Mining in Manitoba
MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1948-49 season
For a long time after 1670, the year in which the entire country around Hudson Bay, including the present area of Manitoba, was ceded by Charles II to the Hudson’s Bay Company, the sole interest in the interior of Canada centred around the trade in furs. Through that trade what is now the Manitoba area first became known and for many years little or no attention was paid to the other natural resources of the country.
First Mineral Industry in Manitoba
The history of mining in Manitoba really began in a humble way with the production of a few non-metallic minerals required to satisfy the simple needs of the small, scattered, pioneer communities and trading posts.
The earliest mineral industry  of which there is any authentic record was the extraction of salt from the brine springs on the west side of Lakes Manitoba and Winnipegosis. From this source freemen from the Hudson’s Bay Company service manufactured salt in large iron kettles during the period 1800-1876, and probably even earlier. In the years prior to 1874 more than 1,000 bushels of salt were made annually at Monkman’s Springs to meet the needs of the posts and settlements on the Assiniboine, Red and Saskatchewan Rivers, until the railway brought in salt from Ontario.
From early years, too, local limestones were used as building material, first in the construction of walls and buildings of fur trading posts and, later, as settlers came to the west, a wider use of stone developed in the construction of buildings and in the manufacture of lime.
While the growth of the mining industry in the early years was slow it was not alone as up to the time that the Province of Manitoba was created in 1870 no real attention had been paid to the agricultural or mining possibilities of the country. In fact it may be said of the mining industry in Manitoba that its active development belongs to the period following the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway to British Columbia in 1885.
Geology Came to Manitoba
Mining up to that time had been denied the attractions that developed later in Manitoba. With the creation of the Geological Survey of Canada, however, exploration of the fastnesses of the Canadian, or Precambrian, Shield had begun and as early as 1851 G. M. Dawson had been inspired, by things hoped for even if all the geological evidence was not seen, to write: “Every square mile of Huronian  formation of Canada will sooner or later become an object of interest to the prospector, and industries of considerable importance may yet be planted upon this formation in districts further to the north, or for other reasons at present regarded as barren or useless.”
The Manitoba Act 1870
When Manitoba, as the first of the newer provinces, was welcomed into Confederation in 1870, there was planted in “The Manitoba Act” a germ of outstanding geological significance for the mining industry of Western Canada. In establishing a government for the Province it was enacted in Section 26:
That - “Canada will assume and defray the charges for the geological survey.”
This was the forerunner of a similar provision written into the Act which in 1871 brought British Columbia into Confederation. In 1905 the same principle was adopted for the benefit of Alberta and Saskatchewan when they became Provinces of Canada.
Geology, Statutory and Prophetic
How the provision came into “The Manitoba Act” of 1870 is a matter of some conjecture. It is to be noted, however, that the Bill of Rights used in the negotiations which preceded the framing of the Manitoba Act contained the following provision:
Presumably this clause was the basis of the undertaking of a geological survey of the province by the federal government, though it may be assumed that the Survey would have been extended to the west as a matter of course under the able direction of the fine pioneering mind of Sir William Logan. It was a farsighted provision and was accepted in good faith by the Government of Canada with the outcome that, since 1870, much accurate detailed and valuable geological service had been rendered to Manitoba and to all western Canada. It would be difficult to find in any Canadian statute a provision of so few words that has meant so much to the mineral industry of Canada.
Father of Precambrian Geology
Here let us pause to add Manitoba’s tribute to the memory of that eminent geologist, Sir William Edmund Logan, who joined the Geological Survey of Canada when it was instituted in 1843. 
Geological science in his day was emerging from conjectural interpretation to a stage where the mineral endowments of an area could be appraised with some degree of accuracy. He it was who first inaugurated studies in the field to unravel the complex geology of the Precambrian formations of northern Canada and in his zeal to promote those scientific investigations in the field Sir William became known as the “Father of Precambrian Geology,” by which he will be remembered for all time, not only in Canada but in every part of the world where Precambrian formations are found.
Geologists Past and Present
Since the time of Sir William Logan geological surveys have been made over the most of Canada. It was not until after 1870 that the Geological Survey of Canada began to take an interest in the country now embraced by the boundaries of Manitoba, within which three-fifths of the bedrock is of Precambrian age.
The only record prior to 1870 concerning geology in Manitoba consisted of occasional notes made by early explorers, of local occurrences of rock or mineral.
The work done by Bell, Cochrane, Selwyn and others in Manitoba following the acquisition of the Northwest Territories by the Dominion of Canada was of a reconnaissance nature. Wide areas were covered by the most advantageous routes and the economic possibilities, or suggested possibilities, were noted and recorded in early reports. These surveys were followed later by investigations of a more detailed type, the extent of which depended on the encouragement received as the work progressed. Systematic investigation of the Precambrian areas began in 1873 with the work of G. M. Dawson, Bell and Spencer, and later J. B. Tyrrell, Dowling and Upham. But it was not until 1886 that detailed work was done in the western Precambrian areas.
In more recent years the Geological Survey of Canada has earned Manitoba’s gratitude for the work done by its geologists Alcock, Bruce, Cook, Lord, McInnes, Norman, Stockwell, Tanton and Wright, and latterly by Bateman and Harrison.
Dominion Lands Acts and Regulations
From the creation of the Province of Manitoba in 1870 until 15 July 1930, the mineral lands were administered under various Dominion Lands Acts and regulations passed thereunder, and under other federal acts and regulations.
The entry of Manitoba into union with Canada was therefore marked by a departure from the principles recognized and perpetuated at Confederation in section 109 of the British North America Act, 1867, by which the control of the public domain was vested in the several provinces so that prima facie all lands, mines and minerals or royalties belonged to the provinces.
Some three years later all ungranted or waste lands in the new Province of Manitoba were vested in the Crown by Section 30 of “The Manitoba Act” to be administered by the Dominion of Canada for the purposes of the Dominion.
In the first Dominion Lands Act passed in 1872 no distinction was made between such lands whether in Manitoba or the Northwest Territories; all were declared to be Dominion lands.
