Kathleen Rice, Prospector
by Linda C Butler
Kathleen Rice was recently inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame for her early prospecting work and her discovery of the first nickel deposits in Manitoba. There are a few people living who remember her and this recent honor has generated some conversation about her.
Comments from Gus Olson March 2014: Gus said that Kathleen Rice came across the winter ice from her island to the community of Herb Lake with her white pony, Billy. He said Billy was an attractive pony, more like a racehorse than the workhorses common in the area. Kathleen would park the horse on the lake, close to Roberts place, and then walk to the store and post office. Gus Olson’s folks lived nearby. (His dad was Charlie Olson.) Kathleen would stop for tea and visit with either Roberts or with Gus’ folks, before she made the trip home.
Gus said that he doesn’t recall Rice visiting Herb Lake in the summertime, and said that she never came with a canoe. He recalls Dick Woosey, her partner, coming across to town in a canoe with a motor that sputtered. (Woosey was one of the founders of the Herb Lake mine, approx 1914. He died a number of years before Rice.)
I spoke to Georgette Major (Mar 2014) about Rice’s horses as I thought that Majors had given Old Blue to Rice, but Georgette was uncertain and thought that Old Blue had gone to George Bartlett and one of their other horses had gone to Rice. Gus said that the horse Billy was an earlier horse, before Georgette Major moved to Herb Lake in the 1940s.
Gus said that there had been an early snowmobile on Rice’s Island, probably purchased about 1928, which was not used by Rice. In approx 1944, George Bartlett purchased it and it was still in almost new condition. Johnny Folster worked on it and got it running. It was then sold to Roy Gray.
Gus said that his family would stop in the summertime to visit Rice and get strawberries from her. They would have a cup of tea. She always carried her rifle with her, even when entertaining friends. Gus said that he assumed she carried the gun to protect the mineral deposits on her island from other prospectors. She raised a white flag if she wanted someone to stop who was passing by on the lake.
Doris Jacobsen (Bryenton) made these comments: I did like to go and visit with Miss Rice. She was always so kind to take me out and let me eat strawberries or whatever was growing in her garden. And she told me interesting stories that I loved to hear but I now realize were part of the health issues she was dealing with. Dad often stopped there if we were going across to Snow Lake to see if she needed supplies. In return she supplied us with fresh vegetables.
These comments are interesting because they provide more insight into Rice’s life.