Bancroft history (circa 1900) gold fever

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From Rocks and Minerals in Canada May/June 1981

By this time gold fever was gripping North Hastings. However, its seekers were never rewarded like those of Madoc where the Richardson Mine became Ontario’s first gold producing operation. Iron prospectors fared better with mines opened at Coe Hill and Child’s and Bessemer mines in operation for over a decade. A copper mine in Durgannon Township met with little success although nearby Carlow and Raglan Townships supplied world markets with corundum until synthetics replaced it as an industrial abrasive following World War I.

hand drawn black and white image of cottage with snow on roof in bancroft ontarioBancroft marbles in a wide variety of beautiful colours and shadings enhance public and private buildings in Canada and abroad including the Royal Ontario Museum, Casaloma, the Parliament Buildings, as well as Canada House in London. Bancroft is the world’s major source of blue sodalite, popular with builders and jewellery craftsmen.

It is especially favoured by rockhounds who have made Bancroft and its “Gemboree” world famous since over 1,600 different mineral specimens have been collected within a 50-mile radius of the village. As early as 1893, Bridge Street jeweller E.L. Weiss, assembled his collection of precious and semi-precious stones and minerals which was the envy of universities and museums. Unfortunately a Map 1906 fire, one of many ravaging Bancroft’s main streets, destroyed it forever.  

In townships surrounding Bancroft there were granite mines, mica mines and feldspar mines and over the years prospectors constantly sought new sources of mineral wealth which the atomic age finally materialized. Four uranium mines; Bicroft, Greyhawk, Dyno and Faraday operated between 1953 and 1964. Faraday, the last to close, has since reopened as Madawaska Mines which produced uranium for world markets.