Tucked away on the Alaska/British Columbia border, at the head of the Portland Canal lies Stewart, BC. This is a small town of big dreams and classic mining tales. I’ve been reading a book called "Prospectors, Promoters and Hard Rock Miners" that traces the history of this unique habitation. It was written by Ian McLeod with Holly McNeil. McLeod has the advantage of having lived through most of Stewart’s history. He was young enough during the first half of the 20th Century to gaze with awe at the grizzled citizens and their travails. Now he is old enough to appreciate the changes of the second half of that century.
McLeod’s book is a fascinating read. Where else but Stewart did horses wear snowshoes and have a choice of styles? With annual snowfall of 8 ft to 20 ft and before motorized transportation, resourcefulness such as this was a must.
A con man named Burgess perpetrated what was this country’s first mining swindle in 1898 at the head of the Portland Canal. Burgess said he knew of a placer gold strike richer than the Klondike. He chartered a steamer in Seattle and sold berths to 68 fortune-hunters. When they arrived at the head of the canal and after the ship had left, Burgess stole away in the middle of the night leaving the would-be gold miners poorer than they had been before their trek.
McLeod’s book is peppered with historic mining names – Premier, Big Missouri, Tide Lake, Scottie Gold, Morris Summit, Dunwell, Granduc copper – and modern marvels such as Eskay Creek and Huckleberry. He tells the story of Newhawk Gold whose Brucejack Lake property was the site of an unsolved murder. There are pictures galore of buildings, horses, people and oddities peculiar to the area. And Stewart, the little town originally built on stilts above the tidal flats, continues to be the hub of exploration and dreams.
Prospectors are again scouring the historic Stewart camp in hopes of finding their fortunes. In the last three months of this year, press releases of their activities are flooding my desk. Here is a selection.
Vancouver-based TENAJON RESOURCES is drilling underground at the Summit Lake property, 50 km by road north of Stewart. This property produced over 95,000 oz of gold in the early 1980s, and when it was shut down there were still geological resources of 132,306 tons grading 0.560 opt Au. With core assays of 1.137 opt Au over 14.3 ft, 0.961 opt Au over 13.8 ft, 0.88 opt Au over 6.2 ft, and 6.7 ft of 0.475 opt Au, no wonder the Stewart area remains attractive.
On the Granduc mine road, 36 km north of Stewart, RIMFIRE MINERALS and partner SERENGETI RESOURCES reported finding bulk tonnage style gold mineralization on the Tide property. Gold mineralization was intersected at the 36 Zone, where hole TIDE04-03 averaged 1.00 g/t Au over 129.4 metres, including a 39.6-metre intersection averaging 1.92 g/t Au. A week later the partners announced they had cut a new zone that graded as high as 593 g/t Au and 14,708 g/t Ag.
PINNACLE MINES is earning a 51% interest in the Silver Coin property, 24 km northwest of Stewart, from MOUNTAIN BOY MINERALS. Pinnacle reports intersecting 14 metres grading 11.65 g/t Au including visible gold.
One-hundred-fifty kilometres northeast of Stewart, NOVAGOLD is hoping to make a mine out of its Galore Creek gold/silver/copper property. An indicated resource of 285.6 million tonnes at 0.44 g/t Au, 5.7 g/t Ag and 0.73% Cu has been outlined.
The above just scratches the surface of all the projects in the Stewart area. Watch this old gold camp for prime gold mine opportunities in the coming months.