How do prospectors who “strike it rich” on the gold fields make their finds? Is it luck that guides them to success or something else? Mr. Moore admits that luck plays its part, but he who reads between the lines of these mining tales from the
IF YOU are at all interested in the development of Canada's fabu-
lous mineral wealth you are bound to find yourself bringing Rouyn Township into your conversation some time or other. And if you are talking to a man who is intimate with the history of the discoveries made in that territory, he is
quite likely to tell you the “Ike” Waite’s luck.
He will tell you of a local legend which has it that Tom Montgomery,
“Ike’s” associate, literally ran into his discovery of the Rouyn copper gold field while he was completely absorbed in something else—a bear he he was chasing.
Then, probably, you will sigh a little enviously and murmur the words, “prospector’s luck.”
It is just the kind of story that you have heard narrated hundreds of times before, whenever ore discoveries are the subject of conversation.
And like the majority of these stories, there isn’t a word of truth in it.
Here are the facts about the “luck” of Waite and Montgomery at Rouyn —their narration serves the useful purpose of demonstrating the truth that success in prospecting, as in any other field of human endeavor, is largely a matter of persistence and
the experience which persistence inevitably brings with it: In the first place, J. H. C. (Cecil) Waite was one of the pioneers in the Rouyn copper-gold field. He wrote the first report on the now famous Horne property for Noranda and was one of the first professional engineers to do extensive work in the vicinity of Rouyn township. He had covered the ground which now constitutes the WaiteMontgomery claims at different times during the preceding two years and it did not strike him as particularly promising. For one thing he couldn’t get any “kick” out of the magnetic needle.
Then came a forest fire in June, 1923. It burned over the ground, exposing the top of an ore body which otherwise would have remained unseen. Waite sent Tom Montgomery in to stake out claims in March, 1925. Tom found the ground deeply covered by snow as is indicated by the height of the blazing along the trail.
It was not until May that he made the discovery in lowlying ground. He noticed gossan (oxidized iron pyrites) at the foot of an upturned tree; to a prospector with his experience this was the cue to shout Eureka. He found two out-croppings of copper ore within a few feet of the tree and preliminary work indicated an ore occurrence of magnitude.
Inasmuch as the Waite was staked in winter and over deep snow Montgomery may be considered lucky. But, remember, he had been sent in by a trained engineer; the latter had spent two years on the ground and had investi-
gated conscientiously a country he had reason to believe was intensively mineralized. Montgomery was not assisted by a benevolent bear.
Prospectors and Grub Stakers
THE truth of the matter is that the prospector is the sort of man who could hardly have been anything else. He likes the life of the great out-doors, he possesses more than his ordinary share of gambler’s fever and, in addition, a streak of persistence, generally known as obstinacy, which nothing can daunt.
Every spring finds him out on the trail, resolutions to settle down at steady employment made during the winter months completely forgotten, tramping, testing, examining mile after difficult mile of unexplored country. When he makes a discovery, if he does, it simply is the working out of the inexorable law of average.
Not so, perhaps, with the man who grubstakes him. To him are dealt the chips with which to sit in a game that may win him a pot greater than any the history of gambling has recorded. Consider, for a moment, the historic case of Benny Hollinger!
Prior to his discovery of the Hollinger mine, George A. Young, of Toronto, had staked Benny three times— twice during the preceding summer, only to be three times disappointed. After the third failure, Benny came to Haileybury again in quest of his backer; once more he sought the sinews
of war. He waited for two days sharply on the lookout for Young, and then got his grub-stake elsewhere. Young returned to Haileybury the next day—a day too late to stake Benny for the trip that resulted in the discovery of Hollinger—a mine which last year turned out oyer $15,000,000 in gold!
This example of the vagaries of Lady Luck is unquestionably authentic.
