Beaverbank Lake

There are no historical records in government files about a mysterious gold mine near Beaverbank Lake, but local lore led to its discovery decades after it was active.

In the mid 1990s, a provincial government geologist was doing mapping work around Beaverbank Lake, Halifax County, when local residents told him about an historical mine in the area.

Investigation of the site confirmed there was an old, rectangular, water-filled shaft, about 2X3 metres and at least three metres deep. A small, overgrown waste rock pile was next to it.

There was no evidence of timbering in the shaft to support it, but there was a metal pipe sticking out which was presumably related to dewatering efforts. An old piece of equipment, likely a hoist, was found adjacent to the shaft and was actually intergrown with a large maple tree.

On the equipment was an aluminum plate, in which was stamped: "Bert Boutilier and Ralph Lively Gold Camp 1935 Era.” This suggests the site was an unrecorded, bootleg operation dating from the Depression era.

There was also a water-filled, nine-metre-long open cut about 80 metres southwest of the shaft, with a system of trenches connecting the two sites. Based on the relatively small waste rock pile at the open cut, it was likely about four metres deep. A collapsed shed and a metal gate were also found.

The workings appeared to target a quartz vein in the hope that it would prove to be auriferous (gold-bearing).

With the knowledge that the site had been worked decades earlier, it was staked and a study was done in 2014 to assess its potential for gold. For example, rock and soil samples were tested to see if they contained economically significant amounts of gold.

The study concluded that the site has low potential for gold but also said, “The possibility of significant Au [gold] in this area cannot be completely ruled out.” It noted that gold has been found in nearby Pockwock. The region also had several historical gold districts in Oldham, Waverley and Mount Uniacke.

The assays (tests) did find small amounts of silver, lead and zinc in the waste rock piles. It is possible that this mineralization is what caused Boutilier and Lively to look for gold at Beaverbank Lake during the Great Depression.

Because it was an historical bootleg mine, the government had to arrange for the workings to be filled in for safety reasons. Today, before getting operating permits, mining companies must get government approval of reclamation plans and post reclamation bonds (money in escrow, basically) that ensure funds are available to properly take care of sites at no cost to taxpayers. In fact, reclamation is a key part of the mining process today.

An unsuccessful attempt to find gold was also made at nearby Grand Lake in the late 1930s. However, the exploration work did discover that the site contains relatively high levels of silver. See the story at