Gold in Nova Scotia may have been sighted as early as 1578 when Sir Humphrey Gilbert explored along the coast. But gold sightings were not mentioned again until the 1830s when road builders spoke about a yellow metal in some stone. In 1849 a farmer claimed to have found gold in quartz on his land but his father told him to “…pitch the rubbish away.” Captain Champagn L’Estrange found gold while moose hunting in the Tangier area with three Mi’kmaq guides, Noel Louis, Joe Paul and Frank Cope. He showed the gold specimen to others who discouraged further efforts on his part. Two years later, with the help of the same Mi’ kmaq guide, Joe Paul, John Gerrish Pulsifer found a gold deposit in the Tangier River, near Mooseland in Halifax County.
Often credited as the “discoverer” of gold in Nova Scotia, Pulsifer was the first to convince the provincial government of the presence of gold around Tangier on the eastern shore. This started the first gold rush in Nova Scotia. By 1861, hundreds of farmers, fishermen and woodsmen with crude mining tools in hand descended on the Tangier-Mooseland gold field hoping to strike it rich.