History of Coal Mining in Nova Scotia
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Dept. Mines


The condition of this branch of the mining industry has maintained much the same position it occupied when reported on last year.

A further decrease in the total yield is noticeable, partially to be accounted for, perhaps, by the general demand for miners throughout the country and the rise in the rates of wages. The Returns from several mines as those of Lawson at Montagu, Donaldson at Oldham, and the Eldorado Co. at Wine Harbour show highly satisfactory yields.

No changes from those of last year have to be noted in the methods of working the mines, the tribute system being most general. In the last report reference was made to the introduction of this system of mining, by which working miners are enabled to utilize their knowledge and labour to the greatest advantage. It is undoubtedly the best adapted to foster a true mining spirit. As far as possible it should be encouraged, and few official obstructions put in the way of working men willing to venture their labour in mining speculations. At the same time it should not be forgotten that the men of this class are almost always without the capital requisite to open the setts as thoroughly as even they themselves would approve of doing had they adequate means; but for the supply of their immediate necessities they are compelled to extract quartz as speedily as possible, and get some return for their labour. The system, as at present conducted, is only adapted for surface workings and where the water is light. It is attended by this great disadvantage, that the tributers interest in the property they work being merely temporary, they leave the small shafts and slopes imperfectly stowed and secured, in consequence of which rupture of the walls sooner or later taking place allows free access for the infiltration of surface water. This admission of water is not of so much importance when the depth of the workings is shallow, but most serious when great. In most cases it ultimately leads to abandonment, due either to the want of capital necessary to erect pumping apparatus, or because the expense incurred by pumping becomes insupportable. Unfortunately this country is exceedingly wet and comparatively speaking, level, so that adits for unwatering a district can seldom be resorted to, and pumps have generally to be used. When mines have been abandoned and allowed to fill with water, much expense is entailed on the workers of leads in adjoining areas on account of the water, which finds its way down from the denuded outcrops and through the shattered rock. Were lessees to require proper attention to be paid to the protection of the outcroppings of the leads, either by requiring them to be left unwrought, or the excavated space to be well packed, and the walls kept from falling together, much of this trouble might be avoided. The lessees could make such stipulations with the tributers, and their agent on the ground could see them carried out.

Most of the claims are held in small areas, and while they are so, companies cannot work to advantage. Capital might per-chance, however, be profitably invested by being more particularly directed to supplying efficient machinery to do the hoisting and pumping. The leads so drained and made workable being divided into setts and worked by tributers at rates proportionate to the value of the quartz previously extracted from each sett.


STORMOUNT.--Work was abandoned early in the year and has not yet been resumed. Miners have, however, not yet lost faith in its mines, and look forward to the speedy renewal of operations.

WINE HARBOUR.--The Eldorado company during the greater part of the year, obtained very satisfactory returns from the Plough lead. They are now continuing the sinking, as their endeavors to find the continuation of the lead to the east of the fault proved ineffectual. On the adjoining area, F 4, Mr. Mclntosh opened the western extension of the lead, but which on account of the poverty of the quartz he had to abandon. The company also extended the main tunnel until it cut the Mitchell lead 70 feet from the surface. Work was also performed on the Norton and Hattie leads.

The main lead at the Barrasois on the Orient and adjoining properties, areas 2 and 18 Block 6, has been reopened and worked.

A sample of 32 tons of the best tailings from the Eldorado mill, yielded 1 oz. 13 dwts. 12 grs. of gold and 4 lbs. of mercury, equal to $34.65, at an expense of $28.15.

SHERBROOKE.--The production of gold in this district was in excess of the previous year. The principal workings being on the Dewar lead in areas 651 and 652 to a depth of 250 feet. The continuation of the lead as far as area 625 has been stripped and as the stopes over this extent have been but imperfectly stowed, a crushing in of the hanging wall, and free admittance of much water, resulted. The lead where it is worked, underlies areas 621, 622, 623 and 653. Mining on this lead was, for a time in the autumn stopped, owing to the destruction of the engine house by fire.

Mining on the leads of the New York and Sherbrooke Company's property was abandoned in August, after four years continuous operation. The main shaft on the South lead, which starts in area 641, enters at a depth of 20 feet area 611 about midway between the side lines, and terminates at a depth of 300 feet. The stopes on the west side being 25 feet deeper than the shaft, while those on the east are not so deep. The north lead was abandoned when the shaft attained a total depth of 250 feet.

On the Hayden and Derby property, the adjoining area to the south, the lead discovered and opened the year before by Mr. West, was steadily worked, and the stopes, which he carried down 150 feet, in width have reached a depth of 90 feet.

