Caribou Gold District

Josiah Jennings and a Mr. Harrington are believed to have been the first to find gold at Caribou in 1864 while hunting with Mi’kmaq guide Francis Paul.

Gold mining began in 1867. For the first few years the property was quite active with several shafts sunk and a number of mines opened. There were seven main sites, each of which was known as a separate mine. Prior to 1890, mining was mainly on shallow, near-surface veins of quartz with gold in them, which was the usual practice in that era.

Mines in Caribou went deeper post-1890. One mine, the Lake Lode, reached a depth of 1000 feet in 1904 - the length of 22 school buses! It is tied with the Brookfield Mine in Queen’s County for deepest gold mine shaft in Nova Scotia.

The Lake Lode produced over 50,000 tons or ore prior to 1909 when the 1000 feet level was closed due to a fire that destroyed the equipment at surface.

Between 1900 and 1934 only sporadic, small scale mining was done.

In 1908, a large part of the Caribou Gold District was consolidated under one company, Caribou Gold Mines Limited, which was owned by Minnie Ross Holman – the first female owner of a gold mining company in Nova Scotia. Mrs. Holman was from Rockland, Maine, and she purchased the properties belonging to the Baltimore & NS Mining Company and the NS & Mexican Mining Company and consolidated them to form Caribou Gold Mines Limited on March 30, 1908.

Caribou Gold Mines Limited carried on mining and development work until 1934 when its holdings, and those of Nova Scotia Gold Mines Limited, were acquired by the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada.

From 1936-1937 over 2,743.2 metres of drifting (horizontal tunnelling) and crosscutting (horizontal tunnelling at right angles to the veins) was carried out. Mining was continuous until 1947 at which time it was thought the ore reserves were exhausted.

The property lay idle until 1957 when some surface diamond drilling was done. In 1973 samples from waste dumps at the Nova and Caribou workings were analysed. During 1974-1975, geological mapping and sampling of the old mill tailings took place. In 1977 it was estimated that 250,000 tons of gold-bearing material was still to be found underground, suggesting there is still significant potential in Caribou for modern mining.

Several companies did exploration work in Caribou in the 1980s and early 2000s, and exploration is also being done today.

Since mining began in the Caribou Gold District in 1867, it has produced approximately 90,459 ounces of gold. Of this total, almost half, 43,205 ounces, was produced by Consolidated Mining and Smelting Limited from the Holman Mine between 1934 and 1947. The mine was named for its owner when it was first dug in 1908, Minnie Ross Holman.

Caribou was the second most productive gold district in the province historically, behind only Goldenville.

Caribou grew quickly from fifty residents in 1871 to 450 in 1891. Stores, hotels, and boarding houses were quickly constructed. The Caribou Gold Mines School was established in 1869. The school was rebuilt in 1935 with funds from the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company.