Ghost Towns

Photograph of the community of Forest Hill.

Nova Scotia’s three gold rushes led to the creation of new communities from Canso to Yarmouth, along the 300-kilometre stretch of rich gold deposits known as the Meguma zone. Villages sprang up here and there in the forest and along the shore, around mining activity.

Photograph of the last stamp mill in the Oldham Gold District in a state of disrepair.

The last stamp mill at Oldham, 1953.

Photograph by E. G. L. Wetmore. N.S. Archives and Records Management Photo Collection: Places: Oldham.

Ghost Towns

As gold mining peaked and declined throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, so too did the mining towns. In the early twentieth century, many miners left to mine gold and silver in places like Timmins and Cobalt in Ontario as mines in Nova Scotia closed. Those who remained in these communities during down times faced isolation. For example, by 1919, only eight men were employed at the Caribou mines which closed in 1925.

A painting of Goldenville, NS by Joseph Purcell, showing an active winter community scene.

Goldenville, 1986 by Joseph Purcell.

MOI: I95.86.7

At Goldenville, one of the best-known boom towns of the rush, two thousand men once worked the mines, 19 companies were active and the population of the community was upwards of 3,000. By 1871 only 6 of those mining companies remained in operation; in 1872 production fell substantially. By 1950 mining had long ceased and only 50 or so residents remained in the area.

Ruins of a fold mining operation, with just foundation posts remaining.

Ruins of former gold mining operations at Goldenville, NS

N.S. Department of Natural Resources

Today, like many other areas of Nova Scotia, the abandoned landscape of Goldenville still holds traces of a vibrant gold mining past.