The premise here is that Tom Creighton and David Collins have been invited, from the after world, to emcee at the Saturday night ‘Wild Rice’ concert of Culture Days. It is the 100th anniversary of Collins showing Creighton his discovery of what would later be called the Flin Flon ore body.  For the first 5 acts, the two characters don’t realize the other is there. They take turns entering the stage from opposite sides, and telling their stories and introducing the entertainers.

(Looking ghostly)

Good evening.  I’m Tom Creighton and I guess I am your emcee tonight.  A job you wouldn’t have found me dead doing when I was alive.

Up until a few minutes ago I was just floating around strumming on my harp when - shizam! I’m summoned to the returns department and shizam here I am.  Being recalled is pretty rare you know. It causes hard feelings - if you let one go back how do you say know to everyone else?  Whoever this Crystal Kolt gal is - she must have powerful connections.

Anyway ... I guess it is exactly 100 years this fall since the Flin Flon ore body was discovered and this show is a celebration of that event.  All they said was I was supposed to help introduce tonight’s entertainers - but before that,   I’m supposed to tell you something about myself.  So here goes:

I came north from Ontario when I was very young. I was born in Dunedin, March 7, 1874.  Over the years I did a lot of different things to make a living.  By the time I first set eyes on this place I was already 40 years old, and by then I’d done a lot of prospecting, but I had also done a lot of commercial fishing and a lot of trapping. There were no airplanes. The railway only went as far as The Pas and even that was new in 1912. So we paddled canoes everywhere.  That’s the reason the Flin Flon ore body was so late being found - it’s kind of on top of the pile of rocks called the Canadian Shield. Coming in from the south was all upstream paddling. What you folks call Sturgeon-Weir was called the Maligne in my day. That is French for ‘nasty’.  Lots of white water to paddle up.

There were not much in the way of maps so when we met locals we always tried to get information about what connected to what - sometimes we could even find someone who could direct us to a promising rock showing, but that was rare. Not many knew what to look for and mostly they were trappers and hunters looking for signs of animal activity not mineral deposits.

 In 1913 I was hooked up with some fellas to prospect the west side of Beaver Lake and we caused a little bit of excitement when it looked like we had struck it rich.  We set off the first gold rush in Saskatchewan.  A thousand guys poured into the area.  The town of Beaver City was created. Old Jack Hammell, the greatest mining promoter in Canadian History, had great hopes for Beaver City, but his plans didn’t pan out.

In the fall if the next year, that would be the fall of 1914 I struck out on my own exploring further west. That was the first time I saw Flin Flon Lake.  The locals called it Fishpole Lake - you folks know it as the tailings pond.  When I first saw it, the water was crystal clear and I could see the sulphides on the bottom as far as I walked out into it. (Sulphides for the information of those of you who don’t prospect is where you find lots of good things like copper and zinc.)  I was actually hoping to find gold but this was pretty exciting - I knew it was low grade but it was so big.  I knew if we could find someone with deep enough pockets this was going to be a mine.


I know some people think I got rich off the Flin Flon find but I only got $100,000 and I had to wait a long time for that.  Years and years.
But HBM&S always treated me well. After the mine got started, Ol’ Rosco Channing used to hire me to fly with HB’s Exploration guys checking out promising sites.  Jack Hammell got me involved for a while with a new company he had put together to fly prospectors into remote places. He called the company Name and the idea was that if a prospector found something Name got a piece of whatever came of it. Name was very successful - Pickle Crow and Red Lake were major discoveries made by prospectors partnered with Jack Hammell.  It made him lots of money - me not so much. 

The last twelve years of my life I had a real nice little apartment in the Company Staff House.  I had #1 all fixed up just the way I liked.  I had a record player and all the latest records. I even had a tea wagon and china. I had anything I wanted to eat any time I wanted it from the kitchen. Not that I needed much.  I usually ate by myself. To tell you the truth I was just as happy to have a plate of lettuce as anything. And for recreation, for a little exercise, you know what I liked best?  Once my hockey playing days were over?  I loved badminton.  I played and coached badminton right up to the end.

I died in the company hospital across Church Street from the Staff House April 6, 1949.  They threw a heck of a funeral for me.

(Also looking ghostly)

Good evening - my name is David Collins, I am your emcee this evening. Don’t ask me why or even how.  A few minutes ago I was sitting minding my own business up there in Prospectors Heaven and POOF I was in the Returns Department. Somebody named Crystal Kolt had put in a request and here I am. I always figured after you were dead nothing would scare you. Well I’m terrified, but here goes.  First, I’m supposed to tell you a little about myself.

I was born in Sherridon in 1867 - the same year Canada was born. My dad’s name is same as mine, David Collins, and my mom’s is Mary Bighetty. My whole life was spent in about a hundred square miles. Mostly I trapped. In 1914 my trap line included Fishpole Lake what you call the Tailings Pond. When I died in 1931 Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting had only been around for a little over three years and the railway into Cranberry and Flin Flon was only two years old. The Great Depression was on, times were tough, but Flin Flon was growing at an amazing rate.  In 1927 when The Company was created there was a few hundred men here and by the time I died there were thousands of people here. Raising their families and having a good life - All because of what I found. 

I have no complaints about how things worked out for me. I know I was the true discoverer of the ore body that made Flin Flon possible. Sure I deserved more than the $6 worth of groceries I got from Tom Creighton, I’m still waiting for some sugar for my tea, but I’m not bitter. I really didn’t know anything about how to stake a claim. Creighton and his partners - the Mosher brothers and the Dions - those boys, they knew what they were doing.  They took months figuring out where the good stuff was under the ground. They did a lot of dynamiting before they registered their claims.  And they knew how to register their claims without somebody else beating them to it. There were other guys like ants swarming all over the place desperate to find something. So what Creighton did was no small trick.  You know that within days of registering their claims in The Pas, guys like Jack Callinan claimed every square inch around the Apex and Unique claims. That’s what Creighton’s bunch called their claims. So I learned a few things and later I made a promising discovery near Thompson Lake - just up Sourdough Bay from my place at Baker’s. Eventually two mines, the North Star and the Don Jon were created there. That was in 1929 when I staked that, just a few years before I died. I was 64 when I died in St. Anthony’s Hospital in The Pas.


