Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cape Breton Gold

I finished of the book on the remarkable apparent presence of decades long Chinese presence in Cape Breton during the fifteenth century.  It is possible that the exploration fleet of Zheng He made land fall during his voyage of exploration that penetrated the Atlantic.

The currents leading north from the southern tip of Africa pass through the equatorial zone and into the Gulf Stream.  Merely going with northerly tending currents culminates with a final land fall on Cape Breton.  Because Europeans were attempting to cross these currents, they were forced to follow far less obvious routes.

What finally mattered though was the immediate discovery of alluvial gold in beach sands at possibly several locales on the island.  That alone would have justified creating a major presence immediately on the island and this was well within the capacity of the fleet.  They also had easy access to coal for fuel that they understood and it appears that they also located sufficient iron to support an iron works of some sort.

The traditional history associates the island with the establishment of seven towns, likely holding populations each of several hundred.  Although we are still at the very beginning of archeological work, there is evidence of fields.  However, the abundant sea life here could easily have supplied ample dried fish protein with assistance from the native population.

It is also observed that the Micmac Indians exhibited an advanced knowledge base, language and script on contact with Europeans that was never satisfactorily explained.  It is reasonable that the Chinese communities extended education to the Micmac young.

It is noteworthy that the building ruins observed to date was labor intense.  This is also necessary in order to exploit alluvial gold properly.  Thus the gold would be mined during the summer months, while the off season allowed for the building of the typical walled Chinese towns.

The island of the seven cities was secure and an excellent self sustaining base for an ongoing mapping initiative of the Atlantic.

I suspect the fact that it returned gold each season to the Emperor of China postponed its premature suspension until the gold itself ran out at the end of the fifteenth century.

It is noteworthy that Chinese alluvial miners were highly regarded in gold rush days as the most diligent gleaners of gold in placer operations.  Thus I am unsurprised that no present day alluvial gold is readily apparent in the same waters.  The gold will be there but it will be below easy access by hand miners.  Currents and wind will have buried such since then.

We have expanded on the conjecture made by Paul Chaisson.  I observe that at present the response on the internet to his work is rather modest.  A few noisy naysayers are making themselves heard and several local archeologists made a walk about and argued against the conjecture.

Opinion is wonderful but evidence from well planned excavation is often convincing.  I used to show budding mining professionals that many Canadian mines are located on roads and highways that preceded the actual discovery.  The reason for this is that understanding was possible only after many professional eyeballs had looked at the evidence and worked on the site. 

This site is encouraging and the cultural record of seven cities from the absolute beginning of European exploration is strongly encouraging.  So far we have a handful of folks who have done reconnaissance.  Paul reports a couple of Ming burial sites and these are prime.  The platforms were a site leveling technique that left only themselves and must remain suggestive until actual cultural evidence is excavated.  Known graves and apparent foundries are much better.

A mining operation that established at least one principal operation and half dozen secondary towns on specific mine locales was in contact with their homeland.  It is reasonable that pottery was used and broken over perhaps seventy years at the main locale and likely a lot less at the secondary locales.  It is not likely that it was hauled down to the beach and thrown in the ocean.  We simply have not located any waste tips as yet for what will turn out to be a small community.

The site needs to be carefully mapped with attention to the possible living quarters.  Again this has hardly happened as yet.  Occupation was quite brief as is typical of mining projects.  The build up of debris was thus a lot less than might be expected.  Also most everything has been covered with centuries of moss which is difficult to interpret without a lot of spade work.


Unknown said...


Excellent posting, thanks.

Paul here from on Cape Breton Island.

Paul Chiasson and film crew used us as a base for recent filming on "Ancient Chinese Secrets"

Is Paul C and gang aware of your findings and theories.

If not, I'd be happy to be the bridge. Will forward on the url to him and you can find me on my website or

Thanks again.

PS Want to know more as does he to justify real digging which is necessary, right?

arclein said...

Hi Paul

Make the link. They buried their garbage somewhere up there. And smelters produce a lot of slag often used in roads.

arclein said...

hi paul

I tried to email you as per your site. check spam filters.

Attica Musings said...

I think you would find volunteer diggers, if you can build a website. A high summer campout and crew.

What an adventure. The book is fascinating and I can't believe how lukewarm the response is.

Attica Musings said...

So will there be a need for volunteers on the project to look for trash sites?
This book was amazing. I am hoping to see some sort of dig in the near future. Surely there are some foundations or such interested in doing a preliminary survey of the site with trial digs for trash sites? Volunteers I am sure will appear to camp out and be trained to help with the survey.

Unknown said...


I have 6 interns coming this summer to Cabot Shores and there will be other volunteers who will probably have an interest in some exploration with permission of the site.

Anonymous said...

I agree i would be happy to at least go one day with the ole metal detector.If theres metal there i can find it.I also live in cape breton.