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Memorable Manitobans: Kathleen “Kate” Rice (1883-1964)

Prospector.

Born at St. Marys, Ontario on 4 June 1883, daughter of Henry Lincoln Rice and Charlotte Rice, she graduated from the University of Toronto in 1906 then worked as a math teacher. She taught in Belleville, Ontario before moving to Western Canada where she taught mathematics in Alberta and Saskatchewan. In 1913, she and her brother Lincoln 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. A collection of her papers are at the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections. In 2014, she was inducted posthumously into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame. In August 2013, a commemorative plaque was attached to a rock face on the southeast corner of Rice Island.

See also:

Kate Rice Prospector by Helen Duncan, 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.

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: 23 July 2017

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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