Catherine McLeod-Seltzer is Don’s daughter.
Miner. Mentor. Husband. Father. Born Oct. 21, 1928, in Stewart, B.C.; died May 27, 2017, in Vancouver; of complications from a fall; aged 88.
Don McLeod’s story is the stuff of British Columbia mining legend: A tramp miner who, through gritty determination, unflagging optimism and a good helping of luck, fulfilled every prospector’s dream when he struck it big and brought three rich gold mines to production.
Don grew up in Stewart, B.C., a frontier mining community in the province’s farthest northwest corner. When Don’s mother, Catherine, arrived there from Scotland in 1926, she thought it was the end of the world. But for a young boy, it was paradise to grow up in a close-knit town in the middle of the wilderness; where else could you have a grizzly bear for a pet or play with blasting caps (even if he almost blew himself up)?
Mining was the town’s life blood and Don caught the prospecting bug as a teenager, working with a succession of local miners who taught him exploration and hand-mining skills. In the 1950s and early 60s, Don moved from mining camp to mining camp across northern Canada, plying his trade as a hard-rock miner.
He met Christa in 1958, when he was a patient in the hospital she was nursing at. She became his biggest supporter, moving eight times in eight years as he worked in mines across Northern and Western Canada.
Don’s first big break came in 1961, when he was put in charge of the Premier Mine, one of the richest gold mines in Canada. The mid-1960s found Don in the Northwest Territories claim staking, exploring and drilling for Pyramid Mining. It made a fortune for investors – but not for Don. The experience taught him that running his own show was the way to go.