For sixty years the administration of Manitoba’s natural resources was the subject of much controversy  until an agreement was reached whereby these resources were transferred to the control of the Province by the Dominion of Canada. While the mineral resources were being administered by federal authority it became necessary from time to time to widen the scope of certain provisions in the Dominion Lands Act.
The first Dominion Mining Regulations  were adopted in 1884 following some amendments to the Dominion Lands Act of 1883.  Three interesting sections appear in the regulations as they continue to have a bearing on present day regulations. The first of these provided that mining claims forty acres in area could be acquired by planting four corner posts to designate the limits of the claim.
A second provision in defining the limits of a mining claim below the surface ruled out the extra-lateral or apex right, recognized as a distinctive feature of American mining law but one conducive to much complicated litigation. By virtue of this right the owner of a mining claim was permitted to follow the vein or its dip indefinitely but within the limits of the end lines of the claim on the strike of the vein.
A third section in the 1884 regulations provided for a royalty of two and one-half per cent on the sale of products from a mining claim, but it is quite evident that the revenue received was not that expected for the following humorous apology accompanied a revision of the regulations in 1887. 
“It is proposed to repeal clause 81 of the present Regulations with reference to royalty. The attempt to collect royalties upon gold and silver has proved abortive in British Columbia, as has every form of collecting the same impost in Australia. No charge of the kind being imposed outside the Railway Belt in British Columbia or in the neighboring States of the American Union, value, but much more easily collectable, and less offensive, because no inquisitorial proceedings are necessary for its collection, can be obtained from it would be impossible to enforce it in our territory. A revenue of equal the fees required to be paid annually until the issue of patent; and the territorial revenue in the North-West might be largely augmented, as in British Columbia, by requiring miners and prospectors to take out licences.” 
A further regulation was approved and came into force as of 11 January 1890, for the sale, settlement, and use of Dominion Lands, as follows:
The Regulations of 1898 were for the first time referred to as “Quartz Mining Regulations” and the word “Mineral” was given a very wide range inclusive of all those minerals containing metals, but limestone, marble, clay or any building stone were not considered “mineral” within the meaning of the regulations.  In general these regulations followed the practice prevailing in British Columbia which had enjoyed long experience in administering mineral lands.
Up to 1914 the principle of title for mineral lands as expressed generally in the Dominion Lands Acts and regulations thereunder was that of patent whereby the Crown grant was deemed to transfer not only the rights to all minerals, except coal, found in veins, lodes or rock, but the surface rights as well. The thought of turning “to a general leasing system of natural resources including the land itself” was in the mind of the Parliament of Canada so that the year 1914 was to see a radical change in the method of disposal of mineral lands in Canada’s middle west. In moving leave to introduce a bill to amend the Dominion Lands Act of 1908, James Aikins (afterwards Sir James Aikins), member for Brandon, addressed the House of Commons, Ottawa, 27 January 1914, as follows:
The conviction that the change was for the benefit of the state was expressed by Dr. R. C. Wallace, then professor of geology, University of Manitoba, and now principal of Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, who wrote: 
In section 8 of the new Dominion Lands Act, assented to 12 June 1914, there was provided that mineral lands could only be disposed of by “lease” and not by “patent” as heretofore. Apart from this provision for “leases” expressed in the Dominion Lands Act of 1914 there were no changes made in the “Quartz Mining Regulations” until 25 May 1917,  and it is of interest to note at that time the possibilities of radium were being considered. The definition of the term “mineral” in these 1917 regulations excluded “radium or any other minerals which may contain radium in sufficient quantity for commercial extraction.” 
In general there were not many amendments to the Quartz Mining Regulations until 1929 when the method of staking out a mineral claim was changed to the four-line practice (as was first used in the regulations of 1884).  Royalty also was changed to a tax on the profits from a mine’s production. These two features followed the practice adopted in Ontario which since 1904 had had a large and varied experience in administering the mineral lands of its Precambrian areas.
When the transfer of the natural resources to Manitoba followed on 15 July 1930, the Province accepted the Dominion Quartz Mining Regulations in principle and these have continued in force with few amendments up to the present.
Early Efforts in Prospecting and Promotion of Companies
In describing the early history of mining in Manitoba reference was made to the fact that work had been confined to non-metallic minerals such as salt and limestone. However, if one cares to go back into old records it will be found that metallic minerals were reported at a much earlier date than these non-metallics. Dr. Abel Edwards, physician of the first party of Selkirk colonists, referred to magnetite at the Narrows of Knee Lake, in 1812. William Molson on a geological survey as early as 1872 mentioned a discovery of gold on the northshore of a lake that bears his name today.
Even before the province had come into being the sparsely settled Manitoba had heard of gold discoveries in British Columbia. Gold has always had an attraction for the pioneer and even a growing community may succumb to its lure. Such was the case in 1877 when a number of residents travelled to the Black Hills of South Dakota where a gold discovery turned into the Homestake mine.
However, the first mineral deposit to attract attention in Manitoba is said to have been one of iron, hematite and limonite on the east side of Black Island, Lake Winnipeg, where in 1880 or thereabout an attempt was made to develop the deposit.  About this time interest was being aroused in the Lake of the Woods area to the east and the first record of a company being organized in Manitoba to carry on mining in that area was that of The Winnipeg Consolidated Mining Company Limited, incorporated 2 September 1882.  This was followed in 1883 and 1884 by a number of Manitoba companies formed to operate in the same area-about which there was doubt for some time as to whether it was located in Manitoba or Ontario. 
The first interest in minerals within Manitoba by residents of the province appears to have been shown by “residents of the village of Nelson, county of Dufferin,” who in 1884 incorporated The Nelson Prospecting and Mining Company to prospect and bore for oil, coal and gas. 
In 1887, the Manitoba Oil Company, Limited, bored to a depth of 743 feet in an endeavor to find petroleum along the Vermillion River, on section 23, township 23, range 20. This is some nine miles south of the town of Dauphin.
