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Table of Contents
Foreword
Preface
Glossary

Chapter 13: Mining and Oil Extraction

Introduction

Most hard rock mining in Manitoba takes place in the north, giving rise to mining towns, some of which (with their associated mines) are shown in Chapter 11: Northern Settlements. Some bedrock is/was exploited in quarries in the south (at Stonewall and Garson). However, “aggregate resources”—mainly gravel and sand—are distributed throughout the province. “The extensive natural deposits of sand and gravel throughout Manitoba are generally related to processes associated with the deglaciation of Manitoba at the end of the last Ice Age…. During deglaciation, sand and gravel accumulated in moraines, eskers, delta complexes, and beach deposits, and along meltwater channels.”[i] For example, the Birds Hill esker-delta complex (figure 3.64) northeast of Winnipeg is the main source of sand and gravel for the city. Oil extraction, confined to the southwest, is detected by surface indicators—pumpheads (grass hoppers), storage tanks, and pipelines. Examples of some of the locations are shown in the following figures.



Notes

 [i] Young, H. R. “Mining and Extraction Industries in Manitoba” in The Geography of Manitoba: Its Land and Itd People ed. J. Welsted, J. Everitt and C. Stadel, Winnipeg: The University of Manitoba Press, 1996, 243.

13.1: Sand/Gravel Pits in a River Terrace, Little Saskatchewan Valley

The valley of the Little Saskatchewan River 1 used to carry large quantities of melt water from Riding Mountain with the result that the present valley is much larger than the present discharge warrants. The wide, post-glacial channel shifted westward at this location leaving behind well-defined terraces 2, one of which has been extensively excavated for gravel 3. Gravel and sand pits are typically steep-sided but not vertical, in contrast to hard rock quarries, because unconsolidated materials tend to collapse. The main criterion for the identification of sand and gravel pits is their light tone in contrast to the surrounding landscape, as seen here. Gravel excavated in areas like this is mainly used for surfacing the many gravel roads along section lines so typical of southern Manitoba.

Other features of note on this photo are a) the Little Saskatchewan River with many abandoned channels 4, one of which has a dam across it 5; b) two fields partly combined 6, and in one, the combine and associated truck to receive the grain can be seen 7; c) a cemetery far removed from any settlement 8—Strathclair, six miles to the south is the nearest; and d) burned stubble in the northwest 9.

Figure 13.1: Sand/Gravel Pits in a River Terrace, Little Saskatchewan Valley

Figure 13.1: Sand/Gravel Pits in a River Terrace, Little Saskatchewan Valley

Figure 13.1

Vertical air photograph: A20310-57

Flight height: 9820 feet; lens focal length: 6 inches

Scale: 1:15,600 (approx.)

Date: 1969

Location: Township 17; Ranges 21 and 22WI

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62 K Riding Mountain

                    1:50,000 62K/8 Newdale

 


13.2: Sand/Gravel Pits in a River Terrace in the Little Saskatchewan Valley

The westward migration of the enlarged post-glacial channel of the Little Saskatchewan River 1 has left behind terraces on the east side of the river 2. The sand/gravel in one of these is exploited in three pits; the southern two 3 with an approaching road 4 seem to be more in use than the northern one 5. Also near the northern edge of the photo, four pits can be seen close to and on either side of the river channel 6 and close to the present river level.

Other items to note on this photo are a) the meandering Little Saskatchewan River with cutoffs of various ages 7; b) the west side of the valley with east and north facing slopes, heavily-wooded 8, compared with the sparsely-wooded east site 9 with dry west and south-facing sites; and c) harvesting underway with some swathed fields 10 with narrow rows and some combined fields with wide rows 11 (In two cases 12 fields are partly combined with the combine visible in one of them 13.). The topography makes it difficult to discern section and quarter section lines.

Figure 13.2: Sand/Gravel Pits in a River Terrace in the Little Saskatchewan Valley

Figure 13.2: Sand/Gravel Pits in a River Terrace in the Little Saskatchewan Valley

Figure 13.2

Vertical air photograph: A18611-169

Flight height: 9500 feet; lens focal length: 6 inches

Scale: 1:16,000 (approx.)

