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Discovery of Gold in 1861

Discovery of Gold in 1861


 We can perhaps imagine this area in 1860, the few residents quietly working to make their living. The Skerry family farming their land, the Allen family, with their apprentices, making chairs and transporting them by horse and wagon to Halifax. Soon the peace was to be shattered by the cry of “GOLD AT WAVERLEY”!

There is some controversy as to the first actual discoverer of the gold but it is recorded that three men, Cornelius Blois, Henry Taylor and James Skerry made their findings known at about the same time.  During August and September of 1861, Cornelius Blois, digging behind the home where his family resided, made a find but did not file a claim. It was on the nearby Charles P. Allen’s property that Henry Taylor made his discovery and first brought the find to public notice on August 23rd, 1861. This area we know today as Muddy Pond and American Hill.

 We can, perhaps, imagine the excitement when the cry of “GOLD AT WAVERLEY” reached Halifax! It was not unusual that such important personages as The Honorable Joseph Howe drove to Waverley, examined the area, and returned to Halifax with some nuggets.  After Mr. Howe made a statement upon his return to Halifax, hundreds rushed to the grounds.

 The Chebucto Mining Association, made up of a group of Halifax merchants, attempted to make a thorough and systematic prospect of the area. They had obtained exclusive rights of search for six months, until May 1st, 1862, from Mr. Taylor. They were not successful in their venture but the day following cessation of their lease, Mr. Taylor exposed a large gold bearing vein.

 As we have mentioned, a third man was James Skerry, who made his find on Laidlaw’s Hill, in the eastern division of Waverley on September 14th, 1861.  Also, around this time, the mines were gaining worldwide attention and soon mining companies from all over the world would settle here to try and make their fortunes.

 In 1864 the principal companies engaged in active mining were the Waverley and Boston Company, the North American Company, Rockland and Lake Major Company (Thomas L. DeWolf), and the Chebucto Mining Company.

 Hardrock miners from Germany and Cornwall, England had been brought in and these, along with other ambitious gold seekers, mixed with the few permanent residents. In many instances shacks were hastily constructed, but many came with families and built more permanent structures. Some of these homes are still in evidence today, suggesting that the early belief in Waverley’s future was sincere.