Episode 34: The Dredge Report

Allen looks at a pile of about ten photos at the City of Edmonton Archives

Allan Farrell asks what’s up with a picture of a gold dredge he saw on a plaque downtown, and where the gold in the North Saskatchewan River comes from.

If you grew up in Edmonton, maybe you went through a confusing childhood learning process that went something like this:
1) Going to Klondike Days, and associating Edmonton with a gold rush
2) Getting older and learning that the Klondike was somewhere else, and concluding that Edmonton was just a gateway, with no gold industry of its own
3) Realizing no, there was in fact both gold panning and gold dredging in Edmonton, beginning in at least the 1800s.

Allan did not grow up in Edmonton. He first learned about gold dredging in the river when he read an interpretive panel downtown, which has since been removed.

Allan stands holding an umbrella along a walkway, with the Hotel Macdonald in the background. To Allan's left, you can see the conrete plinth where the plaque/panel used to be.
To Allan’s left, you can see the conrete plinth where the plaque/panel used to be.

We went to the City of Edmonton Archives, where City Archivist Kathryn Ivany helped us identify the picture of a gold dredge he saw. This is the photo Allan picked out of the lineup:

A black and white photo of machinery along a riverbank.
Gold Dredge on the River at Edmonton, 1898 [City of Edmonton Archives, EA-10-1361]
Here’s another example of the gold dredges in Edmonton around the end of the 19th century.
City of Edmonton Archives, EA-122-12

If you don’t want to be too spoiled about what we learned, listen to the episode before scrolling further.

spoilers below

This is the Google Street View blurry cached photo of the actual interpretive panel from 2017.

We met Jody Dahrouge, of Dahrouge Geological Consulting, to learn more about where the gold in the river comes from.

Jody Dahrouge and Allan stand in front of the wall of rocks at Dahrouge Geological Consulting. It's a glass case with about 30 display squares, each featuring a couple rocks and fossils.
Jody Dahrouge and Allan in front of the wall of rocks at Dahrouge Geological Consulting

Jody let us hold his meterorite.

Jody passes a hunk of meteorite to Allan in front of the rock wall.
This is what it looks like to hold a 4.5 billion year-old hunk of space rock.

After all that learning, we really built up quite an apatite.

Apatite.

Further Reading:

This episode is made possible by support from Taproot Edmonton and the Edmonton Historical Board.

We also gave shout-outs in the episode to the Edmonton Public Library summer reading club and The Well- Endowed Podcast.

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