In 1888, the Manitoba Coal Company, Limited, was incorporated to mine and extract coal (lignite) from beds located in the Turtle Mountain area. In this same year the International Mining and Smelting Company explored the iron deposit at Black Island and some of the hematite was mined and shipped to Winnipeg, but even to this year of 1949 no iron ore has been produced in Manitoba.
The following year, 1889, an important discovery of gypsum was made by J. B. Tyrrell, of the Geological Survey of Canada, northwest of Lake St. Martin, but it was not until the nineties that the deposit was opened and the gypsum calcined near old Gypsumville on Lake Manitoba.  Then it was conveyed by boat to Totogan at the south end of the lake. The same deposits in the Interlake area still supply gypsum quarried at Gypsumville and conveyed to Winnipeg by Canadian National Railways to be calcined and processed by Gypsum, Lime and Alabastine Canada, Limited.
A second producer was developed in later years at Amaranth where a bed of gypsum continues to be mined in underground operations and shipped to Winnipeg for calcining and processing by Western Gypsum Company Limited.
With the boom of the nineties, interest again returned to the Lake of the Woods area and stirred the prospecting of adjacent parts in Manitoba. Activity continued and in 1896 a few prospectors entered the West Hawk Lake field of southeastern Manitoba and staked out a number of mining claims. In the same year the first prospecting in northern Manitoba was recorded. A farmer named Loucks, travelled 250 miles from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, via canoe to Reed Lake where he staked out a claim, and took samples from which he got returns of $9.00 in gold gold at $20.67 an ounce. 
This was at a time when prospecting activity had almost ceased but it was to be aroused in the following year by reports from the Yukon gold fields of which the Winnipeg Free Press has this to say: “There seemed to be little decrease in the Klondike rush; Manitobans’ were still mortgaging their farms to grubstake themselves in the far north and win fortunes the quick way.” 
But there were those nearer home who had not lost faith in the Lake of the Woods area, as witness this further extract from the Free Press: “Don’t spend $1,000 getting to the Klondike: go to Rat Portage [Kenora] where you will find, only a few miles from Winnipeg, gold-fields that beat the Klondike hollow,” advised Treasurer E. T. LeClair of the Boulder Mine.
Already in 1897 the Legislature of Manitoba had become enthusiastic about mining and passed a Mining Act. It followed on a transfer from the Federal Government of certain swamp lands to the Province. The Legislature saw no reason why those lands, even if they had no rock exposures, should not have mineral deposits below the surface. However, before the deposits could be uncovered the lands were re-transferred to Ottawa so that all that could be done was to retain the Province’s first Mining Act and file it away in the Revised Statutes of 1913, yet it performed useful service in 1927 when the Province was called to prepare a Mining Act more up to date than that of 1897.
From 1899 until 1910 the lack of interest shown in mining was reflected in the formation of but few companies. Some mention should be made of the Great Northern Gold Mines Limited, which was organized in Selkirk and was for some years most active in mineral exploration. It deserved better success than was obtained.
The history of metalliferous mining really dates from 1910 when exploratory work in mineral areas of the Province was stimulated by successful mining developments in northern Ontario. The great discoveries of Cobalt and Porcupine stirred keen interest in the possibilities of the entire north country. Then came a realization that the non-agricultural areas constituting the greater part of Manitoba might make their contributions to the annual wealth of the Province.
The San Antonio Mine
In May 1910 E. A. Pelletier, of the Royal Canadian Northwest Mounted Police, resigned from the force and turned to prospecting, north and east of Norway House. While en route south by boat on one occasion he met Charles A. Bramble, associated with the Great Northern Gold Mines Limited (incorporated 1908) which held claims near the Hole River Indian Reserve-staked by Arthur Quesnel, Charles A. Bramble, Louis Simard, Allan Meade and John Potvin. Bramble told Pelletier of the favourable geological formation in the area, which prompted him to leave the boat at the mouth of Wanipigow (Hole) River, to prospect east to Wanipigow Lake. Next he worked south to the mouth of Manigotogan (Bad Throat) River where he met Arthur Quesnel at his trading post, and was informed of the mineralized areas along the river. In a very short time Pelletier discovered, staked the Ojibway claim and proceeded to Winnipeg to record the claim and organize the Ojibway Syndicate which included T. L. Cartwright, OF. L. Crosby, A. C. Gray, John Kitchen, W. A. Munro, J. W. Sifton, W. L. Roblin, G. OF. C. Pousette, and A. Murray S. Ross.
Returning to the claim with some mineral samples he had obtained in Montreal, Pelletier indicated to various trappers in the area what regions appeared favourable for the occurrence of gold. Travelling east along the Manigotogan River, after freeze-up of 1910, with a trapper, Alex Spence, he met Duncan Twohearts, an Indian trapper, who had some rock samples in his possession.
One of these proved of interest as it contained arsenopyrite, but it did not belong to the area in which Twohearts was working. However the Indian was attracted by Pelletier’s sample and said he would keep on the lookout for gold quartz similar to what had been shown to him.
Pelletier and Spence continued their journey to (Big) Rice Lake where the latter had a winter camp. There Pelletier was impressed with the favourable appearance of the rock formation and spent a month before returning to the Ojibway claim. In the meantime Twohearts had sent some samples to Arthur Quesnel. When Pelletier saw these he thought so well of one particular sample that arrangements were made to investigate its source.
With two dog teams, a party set out from the Manigotogan post and at Turtle Lake the attractive sample of quartz was shown to Twohearts who said through an interpreter, Johnny Woods, “From Big Rice Lake.” Twohearts and his son joined the party to proceed to (Big) Rice Lake and stopping a mile west of Spence’s camp on the north shore of the lake, he pointed to where the sample has been taken but nothing except float quartz could be found.
