Buried treasure: panning for gold in Edmonton’s river valley

Editor’s note: The banner image above is courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

Written by: Brandon Nadeau, Security Supervisor and Melissa Bowerman, Assistant Curator, Geology

Most people think the only link between Edmonton and gold is the fact that it was situated on one of the routes to the historic Klondike Gold Rush. But Edmonton has its own direct claim to gold with its own gold rush that predates the Klondike. To this day, many people continue the search for gold in the North Saskatchewan River valley.

Gold is found either as lode gold within solid rock or as placer gold which has been eroded and moved by water and deposited in sands and gravels. In Edmonton, gold is often found in tiny flakes less than half a millimetre across known as flour gold. Flakes of platinum are also present in the placer deposits along the North Saskatchewan River, though in smaller amounts relative to gold.

Washing gold circa 1890. Source: Provincial Archives of Alberta.
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