W6398 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Apr 24 1909
To: Calvin McQuesten Glenhurst Saskatchewan
I am writing you very many happy returns of your birthday. It is very sad that you are always away and so far we cannot even send you a cake. I trust you will not always be so far away, I hope by the time this reaches you the weather will be more spring like, it has not been a warm spring, we have had no soft relaxing days yet. I had really not realized it was time to send off your birth-day letter till reminded by Ruby and we do not know, if we are rather soon, for I am not sure what days the C.N.R. train leaves Sakatoon, or perhaps the mail still goes by old route.
To-day I am having one of my wild days. That windy day took the shingles off the stable, so the rain poured down on the horse's head and I was compelled to put a new covering on. Paterson advised me to put on some sort of sheeting as being much cheaper than shingles and would last ten years, but it was very trying to have to sink more money in that way. Well, to-day Willie Mullin with great cheerfulness came to my assistance and is carrying in all the old shingles and piling them in the area, and it is a great job, but he works very fast. I proposed it to him as a job as I could just as well pay him as another man, but not a bit of it, he would not be paid, but I must try and make it up some other way.
Heard from Tom to-day, he had just returned (on the 20th) from Gowganda2 having walked there and back 66 miles. A pretty rough trip and lots of lice, it is a beastly hole. Wasn't that a terrible experience. Do not know how he did it, but that is all he says. Well Cal dear, I trust you may be spared time for many many birth-days, you are always a great comfort to me and it seems hard that you are always so far away from us, for I enjoy your companionship so much. With fondest love.
Your loving mother
1 Ruby's birthday letter to Calvin, W6402, was enclosed with this letter.
In the fall of 1907 prospectors from Cobalt discovered silver about five miles from Gowganda. By the beginning of next year, when word of the discovery reached outside, men from all walks of life, from all over North America, were invading the district. Gowganda became the hub and an exciting era began for this isolated community.
Prospectors, miners and investors went to Gowganda by way of rail from North Bay to the end of the line at Charlton. From here they hiked 55 miles (88km) to their destination, through virgin forest, swamps and blizzards. The summer trip started at Latchford on the Montreal River, with many portages they carried their packs and canoes the 56 miles to Elk Lake.
From Elk Lake there was another 28 miles (45km) struggling through the bush and swamp teeming with black flies, deer flies and mosquitoes. Camping where they stopped at night under the trees and stars exhausted.
Soon all the area was staked and men were mining for silver. The town sprang up on Gowganda's north shore overnight. Recording office, banks, homes and stores became very busy and prosperous.
In 1909 a road was built and horses were used to haul supplies. The mines started producing and the horses carried away the precious metal. From Elk Lake the new steamer carried it down river to Latchford and then to the train south.
Even by 1922 the road then traversed by ancient trucks were travelling overlogs laid over the muskeg and passengers had to get out and push in many places. The 28 miles took 5 hours.
Prospecting was slowing down by then, but still the mines produced 5,000,000 ounces of silver in 1921.
From then on the population dwindled, few new mines opened and many didn't last. One mine remained open until 1972 after 63 years of almost continuous operation. This was the end of Gowganda as a mining town. People were forced to move out and find new employment elsewhere. Remains of some of the old mines are still around and are well worth exploring and remembering the hardships of the pioneers that settled this area so long ago.
Excerpt taken from Ellen Grimster, GOWGANDA ... almost a ghost town (Local Paper)