Beaver Dam

Like so many of Nova Scotia’s historical gold districts, Beaver Dam has the potential to be mined again, to create jobs for Nova Scotians and provide an essential material we all use every day (it’s in the device you’re using now!).

In fact, almost all the activity in Nova Scotia’s gold sector is at historical mines where deposits were proven during our early gold rushes but modern science and technology make it possible to mine profitably while, of course, taking proper care of the environment.

Gold was discovered in Beaver Dam, Halifax County, in 1868.

In 1871, two belts of promising veins were opened and a 15-stamp mill was built to process the ore. (Most Nova Scotia gold is in quartz veins, which means the gold needs to be separated from the quartz and other host rock. The first step is to pulverize the rock/ore so the gold can be chemically separated from it. The most common technology in Nova Scotia for pulverizing ore in the second half of the 1800s and early decades of the 1900s was the stamp mill – a large machine that crushed gold-bearing rock by stamping it over and over.)

D. J. Thomas later worked at Beaver Dam for a few months for an English company, but the area received little attention until William Yeadon became interested in it in 1886. He built a 4-stamp mill, run by waterpower, and carried on development work in 1886-87.

Yeadon (1827-1909) and his family played a significant role in the history of Spryfield. Yeadon operated a granite quarry there which, before his death, he divided among his three eldest sons, Isaac, Amos and Andrew, who each later operated their own quarry.

In 1891, Yeadon sold his Beaver Dam interests to the Beaver Dam Mining Company. Yeadon did not give up his interest in gold mining, however. He also worked in the Mooseland gold district in 1896.

Tests conducted by the Beaver Dam Mining Company were promising and it built a 10-stamp mill under the management of D. S. Turnbull. Little else seems to have been done, however.

In 1895 the property was leased by G. M. Christie and William Tupper, who employed fifteen men but apparently did not carry on significant operations. In 1896 the mine passed into the hands of J. H. Austin, who erected another 10-stamp mill (some records spell his name “Austen.”)

A few years later considerable prospecting was done by Levi Dimock and Gordon Zwicker about one mile west of the previous workings, and several gold-bearing veins were discovered.

In 1902, a 98-foot shaft was sunk on a belt of veins 15 feet wide. Tunnelling revealed a gold-bearing belt 74 feet wide. Samples gave an average value of $3.50 per ton of ore. The same belt was uncovered 400 feet farther west.

Beaver Dam continued to be worked intermittently in the years following.

In 1904, a 5-stamp mill was built by W. H. Redding and a new mill licence was taken out.

In 1911-12, the Gladwin Mining Company produced 59 ounces of gold from 99 tons of ore.

In 1921-22, E. H. Gladwin and Company produced 42 ounces.

In 1926, William Papke did some prospecting and in 1927 the Austin shaft was dewatered and some tunneling and diamond drilling were done. (Papke also did some work in the Brookfield gold district in Queen’s County:

A 1928 geological survey of Beaver Dam indicated there were ten structures there at that time, including two cookhouses, an engine house, and several old mills and cabins.

The cabin in the painting below was built in the late 1920s and belonged to Johnnie Crouse who lived and worked just north of Crusher Lake. Crouse reportedly “spent long days digging for gold quartz, and crushed it by hand using a steel mortar and pestle.”

Despite the area’s obvious potential, only 967 ounces of gold were produced in Beaver Dam.