Pelletier was desirous of finding a rock outcrop so he called on the men to gather wood to make a fire. The dogs were unhitched and tied up to rest; the party removed their snowshoes which were used to shift the deep snow. Next wood was set afire to expose the bedrock. In the meantime the usual bush lunch was prepared. When the outcrop was laid bare and while strongly heated by the fire, Pelletier had the men throw water on the rock. Quartz cracked off in slabs and its unweathered surface was exposed. Sulphides were found and on closer scrutiny visible gold was seen. The staking out of the Gabrielle claim followed on March 6, 1911 the holder E. A. Pelletier.
Some prospecting equipment was moved from the Ojibway claim and Pelletier with an assistant, Alex Desautels, began preliminary work. On 17 May 1911, Desautel staked out the San Antonio claim and on the following day, 18 May, Pelletier staked out the Rachel claim. These were the beginnings of what is now the property of San Antonio Gold Mines, Limited. Returning to Turtle Lake, Pelletier had Twohearts make a birch bark canoe which he used later to transport several hundred pounds of samples from Rice Lake to Hecla on Lake Winnipeg and thence to Selkirk by a fishing boat.
Some years later Pelletier realized that he required financial assistance so he journeyed to Montreal to offer the property to the Timmins brothers of the Hollinger mine. Alphonse Pare, mining engineer, was sent to examine the claims and reported favourably but by this time Pelletier was averse to disposing of all the claims in one venture. Negotiations were discontinued and later Gabrielle Gold Mines Limited was formed by Pelletier. Stock was offered for sale in Winnipeg at 30 cents a share and the first advertising appearing in the Free Press brought the following comment in a day when the public were not quite so ready to venture as they were later:
A new chapter was written into the mining history of Manitoba but Pelletier’s property was then many years away from being a producing mine. Following the discovery of gold at Rice Lake, many claims were staked out in the area. Then came several years of fitful attempts at development in the area during which no prospect made a mine. Results so unsatisfactory cast doubt on the presence of gold in paying quantity.
The next chapter in the history of mining in Manitoba is concerned with since the coming into production of the Central Manitoba mine in the fall of 1927, which time there has been a steady production of gold from that area even though Central Manitoba mine had ceased operations in 1937, after mining gold ore to the value of $4,118,311.
The San Antonio mine adds to that chapter. As early as 1919 J. D. Perrin, now president of San Antonio Gold Mines, Limited, hired what is believed to have been the first aeroplane used in mining work to get J. B. Tyrrell out of the Rice Lake area after he had examined the San Antonio property. It was pretty much of an open air machine. A snow storm came on forcing Perrin and Tyrrell to turn back and later Tyrrell got out of the area by dog team.
In the development of the San Antonio mine three names stand out—J. D. Perrin, D. J. Kennedy, now deceased, but its first general manager, and John A. Reid, consulting mining engineer of Toronto. The successful position of the company today is the outcome of faith in the venture, efficient direction of its development and accurate deductions from geological study. The mine began production in 1932, and milled ore at the rate of 150 tons a day. It paid its first dividend in 1934 and has continued to do so since that year.
There were times in the career of the San Antonio mine that were discouraging. Financing was not easy until 1930, but D. J. Kennedy was convinced, as was his president, J. D. Perrin, that the mine had merits. At one time when finances were low and there wasn’t enough money in the treasury to buy steel rails on which to tram with cars, Kennedy turned to an antiquated device the wheelbarrow an almost unpardonable offence in a gold mine to move the broken rock in opening up a high-grade shoot in the No. 16 vein.
The Timmins Brothers of Hollinger fame were induced to invest some money in the San Antonio mine. That was the turning point and from that time even if the mine had only 61,000 tons of $12 to $14 rock in reserve, the San Antonio went on producing. As yet it was a one vein (No. 16) mine when a second turn came in the tide of success with the discovery of the No. 26 vein in 1933, and an outstanding development followed in that year. San Antonio was no longer a struggling prospect. The daily mill rate was raised to 275 tons. But No. 26 vein had its day. It sparked the life of the mine in placing large ore reserves in sight rapidly and supplied the key for the planning of future developments. Veins such as the 36, 38, 40, 42, 50 and 54 have been discovered successively at depth while No. 16 continued its existence to the 16th level (2400-foot). At the end of 1948 San Antonio was pursuing development to a depth of 3.450 feet. Its ore reserves at the end of 1948 were estimated at 720,000 tons or enough for more than four years of milling at its present mill capacity, 550 tons a day. To the end of 1948 San Antonio has produced $22,311,164 in gold from 2,054,537 tons of ore. Dividends amounting to $5,839,838 have been paid.
About the north shore of Rice Lake there has grown a community which is a credit to the mining company and its employees alike. It is one of these tidy communities in which the homes, the school and the playground reflect the good feeling that animates those who work in the San Antonio’s mine and mill. Removed some 125 miles from city life it lacks nothing that is desired in wholesome, healthy community life.
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.
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.
The Department of Mines and Natural Resources
For some time before the transfer of the natural resources, the Manitoba Government began to take a very active interest in its mining development.
When in 1927 the Flin Flon mine showed signs of becoming a producer, Manitoba turned to revising its Mines Act, passed in 1897. At the same time the promoters of the mining company negotiated with the Dominion Government for relief in the payment of royalties imposed by Dominion regulations. Manitoba acquiesced in this relief (Saskatchewan did not) which operated until December 1, 1947. 
A strong contrast to the development done at Rex mine was that of the Bingo claim, a neighbour to the north. The claim was staked in 1915, a year later than the Rex. In 1919 Joseph Myers, a promoter from New Zealand, purchased the claim and interested some Winnipeg people in its development. A 400-foot shaft was sunk and lateral work done to develop the mine. Values in gold from the workings were reported to be high in gold. Myers then went to England where he interested British capital and a company, Bingo Gold Mines Limited, was formed to put the mine into production.
A well-known firm of New York metallurgists was retained to advise as to the best methods of recovering the gold from the ore and to report on the size and type of mill to be installed. Following an examination made of the Bingo mine by two of the firm’s engineers, certain peculiarities in the “ore” were noted.
