A Brief Geological Resume of the Little Long Lac Gold Area
Prepared for “Gold” by Percy C.[sic] Hopkins, Consulting Geologist
Part 2 of 4 from Gold magazine in August 1934
Tony Okland(sic) ̶ The Trapper Whose Dreams Came True
How would you like to wake up some morning and find yourself rich after
years of struggle that seemed to lead nowhere? Few people are fortunate
enough to experience this super-thrill but if you want to know what its like
ask Tony Okland, with Tom Johnston, the original staker of Little Long Lac
For over twenty-five years Tony wandered up and down the North Country
hunting and trapping, and keeping a weather eye open for pay streaks. Trapping
in winter and working on the section in summer Tony managed to keep body
and soul together after a fashion. Less than two years ago Fortune favored
him with a smile, and to-day he is comfortably well off.
In June, 1932, Tony accompanied Tom A. Johnston on an exploration and
prospecting trip on Little Long Lac. While on their way to several locations
which Tony had previously investigated in a casual way they came across a
likely looking outcrop of quartz a foot and a half under water. The vein so
whetted their interests that they staked claim T.B.10560, which was the nucleus
of one of the most spectacular gold discoveries to date, the Little Long Lac
Gold Mines, Limited.
It is reported that Tony received for his share, $25,000 in cash and 100,000
shares of Little Long Lac. With this stock quoted on the Standard exchange
at a current price in the neighbourhood of $7.70 a share you can figure out
whether Tony is in luck or not. Tom Johnston received an equal interest.
“Sure, I got some two, tree hundred t’housands, I guess,” Tony will admit
with a grin, if you ask him about it. Still in the prime of middle life Okland
is looking forward to years of freedom from financial worries. Almost any day
you can see him skimming over the Lac waters in a fine high-powered
mahogany cruiser, or playing the congenial host to his friends. Tony believes
in keeping money in circulation.
Tom Johnson ̶ Discoverer of Five Principal Gold Finds
If a prospector makes one good find in his lifetime he can consider himself
fortunate, but to make five principal gold discoveries speaks volumes for the
judgment of the finder. Such has been the experience of Tom A. Johnson who
successfully located what are now the Bankfield, Long Lac Lagoon, Little
Long Lac, Johnson-Nipigon and Dik-Dik properties.
Twelve years ago Johnson and his brother prospected much of the country
in the Long Lac District and staked claims, although they found nothing
that could be termed spectacular. Among those claims staked in 1922, two of
them later became part of the Johnson-Nipigon Mine(1).
In the latter part of 1931 Johnson asked Robert Wells, of Tashota fame,
to accompany him into the Little Long Lac section. After a day of prospecting
without results Bob and Tom felt anything but cheerful when October 3
dawned in a dismal rain. The story continues in Johnson’s own words.
“Rather than waste the day at our camp I suggested that we cruise around
the shore-line. Twenty minutes from our camp I noticed an outcrop in the
lake and headed the canoe towards the ledge. Stepping out I broke off a piece
of rock which was well mineralized, and with some difficulty I broke off a
piece of quartz about two and a half feet under water with a nice showing of
free gold on one side.”
Eighteen claims were staked and samples tested which eventually resulted
in Percy Hopkins optioning the property, and drilling was carried on by the
Sudbury Diamond Drilling Company. This was the beginning of the Bankfield
In June of the same year Johnson and Tony Okland made a trip on Little
Long Lac. Listen to Johnson tell this yarn of the beginnings of the now famous
Little Long Lac Gold Mines.
“Okland told me of a showing he had seen some years before a short
distance around the point. About seventy feet north of this showing we spotted
some quartz fragments in about a foot and a half of water close to the shoreline.
The finding of a little free gold whetted our appetite. We dug up several
pounds of the quartz fragments on the lake shore and I staked claim T.B.10560
the same day. We continued our staking until we had fifteen claims.”
Johnson sent samples out to Percy Hopkins who interested Joseph Errington
in the showing. Negotiations eventually resulted in the formation of the
Little Long Lac Gold Mines, Limited.
And still Tom continued to look for some more indications of the king of
metals. Let him continue his own story.
“About ten days after making the Little Long Lac find Okland and I went
to the point on the west arm of the lake where the portage from the Mosher
comes out. Finding plenty of evidences of gold I organized a party and we
staked 18 claims. Then we consolidated the claims in a group, with our
eighteen claims, Paddy Barry’s claim, Archie Gillies’ claim and Charlie Ellis’
three claims making up the property. This was optioned to the Lake Maron
company who, after doing some work and staking other claims, formed the
Long Lac Lagoon Mines(2).”
Tom Johnson’s spectacular streak of discoveries was not over yet. On June
8, 1933, Johnson, with Art Koch, went to the north end of Dillabough Lake.
Here the two separated, Johnson going in a southeasterly direction until he
came to the north shore of the Atigogama Lake.
“I cruised west along the shore for about an eighth of a mile,” states Tom,
“and then struck northward over the hill. Near the top I came across a small
rather well-mineralized outcrop.”
