barge 130 miles on Saskatchewan River to The Pas, and thence 1,200 miles by railroad to the smelter at Trail, B.C.

At one time as many as 300 teams of horses were used in the winter hauling of ore from the Mandy mine. Some idea of the remoteness of the mine in the 1917-1920 days may be gathered from the records in that Mandy ore was not smelted at Trail until a year after it left the mine.

In its three years of operation something over $2,000,000 was recovered from the Mandy ore.


Anonymous said...

Interesting history. My Mother's uncles had a claim in the Rice Lake region in the 20's, 30's, 40's - I'm not certain of the extact start date. My uncle took over the claim in the 50's and I flew up there twice - once when I was about 12 (1959) and then when I was about 15. There was gold there. My uncle had scores of bags of assay samples going back 20 or 30 years. But he never found the "mother lode". I'm not certain when he stopped staking the claim. It was an expensive hobby since you had to fly in from Lac du Bonnet. I am curious to find out exactly where his claim was. I assume there must be government records of mineral claims somewhere. Do you know how a person would go anout tracking down this kind of information? r_mark_moore@hotmail.com

Terry Loucks U.E. said...

very interesting history - as a Loucks family Historian from Quebec, I was pleased to find and read this history . Thanks
Terry Loucks