Watercolour painting by Frederick Nichols showing one of the stamp mill buildings at Goldenville

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.


Gold is an inert mineral whose chemical name, Au, comes from the Latin, Aurum, meaning golden. It has an unusual density and malleability, as well as an imperishable shine. Throughout history, gold has been an object of desire and destruction. With this background, it is easy to understand the excitement when gold was first discovered in Nova Scotia. Few people realize that Nova Scotia had not one, but three gold rushes, and that gold exploration continues to the present day.

Students will learn about how gold came to be in Nova Scotia millions of years ago. They will explore the history of Nova Scotian gold miners, the communities that grew around the mines, and the methods that were used to extract the gold. They’ll find out about technological innovations, hear about a world famous mining disaster, and learn about environmental impacts.

Paintings will be seen not only as art, but also as an historic record of gold mining in the era when photography was just emerging. Maps will be seen not only as science, but also as art. Jewelers from the past and present will be introduced, as well as their works and the methods used to create their art.
Gold’s role in the world, both ancient and modern – from golden crown to astronaut helmets – will be traced. Gold will be revealed in the language we use, in the songs we sing, in the jewelry we wear, in the rewards we strive for, in our cutting-edge technology. Gold’s role, past and present, will be mined.

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