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The Real Cobalt
Elk City - The New Cobalt

THE district around the new town that has sprung into existence within the past year, on the banks of the Montreal River, or, by reason of the widening, Elk Lake, in the Township of James, is well called The New Cobalt, by reason of the wonderful richness of its mineral found wherever real work has been done in search of it. Some of the claims show native silver upon the very surface, and most of them that have been well prospected are proving the right of the district to the name.

It is so recent, that a residence of less than one year makes a man a pioneer. But recent as is the district, there is hardly a lot that has not been staked, and on which work has not been done.

A New York doctor, while hunting for big game in the summer of 1906, discovered native silver, just east of James, in Tud-hope. His find is turning out very rich. This discovery set the eyes of many toward the country, and yet but little was done until in the late fall and winter, when a small army marched up the river. It was even more difficult to get there than after a steamboat line had been started, although, as the boys say, it was almost as fast, but then the boys are given to say a whole lot besides their beads.

Elk City is 53 miles from Latchford, and 25 miles from Earlton, on the T. and N. O. Railway. Being destined to become an important point, many roads are aiming toward it— waggon roads, later to be followed by one or more railroads, since it is on the line into rich mineral fields beyond. It must become the great distributing point for a wide country up and down the river. Owing to the width of the Montreal, which, at Elk City, narrows down to 352 feet, this is the only place for miles where a bridge can be thrown across. It is on a Veteran lot of 160 acres, owned and laid out by W. F. Greene, A. Klinginsmith and J. E. Cook. The site is ideal, and has been laid out to the very best advantage. The lot being in the centre of the mineralized belt that crosses James, the north part is soon to become an active mining camp, as all indications show that these lucky young men can do a big mining business “right in town”—an industry to start on, almost before the town hall is up.

Already a number of substantial buildings have been erected, and many more planned for the spring, which promises to be a busy one. All of the claims held by men or companies of means, will begin work as soon as the snow is off, and a large number before that time. I have seldom found so enthusiastic a district. “We’ve got the goods and we’re goin’ to show 'em what’s in James,” say the enthusiasts. From what I saw, as I visited among the various camps, this will not be hard to do. In fact, some of them have already proved what is there.

The Mitchell, the Munroe, Saville, Hammell and Hackett Claims

Elsewhere I have spoken of the properties held by W. -S. Mitchell and his unique company of prospectors. They have claims in many parts, in fact, in almost every district from Coleman to Abitibi, to the north, and along the way from Latchford to Smythe, to the west. Here their claims ar6 among the best. On the “Munroe lot,” a short distance easterly from Elk Lake City, I saw a vein that was opened up for 500 feet, and so straight that one might have killed a line of birds sitting along its edge, if the bullet would carry. This is one of the remarkable things noted in this whole district--the straightness of the veins. On this claim native silver has been discovered.


To the northeast, a short mile, I visited the Moose Horn Mines. Locally they are better known as “The Gifford Mines,” from Charles Gifford, one of the best known men in this, as well as in the Cobalt district, where he was long connected, as manager, with the Victoria Mines.

The story of his coming to James is an interesting one. Sitting in the Victoria Mines office with the late Colonel Charles Turner, one day, the Colonel said: “Charlie, I’ve got some of the best claims in the whole of James Township, up the Montreal River. I know, for I have prospected them carefully.” Without ever seeing them Gifford bought them then and there— bought them under six feet of snow. He had known the Colonel so long, that when he said: “I know they are good,” he believed it, and took them at the price offered. He believed that they were good, but little did he dream how good they were—little did he think to find native silver showing on the very surface, and with well-defined veins showing all over the property.

Early in July he came up with his two partners, his brother George and James Garvin, and set to work at once erecting a commodious camp, and putting a large force of men to stripping and sinking shafts. I was there in October. I could scarce believe that in so short a time so much work could have been done. But when I watched the admirable system under which the work was being prosecuted, I then saw how it had been accomplished—men and managers working together with one object in view, the bringing of the mine up to a high standard, and that they are doing.

With 217 acres to develop, they thought to best forward the enterprise by putting it in a company—hence the Moose Horn Mining Company, with Dr. A. H. Perfect, President; Dr. Henry Beatty, Vice-President; J. H. Charles, Secretary-Treasurer; and Directors: Alfred Gillies and L. L. Anthus; Charles Gifford is General Manager.

Mr. Gifford has had a wide experience. Born in New York

City, he has been in all the mining countries of the west, from Mexico to Alaska, and looks upon this as one of the greatest camps in all the wide range, and with a future which no man dare predict.


