Memorable Manitobans: Kathleen Creighton Starr “Kate” Rice (1882-1963)
Born at St. Marys, Ontario on 4 June 1882, daughter of Henry Lincoln Rice (1857-1933) and Charlotte Carter (1862-1941), she studied mathematics and physics at the University of Toronto and graduated in 1906. She taught mathematics at Belleville, Ontario before moving to western Canada where she taught mathematics in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
In 1913, she and her younger brother Lincoln Rice staked a homestead near The Pas. Shortly thereafter, the First World War broke out; Lincoln joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force and she stayed on the homestead alone. After teaching herself about geology and prospecting, she headed to the Herb Lake area north of The Pas. She claimed an island—later called Rice Island—in Wekusko Lake, which turned out to be rich in copper and nickel. While it is rumoured that Rice and her business partner Richard “Dick” Woosey turned down $250,000 for their property, she eventually sold it to the International Nickel Company (INCO) for approximately $20,000.
After Woosey’s death in 1940, she lived alone for twenty years and wrote a thesis on the aurora borealis and some articles. She died at Minnedosa on 6 January 1963 and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Minnedosa Cemetery.
A collection of her papers are at the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections. In August 2013, a commemorative plaque was attached to a rock face on the southeast corner of Rice Island. In 2014, she was inducted posthumously into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame. In 2021, she was selected as a Manitoba Woman Trailblazer.
1901 Canada census [Catherine Rice], Automated Genealogy.
“Deaths,” Winnipeg Free Press, 9 January 1963, page 45.
“Canada’s first ‘girl’ prospector named to Hall,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 January 2014, page A4.
Kathleen Rice Fonds, University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections.
Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.
We thank Jean Paterson, Edgar Wright, and the Heritage North Museum for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 2 February 2023