About Moose River

Gold mine site with buildings, Moose River, Halifax Co. NS, c. 1936.

It is a broken country down here, drab and desolate. It is all scrub and second growth and rock. Rock – relentless, hard, cruel-hard …

This is how an observer described Moose River, Halifax County in April, 1936. At this remote location 26 kilometres from the main road near Middle Musquodobit, and more than 97 kilometres from Halifax, gold had been mined off and on since first discovered by John Pulsifer in 1860 and a Mr. Taylor in 1868. Between 1888 and 1939 25,917 ounces of gold were taken from the ground.

In 1936, when the world’s attention fell on Moose River, it was no more than a small village of about a dozen houses.

Photograph of rescue workers around newly constructed headframe

Men working at the site of the Moose River Mines rescue. Note collapsed earth to right of headframe, 1936.

N.S. Department of Natural Resources Historical Mine Photo Collection

In 1934 the Moose River Gold Syndicate had been formed to go after gold in the old mines. It consisted of 5 main mines, in various states of disrepair, and a number of smaller shafts, along with a stamp mill operation. Mr. Herman Magill and Dr. D.E. Robertson, both of Toronto, became major shareholders in the company. Magill, who was a lawyer but had some knowledge of geology, moved to Moose River in January 1936, to oversee operations.