13 July

Porcupine Gold Found

Sure I've got                                                                                                                                               

Warts on my fingers

Corns on my toes

Claims up in Porcupine

And a bad cold in my nose.

So, put on your snowshoes

And hit the trail with me

To P-o-r-c-u-p-i-n-e, that's me.

            JOHN E. LECKIE, 1910

Some of Canada's most exciting days came through the discovery of gold. The prospectors who found large quantities of it were more lucky than scientific. All they needed in the way of equipment \ vas a pick, shovel and perhaps pans for sifting gold from the sand.

In 1896, George Washington Carmack began the biggest gold rush of all with his discovery on Bonanza Creek in the Yukon. Books, poems, and songs have been written about the Klondike, and Hollywood has produced its own versions. Charlie Chaplin's "Gold Rush" is still worth seeing.

Northern Ontario and Quebec have both had their gold rushes. The development of the rich Porcupine area was due to a lucky strike on July 13, 1909. Thomas Geddes, of St. Thomas, Ontario, and George Bannerman had a hunch about the Porcupine. From North Bay, on the T.N.O. Railway, they traveled north for 220 miles, which was the end of the line. T.N.O. means Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway, but in those days people used to say that it meant "Time No Object!"

From the end of the line, they paddled 30 miles west and camped where the river flowed into Porcupine Lake. They began digging on  the northern side of the lake and soon uncovered a filigree of gold, as thick as wax dripping from a candle! The news spread like wildfire. Soon the Porcupine area was swarming with prospectors who uncovered Canada's richest gold field and most famous mines.

Among the lucky prospectors were Benny Hollinger and Sandy McIntyre, after whom two great mines have been named. Hollinger borrowed $45 from John McMahon of Haileybury, and found three feet of gold jutting from some moss. Sandy McIntyre's real name was Alexander Oliphant, but he changed it when he fled from Scotland to avoid paying alimony to his wife. He found what is now McIntyre mine but sold his shares for $25 so that he could buy some liquor. In later years, he spent most of his time weeping in saloons while his discovery produced gold worth $230 million.

Is it still possible to be lucky and find gold? Some authorities believe so. In any case it may be worth remembering that July 13 was a lucky day for Geddes and Bannerman.

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;

I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.

Was it famine or scurvy I fought it;

I hurled my youth into a grave.

I wanted the gold and I got it

Came out with a fortune last fall,

Yet somehow life's not what I thought it,

And somehow the gold isn't all.

                -ROBERT W. SERVICE, 1907



13 July

-1620    The Can brothers, Huguenots, formed a company to develop Canada. 1789 A British ship, Princess Royal, was seized by Spaniards at Nootka, British Columbia.

-1929    Canada and the United States discussed the continuing of the Rush-Bagot Treaty prohibiting armaments on the Great Lakes.

-1941    Canada approved the Anglo-Soviet Treaty. (Germany had attacked Russia on June 22.)

-1949    The first Legislature of Newfoundland as a province of Canada was opened.

-1953    The Shakespearian Festival at. Stratford, Ontario, opened.

-1961    The Right Honourable Duncan Sandys met the government at Ottawa to discuss Britain's proposed membership in the European Common Market.