Photostory #8: Uranium City: Canadian Town Centre of World's Uranium Supply
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
Under the rocky hills and woodlands of 750 square miles of northern Saskatchewan wasteland lies what may prove to be the biggest known supply of uranium in the world. With some development companies already in the area proving up to $100 million dollars worth of ore, veteran sourdoughs, geologists, and even hopeful tenderfeet are combing Beaverlodge region, with chattering Geiger counters as their key to potential riches. Hub of all this feverish activity is Uranium City, which takes its name from the glistening coal-black atomic age material. Beaverlodge's first boom (gold) petered out in 1935. But when, in 1949, the area proved hot with fissionable ore, exploration of the area was restricted to Crown and government chartered companies. Since 1952, when the field was thrown open to the public, over 15,000 claims have been recorded. The crown-operated Eldorado Mining & Refining Limited has a 500-ton per day processing mill working a full schedule while Gunnar Gold Mines, another major producer, is building a million dollar mill with a daily capacity of 1,250 tons. Today, with the initial hectic get-rich-quick boom levelling off, Uranium City is a thriving town of 1,000 people, with an additional 2,000 living at various mine-sites within a 12-mile radius. The town boasts a theatre, 20 taxicabs, 14 miles of roads, and a recently-constructed 50-room hotel that is already finding it hard to meet demands for accommodation. And energetic town-planners, determined to save Uranium City from the "shack town" fate of many another boom community, are laying the groundwork for a permanent, model community with a population of 10,000.