Gold is a valuable, highly prized mineral used in everything from jewellery to electronics and dentistry. Gold is desirable due to its special properties, such as malleability and resistance to tarnishing. Gold is commonly microscopic or embedded within or around sulphide grains. Free visible gold occurs as disseminated grains, or rarely as crystals. Crystals of gold commonly form within or around quartz, as seen in this sample. In its natural mineral form, gold is commonly alloyed with silver. Gold is distinguishable by its characteristic golden yellow colour and extreme heaviness.
This particular specimen is from the small town of Van Anda on Texada Island in British Columbia. Today, the town has a population of around 70 people, but in the 1880s was the site a major gold rush.
The town itself is named after the Van Anda Copper and Gold Mining Company who owned 840 acres on the north east side of the Island. The President of the company, Edward Blewitt, was a prominent capitalist from Seattle as well as a miner, and so led the charge into these Canadian sites.
The area first became active in 1876 when Harry Trim, a local Whaler, discovered iron ore in the same area. The ore was used to build battleships, but focus soon switched to gold and copper after they were discovered in 1880. The boom was short as the minerals were localized, but in that time, the small town of Van Anda grew immensely, including having the largest opera house north of San Francisco for the time!
Alas the town was struck by a fire in 1910 which destroyed most of the buildings in just 40 minutes. Confidence in the mining was still high, and the town was rebuilt, only to be destroyed again by fire in 1912. In 1917, the town was once again decimated by fire, leaving only the store intact, and the mining of precious metals died with the final conflagration.
Today there are several quarries in the region that ships three million tons of limestone a year, but the gold, copper and iron mines are a thing of the past.
Store: Pacific Museum of the Earth, University of British Columbia
Collection: Sutton-Thompson Collection
Accession #: PME 6832
Primary Mineral: Gold
Secondary Mineral: Quartz
Site Locality: Van Anda Mine
Location: Texada Island, British Columbia
Special Features: n/a