See more historical images and stories like this in the museum’s 2020 book Stepping Into Wilderness published with Harbour Publishing.

Dedicated prospectors John Brown and Jimmy Aston had found placer gold on the Oyster River, and hoped to find the mother lode near their camp at Circlet Lake. Photo: CDM Stubbs Collection

The Oyster River has long been a magnet for gold seekers. Placer mining, which uses water to separate gold deposits from river gravel washed downstream from the mother lode, could be done with something as simple as a pan or as complex as a series of sluice boxes.

The list of some of the settlers who tried their luck includes members of the Carwithen, Rennison, Grant and Cliffe families. In later years it included men like Jimmy Aston, John Brown, Davey Jones, Sid Williams, Art Youngren and Ray McQuillan. Some treated the search as a hobby or a somewhat lucrative sideline, while a few made a modest living.