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Big Interior Mountain 1913:
Part 1

From the Daily Colonist September 16, 1913.

British Capital in Island Mine.

Earl of Denbigh and Party Take Up Ptarmigan on Bear Mountain-Quarter of Million Dollars Figure in Deal.

One of the best testimonials that the mineral worth of Vancouver Island has received gratuitously came with the announcement from the Earl of Denbigh [Rudolph Feilding], who arrived in the city yesterday with Sir James Sivewright, Major Frank Johnson and Lady Marjorie Feilding, daughter of the Earl, that they have purchased the Ptarmigan Mine located on Bear Mountain on the West Coast, north of the Alberni canal, have already developed the property to the point of making it accessible and are now on the eve of placing the producing plant in operation.

The Ptarmigan Mine is a copper-gold proposition, and the sale of it to the above-mentioned party involved the passing of about a quarter of a million dollars. The money has been subscribed by the few members of the party, and there will be no public issue of stock or anything of that nature. On the face of it, the transaction has the genuine ring that mining operations in this Province demand, and the fact that the enterprise is of a purely private character, and has been advanced so far without publicity or boastfulness of any description, may be taken as additional indications of the intrinsic worth of the proposition.

Bear Mountain rises up to a height of something like 6,000 feet and the mining property is located near the summit. Bear Creek [Bedwell River] is the natural waterway that leads to the property, and already the small but influential syndicate has erected a pier or landing there so that when the mine is in operation, a consummation which is expected to develop about July of next year, there will be no difficulty about shipping the ore, which, by the way, will go to Ladysmith to be treated by the smelter of the Tyee Company.

South African Experience
All the members of the party, which include Mr. H.G. Latilla, Mr. H.H. Sutherland, Mr. H.F. Hunter, and Mr. J. [John] D. McLeod, are going up to have a look at the property today. They leave on the morning train for Port Alberni, and expect to return on Thursday. Realizing the difficulties of visiting the Ptarmigan on a time schedule, the Earl and his companions have charted the Queen City to go round the Island and bring them back from Bear Creek when they have completed their investigation.

With the exception of the Earl and his daughter, the party of visitors consists of men who have had varied experiences in South Africa, the wonderful land of mining, and their advent in British Columbia on such a substantial mission cannot fail to carry significance. Sir James Sivewright, a Scotsman, is one of the best known men at Cape Town. In his earlier days-he is now retired-he was a colleague of the great Cecil Rhodes, and gossip credits him with being the executive brain that carried to a successful issue many of the wonderful accomplishments of South Africa. He was a member of the second Government of Rhodes, in the capacity of commissioner of crown lands, and prior to that he occupied the onerous position at that time of being general manager of South African telegraphs. He was in that troublous country during the first Boer war, and his name is a household word throughout the great land that is now marching forward with the other Imperial units of the crown. In conjunction with Sir Henry William Preece, he compiled a standard book on telegraphy, which is regarded as an excellent authority today.

Major Frank Johnson and Mr. Herbert Latilla are also well known at the Cape. Mr. Sutherland and Mr. J.D. McLeod represent the vendors of the property, and are accompanying the others. Mr. J.G.C. Wood, M.P.P. for Alberni, came down to the capital to meet the party, and is traveling with them today on the visit of inspection.

An interesting talk on the scheme was given The Colonist last night by Major Johnson. "We have been working on this proposition for about a year," he said, "and now we are very nearly ready to start producing ore. We have not made any noise about our intentions, because in the first place, that is not our way, and in the second place, there is no occasion for us to say anything. There are only a few of us in the mine, and as we do not want any more, and do not want any public subscription of stock, publicity was of no use to us. We expected to be actually producing ore this month, or next month at the latest, but we miscalculated on our difficulties in cutting a road through the bush. The landing is some miles from the base of the mountain, and while we have made splendid progress with the construction of our wagon road, we have some three miles to do. That will take a month or two, and the winter is coming on rapidly. I think it advisable to state that we will be producing by next July. That is certain, and there is no use giving out anything that is not so."

Aerial Tramway
"Our aerial gear is at the base of the mountain now, and when we get there tomorrow, we will look into the matter of its erection. Of course that has already been arranged for, and the work is going ahead, but we will be on the spot this time to see the first move in this direction. The placing of the gear in position will take some time, because five thousand feet is a considerable height. I may say that we purchased the aerial gear for this purpose from the Tyee Company, and I understand that it is in perfect shape. We intend to have it all fixed up as soon as possible after the winter weather ceases, and thereafter we will be in a position to produce ore. In that connection I may state that it is our present intention to ship the ore to Ladysmith, where we have an arrangement with the Tyee Company's smelter.

Just what this mining development will mean to Vancouver Island I cannot say, but I suppose it will be for good. The plant we have installed in the mine has a capacity of 1,000 tons of ore a day, whereas the smelter at Ladysmith is only capable of handling 700 tons a day. However, that may be remedied in time. Of the ore itself it may not be necessary to speak, but I affirm that it is of high grade. My brother, who is a prominent engineer of South Africa and who has visited a number of mines in Canada, came out here at our instigation and looked the thing over. We did not know exactly what to do about it, but his report was so enthusiastic that we decided to raise the money ourselves. He is out here now, and will stay with the property until it reaches the producing stage."

The Earl of Denbigh, who is chairman of the small company of investors, is the ninth of his line, a soldier, and land owner. He joined the army in 1878 and served in the Egyptian campaign, receiving a medal and clasp for Tel-el-Keber. He also served in India. He was also a D.C. to the Marquis of Londonderry when he was the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. At the present he is a director of the London Joint Stock Bank, the Equitable Life Assurance, and the Rio Tinto Company. He owns about 8,000 acres of land in England.

A very notable thing about the statements of all the members of the party in regard to the Ptarmigan mine scheme was the reference to its effect on British and South African Capital. The Earl and Sir James stated that their single-handed action here could not fail to produce a better feeling in Great Britain and South Africa toward mining propositions in British Columbia, and their views were heartily endorsed by Major Johnson and Mr. Latilla.

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