Isaac

Isaac Creek (flowing North into Frances Creek)

More shipments were made from the Isaac claim than many other better known mines in the Valley, totalling at least 250 tons over a period of about eight years … This record is surprising given that few people today have heard about the Isaac mine.


There’s a bit of confusion about the naming origins of Isaac Creek. The name itself comes from the Isaac mining claim, however it’s not clear who the mining claim itself was named after.

Staking the Claim

The Isaac claim was recorded in autumn 1899 by Joe Lessard, who had been led to the site to stake the claim by at least one First Nations man.1 Evidence suggests that the actual discoverer of the claim was named Isaac (possibly Isaac Tenesse), however the records from the time see no reason to be more detailed than, “the Isaac claim was found by Indians.”2 A later retelling reported that the claim was “named after an old Indian who stumbled upon it while goat hunting.”3

Very soon after staking the claim, Lessard brought Harold E. Forster and J.A. Bangs out to see it. Part of the claim showed eight feet of solid galena ore,1 and Forster immediately bought it with plans to begin working it the following year.4

Development and Hype

Given the remoteness of the claim up No 3 Creek (now Frances Creek, also sometimes seen as the North Fork of No 2 creek), Forster was forced to start development by cutting a trail to the claim.2 It seems that the bulk of this work was paid for by the Province, including the construction of seven bridges.5

Early newspaper reports about the Isaac claim are typical of the time in that reporting was done as much to attract investors as to share information about actual activity on the site. The first mention of the Isaac reports it as “a big strike.”1 Soon after it was announced that it “will be worked on an extensive scale,”4 by Forster, who was himself reported as a “well-known capitalist.”6 Between the large strike and Forster’s involvement, there was a strong implication that the Isaac claim would be a good investment opportunity. (A post on Forster will be written, as soon as I muster up the courage and the sources)

Unavoidable Delays

Despite the hype, development on the Isaac claim was slow in coming. A forty-five foot tunnel was driven in 1901 to better show the ore body and encourage investment,7 however the claim was remote and the costs of transporting ore were high. It wasn’t until 1915 that the first contract was given to transport ore from the mine to Brisco Station, a task that began with putting in a rawhide road up to the mine itself.8 By this time the claim had been Crown Granted, meaning that it had been officially surveyed. The Lead Queen claim had also been staked nearby, and the development of the Lead Queen had prompted a road to be built up Frances Creek.

The Isaac claim itself was located near the head of Isaac Creek, which entered Frances Creek a few miles below the Lead Queen cabin. The original mine camp was at the edge of a small, rock bound lake with the claim workings on a bluff on the opposite shore of the lake. In 1915, some thirty tons of “good-looking ore” had been taken out to perch precariously on a narrow ledge, and materials had been brought in to begin work on an aerial tramway for better access.9 This tramway is never mentioned again in official reports, and it is unclear if it was ever built.

A Regular Shipper

More shipments were made from the Isaac claim than many other better known mines in the Valley, totaling at least 250 tons to the Trail smelter over a period of about eight years. Although not a massive amount of ore, the regularity of the shipments certainly gave the property a better claim to consistency than, for example, the Swansea or the Red Line. The record is even more surprising given that few people today have heard about the Isaac mine.

Year Amount Shipped Owner
1916 4 to 5 carloads10 Harold E. Forster
1917 125 tons11 Harold E. Forster
1918 idle12 Harold E. Forster
1919 80 tons13 Paul Denhart
1920 62 tons14 Paul Denhart
1921 Idle Unconfirmed
1922 Men employed, no shipment15 James Rutherford
1923 30 tons16 Invermere Mines Ltd.: James J Coughlan

Legacy

It’s unknown exactly when the name “Isaac Creek” was given to the small tributary of Frances Creek. Even in reports of the mine in 1922 its location is identified as being on No 3 creek – the actual tributary of Isaac Creek was likely too small and obscure to be of much directional help.

Regardless, I am quite curious if anything from the mine remains on the property. There seem to have been regular snow and rock slides in the area, so it might be swept clean, but it intrigues me that there is another mostly forgotten mine located so close to the Lead Queen. If anyone knows more, please let me know!

Footnotes

1. “Mining Notes,” The Prospector (Fort Steele), 7 October 1899, p 1. https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0187262
2. “The Mines,” The Outcrop (Canterbury), 7 June 1900, p 1. http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/OTC/1900/06/07/1/Ar00102.html
3. Olive Wolfenden, “Brisco: Reminiscences of Early Days,” The Lake Windermere Valley Echo (Invermere), 18 July 1958, p 8.
4. “Windermere News,” Nelson Daily Miner, 22 May 1900, p 3.
https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0082746
5. British Columbia. Legislative Assembly. Report of the Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works of the Province of British Columbia, for the Year Ending 31st December 1900 (Victoria: Government Printer, 1901), p 479.”
https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0064220
6. “Windermere News,” Nelson Daily Miner, 7 July 1900, p 3.
https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0082509
7. “The Windermere Mines: Isaac Claim,” The Prospector (Fort Steele), 5 October 1901, p 1. https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0187244
8. “Town Topics,” The Golden Star, 4 November 1915, p 4.
9. British Columbia. Legislative Assembly. The Annual Report of the Minister of Mines for the Year Ending 31st December 1915 (Victoria: Government Printer, 1916), p K 82.” https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0059746
10. British Columbia. Legislative Assembly. The Annual Report of the Minister of Mines for the Year Ending 31st December 1916 (Victoria: Government Printer, 1917), p K 187.” https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0059771
11. British Columbia. Legislative Assembly. The Annual Report of the Minister of Mines for the Year Ending 31st December 1917 (Victoria: Government Printer, 1918), p F 147.” https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0059813
12. British Columbia. Legislative Assembly. The Annual Report of the Minister of Mines for the Year Ending 31st December 1918 (Victoria: Government Printer, 1919), p K 185.” https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0059678
13. British Columbia. Legislative Assembly. The Annual Report of the Minister of Mines for the Year Ending 31st December 1919 (Victoria: Government Printer, 1920), p N 113.” https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0224426
14. British Columbia. Legislative Assembly. The Annual Report of the Minister of Mines for the Year Ending 31st December 1920 (Victoria: Government Printer, 1921), p N 115.” https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0226034
15. British Columbia. Legislative Assembly. The Annual Report of the Minister of Mines for the Year Ending 31st December 1922 (Victoria: Government Printer, 1923), p N 184.” https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0300577
16. British Columbia. Legislative Assembly. The Annual Report of the Minister of Mines for the Year Ending 31st December 1923 (Victoria: Government Printer, 1924), p A 200.” https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0225866

Reference

BC Geographical Names, “Isaac Creek,” Accessed 19 August 2020. http://apps.gov.bc.ca/pub/bcgnws/names/23066.html

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