Precious Metals of Canada

Beneath Canada’s towering forests, below her virgin soil, and associated with her great mountains, there lies hidden mineral wealth of untold and countless value. Canada is preeminently a mining country. This is more or less true of all sections, from the extreme east to the remotest west. It is true that the surface only has been scratched, so to speak, as yet, and that the great deposits are still to a large extent intact, and as complete as when they came from the hand of the Creator. The value of the products, however, for the single year 1900 was estimated at the magnificent sum of $65,000,000. This is being added to very materially from year to year.

The following summary is taken from Mr. Wilmott’s work on ” The Mineral Wealth of Canada”; “Nearly the equal of Europe in size, we surpass any one nation of that continent in the variety of our mineral deposits, and may yet equal the richest of them in the total value of our production. Great Britain has had (so far as known) larger deposits of coal, and her production is still the greatest in the world. Her output must, however, shortly begin to lessen, while ours will increase. The copper output of Spain at present exceeds ours, but the deposits here are quite as extensive as there. Similarly with other minerals, different European nations may now surpass us in production, but it is likely that our deposits are the most extensive. Already in asbestos we have not only surpassed Europe but the world. Italy, our only competitor, is far behind. With nickel we occupy the same proud position. Our gold production, although it may never equal that of Australia, South Africa, or the United States, may easily exceed that of all Europe combined. Our deposits of iron, lead, silver, copper, salt and other minerals are enormous. They are, however, almost entirely undeveloped. We can only guess at their value.”

Gold production in Canada, though still in its infancy, has from the Atlantic to the Pacific yielded considerable quantities from deposits of varying richness. The recent discoveries of gold in the Yukon Territory very materially augmented the output till, in 1900, it reached a total of nearly $30,000,000, giving Canada fifth place in the gold-producing countries of the world. The life of placer deposits is always brief, however, and the output of the Yukon has considerably decreased the last few years, reducing our gold production some $10,000,000, but there has been a constant and steady increase from the lode mines of the Dominion, which will soon make good the variable nature of the placer output.

The silver deposits of the Dominion are also known to be very great, and are probably only faintly understood. It is doubtful if any deposit has ever been found to equal that of the once famous Silver Isle, near the north shore of Lake Superior. The amount of free ore taken from this mine in a single year is almost beyond belief. A considerable portion of that section of New Ontario, in the vicinity of Port Arthur, is a silver producing country of great promise. It is not improbable that the Silver Isle deposits are many times duplicated in this region, and in due time will be discovered. Very rich silver ore has also been found recently in the Temiscaming district, associated with cobalt, a very valuable by-product. It is a poor man’s district, as the ore lies on the surface, is easily mined and gives large returns, but some doubt has been expressed as to its continuity with depth. Carload lots have netted as high as $40,000 per car to the fortunate owners, and silver to the value of over $2,000,000 has already been produced. The other chief silver producing section is in British Columbia, where it is found chiefly associated with lead and other ores, and is said to be of great richness.

Platinum and many other rare metals and minerals are found in Canada in considerable quantities, and may in the future be of great commercial value.