While the mineralized belt of the Montreal River country is not yet fully known, its best showing has been found to centre in James Township. Beginning in about the first mile in Tud-hope (joining James on the east), and in the third concession, it runs a little northwesterly, taking in a part of Smythe (to the north), and passes on beyond James into the Unsurveyed, to the west of James. Little has been found in the southerly part, and yet it is claimed that with depth, mineral must here be discovered. It is too early to even attempt to define the areas of silver lands, since so many new places are showing value that even the “barren” rocks of a few months ago are now promising great things. Beginning in Coleman, and on both sides of the river, in the Portage Bay district, a number of good finds have been made. After this section has been passed, we find little until the Maple, or Skull Mountain country, has been reached, and even here only a few of the claims have been proved of value. One company of prospectors staked over 3,000 acres, and had all of the claims thrown out but about ten. And yet in this Skull Mountain district are some great things. For one of these an offer of $300,000 has been refused/ while the Mitchell and other holdings are said to be most promising. To the north-west of James, around Hubert, Bloom, and Calcite Lakes, some good finds have been made, while the richness of the Silver Lake properties, in the Unsurveyed, just west of James, places them among the very best in the district.


It may be owing to the greater amount of prospecting done in James-that makes the name of “The New Cobalt” seem so fitting. It is without a doubt a safe proposition, almost any part in and north of the third concession, and, as above, even the lower part may yet prove good on proper development. Directly west of Elk City two miles, the James Township Silver Mines Company has two claims upon which much development work has been done, and which assay high in silver, chalcopy-rites, peacock, copper or bornite, and aplite, carrying silver, not to mention good showings of cobalt bloom, galena and smalltite. Sixteen well-defined veins have been uncovered and as work goes on, new ones must be found since these lots lie in the best portion of the township, west of the river.

The officers of the Company are: President, A. Klingin-smith; Vice-President, J. J. Anderson; and W. F. Greene, Secretary-Treasurer and Managing Director. Directors: B. N. Law and Edward Gillis. The main office of the Company is in the Temple Building, Toronto.

Here is one of the good stories of the camp. It is of a nearby claim.

Inspector Irwin Makes a Great Find

A prospector had gone up into James, and after he had come real close to his last dollar, without finding anything, he was about to give up, when Inspector Roland Irwin happening along, one day, when the prospector was away, and picking around the mouth of the shaft, ran on to a vein that set the whole camp wild with delight, and went far to bringing the army of other prospectors into James.

A. H. McDonald

Immediately south of and joining the James Township Silver Mines Company’s lots are two of the properties of A. H. Me-

Donald, who is finding so many good things “Up the Montreal.” These properties are not only in the best part of the camp, but like the lots above mentioned, assay well in silver, galena and copper. Just west, and adjoining, is possibly the best claim in the district (the one Irwin found), by reason of the big find of silver, made in the early days of the camp. The story of this find is one of the stories they like to tell you up there.

Besides these two claims Mr. McDonald lias jl number of lots in the Unsurveyed, about Silver Lake.

The foregoing are but instances of what is being opened up in the great mineral section of the Montreal River. One can hardly imagine what is in store for that country, since the comparatively little work already done has shown it to be so wonderfully promising.


A year ago so little was known of the Montreal River, that one never heard it mentioned other than a way to reach the silver lands along its banks. “Up the Montreal,” meant nothing of beauty, while I have rarely passed along so charming a stream.

I chose for my trip the month of October, the loveliest of all the year. The early frost had yellowed the leaves of the annual shedding trees into a thousand shades of colorings, and these, interspersed among the spruce, the balsam and the pines, formed giant bouquets whose changing beauty was ever and anon remarked by my fellow-passengers—the practical miners and prospectors on their way to their various camps along the river. A clinging snow had fallen the night before, and hung in delicate whiteness upon the trees, festooning the branches of green, turning them into a painting more beautiful than the brush of man had ever attempted. The great red sun changed to golden, and as we crept along in the little steamer, in snail-like speed, it melted the white into green again, turning backward the dial of the seasons.

I could not but think what this river will be when it may be traversed by swift-moving steamers. As it was, even the slow-moving freight boat was endurable with so much of charm all about.