These included an uneven distribution of gold in the samples, there was coarse gold but no fine gold, and particles of gold in the samples were sharp-edged and somewhat shiny, resembling filings rather than the natural gold in an ore.
When this came to the attention of the English company an independent inspection of the mine was decided upon and in investigations that followed by mining engineers and others there was unfolded one of the most interesting stories of salting  to he written into the annals of Canadian mining. In the salting of the Bingo “ore” there was novelty, vicious skill and other features which if they had not been so serious had elements of comedy in them. 
In the course of the investigations it was learned that sample sacks had been cleverly tampered with by the addition of gold filings before the sacks were actually used. Engineers’ samples, which were not put in any contaminated sacks, averaged only $1.60 and $1.22 per ton, whereas samples taken originally at the mine had shown an average of $24.31 over the whole mine. (Gold at $20.67 an ounce.)
Salted sacks were found in the most extraordinary places. A prospector was given a Bingo sample sack to repair an overall pocket, which was later found to assay gold. Another sack was used to carry away a sample of Herb Lake moss proved as rich in gold as the prospector’s pocket. A mine-office chair cushion-cover made of a Bingo sample sack also told its tale of gold misplaced. And an official of the English company on visiting Herb Lake put his shaving kit into a Bingo sample sack. This, on assay, contained gold, about all he ever got from the mine.
Evidently the sample sacks at the mine all contained gold filings and, to avoid suspicion before the investigation got under way, were turned inside out and beaten over the edge of a potato bin near the mine store-house. Some inquisitive person conceived the idea of sampling the dirt at the bottom of the bin. It was rich in gold whether tested by fire assay or by panning.
A plumber in Winnipeg filed some metal material for Myers, who said it was brass, and returned the filings though not all of them in some small vials. This man could not say that it was gold he had filed but he did say, “Those are nice-looking brass filings.” Some of the filings left at the plumber’s house were, on analysis afterwards, found to be gold. And to add to the damaging chain of evidence a detective visited Myers’ hotel room in Winnipeg. In a locked trunk some Bingo sacks were found and they all, like the others, had their values in gold.
Myers was eventually charged in the Court of King’s Bench, Winnipeg, with statements he knew to be false but the judge refused to accept certain engineering evidence as not related to the case. Crown counsel, realizing the futility of prosecuting, refused to continue and Myers was acquitted.
As if to reform after his trials of mine promotion and at law, he turned to politics and was nominated as a candidate for Nelson constituency in the Federal House, in the fall of 1926, but was defeated in the election in spite of the fact that many in the north were convinced of his innocence. There were others who were not convinced in the same election that a Customs’ scandal should be mixed up with a constitutional issue. This phase of morals did not work to Myers’ advantage. The end of his story came with his death from influenza late in 1926.
So it was before the transfer of the natural resources that the Province had in mind several factors which led to the establishing of the Department of Mines and Natural Resources on 9 May 1928. These factors were: (a) the extensive development of several metalliferous areas; (b) the consequent duties devolving on the Province to control mining operations; (c) the fostering of the mining industry; and (d) the prospect that the Province would soon be administering its own resources.
On the creation of the Department, the premier of the Province, Hon. John Bracken, was sworn in as minister of the new department. During the previous year a Commissioner of Mines had been appointed and was attached to the Department of Agriculture. Dr. R. C. Wallace, who had been acting in this capacity, was appointed Commissioner of Mines and Natural Resources, butresigned in July 1928, to become President of the University of Alberta. He was succeeded as Commissioner of Mines by Dr. J. S. DeLury, who held the position until 15 July 1930, when the natural resources were transferred to the Province-and he became Provincial Geologist.
On 22 October 1928, Hon. D. G. McKenzie was sworn in as Minister of Mines and Natural Resources, and he in turn was succeeded by Hon. J. S. McDiarmid in 1932, who continues at this time to administer a department which has given excellent service to the Province.
The Flin Flon Mine
Prior to the First Great War some prospectors from Ontario went to Prince Albert, Sask., where they found local enthusiasts ready to try their luck in financing prospecting parties which first entered the Province’s Precambrian areas north of Prince Albert. In another year they moved north-east towards Beaver (Amisk) Lake and there found some gold.
In 1914 one of these parties decided to work on its own finances, and moved into what is today the Flin Flon area. The partners combined trapping in winter with prospecting in summer. Shortly after New Year’s Day 1915, one of these prospectors, Tom Creighton, who had a camp at Phantom Lake (south of Flin Flon) was out one cold morning working over his trap lines and at the same time hoping that a moose might come along. He wanted some fresh meat. His wandering took him in sight of a lake which may have been known to some as Fishpole Lake, but since there were no maps of the country at the time no great attention was paid to names. He went down to the shore of the lake and there in a rock outcrop, blown clear of snow, he saw some chalcopyrite in the schist. The mineralization attracted him and he decided it was worth further investigation.
Later when the snow was gone he returned with a partner John (Jack) Mosher. They decided that the prospect was worth staking and that prospect is the Flin Flon mine of today. On 15 August 1915, two claims were staked out, the Unique and the Apex, covering an area in which weathered gossan panned gold values but later proved to be primarily a copper-zinc sulphide deposit.
The two prospectors returned to Beaver Lake, 15 miles to the southwest, where the other members of the party were camped. In the meantime one of the party Dan Mosher had interested a mining group in Toronto in the work of theparty. On his return to Beaver Lake the party decided to turn their holdings over to the Toronto people headed by John E. (Jack) Hammell.
By this time some sixteen claims had been staked. Hammell was informed of the discovery and came at once to examine it. He was enthusiastic. The party of six prospectors including Tom Creighton, the Mosher brothers, John and Dan, the Dion brothers, Leon and Isadore, and Dan Milligan, was to share equally in the money realized from the sale of the property, which at first had not been named and none of the claims staked cut carried the name which later was to become famous.
The naming of the property “Flin Flon” came in the following manner. One day while Jack Mosher was panning some rusty capping in a trench he handed the pan to Tom Creighton to look at the gold washed out in the pan. It was so rich that Creighton’s thoughts turned to the gold in “The Sunless City,” a paper-backed penny thriller which he had picked up in 1913 on a portage between Churchill River and Lac la Ronge.
