Finding Gold in Newfoundland and Labrador

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This describes finding gold in Newfoundland and Labrador. It also describes some adventures of the author's Great-Grandfather in the mid-1800s

John Cabot, the English Explorer who discovered North America in 1497 said he found several hundred Portuguese fishing boats working on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. It is obvious since Columbus made his discoveries much further South in the Caribbean we must assume that Newfoundland was known in Europe since the days of Columbus. The claim has been made that the first settlements in North America were in Newfoundland. This has been verified with the discovery of Viking ruins at L’Anse au Meadows at the northern most part of Newfoundland.

Most of the gold found in Newfoundland is a byproduct of the copper mining industry centered on Tilts, and Betts cove on the northeast coast of Newfoundland. The type of deposits that were found suggest that if gold is present it will exist as placer deposits along the coast in beach sands, or in streams that flow into the sea from the uplands.

The author's great-grandfather used to prospect for gold on Bell Island as he was eating cloud berries. He is the only one that knows how much gold he found but it was enough to make my great-grandmother's wedding ring when they got married. Bell Island later became the site of the Famous Wabush iron mines. Newfoundland has a long history of mining that began way back in the 1800s.

Most people's idea of a prospector is some grizzled old-timer with a long beard that is panning for gold. He was looking in one of the rivers found in the north of Newfoundland where he arrived in a canoe. Many years ago this could've been a true picture, but today all kinds of people find themselves involved in prospecting searching for treasures of the earth. Gold is only one of many riches in the bowels of the Earth.

At one time Newfoundland was the sixth largest producer of copper in the world based on the deposits found around Notre Dame Bay. These deposits were found by prospectors, but the one at the town of Tilt was found by a fisherman. He was using massive copper to ballast for his fishing boat. Many other copper mines for were found during the same time.

Prospecting in Newfoundland has a long history dating back to the 1800s and continued until 1940. It was during the 1980s that the interest in prospecting was revived. Today's prospector has many advantages over the old timer. He has better requirement to work with, and many different electronic instruments to find gold or other valuable minerals.

At one time there was a large iron mine at Wabush that supplied the blast furnaces of Dominion Iron and Steel in Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia. In 1983 the area around Baie Verte showed three gold deposits on a new geological map today there are more than a hundred. It was professional prospectors that were hired by mining companies that discovered most of these deposits. However it is felt that there are plenty of other deposit's to be found in Newfoundland and Labrador by prospectors.

The Baie Verte Peninsula is the northern terminus of the Baie Verte fault line that can be traced all the way back southwards to New York City. The geologic setting of this fault suggests that the major mineral deposits will be found on the eastern side. This is so-called Iapetus terrane that was originally sea bottom in the former Iapetus Ocean that closed hundreds of millions of years ago.

Although Labrador has shown no significant gold deposits to date it should be pointed out that it is part of the Canadian Shield were abundant gold deposits have been found in the past. It stands to reason that the gold should be there just waiting for some lucky prospector to find it.

Being a prospector requires a good eye for observing rocks and the subtle changes that happen in there because of mineral deposits. Another place to for gold, diamonds and many other valuable minerals is in the streams flowing out of the hinterland of both Newfoundland and Labrador.

Labrador was another place the author’s Great-Grandfather prospected during the mid-1800s.

We don’t know is he ever found any gold in Labrador, but he had a deadly run-in with the local Indians where one of his party killed an Indian Woman that lead to the whole party he was with being captured by the Indians. The whole party was going to be massacred by the Indians. The Chief said that the ones who murdered the Indian Women would own up to the deed he would be killed, and the others could go free.

Finally the perpetrator owned up to the deed. The Indians separated him from the rest of the party, but made them all see what the Indians did to the murderer. They skinned him alive. Shortly after that our Great-Grandfather left Canada and came to the United States.

He worked for a time at the Tilly-Foster iron mine in Brewster, New York and eventually moved to East Canaan, Connecticut where he was the superintendent of the Allen Quarry when they quarried the marble for the Connecticut State Capitol.

If you like to read about gems go here


Prospecting in Newfoundland,

Gold Occurrences, R. James Weick, Natural Resources,

Significance of the Baie Verte Flexure Zone, James Hibbard, Geoscience World,