Then, there is the case of a wellknown Canadian mining engineer who grub-staked Thrift Burnside in 1911. The engineer was so little impressed with the claim which Burnside staked next to the Tough Oakes ground at Kirkland Lake that he decided it was not worth while to put up the $500 necessary to carry out the required assessment work. He relinquished his half interest and Burnside took the whole. Burnside then started out for himself and bor-
rowed $500 from his friend, the engineer. He made his strike. Legally, the engineer had no right to any portion of the returns, but Burnside insisted on giving him a oneeighth interest. This the engineer accepted. In the game once more, the engineer negotiated a deal whereby the property was sold for $240,000! All of which is interesting but even more so is the fact that prior to the sale another holder of an eighth interest had divided his share into three parts and sold two of those parts for $10 each. Well, indeed, might Burnside have exclaimed, “O ye of little faith.”
Throwing Fortunes Overboard
THE higher the stakes the bigger the winnings and the value of the chips is very difficult to determine. Jack Wilson and W. S. Edwards, for example, sold the Dome Mines for $25,000, keeping an interest of forty per cent. This interest, subsequently, had a market valuation of over $5,000,000.
Bob Jowsey, Charles Keeley, and John Wood sold the Keeley property for $300,000 to a group of English capitalists and for a long time it looked as if the buyers had made a bad bargain. In fact, it was not until the Farmer’s Bank had been dragged down to ruin that the Keeley came into its own and produced wealth that would have saved Beatty Nesbitt and his colleagues from the fate which overtook them.
Sometimes the pot is largely mythical as in the case of the University mine which was sold by Bill Blair, George Glendenning and H. Kerr to the Timmins group for something like $800,000. It proved to be almost a total failure. Between the years of 1906 and 1920 it produced 23,000 ounces of silver only, despite the fact that a great amount of good money had been expended on it.
The early days of the Cobalt discoveries furnished striking examples of men who misplayed the hands which had been dealt them. The original discoverer of the La Rose claim was one of them. He sold it for $50,000 and it produced over 17,000,000 ounces of silver. La Rose regarded his Extension claim as much more valuable than his original staking and was able to dispose of it for $300,000. It produced absolutely nothing.
R. W. Leonard didn’t appraise his hand very carefully when he let go of the Buffalo property at
Cobalt to C. L. Denison for $8,000, for it turned out to be a prolific producer of silver. The purchaser himself, it is said, had some grave misgiving as to the wisdom of his bargain, but the property turned out to be a veritable bonanza. The Coniagas people, of Cobalt, made profits of over $10,000,000 out of it.
The railway contractors who acquired the Nipissing property at Cobalt certainly held winning cards had they but known it, but as a matter of fact, they could not get rid of the claims quickly enough. They wanted the cash and were willing to let the credit go. So they sold Nipissing to E. P. Earle, who took Captain Delmar in with him. Profits amounted to $600,000 before the company was incorporated even, and the total profits of the venture to date amount to some $30,000,000.
Like every other game it takes a certain amount of courage to play your hand for what you believe it to be worth.
R. K. Neill, a native of the Eastern Townships, Quebec, is an example of the type of man who plays the mining game successfully, as his experience with the famous Premier mine of northern Columbia will attest.
He secured a controlling interest in the Premier for $100,000, payable over a period of six years. This was in March, 1917. Since then the company has paid dividends to its shareholders aggregating not far short of $8,000,000. Let it be noted, though, that when Neill and his associates took over the Premier it was practically an abandoned mine, and that they succeeded where others had acknowledged failure.
Neill is a man of varied mining experience, the entire mineral belt from Alaska to Mexico having been the scene of his operations. Yet with all his knowledge of the game, backed by remarkable shrewdness and judgment, he passed up a potential fortune many years ago when he neglected to take up an option on the Sullivan mine at Kimberley, B.C.,which was offered to him for $12,500. The Sullivan is now regarded as one of the wonder mines of the world.
As we have said before, persistence is the best mascot a mining man can have. Let us analyze for a moment the
precise amount of luck that attended the endeavors of one of the Cobalt old-timers, Walter Segsworth.
