Red Lake was originally the site of a Hudson's Bay Co fur-trading post (1790-1822). Its modern existence stems from gold mining. Survey work in the area was first carried out by the Geological Survey of Canada in 1883, but no mineral discoveries were recorded until 1897. Even then, the remoteness of the region prevented serious mining activity until 1925 when claims registered by Ray and Lorne Howey and George McNeely touched off a major gold rush. Over a thousand prospectors flooded into the area, and at the peak of the boom in the 1930s and 1940s there were 12 producing mines.
Gold mining stagnated during the next 3 decades and the number of mines in the region was reduced to a handful. The 1980s brought renewed activity with 4 new mines, but they were all short-lived. There are now 2 operating mines in the area, both in Balmertown. A highway reached Red Lake in 1946, opening the area to tourism. Timber extraction also adds to the economic mix.
Author MATT BRAY
Links to Other Sites
The official website of Red Lake, Ont.