As reading matter was all but nil in the wilds, this book had found a treasured place in Creighton’s packsack.  As occasion permitted, the story was read and re-read even if the last pages were missing. The hero of the story became an inspirational member of the prospecting party for he himself had wandered into a subterranean land where gold was so plentiful as to be considered “rubbish.”
The prospectors adopted an abbreviation of the Hero’s name as had been done by the fellows with whom Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin associated. Flin Flon was much easier to remember and as Flin Flon he was known. As Tom Creighton gazed at the gold in the pan he exclaimed in rapture “Boys, this must be the place where old Flin Flon came up from the bowels of the earth and shook the gold from his dust-laden whiskers! What do you say if we call the property Flin Flon?”
That was in August 1915 and it was not until some years later that anyone could check the authenticity of the story of “The Sunless City,” as Creighton’s copy had been lost. Then came the finding of the book in a London bookshop in 1932.
Exploration of the Flin Flon property proved that it contained copper and zinc sulphides of moderate grade and was not a gold mine, as the prospectors at first thought. Within a few years after its discovery the Flin Flon deposit was explored to the extent of revealing 18,000,000 tons of copper-zinc sulphide, which, however, was refractory to treatment. Direct smelting of the mineral mass was found not feasible and no method of separating the intimately associated copper and zinc sulphides had been devised. There was no railway within 85 miles of the property, and no hydro-electric power development possibilities were known at the time. And lastly 1914-1918 were years of the First Great War not a time to exploit a difficult mining undertaking.
With so many difficulties to overcome production did not follow fast on discovery. In fact it may be said that not until 1927, some twelve years after the discovery, did production at Flin Flon look hopeful. The situation changed when a flotation process was devised to treat the Flin Flon ore.
How the property was converted from an interesting but dubious prospect into a splendidly operating concern is a story in itself. The faith of the promoters in expending millions of dollars before any production came has been amply justified and the perseverance of the management in its investigations and research covering a period of ten years is now rewarding the shareholders of the company with worthwhile dividends. A word of commendation, too, is due the Government of Manitoba which in the early years of the Flin Flon venture gave Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co., Limited whole hearted support in the development of what was a tremendous undertaking. Flin Flon, both mine and town, today is a credit to the company, to its management, to its employees and to Manitoba. No better community exists in Canada.
The total production of the Flin Flon mine since the beginning of operations in November 1930 to the end of 1948 was:
The Mandy Mine
Shortly after the discovery of Flin Flon the Mandy deposit, 3½ miles to the southeast, was found in October 1915 by Sidney S. Reynolds and Fred Jackson, working out of The Pas. The property is located on a small peninsula on the west side of the northwestern arm of Schist Lake.
As early as 1914 other prospectors had gone into this section but beyond recording their having been in the vicinity it was left to others to find the Mandy in the following year. On the east side of the peninsula and within a few feet of the deposit a rampike, a veteran in the area, was blazed on one side and the words written upon it: “Three damned good prospectors from Cobalt passed here July 1914, Al. Stirit, Paddy Hasit, Dan O. Burden.” or names to that effect.
These three prospectors had paddled along the east side of the peninsula whereas when Reynolds and Jackson came to the head of Schist Lake they travelled on the west side of the peninsula. Reynolds it was who stepped out of the canoe with his prospector’s pick and in less than ten minutes drove the pick into the weather-stained surface outcrop of a high-grade copper deposit. To the claim staked out was given the name “Mandy.”
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.
During the Second World War, the Mandy mine was revived to recover metal from some ore lower in grade than that mined during the First World War.
The Sherritt Gordon Mine
In 1899 the area about Kisseynew (Cold) Lake, 95-100 miles north of The Pas was first explored by D. B. Dowling of the Canadian Geological Survey, but it was not until 1922 that mineral occurrences of importance were discovered and here again the remoteness of the area made development unattractive.
The original discovery was made by Phillip Sherlett, a Cree Indian, on the shore of what is now Camp Lake, just east of Cold Lake. He staked several claims and two trappers, Carl Sherritt and Richard (Dick) Madole staked other claims a mile and a quarter south-west on a second showing. Later when Sherlett allowed his claims to lapse, the two trappers acquired his original discovery.
In 1925 the claims, referred to as the Sherritt-Madole group, were optioned by J. P. Gordon, who in turn re-optioned them successively to three well known mining concerns but it was not until 1927 that the moving spirits in active and immediate development of the property, Eldon L. Brown and Robert J. Jowsey, took hold. A light diamond drill was moved to the property by aeroplane—the first time en record. Sherritt Gordon Mines, Limited was incorporated perpetuating the name of the staker, and the promoter.
In development work which followed over 5 million tons of ore in two areas were indicated with grade of 1.40 to 2.91 per cent copper and 0.80 to 5.78 per cent zinc.
A railway, 42 miles, was built from Cranberry Portage on The Pas-Flip Flon line (Canadian National Railways). Rapid construction of mining and milling plants followed and the company went into production in March 1931, but only at one-third of capacity, which was originally planned for 1,800 tons a day. At the time the low price of zinc prohibited the shipment of zinc concentrates. In June 1932, after producing copper for over a year the company had to suspend operations in consequence of unprecedented declines in the price of copper.
Operations were resumed in August 1937, after a year was spent in altering and improving the milling plant and in further developments in the mine. With improved price for copper and better recovery of the copper sulphide in milling, the company was able to pay dividends in 1940. And with the pressure of war needs for zinc concentrate, equipment was added to the mill in 1942, to recover the zinc sulphide from the ore.
The total production of the Sherritt Gordon mine from the beginning of filling in 1931 to the end of 1948 was:
In 1946 when it was evident from developments that the orebodies of the Sherritt Gordon mine were approaching exhaustion and without hope of adding to the ore reserves, shareholders authorized directors of the company to suspend dividends in order to provide funds for development at Lynn Lake, 120 miles north of Sherridon where exploration by a veteran prospector, Austin L. McVeigh, resulted in the discovery of a small exposure of nickel-copper outcrop.
