Yarmouth County’s Gold Districts


The first gold discoveries in Nova Scotia were in Halifax County in the area of the Tangier River.

    1. “Samples shown to the government officials in 1860 failed to convince them of the value of the discoveries; however, the rush of people into Mooseland and Tangier in the spring of 1861, and the numerous discoveries made, forced action, and Mooseland and Tangier were officially proclaimed gold districts and surveyed in April 1861.” [1, p. 3]

  1. In Yarmouth County gold was reported in 1868, at Cranberry Head, where

    1. “... the vein appeared so promising that considerable work was done in 1869 and in the early seventies. In 1869, an open-cut 600 feet long and 20 feet deep was made and two shafts were sunk; in 1870, the shafts were deepened, stoping was done, and 130 ounces of gold recovered from 184 tons of quartz; in 1871 little was done and operations soon ceased, for we learn that in 1874 the mine was reopened. ... During the winter of 1874–75, 38 tons of quartz was crushed, yielding 29 ounces, and then operations ceased. Operations were carried on in 1880 and 1881, the shafts were deepened and considerable ore stoped. In 1897 new machinery was erected and the mine was reopened and worked for two or three years.” [1, p. 78]

  2. Eventually the government of Nova Scotia established gold districts at Cranberry Head, Kemptville, Carleton, and Chegoggin. Below are photographs concerning mining activities in the first three. As for the Chegoggin gold district: during 1890–92 a mine with one shaft produced silica from quartzite, and placer mining may have occurred intermittently at a sand beach midway between Chegoggin Point and Cranberry Head; yet in neither case did I find any record of gold production.

References and Notes

    [1] W. Malcolm, Gold Fields of Nova Scotia. Canada Department of Mines, Geological Survey, Memoir 156, 1929. vi+253 pp. Compiled largely from the results of investigations by E. R. Faribault. Later version available online.

    [2] J. McMullin, G. Richardson, and T. Goodwin, “Preliminary Gold Compilation Map of the Meguma Terrane in Nova Scotia,” scale 1:100,000. Nova Scotia Dept. of Mines and Energy, 1986. OFM ME 1986–050.

    [3] E. R. Faribault, “Geological Plan and Section of the Gold Bearing Series, Cranberry Head to Chegoggin Point, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia.” Geological Survey of Canada, Publication No. 1815, issued 1920 by the Canada Dept. of Mines. Available online.

    [4] John O’Sullivan and Adam Whalen, “Prospecting Report on Licence 06178 Tract 16 Claim J, Licence 06918 Tract 16 Claim Q.” Nova Scotia Dept. of Mines and Energy, Aug. 2009. 14 pp. AR2009–068.

    [5] Anon., “Cranberry Head Gold District: Plan of Creampot Mine,” scale 1:1,200. Nova Scotia Dept. of Mines and Energy, 1986. OFM ME 1897–01.

    [6] John O’Sullivan, “Prospecting Report on Licence 06178 Tract 16 Claim J.” Nova Scotia Dept. of Mines and Energy, July 2007. 15 pp. AR2007–101.

    [7] “Table 25, Total Gold Produced in Nova Scotia by Districts––Years 1862–1937,” apparently from a Nova Scotia Dept. of Mines Report, 1937, p. 232. A paper copy of Table 25 is in the “Mining” folder of the archives at the Yarmouth County Museum and Archives.

    [8] I thank archivist Lisette Gaudet, of the Yarmouth County Museum and Archives, for providing access to photographs and archival material concerning mines and mining in Yarmouth County. All photographs labeled Yarmouth County Museum and Archives (YCMA) are copyrighted. Please contact the Archives if you would like to acquire a photo.

    [9] I thank archivist Peter Crowell, of the Argyle Township Court House and Archives (ATCHA), for providing access to photographs by, and archival material concerning, the photographers Willis L. and Major A. Sabean of Kemptville. All photographs labeled ATCHA are copyrighted; please contact the Archives if you wish to acquire copies.

    [10] I thank Ernie W. Hennick, of the Mineral Resources Branch of the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, for explanations of, and comments on, many of the photographs below.

William Day (1 November 2014)