Date: September 8, 1964

Location: Township 14; Range 19WI

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62J Neepawa

                    1:50,000 62J/4 Moore Park 


13.3: Sand/Gravel Pits East of Rapid City

The photograph shows the valley of the Little Saskatchewan River 1 in the north with an area covered by ground moraine in the south. The photo shows four areas where sand/gravel is—or has been—exploited. Three of these areas 2 are probably on terraces of the Little Saskatchewan Valley, but the easternmost, the highest, exploits an esker-like feature 3. There are in fact four separate pits in this area, strung out in a north-northeast/south-southwest line. The southernmost pit 4 is overgrown but the other three—light-toned—pits 5 are in use, served by a road 6 that runs to PTH 24.

Other features to note on this photo are a) the Little Saskatchewan River with numerous cutoffs 7; b) PTH 24 8 connecting Rapid City (to the west) and Minnedosa (to the north); c) three railway lines (In the north are a CP line 9 and a CN line 10 that cross just east of the Little Saskatchewan River 11.; both are now abandoned. In the south is another CP line 12); and d) a cemetery 13 with a surrounding hedge of coniferous trees 14. Small white specks 15 are headstones and graves. The cemetery is that of Rapid City about three miles (5 km) to the west.

Figure 13.3: Sand/Gravel Pits East of Rapid City

Figure 13.3: Sand/Gravel Pits East of Rapid City

Figure 13.3

Vertical air photograph: A18971-160

Flight height: 9500 feet; lens focal length: 6 inches

Scale: 1:15,800 (approx.)

Date: August 6, 1965

Location: Township 13; Range 19W1

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62J Neepawa

                    1:50,000 62J/4 Moore Park

                                   62K/1 Rivers


13.4: Sand/Gravel Pits in the Assiniboine Valley

On this photo of the extreme west of Manitoba are two major landform regions: the Assiniboine glacial spillway, containing the south-flowing Assiniboine River 1 and an area of ground moraine topography with north/south lineations and hollows occupied by lakes 2. The second area is partly dissected by a shallow north/south trending valley 3.

A large pit (light-toned) 4 is located on the north side of a west bank tributary of the Assiniboine. It is large enough that a CP railway line 5 with several spurs runs into it. This railway line joins up with the main CP line 6 near the northern edge of the photo 7. The main line crosses the Assiniboine 8 and a cutoff 9 near the eastern edge of the photo and angles its way up 10 the steep west wall of the Assiniboine Spillway.

Other features to note on this photo are a) the meandering Assiniboine River with clearly defined scroll bars 11 and cutoffs 12; b) the west wall of the spillway, heavily wooded 13, with the drier east wall mainly grass-covered 14 with occasional patches of trees 15; c) a road out of the Assiniboine Valley (PR 579) with a hairpin bend 16—unusual in southern Manitoba; d) the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border near the western edge of the photo marked by a dashed line, but there is no ground expression of its existence; and e) a small cluster of buildings 17, all that remains of Millwood. In the past Millwood had a sawmill, a gristmill, and an elevator with 40,000-bushel capacity: “Farmers from as far away as 80 km [50 miles] hauled their grain to the flour mill.”[i] Another local industry was ice cut from the river and used in iceboxes before refrigerators became the norm. “In 1915, 600 railway cars were loaded with ice shortly after though the company’s [Arctic Ice Company of Winnipeg] dam on the Assiniboine River required extensive repairs and modifications. Rather than incur the expense the company went out of business…. A gravel business which supplied some one million yards of gravel for local roads, bridges and similar projects survived for some time but it eventually closed”.[ii]

Figure 13.4: Sand/Gravel Pits in the Assiniboine Valley

Figure 13.4: Sand/Gravel Pits in the Assiniboine Valley

Figure 13.4

Vertical air photograph: A15532-53

Flight height: 20,000 feet; lens focal length: 6 inches

Scale: 1:35,200 (approx.)