This immediately aroused interest in a new area and the results achieved later by Sherritt Gordon Mines Limited gave promising indications that a new mine could be developed at Lynn Lake by the expenditure of current earnings of the Sherritt Gordon Mine.
Ogama Rockland Mine
Ogama Rockland Gold Mines Limited, one of the new companies in south-eastern Manitoba, went into production with a mill in June 1948. It is a subsidiary of Gunnar Gold Mines Limited which has financed the Ogama Rockland developments.
The claims which make up the company’s property were staked as early as 1915 by William Walton, W. A. Quesnel, William Ainslie and G. B. Hall, early prospectors in the area around Long Lake. No extensive development was undertaken at the property until 1941 when Gunnar Gold Mines Limited took an option on the claims and proceeded to mine some 4,121 tons of ore from which $145,109 was recovered in gold. Treatment of the ore was done at the Gunnar mill situated seven miles to the east of the Ogama Rockland property which is located one mile north of Long Lake.
Because of war time restrictions on new gold mining, production was suspended at Ogama Rockland until June 1948, following development work and the construction of a 150-ton mill, the equipment for which was obtained from the Gunnar property where the ore had been exhausted. In 1948 Ogama Rockland milled 27,546 tons of ore and recovered $341,656 in gold.
The Nor-Acme Mine
Wekusko, or Herb Lake, is 85 miles north-east of The Pas. In the early days of Hudson’s Bay Company (1785) it was on what was known as “the middle road to Hudson Bay” via Grass River, flowing north-easterly to join Nelson River near Split Lake.
The earliest explorers in the area were J. B. Tyrrell and William McInnes, Geological Survey of Canada. Gold was discovered later on the east side of Herb Lake in 1914 by M. (Mike) Hackett and R. (Dick) Woosey. The name of the Rex—later called the Laguna—mine is intimately associated with the history of the lake.
Snow Lake is a few miles west of Herb Lake. Chris. R. Parres, a veteran of the First Great War, had heard of that area when as a farm boy ten years of age, he had been attracted by the names of white fox, white bear, white whale and white fish on a natural resources map of the middle west of Canada, which also had in small red letters along the east shore of Herb Lake “much white quartz.” Thinking that quartz was one of the animals with which he was not acquainted, he was surprised to learn from his teacher that it was the rock in which gold was found. That statement registered in the boy’s mind and never faded out. In the First Great War while on leave in London, Parres met an Australian prospector who gave him his first lessons in prospecting, later used to good effect at Snow Lake which he reached from Saskatoon, Sask., in June 1924, and after prospecting for some time staked in October the property which became the “discovery claims” of Nor-Acme Gold Mines Limited. In the next four years Parres was assisted by his sons, James C. and A. Lewis, who since that time have graduated as geologists from the University of Saskatchewan.
The property was examined by Frank Ebbutt, geologist, of Howe Sound Company, in September 1940. Diamond drilling followed, from which results justified more extensive drilling, which was done. Then the orebody was studied to a depth of 1,000 feet in models depicting its size, shape and grade, and outlining its enclosing rocks.
After this study it was decided to prepare for mining at a rate of 2,000 tons a day. Delays came because of the Second World War, and it was not until 1945 that the Howe Sound Company opened an office at Winnipeg where plans for mine development and mill construction were made. Included in the undertaking was a 37½-mile road from Hudson Bay Railway to the property and negotiations with the Government of Manitoba respecting the establishment of a townsite at the mine property, this to embody many new ideas for the convenience of a new industry away from the main routes of transportation.
The company went into production March 5, 1949, and is now working up to its rated capacity of 2,000 tons a day.
Some of Manitoba’s mines have not had a long life yet their production has added to the output of gold. The following mines have contributed the following values:
While more attention has been given in this history to the producers of metallic minerals it should not be overlooked that Manitoba has some thriving and very important non-metallic industries. Cement has been produced at Fort Whyte near the south-west outskirts of Winnipeg since 1911. The first clinker  came from Belleville, Ontario, but since 1913 the plant has been using limestone high in calcium carbonate, and gypsum from Steep Rock and Gypsumville on the cast shore of Lake Manitoba.
In 1948 the Canada Cement Company Limited made 1,686,345 barrels of cement, valued at $3,895,457.
At Neepawa, a salt well has been producing brine since 1932. Strong brines were encountered at depths of 1,185 feet and 1,460 feet and rose to within 200 feet of the collar of the hole. Analyses of this brine showed 17 per cent dissolved salts, over 85 per cent of which is sodium chloride.
Operations at Neepawa have been continuous for the 17 years and the salt content has remained constant. In 1948, 23,987 tons of salt were produced and valued at $397,451.
Chromite in the Bird River Area
Among the important metallic mineral resources which await exploration in Manitoba are its chromite deposits. In 1942 chromite was discovered to the north of Maskwa Lake and in the vicinity of Euclid Lake. Aggregate widths of the chromite in the chrome-bearing horizon vary from 6 to 12 feet, and the average tenor of the principal occurrences, including massive and disseminated material is from 18 to 26 per cent chromic oxide. Large reserves have a chrome-iron content of 1.48:1 and 1.24:1. Development of the deposits depends upon the solution of the problem of beneficiation to obtain a favorable chrome-iron ratio.
The discoveries of the chromite were made by two persons both skilled geologists, as well as by some prospectors, notably John Lapin, the Zeemels, Fritz and Albert, father and son. Another prospector in the area had claims with chromite on them but knew nothing of the occurrence until it was pointed out to him by Dr. J. D. Bateman, Geological Survey of Canada, who was asked to look at some grooves and striations on peridotite outcrops on the Page claims. While investigating, Dr. Bateman noticed some fuchsite (a green chrome-bearing mica) in an outcrop near a hill of peridotite. He advised the prospector to get busy on this with the result that chromite was uncovered for the first time on the claim.
