Red Mountain Rush: The Le Roi mine in British Columbia was a testament to the free-wheeling nature of mining during the gold rush in its early years – by Jen Glanville (CIM Magazine – March 16, 2020)

By the 19th Century the mineral wealth of British Columbia’s Kootenay region was considered a good bet thanks to the historic prospecting done by the Hudson’s Bay. The region was too remote to make mining economically feasible, but the emergence of two transcontinental railways in the 1880s changed all of that. In a matter of years, the region was opened up, and prospectors were on the hunt for their own El Dorado of the north.

Prospectors Joe Moris and Joe Bourgeois were among the first to jump at the opportunity. Bourgeois, the more experienced of the two, thought Red Mountain, near the town of Rossland, looked promising and staked the first claims there in 1890.

The samples derived from the claims were not favourable initially, and Bourgeois was hesitant to even record them, but with a bit of convincing from Moris, the two filed the claim with Eugene Sayre Topping, a deputy mining recorder for the provincial government.

Moris and Bourgeois worked out a deal with Topping, who covered the registration costs ($12.50 in total) in exchange for one of the claims. The claim that Topping negotiated for himself would soon become the richest mine on Red Mountain, known as Le Roi.

Topping discovered just how valuable Le Roi was when he brought samples to Spokane, Washington. There, Oliver Durant, an experienced miner who made a name for himself with the Coeur d’Alene mines in Idaho, caught wind of the find and, along with several investors, bought the claim from Topping.

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