Fueling the Gold Fire: Export of Nova Scotian Brawn and Brains; Import of Foreign Entrepreneurs

Quote from Alexander Heatherington’s book:  A Practical Guide for Tourists, Miners, and Investors, and all Persons interested in the Development of the Gold Fields of Nova Scotia.  Montreal, 1868.

1st.  It possesses an inexhaustible supply of minerals…
4th   The climate offers no obstacles to continuous mining operations.
5th   Attacks from venomous reptiles, savage beasts, or treacherous Indians never disturb or impede settlement.
6th   Fatal epidemics, agues and pestilential fevers are unknown.
7th   The country is within thirty hours’ steaming distance from Boston and ten days from Europe.
8th   The voyage costs one-fourth less than to California, and one-sixth less than to Australia…”

Mines in Nova Scotia became training grounds for many who moved on to more famous gold fields – like prospector Robert Henderson, co-discover of gold in the Klondike.  Leaving Nova Scotia for mines in Colorado, Ontario, British Columbia, Australia, or the Yukon, scores of miners brought along their skills, strength and most important, their knowledge of gold mining techniques pioneered in Nova Scotia.

Many foreign-born miners worked in Nova Scotian mines. For example, Frenchman Damas Touquoy mined in the Caribou and Moose River gold districts for 25 years and then returned to France where he died in 1898, allegedly buried with chunks of Bluenose gold. Germans Leopold Burkner and Alfred Bushing were “pioneer miners” at Caribou Mines. In 1869, two Englishmen named Hyde built a short tramway linking their mine and stamp mill.

Baron Franz von Ellershausen emigrated from Germany to Nova Scotia in the 1860s enticed by the first gold rush. Ellershausen did not stick with mining however, deciding instead to develop a pulp and paper mill on the St. Croix River. By the 1870s he had made a huge fortune in this business. He built himself a mansion, still standing today, plus cottages for the 32 German families shipwrecked off Sable Island who later worked for him. Baron von Ellershausen followed utopian ideals, striving to reward sobriety and hard work with decent working conditions and high wages. Ellershausen’s settlement of German Protestants became known as Ellershouse, a community located just south of Windsor in Hants County.
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Dian Day, Susan Sellers, Rita Wilson
Alexander Heatherington
1868 - 1898
Ellershouse, Nova Scotia, CANADA
Nova Scotia, CANADA
Klondike, Yukon Territory, CANADA
© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans