World War II

The outbreak of World War II finally pulled much of Canada out of the Great Depression with the increased demand for supplies for the war effort and then, in 1942, with the active involvement of the Canadian military. The country and, indeed, the world, was focused on the war, which meant little or no support for any non-war industry. Gold was one of these “non-war industries.”

With the rest of the country now growing economically and supplies being funnelled to the war effort, it was difficult for the mining companies to obtain supplies and skilled labourers. Without skilled labour, the Cariboo Gold Quartz Mining Company did not have enough new development to maintain its ore reserves on Cow Mountain. Government regulations also froze wages for those that did stay and work in Wells. The mine could not get the wood it needed for the central heating plant, so it converted to coal, which had to be brought up from Vancouver Island. The fortunes of the mines began to decline steadily from mid-1942 onward, which affected the whole Wells community. Wells almost became a ghost town during this period.

When the war ended, Wells residents were optimistic that gold prices would boom again. Unfortunately, however, the price of gold remained fixed at $35.00 per troy ounce (U.S.) for the next twenty-two years. Combined with skyrocketing inflation, companies could no longer profit from the business of hard rock gold mining. The Cariboo Gold Quartz Mining Company bought the Island Mountain Mining Company in 1954 and renamed it the Aurum Mine. Even with the combined resources, the mining company did not find success again and closde for good in 1967.

Posted in .