One of Nova Scotia’ earliest barite mines was in Hodson, Pictou County, where work began in the 1870s.

The 1874 annual report of the Nova Scotia Department of Mines mentions the Hodson deposit, near River John, along with several others in the province.

The earliest work at the site was carried out by a Mr. Prendergast who sunk a 50-foot shaft and extracted about 480 tons from a barite vein reported to be as wide as seven feet. Records are sketchy but he appears to have worked the site for a couple years.

According to a 1907 Geological Survey of Canada report, the mine’s barite was valued at $5 per ton “when there was a brisk demand for barytes.” Barite’s main use in that era was as a pigment in paint.

The site then lay idle until 1900 when a new shaft, north of the old one, was sunk to a depth of 40 feet by a Mr. Patrick. Patrick’s tunnelling extended under a stream and swampy area and probably required constant attention to keep the workings dry. Patrick extracted only a few tons of barite and did not ship any.

“The Catalogue of Economic Minerals of Nova Scotia,” which was written by Harry Piers of the Nova Scotia Provincial Museum in preparation for the 1907 Jamestown exhibition, discussed a “Sample from the J. H. Stellar mine 5 miles from River John…Two shafts are on the property but they are now idle; it is understood they have passed into the control of A. R. Bayne and W. A. & J. C. Soley who expect to operate the mine.” There is no record of these men producing any barite at the site.

The deposit was abandoned again until 1940 when Henry Wallace, on whose farm the mine was located, interested a Mr. Gladwin from Montreal in exploring it. Gladwin dewatered the old workings and carried out some tests. He reported that the vein of barite he saw was 120 feet long and averaged 4-4.5 feet in width. No barite is reported to have been mined at that time.

A 1941 Department of Mines memo said, “In view of the Walton deposit it is improbable that this deposit will assume economic importance. However, it would be advisable to have the diamond drilling done to prove the extent of this deposit.” This was a reference to the Walton, Hants County, barite deposit, one of the largest in the world, which was mined from 1941 to 1978. The former Walton mine is a lovely lake today (https://notyourgrandfathersmining.ca/walton-barite-mine).

In 1945, Maritime Exploration Limited explored the property. C. O. Campbell, who managed the exploration work, wrote that “The north shaft is collapsed. It is probably quite shallow as this is presumably the shaft sunk by Mr. Patrick in 1900 from which only a few tons of ore was removed.” He also described several other old pits and trenches on the site.

Dean Patriquin of Poplar Hill worked at the mine when it was dewatered in 1940. He told Campbell the south shaft was “well timbered to the bottom” as a result of the 1940 work and that considerable mining had been done over the years.

Unfortunately, Campbell concluded that while the barite was “very good quality,” the “property was not sufficiently attractive to merit any further attention….” Its veins were too small and the barite was in inconsistent lenses, or pockets, that would make extraction expensive and limit quantity.

Campbell’s sketch of the property is below.

Nova Scotia’s first barite mine, and likely the first in Canada, was the Eureka Mine in Five Islands, Colchester County. See its story at https://notyourgrandfathersmining.ca/eureka-mine

Nova Scotia gold won first prize at the Jamestown Exhibition in 1907. See the story at