A Unique Race

Did you ever note the inborn propensity to race in all of us? I have, and that day recalled many of the stories told of the old racing days along the Mississippi. We had hardly gotten fairly started from Latchford, when, on looking back, we saw a small craft leaving the dock. It wasn’t the black raking craft of the piratical type, but a light grey, built for swift movement. We could ever keep in the lead, save when we would near a portage. It was at such times that the little craft crept to the fore, and by the time we had made the portage, and had taken another steamer, the little grey had left us to catch up, which we would ever do if the run was long enough between portages (of which there were three in the 53 miles). Each time as we would creep along, the excitement would become intense. “We’re gaining. We’ll catch her yet. See, see, she’s scarce a lialf-mile ahead!” “Pile in the wood, engineer!” “Cap, think we’ll beat out?” These and many other questions and exclamations enlivened the way all along to Elk City. Oh, it was great—that race! Did we beat? you ask. Oh, yes; beat by a full quarter of an hour. But with reason: One of the men broke his paddle, and thus handicapped, the little Fredericton canvas canoe lost the race to our swift-moving (?) steamer. Oh yes, an exciting race, that one up the Montreal, that bright October day against the little “canvas.”

The Drownings in the Montreal

While passing through Mountain Lake—a widening of the Montreal—one of the passengers told of the drowning of a prospector while coming down from James Township. From this the subject of too many unnecessary drownings in the North country came up, which leads me to write the following:

Scarcely a week but I hear of one or more deaths by drowning—often careless drowning. Men start out in a canoe who know nothing about handling it. They may have a smooth water knowledge of a canoe or boat, but when they go upon the rough lakes or foolishly attempt to run a rapid in these wild rivers, they might well be called “At Sea”—and literally at sea, so far as safety goes.

There is so much danger to the prospector that I have given no little attention to the subject of canoeing upon the lakes and rivers of this country. Too many think that all they need select is a thing that is propelled by paddles, and that’s a canoe. I thought that myself until, upon much inquiry, I found that some canoes are far safer than others, and I thereupon began to find what one was the safest of all. I asked of the returned prospectors from Larder Lake, Lake Abitibi, the Montreal River, and from all parts, wherever canoes were used. Now, while an occasional man had his favorite, and by long experience had become an expert in its use, I found the general opinion was that for safety, strength, ease of handling, and all round excellence, the very best in this country is one made at Fredericton, N.B., by Chestnut and Son. More people know it as the “Canvas” canoe, from its being canvas covered. Its advocates were so enthusiastic that at first I thought they must have an interest in the company. But as the number grew, I knew that it must be the canoe and its excellence itself that accounted for the general praise accorded it. Were it a waggon, a buggy, a carriage or a car, to run on dry land, I’d hesitate to give space to any particular make. But it is something so much more important—vitally important—that I should be doing the intending green prospectors a wrong, did I not tell them all I can that will tend to their good —tend to their safety, and nothing that I can think of is of so much importance as to how best prepare for a trip over the lakes and wild rivers through which they must pass in their search for the silver and gold that brings them to this northern country.

What the Late Edward Hanlan Said

When the late “Ned” Hanlan, the long time champion of the rowing world, was in Haileybury at the recent great regatta, I had the pleasure of a long interview with him. He was a most entertaining character, having the pleasing ability of telling the things that have interested him in his many trips around the world.

Having in mind the many cases of drowning that have come to my notice (one occurred near by, during his visit. It was one of the foolish drownings. Three men and a dog tried to go over the lake with a heavy loaded canoe. The lake was very rough, and their canoe upset. Two were picked up by a passing steamer, but the third lies at the bottom of a deep channel while I yet write of it). I asked him how best to act when a boat or canoe upsets. “Never try to get upon the bottom of the upturned canoe by going to the middle. Always go to the end, bear it down and climb on as you would get upon a horse’s back. If more than one, then ‘ride it double.’ It will thus hold till help comes. It’s all but impossible to climb upon the bottom by going to the middle of the canoe.”

If this page save but a single life, then I am ten thousand times repaid, and Chestnut and Son are welcome to all I have said of their Canvas, for I feel that they have merited the words.

One day, shortly after I had written the above, I chanced to meet H. B. Munroe, all around mining man, who has probably had as much canoe experience in this upper country as any other in it. He is a warm advocate of the “Canvas,” strongly urging its adoption by the novice. He thinks it the best canoe made. “ It is next to impossible to swamp it,” says he, “ and I’ve had experience in every dangerous lake up here. I’ve seen so many drownings, by reason of poorly constructed canoes, that I would, if I could, have a law passed prohibiting their use, and make the use of some such canoe as you have recommended, compulsory. This would save many a life. Yes, I look upon Chestnut’s Canvas as the best to be had.”

"Pioneers of the Montreal”

I found so much of interest “up the Montreal,” that I have nearly ready a little book with the above title. It will contain a careful paper on the minerals of the district, written specially for the work by the best informed mining engineer on that country—Mr. W. E. MacCready, of Haileybury, who has made a long and careful study of the mineral resources of the river.

