Prospectors once tramped deep into the bush for months at a time, driving wooden stakes to stake their claim. Now they just click a mouse
TEMISKAMING SHORES — About two decades ago, Glenn McBride found himself in one of the most remote parts of northern Quebec. Surrounded by forests and marsh near the Davoust River, there were zero roads, zero towns and exactly zero development.
A fleet of 12 helicopters had dropped McBride and about 80 other men into the bush to whack a path through the thicket and swamps in one of the last great staking rushes in Quebec. Staking a claim is what it sounds like: gaining the exclusive right to explore for minerals on a defined plot of land. All Crown land, as well as some private land, can be staked for a fee.
For most of the past century, the staking process stayed pretty much unchanged. A person could stake land by driving four-foot-high squared-off posts into the ground at each corner of the desired plot, and then cutting a path through the trees to mark the claim’s boundaries.
Not long after McBride’s trip into Northern Quebec around the turn of the century, the province switched to a digital system, eliminating the need for the physical bushwhacking that he and others performed.
One by one, other provinces followed. This spring, Ontario joined most of the rest of Canada in completely switching to an online system that allows anyone with a credit card and internet connection to stake a claim.
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