Very early photo (winter 1909-1910) of log cabins of the Wilson Gold Mine encampment near Porcupine in Northern Ontario. Three men standing outside cabin.
In June 1909 an outcrop was found which culminated in the famous and fabulously rich Dome Mine.
Witten on negative ‘PORCUPINE’ and ‘WILSON GOLD MINE’
Photographer stamp on back “Photograph by SECORD & GROCH Cobalt. Ont.’
Message in French on back:
Postmarked ‘COBALT F--- 10 ONT.’ 2 cent King Edward VII stamp, mailed to France.
Some smudges on front, some creases in corners, small tears.
But the first great discovery was made by a gang of prospectors headed by Jack Wilson. Wilson, or one of his subordinates—no two reports on this point are alike—found the great “Dome” that bears Wilson’s name. The “Dome” is a ridge of rock, 550 feet long, 40 to 80 feet wide, 20 to 30 feet above ground, and no one yet knows how deep, that is heavily laden with gold. Pull the moss from it anywhere and there is gold. Three shafts have gone down 100 feet and still there is gold, with the bottom of the rock yet to be reached.
Nothing in the history of the goldmining better illustrates the eccentricities of gold-miners than the discovery of the “Dome.” The discovering party consisted of three men, headed by Jack Wilson. The expedition was financed by a Chicago man named Edwards, who was engaged in the manufacture of lighting fixtures. Edwards was to put up all the money in return for a half interest in anything that might be discovered. Wilson was to have a quarter interest, and each of the other two an eighth.
For several weeks they prospected, first to the east of Porcupine Lake, in Whitney township, then to the west, in Tisdale township. They found gold and staked some claims. But the great “Dome,” although they camped, some of the time, within sight of it, almost escaped them. It was finally discovered, according to the story that is generally believed, only because one of Wilson’s subordinates stumbled across it. He was not a miner, knew nothing about geology, but did know enough to scrape off moss. Also, he had eyes. When the moss was off, he could not help seeing the gold. The great ridge that was henceforth to be known as the “Wilson Dome” had been found. Stakes were driven and claim laid to the huge boulder.
Now comes the first amazing feature of the discovery of the “Dome.” The discoverers, it would appear, knew little about gold mining. At any rate, none was a mining engineer, or even an experienced prospector for gold. Nobody knew whether the find was of great value. Apparently, none of them had the slightest conception of what the great rock was worth. At any rate, Wilson’s two subordinates, who wanted money, sold half interests in their “eighths” for $1,000 each. Each was thus left with a sixteenth interest in the mine.
The man who, according to this story, actually discovered the “Dome” had a passion for diamonds. During the preceding winter he had leaped across the aisle of a railway car and feverishly clasped the hand of a man who wore a big solitaire. The passenger was about ready to “knock his block off,” as one of the miners explained when he realized that the man who was gazing so intently at the ring only wanted to look at it. So, when the discoverer of the “Dome” received the $1,000 for which he exchanged half of his interest in the mine, he at once put himself in communication with a Toronto jewelry firm, which took his $1,000 and sent him two solitaires, big enough to choke a chicken.
“After that,” said a miner, “he was a great sight in the bush, with his big rings. He was the only man north of Cobalt who wore diamonds.”
Macleans November 1 1910