‘A very particular time and place in Canada’s history’: New book recalls Saskatchewan’s forgotten uranium mine – by Alex MacPherson (Saskatoon StarPhoenix – September 12, 2016)


Almost nothing is left of the Gunnar uranium mine. What didn’t decay after the mine on the north shore of Lake Athabasca was abandoned more than five decades ago was later hauled away as part of a massive — and massively over-budget — cleanup operation. Patricia Sandberg, whose father and grandfather worked for Gunnar Mining Ltd., and who spent eight years of her childhood at the northern Saskatchewan mine, worries it will be forgotten altogether.

“It is a part of Canadian history that most people don’t know about, and I think it’s really important,” said Sandberg, whose new book, Sun Dogs and Yellowcake, chronicles the mine’s history and records the stories of the people who lived and worked there.

The Gunnar uranium mine, located about 800 kilometres north of Saskatoon, was discovered by prospectors working for Gilbert LaBine, the Ontario-born explorer who is widely considered the father of Canada’s uranium industry.

Despite being less than 40 kilometres from Uranium City, the mine was only accessible by air or water. Banking on its extensive and cheap-to-mine ore body, Gunnar Mining Ltd. built the mine anyway and operated it from 1955 to 1963.

Gunnar was more than a mine, however. According to a lengthy article published by the Canadian Mining Journal in 1963, adjacent to the headframe was a self-sufficient town, complete with a hospital, a bowling alley and a Hudson’s Bay Co. store.

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