Zeballos boomed when gold was discovered
North Island Eagle, July 23 2021
Mining in Zeballos got started in 1924 with the first claims being up the Zeballos River.
In 1934, Albert Bird discovered what would become the Privateer Mine. According to an article published in Maclean’s Magazine in 1938, in one test hole four feet deep and five feet wide, in hard-packed clay, Bird recovered gold worth $35; in another shallower hole, $25.
Bird sold the claim to a group of businessmen from Victoria. As Bird was concentrating on developing other claims, the Privateer ended up becoming one of the richest mines in the Zeballos area.
The ore from the Privateer was the richest ever to be received by the Guggenheim Smelter in Tacoma, Washington.
According to Maclean’s small pockets contained amazing ore. A few bits picked up at the Privateer Mine and dropped into a small corn-syrup can, paid for the diesel engine that was badly needed during early operation of the mine.
When mining first started, the miners had to carry bags of ore out on their backs down narrow, slippery trails, to the river at Zeballos. From there, ore was floated downstream in flat-bottom boats to the mouth of the river where it was again backpacked over land to another beach.
This new gold rush created a little boom town and by 1938 Zeballos had a population of more than 1,500 people – some say as high as 5,000.
In addition to the Privateer Mine, one of the biggest operators at the time was A. B. Trites, who was one of the first to realize the possibilities of the new camp, and the first with ready money to finance operations. He put a crew to work, drifting a tunnel on his Goldfields claim and building a road.
In response to the increase in population, there were three hotels, a laundry, a bakery, and a weekly newspaper. Plans for a hospital and a school were also underway.
Photo — Submitted
Zeballos once had its own weekly newspaper.
Couple floats new sailing business
By Brenda McCorquodale, North Island Eagle, July 23 2021
Before Europeans came to the North Island, First Nations travelled extensively in dugout canoes and via an extensive network of overland trails. One of these trails crossed from the mudflats at the end of Hardy Bay to what is now Coal Harbour in Quatsino Sound.
In pre-contact times, before large numbers of First Nations had moved to the area around Fort Rupert, there were a number of sites utilized by First Nations in Hardy Bay.
With the arrival of settlers, and the advent of steamships, people and goods needed to move from Fort Victoria to the North Island. In the late 1800s, it became clear that the quickest way for people and mail to get to Quatsino Sound in a timely manner was to travel by steamer up the east coast of Vancouver Island, and then over the 13-mile trail from Hardy Bay to Coal Harbour.
In 1888, Indian agent R.H. Pedcock reported walking the trail in six hours, in order to visit the Quatsino First Nation villages. The trail generally traced the same route as today’s road.
The old community of Port Hardy, on the east side of the bay, was a stop for steamships. It only took steamers three days to get to Port Hardy from Fort Victoria, whereas it took 10 days to come up the West Coast of Vancouver Island to Quatsino Sound, and the trip on the exposed West Coast was much rougher.
The trail from Hardy Bay started in the mudflats by the mouth of the Quatse River. There was a small boat which took people from old Port Hardy (present day Beaver Cove) to the trailhead. The charge for the boat was .50 cents per man, but if you volunteered to row the trip was free.
Residents of Coal Harbour were hired to pack mail on the trail. They would leave Coal Harbour in the morning, hike the trail, row to Port Hardy to collect the mail, row back to the trail, and hike back to Quatsino Sound. Then they would use a small boat to deliver mail around the Sound.
Photo —City of Vancouver Archives
The Coal Harbour hotel, store and telegraph