Surprising Finds

Nova Scotia has had many gold mines since gold was first discovered here in 1858. But because of how gold forms, it is actually everywhere, in all rock, in at least some tiny amount. As a result, gold has been found in many places in Nova Scotia that might surprise you, even if the amount found was too small to mine.

All gold on Earth formed billions of years ago in stars that over-heated and blew up. Gold formed in the heat of the explosions and then floated around space. As rock, dust and other materials came together to form Earth, gold was distributed around the planet.

400 million years ago North Africa and North America started colliding. Sub-sea sediments were squished between the tectonic plates, upthrusted and folded as they turned into rock. This allowed fluid to leach gold from rock deep underground and flow into cracks in rock closer to surface, forming veins of quartz and gold as the fluid eventually cooled and hardened. This is how most Nova Scotia gold deposits formed.

Gold is everywhere but to mine it, we need a geological anomaly like a tectonic plate collision to form a deposit - to concentrate the gold so a mine is economically viable.

Here are some examples of places mentioned in a 1927 report where gold was found in the 1800s and early 1900s, but mining did not work out:

  • Cape Porcupine, Antigonish County – Gold was reported at Cape Porcupine, on the Canso Causeway, a site that is best-known for the still-operating quarry that provided the stone to build the Causeway.
  • Cole Harbour, Halifax County – A few veins were found and uncovered at the head of Cole Harbour.
  • Dartmouth – In 1857, a year before the first documented gold discovery in Nova Scotia, John Campbell is said to have found gold in the sands at Fort Clarence on the Dartmouth waterfront (where the oil refinery is now).
  • French River, Colchester County – Gold was discovered in a quartz vein on a Robert Wilson's property by some men digging a well.
  • Gegogan, Guysborough County - Rich drift (gravel with gold in it) was found on both sides of Gegogan Harbour, but prospecting did not discover any important veins. It is believed that the veins lie under the harbour. While it is possible to mine underwater (in fact, most Cape Breton coal was mined under the ocean), a significant deposit would have to be found to justify the cost and complexity of mining under the harbour.
  • Hammond Plains, Halifax County – Prospecting took place in Hammonds Plains in 1863 but the site was reported as “abandoned” by 1869, not having lived up to expectations. Three veins were opened on the north side of the main road, 2.5 miles west of English Corner, and three shafts were sunk, 130, 30, and 15 feet deep. The veins were 48, 8, and 7 inches wide. Two other veins, about two miles east of the old Hammond Plains post office, were tested by shallow pits.
  • Kearney Lake, Halifax – Several small veins were discovered near the foot of the lake.
  • Little Liscomb Lake, Guysborough County – A few auriferous (gold-bearing) veins were discovered and a crusher was built to process the ore, but no significant production occurred.
  • Porters Lake, Halifax County - Some veins were found on the east side of Porters Lake, about a mile north of the post road, in 1880. Prospecting took place at several different times and quartz veins varying from 1 to 13 inches in width were exposed, some of which were auriferous. Some veins were also prospected about a mile east of there on the south side of Thompson and Conrod lakes.
  • Queensport, Guysborough County - A gold-bearing vein 2.5 to 3 inches thick was discovered in 1898 and some prospecting was done south of Round lake.
  • Sheet Harbour, Halifax County – Several veins were discovered at the mouths of the East and West rivers. At East River, shafts have been sunk on a vein above the bridge. At West river several veins were tested at the falls above the bridge. Also, rich drift found on Curry Hill led to much prospecting, but the source of the gold was not found.
  • Somerset, Lunenburg County – Nathaniel Slaughenwhite discovered gold in boulders that contained quartz veins on the north side of the west branch of Petite Riviere. Prospecting was done in 1906-07 but without success. Auriferous boulders were also discovered a mile west by Augustus Reinhardt, who also found gold at nearby Voglers Cove (
  • Stillwater, Municipality of the District of Saint Mary's - In 1922, a 74-foot shaft was sunk on St. Mary’s River seven miles from Sherbrooke. A 270-foot tunnel was also driven in from the bank of the river. The rock contains pyrite (fool’s gold), which is often associated geologically with real gold. The company claimed to have some secret process for recovering gold from the rock, but no production was recorded.
  • Tancook Island, Lunenburg County – Gold was discovered in 1881 and a few shallow pits were dug on the north shore of the cove on veins 3-16 inches thick. Unfortunately, the veins pinch out (narrow to nothing) at shallow depths.
  • Whycocomagh, Inverness County – Gold was found in 1897-98 and a 140-foot-long tunnel long was dug, but no other development took place.
  • York Redoubt, Halifax County – A few quartz veins were prospected on Sleepy Cove of Halifax Harbour.

See where gold was found on peninsular Halifax:

Learn about gold discoveries in Clayton Park and Fairview: