Twenty-eight years ago, Whitehorse exploration geologist Carl Schulze cracked open a rock in northern Ontario and saw gold.
It was a eureka moment for him. He spent the next half-hour running up and down the hill, or so he described it to the Star this morning from his office in the Kulan industrial area.
He named the deposit the Sugar Zone.
A little over a week ago, Ontario Premier Doug Ford was cutting the ribbon for the Sugar Zone Gold Mine northwest of White River, a small community along the Trans Canada Highway between Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay.
Schulze says there are pride and satisfaction knowing you had a hand in an operating mine that employs people, that creates economic prosperity.
It doesn’t happen often.
“To actually have something you found turn into a mine is really rare, probably one in a thousand.”
Today, the Sugar Zone Gold Mine, owned by Harte Gold Corp. employs 150 directly. It has an expected mine life of 11 years.
Schulze and prospector Bruce MacLachlan were working for Noranda Exploration.
The company had optioned a block of mineral claims about 24 kilometres northwest of White River, which was founded in 1885 as a railway town.
Oddly enough, says Schulze, it was Oct. 31, 1990 when he and MacLachlan were flown into the remote site.
They set up camp and began working, Schulze going one way, MacLachlan the other.
Schulze recalls how he was two kilometres out of camp in the middle of the Boreal forest when he came across a quartz vein showing galena and pyrite, or fool’s gold.
Galena is a good indicator there may be real gold about, he says.
Schulze says the next day he was out again tromping around the bush, continuing to explore the claim block several hundred metres away from the site of the vein he’d discovered on Halloween.
“And there it was again,” he said of coming across what turned out to the same vein.
“I banged on a rock and cracked it open and I saw gold. I spent quite a while to make sure it was not fool’s gold.
“When I confirmed it was real gold, I kind of went berserk for a while, because that is the Holy Grail.”
Finding visible gold is rare, he says.
It’s rare for anybody in the exploration business.
Schulze says it has only happened to him a couple of times – and he’s been an exploration geologist for some 40 years.
“I was probably the most profoundly striking rush I’ve had.”
Schulze says getting married was a wonderful thing, but he knew he was getting married.
Having children was another wonderful thing – but he knew he was having children.
Cracking open that rock and seeing gold, that was different.
“I just ran up and down the hill. Wow, I did it.
“When I saw that, I knew why people went to the end of the Earth, I knew why people went to the Yukon in the 1890s to look for gold. I knew it was a slam dunk.”
Two years later, in 1992, Schulze arrived in the territory after driving a company truck from Thunder Bay to Dawson City.
And he’s still here.
Perhaps because he’s seen visible gold in the Yukon too.