I have been to Balmertown twice, so far, in 2006. I always enjoy these trips, NOT just because I get to handle and prepare all kinds of superb high grade gold and specimens but also because I have lots of friends and acquaintances there that always make the visit enjoyable with camraderie and fun activities away from the mines. Here are some images of the last few visits, one in the heart of summer, one in the heart of winter and the other in the heart of spring!!
Campbell Mine Headframe from Lake
The various headframes of new and old gold mines dominate the skyline around the Red Lake area. Even out on the tranquility of Red Lake you can catch glimpses of work. The building by the lake is the golf club.
Cochenour and the Cochenour Mine
The Mine at Cochenour is no longer in operation but the town is a beautiful place to live. Right by the water.
Red Lake Float Planes
Red Lake is the "end of the road". From here, the main mode of transportation to further points is float plane. I'm sure that Red Lake has more Cessnas, Norsemen, etc., than any other town. It has been called the "Norseman Capital of the World". There are many dozens scattered thoughout town, on the waterfront.
We didn't even have to ask! The guys just grabbed their fillet knives and filletted our pickerel ready to prepare for supper. We used Donny's (prominent in the picture) excellent beer-based batter to prepare supper that evening.
Friend Jean at the Tiller
Jean Marier is one of the more hospitable people of Balmertown. He is always quick to help a friend or take them out fishing. We spent a great day on the water with another friend Melissa.
Lots of Loons
It is pretty difficult to be out on Red Lake and not run across loons regularly. Beautiful bird.
One of the older settlements in the area is on MacKenzie Island. The people here rely on a ferry or their own boats to get across during the non-frozen months. For several months per year however, an ice road is constructed from the island to the mainland and people drive their cars from the end of the road in the picture onto the ice and into Cochenour or Red Lake. There are just a few days in the early winter or early spring when they can't get back or forth easily!
The McKinley was another in a long list of gold mines in the Red Lake area, all clustered around this fabled lake.
Read Lake Mine Headframe from Red Lake
You can even see the new Red Lake Mine headframe from the water.
The fish of choice, in Red Lake, is the pickerel, or as Americans call it, the walleye. We caught a number on this trip.
Melissa Kisses Minnows!
A very strange custom, indeed. Melissa always kisses her minnow before baiting her hook. I seemed to catch as many without kissing my minnows.
When I was leaving Balmertown, I stopped to take a picture of the new headframe, over the shaft named after Rob McEwan, founder of Goldcorp. The shaft is well on its way to completion and recently passed the one mile in depth mark. It is going down to 7,500 feet or so.
Since the last visit, Goldcorp has purchased the Campbell Red Lake Mine(amongst others) from Placer Dome Inc. via Barrick Gold Corporation who bought out Placer Dome entirely. During this trip, I worked on specimens from the Campbell Red Lake Mine, only. Many of these specimens were extracted from "the Whopper". See the write-up on the Campbell Mine in the Mineralogical Pot Pourri" section of this website for more details on this piece.
Golf Amongst the Mines
It was too early to fish, the weather was great and the course in pretty good shape. Slightly cool and breezy so black flies were not a problem! Too bad my game was. (Don't look where your's truly's ball is headed in the picture.) Note the Campbell Red Lake Mine facilities in the background.
Paradise in Spring
What a difference a couple of months make! During May, 2006.
In the Shadow of the Headframe
It is a very short walk to work. The Red Lake Mine headframe is literally a stone's throw away.
My slice of paradise
This is where i have stayed recently when I visit Balmertown. During this particular trip, it was minus 30 dergrees Celsius and the water pipes froze!
This is where I do my work, when in Balmertown. Here, Steve McGibbon, Exploration Manager and Chief Geologist and one of the few people with the combination, opens the vault. Steve will be retiring shortly and moving on to a new home down south.