The Dividend Gold Mine
(from the Osoyoos Times, “Pioneers Edition”, Thursday, November 15, 1973, p. 51)
One of the least known facts about the history of Osoyoos is that not too long ago a flourishing gold mine operation existed here. A 24-hour-a-day mining operation was carried on between 1937 and 1940. Its operation was located where today stands the Osoyoos Golf & Country clubhouse. Looking up from the golf course, toward the south, are the old mine holes. The whole range of hills on the west side of and bordering the Okanagan valley had rich gold showings and prospects of many mines.
The Glory Hole on a claim called the Dividend yielded ore rich in yellow metal, though only a pocket of this claim yielded $50,000 worth of gold. In 1931 Prof. J.O. Howells formed Northern Syndicate (7 citizens of Calgary), including R.B. Bennett, former premier of Canada Co. In 1933 the Syndicate organized a subsidiary company under the name of Osoyoos Mines Ltd.
Machinery at the mine consisted of a 12" rock crusher, a 10 stamp mill and two ball mills. A cyanide plant to handle a capacity of 200 tons of concentrates per day was erected.
Mining operations carried on twenty-four hours a day. Gold bricks were added to the list of Osoyoos products when the Osoyoos Mines produced its first bullion in 1938. The first brick, about the size of a pound of butter, weighed 28 ¾ pounds. Mine officials valued the gold at $30 an ounce making the brick worth about eleven thousand dollars. Unfortunately all the gold bearing quartz became exhausted and the mine was closed. Machinery and buildings were dismantled.
The mine operated on a full time basis from 1937 until the 31st of March, 1940, when it was closed for good.
The Glory Hole, as viewed from town, is the reddish area above the golf course on the western foothills. The area can be reached by foot, but the Hole itself is dangerous and unstable and should be viewed only from outside the protective barriers.
The Birth of the Dividend
Some time before 1910, Jack and George Bowerman of Oroville, Washington, located the Dividend mine, situated at the foot of the mountain and about four miles west of Osoyoos. It contained a good deal of valuable ore and a lot of work was done there. About 1917, Charlie Antonsine and another man from Oroville worked it on percentage for the Franks' Syndicate of New York. Handpicking the ore, they averaged $800 a car for themselves. It was hauled to Oroville in a big Studebaker truck, one of the first in the Valley, and shipped to the smelter at Tacoma by way of Molson, Spokane and Wenatchee. About 1933, the Northern Syndicate of Calgary bought the mine, brought in up-to-date machinery and had as many as fifty men employed there under the able supervision of the late Professor J. 0. Howells and his assistant, Captain John Davidson. However, restrictions caused by the war were responsible for closing it down again about 1942.
Fairview began as a small claim staked by Fred Gwatkins and George Sheenan in 1887 about two miles west of the valley bottom where Oliver is now located.
Camp McKinney, like Camp Fairview, began as a single claim, in this case staked by Al McKinney and Fred Rice in 1888. This claim grew into the Cariboo Mine for which McKinney was renowned. At first known as Rock Creek Quartz Camp, McKinney was the first lode mining camp in B.C. to pay dividend.
One of the least known facts about the history of Osoyoos is that not too long ago a flourishing gold mine operation existed here. A 24-hour-a-day mining operation was carried on between 1937 and 1940. Its operation was located where today stands the Osoyoos Golf & Country clubhouse.