My funeral was really something.  It was held in the brand new St. James Anglican church on Church Street  Reverend Horsefield officiated and he said some awfully flattering things about me. He called me the ’King of the Prospectors’.  He said Flin Flon was my monument.  Pretty nice things to say.

It seemed as if everyone was there - the who’s who of Flin Flon at the time:  Old Baldy Green, Sir Maurice Roche, Dr. Stephanson, Mrs. Grayson, and W. F. Hughes.  The funeral procession to Ross Park Cemetery was huge. There were 40 vehicles in the official party alone!  And the headstone they put on my grave!!  It’s huge - by far the biggest one in the cemetery.  I guess they didn’t want to take any chances on me getting out.


My funeral was a simple affair.  A few family were there. They brought me on the train to Mink Narrows and buried me next to Bette my wife. My coffin was just a rough box but my granddaughters decorated it with black and white cloth and white bows. I don’t think anyone from Flin Flon showed up.  Most of the people there had probably never heard of me.  I was buried overlooking the west channel near my cabin- a perfect place.  It doesn’t look so good today.  It’s down in a ditch beside the highway.  But if you can imagine it before there was a bridge, and a highway, it was a good place to rest for eternity. 


Tom Creighton:  David?

David Collins:  Tom!

Tom:  She was able to bring you back too?

David:  That lady has connections.

Tom:  What did they ask you to do?

David:  Emcee

Tom: HMMPH!  Me too. So we’re thrown together again.

David:  Am I going to get more than some groceries this time? (Not said bitterly.  Then with a laugh...) I’m still waiting for some sugar to put in that tea you gave me.

Tom:  Hey - You got a street named after you.

David:  (Not real angry just emphatic) Ya... but where?  In Creighton! You got your god damn name everywhere don’t you. 

Tom:  I always said it was you who showed me where to look.

David:  Maybe… but you also told so many other BS stories that nobody knows what the hell to believe.


David:   How about the story you told about finding the Flin Flon deposit while hunting moose.  You claimed you fell through the ice on a little lake and somehow you made it to shore and found a cave and, somehow, you got a fire going. In the firelight you said you thought you saw the eyes of a fox and you threw your prospector’s pick at it.  It went ‘clink’.  When it went ‘clink’ you said you investigated and you realized it was a vein of gold ...ah my - how lucky can you get? This was how you say you found the Flin Flon ore body. 

Tom: (laughing uproariously) Well...nobody took that story seriously.  When I was sober I always gave credit to you for showing me the place.

David:  I know you did, and you were always a gentlemen toward me.  But you are wrong about nobody taking the falling through the ice story seriously. It was told and re-told so often nobody knows what to believe.

Tom: I always felt guilty about that. My partners didn’t figure they had to give you anything and then once the company got going and the town formed nobody cared about the details.  There didn’t seem to be much point in me saying much.

David: Ma che tune! (The Cree equivalent of calling someone a fibber.) Not that it matters now, but how could you think like that? I found the ore body and I showed you where it was. A hundred years ago when you showed up at my place and I showed you the samples - we weren’t alone.  Doddsy was there. He heard you ask me to show you where I got the samples and he knew I agreed.  He told everyone especially next summer when everything got crazy and those prospectors were all over the place. He thought I was going to be a millionaire. My family thought we were going to be millionaires. I guess Doddsy didn’t have powerful enough friends. Although that government guy was here - the guy from the Geological Survey - Bruce? Ya… Bruce was his name. He knew what happened and I know he wrote it down in his report.  How can anyone say they forgot about me?

Tom: You’re right.  I don’t know how.  I guess other guys claimed they showed me where to go and so the waters were muddied.  And maybe it just suited some people to leave it that way.


Tom:  Hey David I was just talking to some guy backstage and he says another government fella, name of Donaldson, Chief Historian for the province of Manitoba, wrote a big report once and  he says you showed me where the Flin Flon ore deposit was.  In fact he says just about everyone who reads through the evidence agrees that you showed me where to look.  This fella backstage says even in Wikipedia it says in an article on HudBay Minerals that you showed me where to look. 

David:  So what’s the problem?  Why can’t someone make it sort of official?

Tom:  I guess in the end the question is:  what does it mean to ‘discover’ something? Who discovered the Mackenzie River?  William Mackenzie or his guides or those who showed it to his guides? Who discovered the New World?  Christopher Columbus?  Or the Vikings? Or an Irish monk named Brendan or the countless nameless fishermen who visited the Grand Banks for centuries before any of them? Somebody always gets the credit so the historians can tell their version of the story.


David:   So you don’t think I deserve any recognition? 

Tom: Of course you deserve recognition but under the circumstances there isn’t much I can do.

David:  What about this lady - this Crystal Kolt who was able to summon us back to do this show? She should be able to make things right for my family.

Tom:  Maybe somebody in this audience can do something.   At least get a plaque in your honour somewhere, but it really should be more. It is way overdue.

Greg East got the ball rolling immediately after Culture Days last year, and this year, on the final day of Culture Days, a plaque in honour of David Collins will be unveiled beside the floral sculpture on North Main.  The Collins family, up to 6 generations since the discovery, will be in attendance along with hundreds of Flin Flonners hopefully.

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