Further scouting revealed two other outcrops. Johnson took some samples
which he later panned and got some nice tailings. Returning the next day Koch
and Johnson staked eighteen claims. Johnson optioned his claims to K. W.
Fritzsche, engineer for the Dik-Dik Exploration Company(3).
Commenting on these outstanding finds Johnson said, “The fact that all
these discoveries have lately proven to possess almost spectacular possibilities
as mines, gives me, of course, considerable satisfaction as it would any prospector.
But, what seems most interesting to me, is that it proves the old adage
about truth being sometimes stranger than even the most daring fiction.”
(Continued in Part 3)
1 Johnson-Nipigon Mines Ltd. was not a mine, it was a prospect. Staked by Thomas Alexander Johnson in 1923, it was worked by the prospector on and off still 1933. Johnson did extensive stripping and drilled 9 holes, the record of which has been lost. Its importance lies in its location, being 0.8 km west of the shaft of the Tashota-Nipigon mine. This mine poured its first brick in 1935 and over the next few years had a limited production. The shaft is located on the South Onaman River and accessed today by the Kinghorn Road (a bush road) off Hwy. 11, east of Jellicoe. It is the most northerly producer in the Tashota-Kowkash-Greenstone gold area.
2 Longlac Lagoon Mines Ltd. was a creature of Oro Plata Mining Co. Again, Longlac Lagoon was a prospect, not a mine.
Mosher Lake is just a few hundred yards south of “the west arm of the lake”, meaning Barton Bay of Kenogamisis Lake. This gold find was less than a mile west of the Little Long Lac discovery.
Longlac Lagoon (a subsidiary of Ora Plata) performed trenching, miscellaneous surface work, and 21,500 feet of drilling.
In 1935, Longlac Lagoon held a block of 52 claims, which were all transferred to T.A. Johnson. In 1936, Johnson incorporated Elmos Gold Mines Ltd., and in 1938, shaft-sinking began.
The Elmos mine (a composite name of Ellis and Mosher) is often described as situated on an island. In reality, it is situated on the marshy shoreline of the west arm of Barton Bay. A trestle ran from the north shore to the south shore to carry ore cars. The ore was transported by truck to the Northern Empire mine in Beardmore for processing.
The mine ran, with interruptions, until 1948 under the name Talmora Longlac. As a gold producer, it was a huge disappointment. It produced 1,415 ounces, along with a few ounces of silver, for a total value of approximately $53,168.
It goes without saying that more gold was poured into the mine than was ever extracted from it.
Tom Johnson never lived to experience the disappointment. He died in 1944.
Sidebar – Tombill Gold Mines Ltd. was incorporated in 1935. The name is a composite of the names of brothers Tom and Bill Johnson. The property adjoined the Bankfield mine to the west. The Tombill was the sixth producer in the Geraldton (Little Long Lac) gold camp, producing 68,739 oz.
In 1959, Tombill Gold Mines Ltd. changed its name to Tombill Mines Ltd. (established in 1935). This company now controls property west of Mosher Lake which used to be controlled, first by Longlac Lagoon, then by the Elmos/Talmora Longlac mine.
The exciting news is that Tombill Mines Ltd. started a drilling campaign in January 2021. To the east of Mosher Lake is property now controlled by Equinox Gold Corp. (formerly Premier Gold, then Greenstone Gold). The Equinox Gold property continues to run westward, so that it is now interrupted by the swath of claims on which Tombill Mines is exploring. To date, drill results have not been reported. Meanwhile, Equinox is starting construction of an open pit just east of Mosher Lake.
Tom Johnson would be proud to know that his name, and his family name, is living on in the Little Long Lac gold field.
3 The Dik-Dik property was staked by T.A. Johnson in 1933 and acquired by Dik-Dik Exploration Co. In the first year, the company at mined ore from an open cut and then sank a shaft to 160 feet. In 1935, the company installed a 20-ton per day mill, after which the property became Orphan Gold Mining Corp. In 1936, the mine became Sarmac Gold Mining Operations Ltd., but work was suspended indefinitely after having produced 2,460 ounces of gold and 1,558 of silver. The property is located on a ridge just north of Atigogama Lake on the Kinghorn Road.
03j View of the Elmos mine in 1938, looking north and east. The headframe is in the cluster of structures to the east. A trestle for ore cars runs from the north shore to the south shore. Harry Fisher collection.
03k “PROSPECTORS WHO WON FORTUNES . . . “ Gold article.
03l Aerial view of the Elmos mine in 1938. On the far right, smoke rises from the new community of Geraldton. Harry Fisher collection.
03m Section of Map No. 44d, annotated, Little Long Lac Gold Area, 1935. Ontario Department of Mines.
03n Partly built headframe of the Elmos mine ca 1938. It is surrounded by rock excavated from the shaft. Collection of Charles Dobie/E.O. Berger.
03o Long Lac Lagoon ad.
03p Oro Plata ad.