Vancouver Island has a rich gold mining history that dates back to 1864 when prospectors discovered gold in Leech River, bringing hundreds of prospectors to the southern section of the island. The small gold rush led to the growth of Leechtown, a booming mining town of about 5,000 people.
Once the gold in the nearby river was exhausted the town began to decline and soon became a ghost town.
The gold on Vancouver Island is primarily placer mined or panned from the local rivers. Most of the placer mines on the island today are small operations that mainly allow for just the use of hand tools because of the strict environmental regulations that prohibit the use of machinery.
Currently, there are a number claims staked on the southern and central Vancouver Island especially in areas along a handful of rivers that still contain gold. The old stories about the gold rushes in British Columbia still bring in many prospectors seeking to pan for gold on the island.
Places to Gold Pan on Vancouver Island
The good news for anyone interested in panning gold in the Vancouver Island is that you don't necessarily need to have your own claim to pan for gold. A number of claim owners let people pan on their claims for a small fee while others run a number of individuals run gold panning camps in their claims.
In addition, the Vancouver Island Placer Miners Association has three claims on the island that allows members who don't own a claim to have access to a place to prospect for gold.
Some of the gold producing areas on the island that you should check out if you want to pan for gold include:
1. Zeballos Area
This is a small gold mining community located on the coast of Vancouver Island. Lode gold is found in the valley, with resulting placer gold found in the river and the surrounding watershed. A number of claims have been staked in the area especially the region where the Nomash River meets Zeballos River and all though the Gold Valley creeks, the Spud and the Valley of Van Isle.
Gold was discovered in this area for the first time in 1907 but large-scale mining began in 1924 when the first claim was staked. Some of the early mines in the area include King Midas. Tagore, Zeballos Camp and Privateer. Large-scale mining was conducted in the area until the 1950s. Today gold prospectors can prospect on some of the old claims and on other private properties that have great potential for gold production.
2. Nootka Sound Area
This is another rich area where you can find some real gold. There are about five major claims in the area. The claims include the Oh Boy located on the western side of the Tlupana, the Burman River gold Syndicate along the Burman River, the Independence located along the Tahsis River and the Baltic and Ashe located on the southern side of the Muchalat arm. The region has rich gold veins and you can find some real gold on the properties here. Panning is allowed with permission of the owners.
3. Herbert Arm Area
Gold was discovered in the area in 1933 and several claims were staked the following years. Large-scale mining was done until the 1950s when it stopped. Today some of the rich gold claims in the region include Big Boy, Tyee, Abco, and Moyeha. You can prospect on a number of properties here even those with no history of gold bearing as the region will sometimes produce a few bits of gold, proving that gold can be found almost anywhere.
4. Bedwell River Area
The Bedwell River is situated near the western coast of Vancouver Island about 70 miles south of Zeballos. Placer gold was discovered in the river in the 1860s by Chinese miners who mined the river until 1880s. In 1898 veins bearing copper and gold quartz was discovered between the Big Interior Mountain and the river's mouth. Some of the early claims include Annex, Galena, Prospers, Seattle, Avon and Belvidere among others.
The area has produced a considerable amount of gold over the years and there are many places on the river where you can actually find some gold. Before panning the river make sure that you seek permission from claim owners so as to avoid trespassing.
5. Kennedy River and Taylor River Areas
The Kennedy River drains its waters into Kennedy Lake while the Taylor River drains its waters in Sproat Lake. Gold was discovered in the region in the 1890s by the Rose Marie stamp mill workers. Over the years several claims have been staked on the rivers. Today River Kennedy has about nine known gold claims that include the Grant, the Jo-Jo, the Gold King, the Rose Marie, the Blue Bird, the Tommy K, the Gold Queen, and the Gold Glove.
The two rivers offer a perfect getaway for gold panning as there are lots unexplored places along the river.
Other places where you can find golf on the Vancouver Island include the Nanaimo River, the Oyster River, Alberni Canal, Nahmint River, and Tranquil Creek area among others.
Lots of Gold on Vancouver Island
To find the right place to prospect for gold it is important that you read about the local history and talk to experienced miners in the area. There have been quite a few different locations where gold has been mined on Vancouver Island.
Many of these areas arenít very well-known. You will need to do some research to find them, but the result might be a place all to yourself where you can successfully pan for gold.
Read: The Atlin and Cariboo Mining Districts in British Columbia