Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Kathleen Creighton Starr “Kate” Rice (1883-1964)

Prospector.

Born at St. Marys, Ontario on 4 June 1883, daughter of Henry Lincoln Rice and Charlotte Rice, 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 committed herself to an asylum in Brandon where she died in 1964. She was buried 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.

See also:

Kate Rice Prospector by Helen Duncan, Simon & Pierre, 1984.

Saskatchewan Heroes and Rogues by Ruth Millar, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2004.

High Stakes and Hard Times: Herb Lake and Depression-Era Mining in Northern Manitoba by Will Steinburg
Manitoba History, Number 68, Spring 2012

Sources:

1901 Canada census [Catherine Rice], Automated Genealogy.

“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: 18 March 2022

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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