The booklet, aside from this, will be very light—just little things to recall to the minds of the boys the days and nights they spent “Fighting Flies in James.” Apropos of the style of its lightness and the flies themselves, I shall herewith give a few lines:

The Kinnedys were there in fource amang the pioneers,

The sthouries tould me 'bout the flies quite druv me into tears. They tould me 'bout the black wans, about the sandflies too,

And the billions ov muskatos that ate ahl night ov you.

The pesky craters nare wud take their luttle boite in turns,

But pumped the pizen into ye a-filling ye up wid bums.

And whin the rosy sun got up, and ye whiffed the arly dawn,

Ye'd hope an* pray, wid ahl yer stringth, ye'd foind the divils gan. Yer hopes an* prayers wus answered, nat a-wan o' thim wus buzzin*, But ivry wan hed bruthers, an' aich o’ thim a cuzzin.

Af the nite wans ye thought wickid, the day wans they wus wurse, Yer moind floys back to Agipt—to Agipt and its curse.

I'm sure the good Recorder wull grant ye lisenced claims,

And niver count the things ye sed whoile foighten’ flies in James.

Each of the pioneers will get his one or more lines. There will be a carefully drawn map with a key, showing the holders of the various mining lots in and about James. A few full-page half-tones of river scenes will brighten the booklet. Then Leo’s “I’ve got something good in James” will make you sit up and take notice. In short, it will be one of those trifle books, interesting only because you knew it all before.


McDOUGALL CHUTES is on the T. and N. O. Railway, 204 miles north of North Bay. It is one of the coming mining centres, with some of the mines of great promise.

It takes its name from an Indian family—descendants of an early Scotch Hudson Bay factor. It lies along the west side of Black River, and to the east of the railway. There is a very pretty fall just across a little bay-like formation of the river, from the town. McDougall Chutes might be said to have started in 1906. But little was done, however, until this year (1907), although George Johnson, Walter Monahan, the Transcontinental Railway, John McChessney and some others, had built here as early as 1905.

The town is building up without as yet having been laid out into streets.

The Colonel and the Orderly Town

I was surprised to find McDougall Chutes one of the most orderly places on the whole line from North Bay to “the end of steel,” which “end” is five miles north of McDougall. Of course I asked the why, only to be told: “Say, I guess you haven’t yet met de Colonel!” “What Colonel?” “Why, The Colonel— —Colonel James McCully, the provincial constable of this district. To him much is due the order you remark.” I later met the genial Colonel, and at once saw the reason of the statement. “I can keep ’em all straight but the ‘Bishop*. But then he'd get full on Black River water,” said the Colonel with a twinkle.

His district covers all the country north of Englehardt, and for 20 miles on either side of the railway—certainly a big area for one man to keep clear of that wily animal known in New Ontario as the “Blind Pig.” But they all say that the Colonel is “the one man” who can do it.

Rivers of the North

One of the surprises of this country is its great river system. I have never seen one so well watered with brooks and lakes everywhere. A brook which one might step across turns into a navigable river in a remarkably short distance. -The Black River, for instance, heads at the Height of Land, and twenty or thirty miles away, at McDougall Chutes, we find a steamer carrying freight down to where it joins the Abitibi River—fourteen miles below. The Abitibi Lake is emptied by a river of the same name which flows westerly from the lake for 25 miles, thence northerly for nearly 200 miles, where it empties into the Moose River, to flow on to James Bay some 40 miles to the north-east. All the wray along are fine lakes and rivers unnamed and unmarked. It is well said that nobody knows what is in this country of marvellous things. Development is so rapidly going forward that the untrodden wilderness of January is a cultivated field before the summer has passed, and towns have sprung up and great business is done where so recently the moose and his wilder fellows were supreme!

Romance of Gold Island

When the mineral history of New Ontario shall have been written, one of its most interesting chapters will be “ The Find of the Two Swedes”—“Swedes” as all reports to now have called them. As usual, the first writers of things get matters mixed. Victor Mattson and Harry Bannala are Finns, whose story, briefly told, is this: They came from Finland to Port Arthur, Canada, in 1896; prospected in the Sudbury district for years, making but one good .find in all the time; came to Cobalt this spring, and worked in the mines for seven weeks; left for Abitibi, first carefully examining a map of the upper country. In looking over the map they noticed a large lake almost directly west of McDougall Chutes, some 25 miles. Up to that time it was practically unknown, although it covered and touched a half dozen townships. To this lake the Finns went (instead of to Abitibi because it was unknown. They first prospected the shores, and not finding any value they began to look among the many islands (it is said that there are fifty of them) for they knew not what, but anything that might be hidden away among the rocks. They finally reached one which proved so rich in gold that they at once named it Gold Island. Staking five claims upon the island and the nearest shore, they started for McDougall Chutes, with only the map to guide them. Here meeting Silas Gibson and Alex Stirling, of the firm of Gibson and Stirling, postmasters and general storekeepers, and telling of their rich find, so interested these two enterprising young merchants, that it was proposed that they return to Night Hawk Lake with Gibson. The proposition was accepted. When Silas reached the island and saw what the Finns had to show him, all the Aladdin stories of old flashed into his mind, making him believe that it was all a dream. But when, after two days spent in uncovering a 75-foot dyke, and picking samples of pure gold nuggets, he had to believe as true what lay before him. He returned to McDougall Chutes, laid the facts before some capitalists, and now 15 men are at work, and as soon as the waterways are frozen, machinery will be taken in and installed, and a large force of miners set to sinking shafts and drifting.