Date: October 9, 1956

Location: Township 19 and 20; Ranges 29 and 30WI

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62K Riding Mountain

                    1:50,000 62K/11 Binscarth

Notes

[i] Mulligan, H. and Ryder, W. Ghost Towns of Manitoba. Surrey BC: Heritage House Publishing Company, 1985, 97.

[ii] Mulligan, H. and Ryder, W. op. cit. 1985, 97.


 


13.5: Sand/Gravel Pit on the Assiniboine Delta

The Assiniboine Delta deposited into the west side of glacial Lake Agassiz is a massive accumulation of sand and gravel.[i] Coarse gravel near the apex east of Brandon gradually gives way to sand further east. The present-day Assiniboine River has etched a steep-sided meandering valley into the sands as it adjusted to a new base level with the retreat of Lake Agassiz. Here are two meander loops of the eastward-flowing Assiniboine River 1 eroded into sands which are exploited at a large pit 2 with two smaller ones to the north 3. In the large pit excavation has reached the water table resulting in flooding (dark-tone) of the bottom 4.

Other points to note on this photo are a) PTH 34 5 between Holland (to the south) and Austin (to the north) is cut into the sands of the delta 6; b) delta sands have been blown into dunes north of the river 7; these are now stabilized by a mixture of grasses (light-toned) 8, deciduous woodland (dark-toned) 9 and coniferous trees (identified by their triangular shadow) 10; c) the south side (north-facing side) of the Assiniboine Valley is heavily wooded by deciduous trees (dark-toned with rounded crowns) 11; d) fields that have been cleared for agriculture are medium-dark toned 12, indicating that the crops in them are still green and that the date of the photo is pre-harvest; and e) one field is in the process of being cultivated 13; the cultivated part of the field is darker-toned 14, and by using a magnifying glass with the original photo, the machine doing the cultivating can be seen 15.

Figure 13.5: Sand/Gravel Pit on the Assiniboine Delta

Figure 13.5: Sand/Gravel Pit on the Assiniboine Delta

Figure 13.5

Vertical air photograph: A16574-87

Flight height: 9000 feet; lens focal length: 6 inches

Scale: 1:16,000 (approx.)

Date: June 19, 1959

Location: Township 8 and 9; Range 11WI

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62G Brandon

                    1:50,000 62G/11 Treherne

Notes

[i] For a map of the location of the Assiniboine Delta see Corkery M. T. “Geology and Landforms of Manitoba” in Welsted, Everitt and Stadel op. cit.. 1996, figure 2.4, 18.



13.6: Sand/Gravel Pits in the Upper Part of the Assiniboine Delta East of Brandon

The area is located three miles (5 km) east of the built-up area of Brandon on the upper part of the Assiniboine Delta. The gravels and sands of the delta are exploited in at least eight locations; in all cases the pits are identified on the basis of their light tone. In the north are two long, narrow pits 1, 2 with spurs 3, 4 from the CN railway line 5 running into them. To the southeast is a smaller pit 6 that has been excavated down to the water table resulting in a small pond. Southeast of that is another pit, squared-shaped and shallow 7. An area to the south has an irregular surface 8, suggesting that excavations in the past have disturbed it. To the east two small pits 9, 10 lie on either side of a north/south gravel road 11. Further east still is a large pit 12 that seems to be the most active one in the area. Steep back walls throw prominent shadows 13, and piles of sand/gravel can be seen on the floor of the pit 14.

Several other items can be seen on the photo. The land surface is very dry because of the permeability of the underlying sediments. This results in sparse patchy natural vegetation in the form of clumps of trees (dark-toned) 15. The land is used to graze cattle, evidenced by the abundance of dugouts 16. The only evidence of crop growth is in the southeast where cut lines are seen 17, possibly of hay. There is little evidence of human occupation; only three groups of buildings can be seen 18, that in the extreme northeast is associated with an industry. Gravel roads run along some section lines 19, and in one place quarter sections can be identified on the basis of land use differences 20. In the southwest is the route of a long-abandoned railway line 21.

