Historical Photos of Prospectors from Western Canada

When you think of a prospector, what comes to mind? For many, it’s the famous photos of Chilkoot Pass that pop into your head. Lined with people top to bottom, as they attempt to reach the Yukon River that would sail them downstream to their fortunes during the Klondike Gold Rush. We know today that for most, those fortunes never panned out, but the image of what a prospector looked like remains.

Historical Photos of Prospectors from Western Canada
Prospector with equipment outside tent, Golden, British Columbia, 1884

To put it simply, prospecting is the exploration for new minerals, such as gold, silver, or copper. Ideally, those minerals would have a monetary value, so the person searching for them, the prospector, could strike it rich. With gold being one of those most precious metals, and therefore worth the largest sums, it was at the top of most prospector’s wish lists, but not all prospectors were searching for those yellow nuggets. As you’ll see from this collection of historical photos, prospectors were also in search of minerals, other precious metals, coal, and even fossils.

Historical Photos of Prospectors from Western Canada
Prospector and pack horses, Kitchner, British Columbia, n.d.

I hope you enjoy this stroll down memory lane through Canada’s western provinces and territories. If you enjoyed this collection, you might also like these Vintage Photos of Camping from Western Canada.

Historical Photos of Prospectors from Western Canada
Prospector’s cabin in Rocky Mountains, 1887-1889
Historical Photos of Prospectors from Western Canada
Prospector’s tents on waterfront, Dawson, Yukon Territory, 1899
Prospector unloading aircraft, Taltheillie Narrows, Northwest Territories, 1940s-1950s
Cominco gold prospector, Taltheillie Narrows, Northwest Territories, 1940s-1950s
Prospector panning for gold, Yukon Territory, n.d.
John Kaasa, hunter, fisherman and prospector, 1961-1962
Charles Gottchall, coal prospector, Big Smoky area, Alberta, 1923
Jujiro Wada by dog sled. Wada was a Japanese whaler, prospector, dog musher and trapper in Canada’s north. The building behind is the home of Stuart Taylor Wood (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and his family, Herschel Island, Yukon, 1919
Prospector with burro, Donald, British Columbia, before 1898
Henry Van Meer, prospector, and pack horse, Cariboo, British Columbia, 1936
Coal prospector and tipi, Big Smoky area, Alberta, 1919-1925
Charles Gottchall, coal prospector, Big Smoky area, Alberta, 1923
Jim Warren, gold prospector, Tom Creek, northern British Columbia, 1935
A well-equipped prospector on the trail, 1934
Oscar Nelson, trapper and prospector, from Beauval and Lac la Ronge, Saskatchewan, at Nistowiak Lake, Saskatchewan, 1952
Winter camp at Nistowiak Lake, Saskatchewan, 1952
Coal prospect near Horburg, Alberta, 1922
A prospector in the Cariboo gold fields, Williams Creek, British Columbia, 1900-1915
Prospectors Hayes and Nixon originally from Ft. McMurray, standing on a boat, the “North Swan”, at Ft. Chipewyan, 1951. Object #A17155
Unidentified prospectors at their camp by Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories, n.d. Object #A5812
Old prospector’s cabin, 1923-1924. Object #CL271
Daniel Hill, prospector, at camp near Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories, n.d. Object #A5813
Exterior of the log cabin belonging to Louis Garski, trapper and prospector, n.d. Object #A5947
Prospector moving camp, 1911. Object #A7897
Prospectors Camp, 1911. Object #A7904

The photos above were collected from the Glenbow Archives and the Provincial Archives of Alberta. If you’re interested, additional information can be found for each photograph on the Glenbow website by searching the identification number that is printed on the photo. There is also the option to purchase a high resolution copy. If you search the object number that can be found in the photo captions, you will find additional information about the photographs on the Provincial Archives website. Stay tuned for additional posts featuring historical photos from across Alberta. We’d love to know what you think in the comment section below.

About Tyler Dixon 173 Articles
Tyler is originally from Saskatchewan, and yes he cheers for the Roughriders, but don’t hold that against him as Calgary has been his home for the past eight years. He is a teacher working at a wilderness- based treatment program for youth working to overcome addiction. Tyler is also a volunteer with the GOT Parks initiative, which aims at reconnecting Canada’s youth with our national, provincial, and territorial parks. During his time away from work, Tyler enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and snowboarding, team sports, travelling, photography, spending time with good friends, and being at home with his wife and German Shepherd, Rome.