When I first heard of this discovery I set it down as one of the many fairy tales one must listen to in a mining camp. But seeing the samples, and talking with the workmen, who are most enthusiastic as they go down in rich pay rock, I found it very easy to accept as fact the stories told of it. That vast wealth awaits the fortunate Finns, and those who are interested with them, is proven by the assays of thousands of dollars per ton, that have been made from the samples taken from “The Island of Gold.”

Silas Gibson is of the well-known Gibsons of the Gatineau Valley. He and Mr. Stirling came to McDougall Chutes in May last. Besides this fortunate strike, they are interested in a number of other mining claims, which once they counted as good, but seem now but insignificant holdings. It may well be said: The finds of to-day often dwarf the great things of yesterday. Good fortune does not always pass, un-noting, those meriting the choicest favors. This is an instance which you will agree if ever you meet these two young merchants of McDougall Chutes.

John McChessney

John McChessney is another whose mining claims around McDougall Chutes are worthy of special note.

Mr. McChessney was one of the first to go to this thriving village. He was long connected with The Veterans Locating Association of Toronto. He has doubtless selected more Veteran lots than any other in this north country. It was in August of 1903 when he came up from “the end of steel,” which was then at about where is now Englehardt. Later he built the first frame building, and ran the store now owned by Gibson and Stirling. He also built the log house used for a time as a hospital, now owned by Walter Monahan.

When the Transcontinental Railway was preparing to build the section in the Abitibi Lake country, a tote or cadge road had to be cut through from New Liskeard to the lake—150 miles. Mr. McChessney was the one who cut it through. He had been over the line before, going by canoe with goods for the Indians. From New Liskeard to Abitibi there are 90 portages of from 200 feet to one-half mile each.

The Indians Had Never Seen Horses Before

Mr. McChessney was the first to take horses through to Abitibi. He tells of the excitement among the Indians when they saw these curious animals for the first time.

His knowledge of the country, gained while going throughout the townships looking for land for the Veterans, stood him in good 'stead when mineral was discovered. ^ He knew where to go. He had seen~the formations that meant gold, silver or copper, and knowing this began"prospecting in what he thought to be the best localities. That his judgment was good is proven by the claims he selected.

Munro Township

Mr. McChessney went into Munro Township ten or twelve miles to the east of McDougall, where Burwash and Barnet have since made their great discovery. Here he and his partner, Isaac Jenkins, took up six choice claims. It was not like the “tenderfoot” going about putting in stakes with no knowledge of the formation of the rocks, for Jenkins had spent years in South Africa’s mines and in the mines of British Columbia, from which he came on hearing of the great wealth of this country.

Besides the six claims in Munroe, Mr. McChessney has a half interest in a working mine right in McDougall Chutes, which promises big results. In the unsurveyed country, at the Height of Land, he has three claims, which show gold, silver and copper. An assay from one of these, taken at 12 feet, gave 34 per cent, copper, 250 in gold, and 3 ozs. of silver. The one in the village assayed $9.60 in gold, 3 ozs. silver and 12 per cent, zinc blend.

In Abitibi Lake he owns the mining rights of 15 islands and 7 claims on the main land.

His good fortune will please many an old Veteran who has profited by his judgment.

Walter Monahan

It was Walter Monahan, one of McDougall’s early citizens, who first found gold in Munroe, where he has located some of the choice claims, assays from which show the wisdom of his selection. He has, in all, eleven claims, from which he has taken ordinary samples that run from $16 to $50 per ton, while some run high enough to satisfy even a Law.

Mr. Monahan came to McDougall’s from Huntsville, in the Muskoka Lakes country, in June of 1905, and has done and is doing his part to build up this enterprising town, whose future promises much, owing to its admirable situation.

Mr. Monahan has charge of a land company in this locality, and is doing much toward locating settlers,

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