Moose have played a big role in Nova Scotia’s gold mining history. Not the animal. Places named for moose.

Nova Scotia's first documented gold discovery was in 1858 at Mooseland and the Moose River gold district was mined in both the 1800s and from 2017-2023.

The third moose was Moosehead where a 20-inch quartz vein containing gold was found in 1873. This was presumably the Hulk lead, which produced five ounces of gold from 12 tons of quartz in 1874; a good rate but only a small amount of production.

A mill was built in Moosehead (aka Shiers Point), Halifax County, in 1880 but it was not until 1889 that mining really began. A 46-metre shaft was sunk and another 238 ounces were produced. Unfortunately, a forest fire in June 1890 burned down the mill, boarding house and barn and the mine was closed.

The company started to rebuild in 1891 but another fire in July of that year destroyed the rebuilt mill, and the company had had enough.

The mine was idle until it was operated by the Boston and Goldenville Gold Mining Company from 1910-13. This operation produced another 240 ounces from the Main Shaft and a series of smaller shafts along the strike.

In 1914 and 1915, the Moosehead Reduction Company sank a new 27-metre shaft on the Norrie Lead. The Norrie Lead is likely a faulted extension of the Hulk Lead found, meaning they were actually the same lead but geological activity split it in two and separated the two sides.

In geology, a fault is a fracture, or zone of fractures, between two blocks of rock. Faults are caused by geological forces like tectonic plate movement and they allow the blocks of rock to move relative to each other. Faults are a challenge in mining because they can cause deposits to be split, moving part of the deposit to a different, often hard-to-find, location. In the case of the Hulk/Norrie Lead, it was split by the fault and the two sides ended up east and west of each other.

Moosehead is located between the larger-producing Harrigan Cove and Ecum Secum Gold Districts. The Hulk/Norrie vein at Moosehead is likely a continuation of one of the Harrigan Cove veins. It may also be connected to Ecum Secum veins, though this is not proven.

The last gold production at the Moosehead mine was in 1915. In total, Moosehead produced 509 ounces of gold from 3408 tons of ore.

In 1933, J. H. Thompson and Ventures Ltd. carried out prospecting and dewatered Moosehead’s shafts. They recommended an exploration program but there is no evidence that it ever took place.

Moosehead was also studied in the 1980s by a company that was doing exploration in nearby Harrigan Cove but no real exploration occurred at Moosehead. There has been sporadic exploration at the site since.

As with many historical Nova Scotia gold mines, mining did not end because the resource was depleted. Other factors were often the cause of gold mines shutting down, including inefficient historical mining and milling techniques, lack of capital, lack of access to inexpensive electricity, challenges associated with transporting equipment and supplies through the wilderness, and lack of labour (miners were sometimes drawn to other jurisdictions by reports of riches being made. Also, the first and second world wars made it difficult to hire men).

Moosehead is therefore seen as having potential to be returned to production in the modern era since all of the above challenges are now easily addressed. 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.