Segsworth risked all he had in the world to bring the Seneca Superior mine at Cobalt into production in 1912. For months he piled up debts mountains high and the job of finding funds to meet his payroll was a constant nightmare to him. Finally, on October 12th, ore was encountered and for the ensuing weeks there was a steady trickle of wealth. Even earlier in the year, shares had been sold to the public at seventeen and a half cents; by the following February a dividend of ten per cent, was paid to be followed, a few weeks later, by another ten per cent., which more than reimbursed the shareholders for their outlay. The Seneca produced over 6,000,000 ounces before it ran out; a total of $1,600,000 was paid in dividends and the twenty-five per cent, royalty absorbed no less than $750,000 additional.
Segsworth and his partners were playing for high stakes and they won. To that extent their achievement can be termed luck. But success could never have come to them had not they possessed the rare qualities of persistence, courage, and the vision which plunges heavily only when the risk is approved by sound judgment.
Playing a Lone Hand
ASIMILAR case is that of Harry Oakes, whose north country success is, perhaps, more outstanding than that of any other man who ever staked a claim in the Canadian field. After adventuring in the gold-fields of Australia and the Yukon without success, he staked the Oakes claims in Kirkland Lake which now form part of the Tough-Oakes Burnside. These were the original stakings at Kirkland Lake. Oakes was forced by circumstances to pull out from his original stakings. About this time the titles to the original Lake Shore claims expired. Oakes took no chances on being headed off. He got busy and re-staked some of the Lake Shore ground. He added
to his holding by purchasing other claims, and after discouragements which would have broken the heart of a less determined man, succeeded in creating a mine of first-class importance.
In all Canadian mining history Oakes is the only man who can be recalled as having staked his own ground, developed his property to the point of production and retained the control of it which he still holds.
If it is not in mortals to command success in the mining game Oakes has done more—he has deserved it. In view of his achievement this paraphrase of Shakespeare may be forgiven.
ENOUGH stories have been brought into being by the Howey gold discovery in the Red Lake district to furnish Robert W. Service with material for a new book of out-door ballads. The sober truth is that Howey’s location of the rich store of sur-
face gold was the logical result of a piece of first-rate prospecting.
Lome Howey was one of a party of prospectors who worked in the Red Lake vicinity during the summer of 1925. Most of their efforts had been centered on the country to the north of Red Lake and it was not until late in the season that they began to turn southward. With provisions running dangerously low and the intense cold of the winter coming on, Howey might well have been pardoned if he had decided that his luck was out that season and made his way to civilization, safety and comfort.
But he had discovered a shaving of ore under an uprooted tree in the vicinity of Burnt Bay, on the south side of Red Lake, and he determined to give it a thorough investigation, to trace it as far as he could. He found gold at the end of his search. Working backward and forward across the ore bearing zone he found what he considered to be a leader branching off from a main vein. He trenched this till he came to the main ore-body which has since been pronounced, by competent judges, one of the most important surface gold discoveries ever disclosed in Canada.
Howey staked claims as did his brother, who, in the name of the McIntyre Porcupine Mines, staked alongside him.
Not quite so romantic a story as the one which tells of his having thrown a boulder to one side in annoyance at stubbing his toe against it, only to find nuggets as big as his fist where the rock had laid, but one which furnishes a real inspiration to the type of man who alone makes a successful prospector.
Ed. Horne and Rouyn Camp
AS A fit conclusion let us unroll the scroll on which is written the saga of Ed. Horne, who discovered what is in many respects the most remarkable mineral occurrence since the Sullivan in British Columbia and the famous Creighton near Sudbury.
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Horne is now over sixty years old. He has devoted his life to the pursuit of the prospector’s dream, the big strike, and in the last few years, only, has he overtaken it. He was born in Enfield, N.S. Work in the gold-mines of his own province fitted him for mining and milling jobs which he held both in Canada and the United States. In ’98 he was employed in some of the mills of the Slocan district in British Columbia; afterwards he extended his experience by work in the California mining field.
Always, though, he had felt the prospector’s fever surging in his blood and in 1907 he undertook a hazardous trip up the Hamilton River in Labrador. For the risks of that trip he was encouraged by finding indications of gold, nickel and copper, but none of sufficient importance to warrant staking.