Figure 13.6: Sand/Gravel Pits in the Upper Part of the Assiniboine Delta East of Brandon

Figure 13.6: Sand/Gravel Pits in the Upper Part of the Assiniboine Delta East of Brandon

Figure 13.6

Vertical air photograph: A25396-156

Flight height: 9,700 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 152.034 mm

Scale: 1:17,100 (approx.)

Date: June 9, 1980

Location: Townships 9 and 10; Range 18 WI

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62G Brandon

                    1:50,000 62G/13 Brandon

 


13.7: Sand/Gravel Pits in Lake Agassiz Strandlines

The enormous glacial Lake Agassiz had periods of still-stand at various levels during which times substantial beaches of sand and gravel accumulated along its shores. Some of these are now exploited for sand and gravel.

On this photo a prominent strandline extends northwest/southeast 1 and is followed by a secondary gravel 2 road, its direction being a rarity in southern Manitoba. Sand/gravel is removed at several locations, the largest pit (or series of pits) being in the south 3. Two smaller pits can be seen in the north, one east 4 and one west 5 of the gravel road.

Other points to note on this photo are: a) the CN railway line in the south 6; b) the mottled surface of fields underlain by sandy soils 7; and c) some cultivated fields, resulting in a very dark tone 8.

Figure 13.7: Sand/Gravel Pits in Lake Agassiz Strandlines

Figure 13.7: Sand/Gravel Pits in Lake Agassiz Strandlines

Figure 13.7

Vertical air photograph: A16183-28

Flight height: 10,500 feet; lens focal length: 152.63 mm

Scale: 1:18,000 (approx.)

Date: July 22, 1958

Location: Township 5; Ranges 6W1 and 7W1

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62G Brandon

                    1:50,000 62G/8 Miami


13.8: Sand/Gravel Pits in Lake Agassiz Strandlines Northwest of Miami

Two prominent Lake Agassiz strandlines can be seen on this photo. The easternmost (lower) 1 is a continuation northward of that seen in figure 13.7. A southeast/northwest trending road 2 follows this strandline from a section intersection at “Five Corners” 3. A long narrow pit is located east of this road 4. To the southwest, at a higher elevation, is another large pit 5 into a series of high-level strandlines 6 on the eastern escarpment of the Pembina Hills.

Also noticeable on this photo are: a) the wooded eastern escarpment of Pembina Hills 7; b) the headwaters of the eastward-flowing Tobacco Creek 8; and c) a loop followed by the CN line 9 as it climbs up the Pembina Escarpment from Miami to Deerwood.

 

Figure 13.8: Sand/Gravel Pits in Lake Agassiz Strandlines Northwest of Miami

Figure 13.8: Sand/Gravel Pits in Lake Agassiz Strandlines Northwest of Miami

Figure 13.8

Vertical air photograph: A16182-214

Flight height: 10,050 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 152.4 mm

Scale: 1:18,100 (approx.)

Date: July 22, 1958

Location: Township 5; Range 7W1

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62G Brandon

                    1:50,000 62G/8 Miami

 


13.9: Quarries at Stonewall

Quarrying of Ordovician aged limestone began in the Stonewall area in the 1800s. After being blasted from the ground, the limestone was broken down into small pieces that were heated in kilns to produce quick lime (calcium oxide). In the 1960s Stonewall began to move away from its dependence on limestone, but the heritage is preserved in prominent limestone buildings along Main Street. On the image the abandoned quarries show up as light-toned areas 1 northeast of Stonewall 2. In some areas quarrying extended down to the water table resulting in blue/green ponds 3. Although it is not obvious on the image, one of the abandoned quarries in the northeast of town 4 has been developed into Stonewall Quarry Park, which has a museum and an interpretive program to show the history of limestone quarrying and quick lime production.

Most of the town of Stonewall, located at the junction of PTH 67 5 and PR 236 6, is shown on the image. PTH 7 7, which runs south into Winnipeg, is twinned 8 as it passes the town to the east. Also seen is the CP railway line 9 that takes a westward loop into Stonewall. Stonewall, within the Winnipeg orbit, had a population of 4,376 in 2006 (up from 4,012 in 2001) and claims to be the fastest-growing town in Manitoba.

