Minerals Industry in Saskatchewan
R-A841 to R-A845, R-A873 to R-A884, R-A900 to R-A905, R-A917, R-A959 to R-A974, R-A993 to R-A997, R-A999 to R-A1003, R-A1007 to R-A1011, R-A1033, R-A1034, R-5970 to R-5974
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Summaries of interviews
Interviews conducted in 1975 and 1976 by Berry Richards under a contract for the "Towards a New Past Programme" of the Cultural Activities Branch of the Department of Culture and Youth. The project covers the period from the 1920s to the present with some concentration on developments during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Much of the discussion revolves around mineral finds near a multitude of lakes in the north such as the Reindeer, Deschambault, Hanson, Wollaston, Sulphide and Foster Lakes. Uranium City, La Ronge, Prince Albert and Creighton are the main centres from where most of the mining activity in the north is initiated. An appreciation of these communities is gained through interviews with their residents and people who used them as their bases of operation. A wide range of people were interviewed from a variety of occupations which are influential in the industry. Informants include prospectors, promoters, bush pilots, mining recorders, a cafe operator, hotel operator and a store proprietor, a radio operator, university personnel and government officials. Through the anecdotes and experiences related by prospectors, northern life is shown to be beautiful yet sometimes harsh and lonely. They often went into the bush for several weeks or months at a time, occasionally on their own but more usually with a partner or team, flown into isolated areas by bush pilots, travelling otherwise by foot and canoe. Some maintained cabins in the north and worked from there. Others set up temporary camps at different sites moving every few weeks or months depending upon the productivity of their search for minerals. One bush pilot explains how he often helped the prospectors set up their camps. Other pilots recall how their services were important during emergencies, the planes they flew and the intricacies of transporting a canoe and heavy mining equipment under the belly of a plane. A radio operator describes his duties and the messages he relayed, conveying the importance of his position in the lives of the prospectors and miners. A cafe operator and a hotel proprietor both speak of the prospectors, miners and promoters who worked out of La Ronge. The cafe owner was a counselor and friend to these people and she relates specific details about their lives, concerns and philosophies. The effect of the minerals industry on La Ronge and how it has influenced the development of the town are interesting to note. Others such as the miners, a surveyor, a promoter and government personnel help to explain what it meant to stake a claim, geological surveys, drilling, how financing was arranged, mining equipment and repairs, changes in prospecting and mining techniques, the importance of fishing and trapping in bush life and the sense of competitiveness between prospectors. That competition was keen is shown by several individuals who worked for the Saskatchewan Department of Mineral Resources recalling their involvement in "staking rushes" in the 1950s and 1960s when thousands of claims were staked and prospectors each tried to work in the utmost secrecy. It is also shown by the mining recorders how the Department has assisted prospectors and miners through its offices in La Ronge, Prince Albert, Uranium City and Creighton. The government has also been involved in the industry through such things as the Prospectors' Assistance Programme and the Prospectors' School in Prince Albert, both of which are shown to be of considerable importance. Several individuals reflect on the government's increasing interest in mining and exploration and the effect that this is having on the industry. The role of universities has been significant both as teaching and research institutions.
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