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The Forgotten Gold Mines of Vancouver Island

Gold Panning Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island is a place that holds rich history where gold mining is concerned, although many people that don’t live here don’t know it. There were many rich gold strikes made all throughout the island, but this was at a time when new discoveries were being made all throughout the US and Canada. In comparison to many of the Gold Rushes, the discoveries on Vancouver Island were relatively insignificant.

There is good gold here though! In fact, the remoteness of the island along with richer gold strikes made elsewhere might actually account for lots of good prospecting locations being overlooked. These spots might be worth another look.


History of Gold on Vancouver Island


Robert Brown is credited with the first gold finds on Vancouver Island. The discovery was made in a place known as Leech River, and prospectors soon rushed to the island in search of gold. The discovery of the mineral on this island led to a small gold rush to the region.

With the passage of time, a town called Leechtown was founded, although this particular town lasted only as long as the gold rush itself. At the time of its peak, the town had attracted the population of about 5000 people.

According to the reports given by one of the placer miners by the name of Barry Foster, during the active gold mining operations in Leechtown 200,000 ounces of gold was extracted from the river. These estimates are somewhat subjective, and generally the estimates made at this time in history were lower that actual recovery. Some others estimate the gold mined from the Leech River to be closer to 500,000 ounces.

But just like in other places gold was discovered, a number of developmental projects were also initiated in Leechtown. For instance, by November in that same year the gold was discovered, there were 6 general stores and 3 hotels. But not much of the development took place in this town because the mining activities were short-lived. Within about 3 years of the first discovery, Leechtown was basically a ghost town.

selling placer gold


Small, Scattered Placer Deposits


There is minimal detailed information known about the previous mining activities on Vancouver Island. A big reason for this is because much of the gold mining that took place here was very small scale. Just individual miners digging for gold in the creeks and rivers. The deposits weren’t particularly rich, but they were enough to sustain a man who was willing to live simply.

Vancouver Island is still a good place for prospectors to conduct small gold mining operations with basic hand tools and placer mining equipment.

So, Vancouver Island still has productive locations for gold prospecting, and a number of places with rich history where it concerns gold prospecting include the Zeballos Area, located on the coast of the Island, Nootka Sound Area, Herbert Arm Area, Bedwell River Area, Kennedy River and Taylor River.

These are good places to start, but don’t be afraid to do a bit of prospecting in search of hidden placers that have not been documented. There is gold in many of the creeks and rivers, even places that don’t have a lot of documentation of early gold discoveries. There are also clubs that hold claims that can give you areas to prospect.

gold dust


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