Figure 13.9: Quarries at Stonewall

Figure 13.9: Quarries at Stonewall

Figure 13.9

Google Earth Image, Digital Globe 2006

Scale: 1:38,000 (approx.)

Location: Township 13; Ranges 1E and 2E

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62I Selkirk

                    1:50,000 62I/3 Stonewall


13.10: Quarry at Garson

“The distinctive mottled pattern of the fossil-bearing Tyndall stone, an Ordovician dolomitic limestone, makes it Manitoba’s best known building stone…the name ‘Tyndall stone’ is derived from the name of the railway shipping point, approximately 3 km east of Garson, from which the quarried material was originally shipped.”[i] Shown on the photo is the small community of Garson 1 with PTH 44 2 bypassing it to the north; note that there is no sign of a railway line. The quarries 3 are located east of the community; the large grey building 4 is a shed in which the stone is prepared for market. Piles of stone are located around the building. “The Tyndall stone deposit lies in layers or beds, with the top layer located eight to fourteen feet below the ground level;”[ii] hence, the quarries are shallow with no very obvious backwall. Disused quarries, north of the existing quarry, are filled with water 5.

“Tyndall stone was first used in the construction of Lower Fort Garry in 1832”, later it was used in “St. Andrews Anglican Church, the oldest active stone church in western Canada, built in 1845.”[iii] It has also been used in many other prominent government, commercial and educational buildings including the Manitoba Provincial Legislative Building, the Art Gallery, the City Hall, and the Convention Centre in Winnipeg; the Parliament Building in Ottawa; the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec; and the Empress Hotel in Victoria.

In addition to the quarry other things to note are that:

1)     roads run north/south 6 and east/west 7 in Garson harmonizing with the DLS system, and

2)     the large grey building in the north is probably an arena 8.

Figure 13.10: Quarry at Garson

Figure 13.10:  Quarry at Garson

 

Figure 13.10

Vertical colour air photo by Prairie Agri Photo

Flight height:    lens focal length:

Scale: 1:8,500 (approx.)

Date: 2000

Location: Township 13; Range 6 E

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62I Selkirk

                    1:50,000 62I/2 Selkirk

 

Notes

[i] Young, H. R. op. cit. 1996, 244-245; for a photograph of Tyndall stone see figure 16.11a.

[ii] Gillis Quarries Ltd. Company Information http://www.tyndallstone.com/companyindex.htm-lk.

[iii] Gillis Quarries Ltd. op. cit.



13.11: Gravel Pits and Oil Extraction West of Virden

The photo shows topography west of Virden, the edges of which—fringed by the north/south CN line 1—can be seen at the right-hand edge of the photo. The small stream Bosshill Creek 2, tributary to the Assiniboine, winds its way eastward across ground moraine topography. Four sand/gravel extraction areas can be seen. Two large areas 3 lie on either side of the north/south PTH 83 4 with another 5 in the southeast angle between PTH 83 and the east/west PR 237 6. Another lies north of PR 237 further west 7. All show the characteristic light tones and the apparently haphazard arrangement of paths within them.

Virden is the centre of Manitoba’s oil industry, the Virden field being one of 11 small oilfields located in southwest Manitoba.[i] Evidence of the field is difficult—but not impossible—to see on the photo. Several small, usually light-toned objects 8 west of Virden are oil wellheads with “grasshopper” pumps. In one case 9 storage containers can be seen, and pipelines 10 join some wellheads. A pipeline runs from the west 11 (from Cromer off the photo) to the eastern edge towards Virden. It is very clear in the west 12 but less so as it approaches Virden 13.

Other features to note on this photo are: a) a nine-hole golf course with dark-toned greens 14; b) Virden’s cemetery near the southern edge 15; c) light-toned crests in fallow fields with sandy soils 16; d) some cultivated fields resulting in dark tones 17; and e) a radio tower with a shadow falling to the northeast 18 indicating the photo was taken in the afternoon.

Figure 13.11: Gravel Pits and Oil Extraction West of Virden

Figure 13.11: Gravel Pits and Oil Extraction West of Virden

Figure 13.11

Vertical air photograph: A20407-26

Flight height: 9520 feet; lens focal length: 6 inches

Scale: 1:16,300 (approx.)

