Perry Lake Estates

The historical Waverley tungsten mine is a beautiful residential development today, an example of how former mines and quarries are often hidden in plain sight.

Scheelite, a mineral from which the metal tungsten is often extracted, was discovered in Waverley in 1908 by A. L. McCallum. The site was near Perry Lake, about one mile northwest of the historical Waverley gold mine. The area is called Perry Lake Estates today.

Little was done at the site until 1911-12 when two shafts and a number of trenches were dug. The scheelite-bearing quartz vein discovered by McCallum averaged about two inches in width for a length of 300 feet. Four tons of vein material were extracted, which produced about 500 pounds of ore that contained 37.5% tungsten.

The ore was sold to the Munition Resources Commission in Ottawa because tungsten was a critical mineral during WWI and WWII. It was used as filaments in lightbulbs and, because it is the metal with the highest melting point (3,422 °C), in plane engines and munitions.

In 1918 a Mr. J. Reynolds reported 50 tons of ore were extracted. In 1925, the vein was trenched for 200 feet to a depth of 16 feet.

In 1939 the shafts were dewatered and some tunnelling was done. A modest amount of scheelite was extracted.

In 1942, the Lake Thomas Syndicate bought the property and the Waverley Prospecting Syndicate later took it over. The two companies extended the trenching to about 1,100 feet and did a few feet of tunnelling at the bottom of the 70-foot shaft. A few tons of ore were produced.

Apart from the pocket of scheelite originally discovered, only the occasional “speck or smear” of scheelite was found, according to a 1943 memo in Nova Scotia Department of Mines files. Most of the ore was low grade.

The 1943 memo said, “There is no ore ready for shipment, as claimed in the Syndicate’s prospectus, and it is not likely that this property will be a producer.”

Because the site was worked in the historical era, long before reclamation became standard industry practice, the historical workings were reclaimed in the early 2000s by the developer of Perry Lake Estates, an upscale housing community. The shafts were filled in with waste rock from the mine’s dump and the foundation of the mine’s mill was removed. There is little evidence of the mining activity that took place there other than an abundance of quartz rubble that is strewn about the woods immediately southwest of the intersection of Canterbury Lane and Whittington Court.

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. In fact, reclamation is a key part of the mining process today and progressive reclamation - reclaiming areas where extraction is complete while continuing to mine elsewhere on-site – is standard industry practice.

Nova Scotia has a number of known tungsten deposits, several of them hosted in scheelite, and often associated with historical gold districts. It remains a bit of a geological mystery why some Nova Scotia gold districts have significant amounts of tungsten associated with them and other gold districts do not.

Tungsten is still considered a critical mineral today. It is often mixed with other metals to make alloys that have high temperature tolerance, high corrosion resistance and excellent welding properties. These superalloys are used in the aerospace and automotive industries in things like airplane turbine blades and wear-resistant parts and coatings.

A. L. McCallum also discovered tungsten in Moose River in 1908. See the story of the Moose River tungsten mine at