The tributers who the previous year took the Palmerston property, continued to work the lead then opened in area, 747 and other parties have worked its extension in areas 749 and 750. The lead thus worked is very irregular in thickness often swelling out in the 'rolls' to two feet in width.

Other tributers worked on the Stryker lead, area 751, and on the adjoining properties to the east, the Canada and Caledonia, with varying success.

HARRIGAN COVE.--Operations were here abandoned early in the year, and although the prospecting had given fair promise of success, the renewal of work has been indefinitely postponed. At Shear's Point, nothing further has been done.

FIFTEEN MILE STREAM.--Attention was again directed to this locality, and the tributers who worked are reported to be satisfied with their prospects. They are preparing to erect milling and pumping machinery.

TANGIER.--Mr. Forrest continues to be the principal operator in this district. His tribute right on the Tangier Company's property terminating, he ceased working the South lead when the shaft had reached a depth of 100 feet and the stopes a width of 300 feet, the Little South lead at a depth of 60 feet with stopes at 200 feet wide, and the North lead when at a depth of 35 feet. The latter is 80 feet distant from the South lead, and this last from the Little South lead 16 feet, on the small claims numbered 100 to 179.

Some slight excitement was produced in the summer by tributers on the Field lead near the river, striking a rich piece of ground. After the mine had been opened on areas 82 to 84, to a depth of 60 feet and on a length of 200 feet, work was suspended for the winter. The promise held out by this lead induced others to prospect on its continuation across the river, and favorable surface indications were met with.

The Strawberry Hill Company in the beginning of the year sank the main shaft some 12 feet deeper, or to a total depth of 164 feet. The lead, only about one inch thick, yielded nearly one ounce of gold to the ton of quartz, but not sufficient to warrant a continuation of the sinking. They then did some surface prospecting, and drove a tunnel across the leads some 62 feet, but proved nothing satisfactory. Work was then abandoned on the Hill until the autumn, when tributers took Froud's property and discovered a new lead 7 inches thick on areas 233 to 235. They were fortunate in striking the lead, as the 'throw' was fully one hundred feet to the south. So promising does this new lead appear that other parties are opening the extension of the lead on areas 231 and 232. At Mooseland, Mr. Irving continues to work the same ground he had open the previous year.

GAY'S RIVER--Mr. McDonald has continued his drift to the deep, following the line of junction of the slates and conglomerate and removing the softer material in immediate contact with the bed-rock, throws into the waste the large boulders that compose the greater part of the deposit. A large quantity of material has consequently to be handled for the moderate yield obtained.

WAVERLEY.--Messrs. De Wolfe abandoned all work early in the spring. In the autumn the property containing the Union lead was let to tributers, who worked it to a small extent.

The tributers who last year took the American Hill property from Mr. McClure, continued to work steadily. They sank the main shaft to a depth of 230 feet, and on the top of the hill erected a pumping engine.

Other tributers took hold of Wilson's areas on Laidlaw's hill, and drove a tunnel to drain and work the well known barrel quartz of that locality.

OLDHAM.--Early in the season Mr. Shaffer ceased to work on the Richey lead and that with the mines in the adjoining properties have since remained unwrought.

Some tributers opened the Hall lead and for a time worked with success. Their operations were, however, but of a temporary character.

Mr. Donaldson increased his facilities for extraction by the erection of a 10 inch cylinder horizontal engine as a substitute for the small portable engine previously used. The engine drives by wooden friction gearing the winding drum and also two 3 1/2 inch pumps. Much water has to be contended with as the rock is open and the surface very swampy. The main pumping shaft has been sunk to a depth of 130 feet. Three new drawing shafts have been put down to the west and the exploitation in that direction continued by a tunnel driven under some 20 feet of cover. In working to the west and to the deep, the lead has been found to thicken from one to five inches and the quartz to be enriched; yielding 4.17 instead of 1.16 oz. per ton.

MONTAGU.--Mr. Lawson, with his customary vigor, has continued sinking the Albion main shaft in the hopes of again striking a shoot of rich quartz, He has now reached a depth of 300 feet, but has not yet struck paying ground. The mining to the west of the barren ground has proved profitable, and it is the extension of this shoot in an oblique direction that will, it is expected, be struck in the main shaft. In the mill he has adopted the use of blankets, which, if they do not collect more amalgam than the plates, aid, at least, in collecting the auriferous pyrites; and as the pyrites are rich in gold, prove of value.

RENFREW.--Mr. McClure trenched some new ground in the eastern section of this district and exposed numerous leads, but none of which did he find promising.

UNIAKE.--A few tributers worked in several places about the district, but with no great success.


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Last Modified: 2001-01-07

Originally Printed by: The Citizen Publishing Company

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