The next year found Horne in the Cobalt silver camp in charge of the King Edward mill. Prospector virus was working in him all the time, though, and he made his way to Porcupine where he encountered no extraordinary luck. Somewhat better fortune attended his efforts in Kirkland Lake in 1912, where he was one of the stakers of the Townsite.
Sandwiched between his Porcupine and Kirkland Lake experiences was a trip to Northern Quebec in 1911 when he travelled a considerable distance east of Osisko Lake, earlier known as Tremoy Lake. There he found indications of gold but not of such importance as to crowd his sleep with dreams of another Klondike discovery.
On his way back to Haileybury, Horne was curiously attracted by the appearance of the country around Osisko Lake. “I had a hunch that it was likely country for prospecting,” he told the writer. It was far off the beaten track then and had not drawn much attention from the prospecting fraternity who were at that time concentrating on the Ontario fields.
Playing his hunch, Horne revisited Osisko Lake in 1914, but was unable to discover anything that would warrant staking. Still drawn to the district by a feeling of confidence, however, he returned in 1917 and satisfied himself that there was an ore body carrying low gold values.
The staking was done in 1920. A syndicate of New Liskeard men provided the funds to finance the enterprise. E. J. Miller, prospector, James Taylor, hardware merchant, John L. Bucher, hotel manager, Len Hill, contractor, Jackson Vrett, prospector, O. E. Vrett, bookkeeper, Jack Vrett, foreman, Henry O’Grady, implement agent and James Kirkwood, barber, were the men who comprised the now famous Tremoye Lake Shore syndicate. Each member advanced only a small sum for a share in the staking enterprise and those who have retained their interest are now independently wealthy. Some of the originals, as it’s al-
ways the case, had no faith in the hand which had been dealt them and disposed of part of their holdings at comparatively low prices. Ed. Horne's killing probably is not far short of $200,000.
No values of any consequence were secured in 1921, but additional ground was staked in that year and in 1922. In the spring of 1922, chalcopyrite—one of the most valuable copper-bearing ores —was discovered.
Previous to that time the property had been looked upon as a source of gold ore and reports that were made on it were far from encouraging. J. W. Morrison, of Haileybury, went in for Henry A. Wentworth, of Boston, and could find nothing to justify him in taking up the option.
Noranda Mines Limited was interested in the Powell and Chadboume properties. Waite’s report on the Horne claims in the fall of 1922 was not particularly favorable but Noranda retained the option they had secured in the fall of that year.
When the Powell and Chadboume did not measure up to expectations work was concentrated on the Horne in 1923. From that time the Rouyn camp was made.
The first shaft was put down in ore so rich in copper and gold as to cause the operators to rub their eyes in amazement. As work progressed, the sulphides, it was discovered, were the thing.
An extensive campaign of diamond drilling showed indication of ore of the same richness at depth; new ore bodies of massive proportions were discovered at intervals and underground work served to open up ore which was quite as good as that shown in the diamond drill core. The original holders of Noranda shares were richly rewarded.
And what of patient, persistent, dogged, obstinate old Ed. Horne? Well, to-day he is a wealthy man, but it is better than an even wager that next spring will find him on the trail again eyes wide-open for a second strike. The chance of making one is about as assured as is the prospect of lightning striking twice in the same spot, but Ed. Horne has the prospecting fever and it is incurable. Good luck go with him and with all of his kind!
This year and next year will find scores of prospectors hot-footing it into districts that have not hitherto been traversed. Red Lake has started them going. It would not be surprising if the impetus giving by the Howey discovery will result in much intensive effort that will bring still other important mineral deposits to the light of day. The mining industry in Canada is gaining steadily in importance. There is plenty of capital available for the development of deserving properties. The large mining organization of Canada as well as the British prospecting and development companies and American capital will see to it that the things which mark development will be given due attention. The prospector is the trail blazer, and full well does he deserve any financial rewards that may come his way.