A gold adventure

A gold adventure

Historically, men have been drawn to the precious and shiny metal called gold. The Spaniards set out to conquer South America to seize, among other things, gold mines, not hesitating to commit the worst massacres among the indigenous populations. The French also set foot on this land we inhabit, believing they were finding the coveted gold there.

Hugo Fontaine and Marc Tison
Quebec America editions
“> Éléonore
Hugo Fontaine and Marc Tison
Quebec America editions

Even today the treasure hunt continues, but it no longer has anything to do with what it was in the 19th century, at the time of the rush for “gold from the streams”. Today, dozens of people are dying in this gold quest, as we reported this week in a press wire from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Here, the fabulous story told by the two journalists has nothing to do with the horror tales of miners digging through the bowels of the Earth under extreme conditions and for poverty wages. It takes place at home, in northern Quebec, in the heart of the James Bay and taiga territory. It is a story made of happy luck, of course, but also of perseverance and research.

Quebec gold

The town of Noranda, in Abitibi, is the starting point of this thrilling story. Installed around the geological Cadillac fault, “one of the richest gold zones in the world”, the city was originally called Norcanda, for Northern Canada, but a happy typographical error made the name Noranda, more melodious. , appeared on the official paper. Between 1927 and 1950, the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region experienced its heyday. Gold diggers flock in and big business is brewing there. This is when the big industrial companies come into play, driving out the small traditional prospectors.

As the deposits are not eternal, we have to push prospecting even further north. Geologists then map this new Quebec and study its geological structures. “It is virgin territory: no scientific map yet exists for this sector. »Two prospectors, Michel Gauthier and Jean-François Ouellette, will be interested in a site already explored, analyzed then abandoned for lack of interest by the geologists of Noranda, thirty years earlier, on the shores of Lake Ell, 350 kilometers away north-west of Chibougamau. They will baptize the site with the name of Éléonore, in homage to the song Fernande by Georges Brassens.

Ubiquitous dangers

In the wilderness, the attack of the black bear is one of the risks of the trade, the authors tell us. A prospector was scared of his life when a mother bear wanted to avenge the inadvertent death of her calf. He has come close to death. “He felt the breath of the passage of the paw, describes a witness. He was six inches from a kick and death. ”

But there is worse than black bears: the stock market crash, as happened in March 1997 with the Bre-X scandal. Scammers have invented fake gold deposits in Indonesia. Everyone in the community believed in it, including our Caisse de dépôt et placement, which lost $ 70 million. This immense fraud will be an opportunity for Gauthier and Ouellette to remind investors that such a scam is unlikely to occur in Quebec, where the mining industry is well supervised.

In short, if the rocks, the risks, the intrigues, the really secret secrets, the walk in the forest, the contact with nature, including flies, the discovery of new horizons, the adventure in the middle of unknown territories and the origins of planet Earth fascinate you, become a geologist and gold digger. Perhaps you meet Éléonore along the way.

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