Another chromite showing was that found by John Lapin of Bird River who had been unable to interest anyone in his claim until it was examined in June 1942 by Dr. G. M. Brownell, then in the field for God’s Lake Gold Mines Limited. He at once recognized the mineral as chromite, but the occurrence was not sufficiently large or regular to form a commercial deposit.
However, Dr. Brownell was able to see from a geological map of the area that there were possibilities for the occurrence of chromite farther to the east. Marking a spot on the map he went the following day to a point on Bird River south of that spot and within fifteen minutes after reaching the spot had uncovered a good showing of chromite which he staked for his principals; an example of geology applied to prospecting.
While the chromite deposits of the Bird River area cannot be classed as ore reserves, they are of such importance as to demand the attention of the chemist and the metallurgist to devise some method of beneficiating a mineral resource into a product of sufficient value as to quality and quantity which may be mined at a profit. There is no doubt about the quantity of chromite that can be mined in the Bird River area. Its quality for the moment precludes its being classed as ore.
The Past and the Future
In any history of mining in Manitoba some mention should be made of the assistance rendered by Indians to their white friends. Duncan Twohearts  helped E. A. Pelletier at Rice Lake, David Collins (Colen) had a part in directing attention to mineral occurrences in the Flin Flon area, and Phillip Sherlett made the first discovery at what became the Sherritt Gordon mine. Collins is honored by having a lake called after him (Colen) but he died before any of his prospects came into production. The other two were paid modest but comfortable pensions by the companies operating in the areas where their discoveries were made. Both have died in recent years.
Manitoba has completed twenty-one years of continuous metal production. Its mining industry is therefore relatively young yet, but its growth has been steady and sound. Its value may be measured in the new wealth created, in the new communities which have gathered about the mines and in the business done in supplying these mines and the communities around them.
The finding of new mines is making a greater demand than ever on the ingenuity of the geologist and the mining engineer. Scientific devices for use on the ground, under the ground and in the air are being used very extensively in modern prospecting because it has become increasingly clear that exposed occurrences of mineral have become rare. The work of the old time prospector has changed with the times. No longer does he find ready employment with small concerns. Rather he has had to turn to the larger mining companies and in the case of the skilful prospector like Austin McVeigh at Lynn Lake the association has been profitable to both.
To have been intimately associated with the development of mining in Manitoba over the past twenty-one years has been the writer’s happy experience. To have known many men earnest in that development and to have enjoyed their confidence is a memory to cherish. To have seen mining prospects become great producers and even now to know something of what the future has in store for Manitoba, affords an opportunity for the mining engineer to turn to the poet for the better expression of his thoughts:
1. Wallace, R. C., Mineral Resources of Manitoba (Winnipeg, 1925), page 37.
2. Technical knowledge, at the time this statement was made, had not advanced to the stage where fine subdivisions could be made with respect to age relationships. The term “Huronian” was used then. It really referred to areas underlain by volcanic and sedimentary formations which had been intruded by granites and related rock types. The whole assemblage is now covered generally by the term “Precambrian”.
3. “Chronological Records of Canadian Mining Events from 1604 to 1947” (Publications of Dominion Bureau of Statistics, Ottawa, 1948), page 5.
4. Martin, Chester, The Natural Resource Question (Winnipeg, 1920).
5. Canada: Gazette, 1884, XVII, supplement after page 1408.
6. Canada: Statutes, 46 Vict. C. 17.
7. Canada: Gazette, 1887, XXI, page 792.
8. Canada: Gazette, 1890, XXIII, page 1360.
9. Canada, Gazette, 1898, XXXI, page 2225.
10. Canada: Debates H.C., 1914, 1, page 201.
11. R. C. Wallace, The Resources of Manitoba and their Development, (University of Manitoba publication, Winnipeg, 1918), pages 17 & 23.
12. Canada: Gazette, 1917, L. Pt. II, Supplement.
13. Silver-radium ores were not discovered at Great bear Lake, N.W.T, until 1930.
14. See page 66 above.
15. J. F. Wright, “Geology and Mineral Deposits of a Part of Southeastern Manitoba,” (Memorandum 169, Canada geological Survey, 1938), page 49.
16. “First Annual Report on Mines and Minerals” (Department of Mines & Natural Resources of Manitoba, 1928), page 86. “Mineral Resources of Ontario” Report of Royal Commission, 1890, pages 23,64, 109, 115-117 and 446.
17. Margaret McWilliams, Manitoba Milestones (Toronto, 1928), page 131.
18. “First Annual Report on Mines and Minerals” (Department of Mines & Natural Resources of Manitoba, 1928), page 86.
19. Ibid., page 86.
20. “The Mineral Resources of Manitoba” (Economic Survey of Manitoba, Winnipeg, 1938), page 23.
21. Winnipeg Free Press, 23 February 1949, “Fifty Years Ago.”
22. Ibid., 3 March 1949, “Fifty Years Ago.”
23. An unsual feature of the Flin Flon orebody is that it lies practically on the boundary of the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The original discovery was mad in Manitoba but later developments proved that the ore boday plunged south at 30 degrees across the east and west correction line into the province of Saskatchewan. In recent years the greater part of the ore mined has come from the Saskatchewan side of the mine.
24. “Salting” is the process of intentionally raising the value of a sample. It is then done for the purpose of defrauding.
25. The reader interested in the details of devious mine development and the outcome is referred to the “The Bingo Story”, excellently written by R. B. Graham, formerly police magistrate, Winnipeg, and, at the time of the Bingo affair, Crown Prosecutor. Canadian Mining Journal, pages 80-83, May 1949.
26. Cole, Geo. E., “Flin Flon - The Name” Canadian Mining Journal, 70, March 1949, pages 63-71.
27. Clinker is a product made in a kiln from limestone, silica, alumina and iron sinter: After grinding of the clinker, gypsum is added to retard the setting of the content.
28. The name designates him as having a twin brother.
Page revised: 17 July 2016