BC miner Don McLeod inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame

McLeod, who turns 89 in 2017, says he was “humbled and honoured” to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

by Peter Caulfield
Don McLeod, Canadian Mining Hall of Fame inductee.

Don McLeod, Canadian Mining Hall of Fame inductee. — Photo: Bruce McLeod

Don McLeod, who for years has been a well-known figure in Canada’s mining industry, was recently inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame (CMHF).

The induction ceremony took place before a sold-out audience of 1,000 at the 29th Annual CMHF Dinner and Induction Ceremony at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Born and raised in Stewart, B.C., in the northwestern corner of the province, McLeod began his career as a pack-horse operator and miner’s helper in the 1940s, and went on to become a successful mine finder, developer, and founder of the Vancouver-based Northair Group of Companies.

McLeod, who turns 89 in 2017, says he was “humbled and honoured” to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“I first got into mining when I was 15 years of age in 1943,” he said. “There were very few career options in Stewart in the '40s besides mining, and most of the other jobs were seasonal in forestry and transport.”

McLeod’s first break came in the 1960s, by way of a fellow named Jack Macbeth.

“Jack suggested I take a position as exploration manager of a company which held the Border Group claim group near Stewart,” he said. McLeod then was hired by Henry Ewanchuck as mine superintendent of the Premier Mine. “I was promoted to manager and, following that assignment, I was asked to take a position in charge of the exploration for Pyramid Mines,” he said. “I stayed with Pyramid until it was sold to Cominco.”

Following his stint with Pyramid, McLeod relocated to Vancouver and founded Northair Mines Ltd. In 1972, he optioned a grassroots discovery near Whistler, B.C., and brought it into production 42 months later. Over the next seven years, the Brandywine Mine profitably produced more than $70 million worth of gold, silver, lead and zinc. In the 1980s, one of his companies, Newhawk Gold Mines, discovered high-grade gold deposits at the Brucejack project in the Golden Triangle north of Stewart. Brucejack was later acquired by Pretivm Resources Inc., which went on to discover the 6.9-million-ounce Valley of the Kings (VOK) gold deposit. VOK is slated to go into commercial production in 2017.

McLeod’s best memories? “Successfully discovering, developing and putting three mines into production in British Columbia,” he said.

The most important lesson he learned in his mining career? “Don’t say ‘no’ when someone offers you a financing,” he said. In addition to his business activities, McLeod has supported health and education causes, including the Mining for Miracles campaign, and St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, through the McLeod Family Professorship in Valvular Heart Disease Intervention.

In addition to being named a Mining Living Legend by Cambridge House, McLeod was the recipient of the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia’s E.A. Scholz Award for excellence in mine development, and the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum’s Proficiency Award.

Because McLeod was unable to attend the induction ceremony himself, his daughter Catherine and son Bruce journeyed to Toronto and accepted the award for him.

Bruce McLeod

Bruce McLeod, son of Don and CEO of Sabrina Gold and Silver Corp. — Photo: Bruce McLeod

“Don has always had an attitude of ‘can do,’” said Bruce McLeod, who is CEO of Sabina Gold and Silver Corp. in Vancouver.  “Don knows there is always a way to do get something done.”

Bruce McLeod said that during Don’s long mining career, he mentored many young people in the industry. “At the induction ceremony in Toronto, many people came up to Catherine and me and told us how much Don had helped and influenced them positively in their careers,” Bruce said.

Catherine McLeod-Seltzer, chairman of Bear Creek Mining Corp. in Vancouver, said that, at 88, Don is the oldest living inductee in the Hall of Fame. 

“Bruce and I grew up immersed in mining,” McLeod-Seltzer said. “One of the most important things both of us inherited from Don is a very strong ethical base.”

Catherine McLeod-Seltzer

Catherine McLeod-Seltzer, daughter of Don and chairman of Beer Creek Mining Corp. — Photo: Bruce McLeod

Graeme Currie, a retired mining analyst and investment banker with Canaccord Capital (now Canaccord Genuity), says he first met Don in 1984 when Currie was following one of his companies.

“Don is the standard I used to measure all other people in business against, both personally and in business,” he said. Currie says McLeod is a real team player. “He’s loyal and trustworthy, and that loyalty was returned by the people he worked with,” he said. “Don is somebody anybody would like to have their children mentored by. Just look at Bruce and Catherine.”

Link to Don’s acceptance speech:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoMzGUoVjXc&feature=youtu.be

Link to tribute video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khAKC6Ousao

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