Canada’s gold-mining spirit is still alive today, and doing extremely well in Nunavut
Around this time of year, half a century ago, 4,400 feet underground, as an apprentice miner I lugged heavy timbers around dark damp stopes to help tough-talking miners of every nationality drill for gold at the Kerr Addison mine in Virginiatown, 600 kilometres north of Toronto.
I got the job and “apprentice miner” title through the father of a girl I’d met — Claudia was her name — at school in Ottawa. As a native of east end Montreal, I had no idea that Canada was a gold-mining powerhouse.
Even today there is much to learn, including the fact that a few years before my summer job at the mine, Kerr Addison produced 500,000 ounces of gold a year — shipped by rail south to Montreal — and in 1962 it was the largest gold producer in the Western Hemisphere.
Over its lifespan, before the mine closed in the 1980s, the deep underground Kerr Addison deposits produced 10 million ounces of gold. The mine was midway along a 150-kilometre resource corridor that ran from the large gold deposits at Kirkland Lake in Ontario to the giant copper and gold operations of Rouyn-Noranda and Val-d’Or in Quebec.
This year and last year, in fact, mark the 100th anniversaries of the opening of two of the great Kirkland Lake gold properties. Canada’s gold-mining spirit is still alive today, and doing extremely well, something I learned the other night from Andrew Bell, the host of BNN’s commodities report.