Date: June 12, 1968

Location: Township 10; Range 26W1

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62F Virden

                    1:50,000 62F/15 Virden

Notes

[i] Young, H. R. op. cit., 1996, figure 16.12.



13.12: Oil Storage Facility at Cromer South of Virden

Oil is not refined in Manitoba. “Instead it is transported by pipeline or truck from wells in Manitoba to the Interprovincial Pipeline pumping station at Cromer, southwest of Virden…, where it enters the pipeline for delivery to refineries in eastern Canada or the United States.”[i] The pumping station can be seen on this photo 1 with eight large storage tanks 2, three smaller ones 3 and two large ones under construction 4. A light-toned line leading eastward is the buried Interprovincial Pipeline 5. Another pipeline leads towards the pumping station from the southwest 6 and another—dark-toned—enters from the northwest 7. This last one is possibly under construction; i.e. the trough has been dug.

Other items to note on this photo are: a) Pipestone Creek 8 now very small but once larger as indicated by water-marked areas 9 on both sides of the present channel; b) the small hamlet of Cromer 10 just south of Pipestone Creek; c) the CN railway line roughly paralleling Pipestone Creek 11; d) a long abandoned railway line running northwest/southeast 12; e) gravel roads including PR 355 13 following some section lines; and f) extensive areas of pitted ground moraine 14.

Figure 13.12: Oil Storage Facility at Cromer South of Virden

Figure 13.12: Oil Storage Facility at Cromer South of Virden

 

Figure 13.12

Vertical air photograph: A20471-7

Flight height: 21,900 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 6 inches

Scale: 1:39,600

Date: June 22, 1968

Location: Townships 8 and 9; Ranges: 28W1 and 29W1

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62F Virden

                    1:50,000 62F/15 Virden

 

Notes

 

[i] Young op. cit., 1996, 247.

 



13.13: Enbridge Oil Storage Facility Near Gretna: Small-scale Satellite Image

The Enbridge oil pipeline runs between Edmonton and Gretna in Canada, then continues through northern U.S.A. as the Lakehead system and returns into Canada at Sarnia. This satellite image shows an oil storage facility 1 on the pipeline just north of Gretna 2. A faint impression of the buried pipeline can be seen in sections northwest 3 and southeast 4 of the storage facility, the latter extending into the U.S.A. 5.

Also shown is the international border 6. Note that although Canada and the United States have the same land division system, the two systems do not coincide, resulting in a jog 7 of a north/south road (18 in the U.S.A. 8 and PTH 30 9 in Canada). The sections of the DLS system are obvious 10 with gravel roads along some section lines 11. Quarter sections are usually picked out on the basis of land use differences 12, although most sections in this agriculturally rich area are divided into many fields 13.

Figure 13.13: Enbridge Oil Storage Facility Near Gretna: Small-scale Satellite Image

Figure 13.13: Enbridge Oil Storage Facility Near Gretna: Small-scale Satellite Image

Figure 13.13

Google Earth Terra Metrics 2006

Scale: 1:58,000 (approx.)

Location: Township 1; Ranges 1 and 2WI

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62H Winnipeg

                    1:50,000 62H/4 Altona


13.14: Enbridge Oil Storage Facility Near Gretna: Large-scale Air Photo

This air photo shows detail of the storage facility. In the west are four large tanks 1 with a pond 2 to the south. In the east are at least 18 tanks 3; those painted white are easily picked out, but a black-painted tank 4 is not so obvious. Shadows fall almost due north 5 indicating that the photo was taken near noon.

Figure 13.14: Enbridge Oil Storage Facility Near Gretna: Large-scale Air Photo

Figure 13.14: Enbridge Oil Storage Facility Near Gretna: Large-scale Air Photo

Figure: 13.14

Flight height: ; lens focal length:

Scale: 1:17,000 (approx.)

Location: Township 1; Ranges 1 and 2 WI

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62H Winnipeg

                    1:50,000 62H/4 Altona