Gold Prospecting in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba

Gold Prospecting in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba
One cannot hope to understand the gold mining history of these regions without speaking about the Klondike Gold Rush first. Here's a quick summary: It was a migration by an estimated 100,000 prospectors to the Klondike region of the Yukon in north-western Canada between 1896 and 1899. Some became wealthy, but the majority went in vain, and that is without considering how many died on the way.

Gold mining could be very hard and unforgiving in the south, but Canada offered another kind of frozen hell. The history of the Klondike Gold Rush survives in photographs, books, films, and artifacts.

While the Klondike was Canada's richest placer gold strike, the discovery of gold in the far north caused a rush through all of the northern expanses in search of more gold. And while the discoveries weren't as big, more gold was found in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Gold prospectors can still find gold there today.




Gold was discovered in Alberta back in the mid-1800s. In Alberta, gold is almost always found as tiny particles mixed with streambed sand and gravel in the rivers. They are referred as placer deposits. Some of the rivers that produced the best gold include the Peace River, Smoky River, the Athabasca and North Saskatchewan Rivers.

These minor gold findings prompted a gold rush of sorts as prospectors and miners believed that the small deposits found in the rivers were the result of the erosion of a much larger, and more profitable, deposit somewhere in the area. The exaggerated tales of giant gold nuggets that some of the prospectors told contributed to this belief. Sadly, for the prospectors, it proved to be false.

Future inspections of the zone revealed no significant points with large quantities of gold. Nowadays, there is no large-scale gold mining operation in Alberta. It is just not profitable due to the low concentration in the rivers. The simple truth is that although there is gold in Alberta, there’s probably not enough gold to make anybody rich.

The most interesting story related to the gold rush that came from Alberta is a popular legend. It says that there was a massive gold deposit that was found by two prospectors, Blackjack and Lemon. The two friends found what they thought was the origin of the Alberta gold river deposits. An argument broke about what to do: Camp and mine the gold or return after winter. They went to sleep without an agreement. Then Lemon woke up in the night and used an axe to murder his partner. The guilt made him lose mind.

After witnessing the horrible incident, the Blackfoot Indians and their chief cursed the place and the gold. More people tried to find the gold over the years, and the strange thing is that they all died in unusual circumstances. This reinforced the belief that the curse was the real deal.




There are reports from as early as 1859 of gold in this region. Prospectors found it in the sands and gravels of the North Saskatchewan River and its tributaries while they were traveling to the Cariboo gold rush area in British Columbia. At first, only small amounts of gold were found in the rivers. Things changed in the 1910s when gold in quartz veins was discovered in Saskatchewan. Specifically, along with the north shore of Pine Channel of Lake Athabaska.

The discoveries continued in 1914 when more quartz vein gold was found in eastern Saskatchewan at Amisk Lake, close to Creighton and Flin Flon. Prospectors found more deposits in areas such as La Ronge, Flin Flon and Beaverlodge in the 1920s and 1930s. It is a common theme of this region that gold is usually mixed with other minerals. However, mines and operations closed down one by one over the years, at least till the 1980s.

That is when the first major gold exploration initiatives started, thanks in great part to advances in technology, better maps, and significant discoveries of gold. Saskatchewan’s most prestigious gold mine is the Seabee Mine, it started production in 1991. It is located 120 kilometers northeast of LaRonge on Lake Laonil. Seabee is still working as of today.




Manitoba is one of Canada’s most productive mining provinces. Every year it produces a broad range of minerals in the many mines that are still active. Some examples of the minerals obtained in this area beside gold include zinc, copper, and nickel. More than a century has passed since gold was discovered for the first time, and even more are still being found nowadays. This is a common occurrence in the Canadian Shield. The area is known for rich mineral deposits.

It all started in 1900 when the Geological Survey of Canada revealed that the region had rich gold deposits. From then on, the history of gold mining in Manitoba is tied to two men: Albert Pelletier, the prospector, and Arthur Quesnel, the entrepreneur. Pelletier first claim was thanks to an Indian trapper named Twohearts, from the Ojibwa tribe. He helped them collect gold samples. Twohearts found one near Rice Lake, and he guided Pelletier there at his request. There Pelletier found much more traces of gold. He marked the place and named it Gabriele.

Shortly after, his assistant Alex Desautels also claimed one in San Antonio. Desautels gave the claim to Pelletier after he registered it since he was not interested in prospecting. I am pretty sure Pelletier could not be happier when he heard him say that. These claims made around Rice Lake became the San Antonio Gold Mines, which is as of today one of the biggest gold producers in Manitoba.