Few weeks before the end of term in 1956, I got a job with Mid Chibougamau Mines Ltd., Randy Mills, president. It was a small exploration company, as many were in those days, hoping to find another deposit in a hot exploration area. The Chibougamau mining district is known for its gold and copper potential. Exploration in the western part of the Chibougamau Pluton was mainly focused on the search for copper, between 1935 and 1965. Two mines are still operating in the area.
The locationof Chibougamau is shown by red rectangle in the image
I arrived in Quebec City by train in early May, and took the bus, via Lac St. Jean, to Chibougamau, a long, grueling, dusty, ride on a pot-holed dirt road north of Lac St. Jean.
Chibougamau in those days was essentially a mining/exploration town with 6 bars and 1 church. One main street. Few hundred people permanent population.
Our base camp was south of town, on Lac Cache, which had a float plane airbase. There were two field parties out prospecting and mapping. I spend some time with them, but mostly my job was an 'expediter' or 'gofer', working out of base camp. I was driving a pickup, canoe on the rack, bringing supplies to the camps. One of our camps was located south of Chapais, a mining town about 50km west of Chibougamau. I would load up the truck with small gasoline drums, boxes of dynamite, blasting caps and fuse and some food, drive it to the shore of Lac Presq'ille, load up the canoe, and proceed across the lake to Obatagamau River. Lac Presq'ile is has been identified lately as a small (24 km diameter)
impact crater. The lake occupies the middle part of the caldera. Except for one rapid (pictured), the river was fairly smooth. Being heavily loaded, alone, and prudent, I portaged around the rapid. Occasionally, I would rope the canoe down.
On one return trip, between Chapais and Chibougamau, the truck caught on fire. Seems the air filter pan (containing oil) loosened, and oil spilled on hot engine block.
Good thing that the gasoline and dynamite were no longer in the
truck. The fire went out in time, and I drove the truck back
to Chibougamau. It seems that the mechanic did not properly
tighten the screws holding the pan after the last oil change.
One day, chopping wood at the base camp, the axe glanced off the wood piece and embedded itself in my left leg bone, just above the ankle. It was a clean, vertical cut. They drove me into town, looking for a doctor. The first one they found they did not like the looks of, so we proceeded to look for another one, with me bleeding over the truck floor. After being patched up, two weeks later, I was back in the bush.
One of the highlights of the summer was a descent, on a mucking bucket, down the shaft some 1000 feet uderground in the Opemisca Copper Mine. They happned to be deepening the shaft, and the bucket was used to bring up muck, and the only means of access. The bucket was about 8 feet diameter, 6 feet deep, and five of us stood on the rim, holding on to guy wires for dear life. The rock face flahshed by as we descended. We stopped at one of the lower levels just above the bottom of the shaft, and clambered out to examine the drift. That was my first trip underground.
One month before the end of the season, one of the party chiefs, a masters student from McGill got 'bushed' - paranoid, suspecting that his party mates were conspiring against him. Being 'bushed' is relatively common for those that cannot handle isolation and solitude well. The fact that we packed some dynamite into an empty sardine camp, nailed it to a tree near the 'head', and exploded it with a 22 bullet when he was sitting on the cross bar did not help.... Anyway, I took over for him - doing mapping with only 3 elementary geology courses under my belt.
There are no pictures
from this season - did not have a camera.