(1882 – 1963)
Kate Rice was a professional prospector who was responsible for bringing INCO to Manitoba and ultimately the city of Thompson. Rice garnered widespread attention for her adventurous life, brilliant mind, statuesque beauty and for succeeding in the mineral industry, which very few women were engaged with at the time.
Soon after Rice moved to The Pas, there was word of gold north on Beaver Lake. Rice began studying prospecting and read everything she found on geology. She befriended local Cree, and learned their language and to hunt and trap animals. In 1914, Rice borrowed money, a “grubstake”, from an old college friend and hired a Cree guide to take her north to Beaver Lake by dogsled. She then travelled further north by canoe to Brochet to begin prospecting. On this first foray, Rice discovered zinc showings at Reindeer Lake but did not stake the claim as there was no railway to the area and it would be difficult to develop.
In 1915, she took her own dog team to explore the Beaver Lake area where she went on to stake her first claims. During this time Rice hired “Old Isaac” a local Cree Elder, to teach her how to trap, hunt, mush dogs and shoot. The local Cree called her “Mooniasquao” (white woman).
The following year, Rice entered into a partnership with Richard “Dick” Woosey.
The two built a remote cabin together and worked as a team until Woosey’s death in 1940. While there was frequent speculation about their personal relationship, Rice always insisted it was strictly professional. In 1917, Rice staked more claims at Herb Lake and had them surveyed, proved, and assessed. For several decades afterward, Rice prospected the Wekusko Lake, Herb Lake and Snow Lake areas, as well as in the Burntwood and Flin Flon mineral belts.
In 1928, Rice visited Toronto, where she began to garnered media attention. She was hard to overlook – at over six fee tall with golden blond hair. She occasionally wrote for the Toronto Star about topics of interest to her.
Rice’s many copper and nickel discoveries ultimately led to the development of large mining operations and the creation of the mining hub of Thompson.
From 1940 onwards Rice lived in her log cabin on her island on Wekusko Lake, writing, gardening, fishing, trapping and prospecting in her small 12 ft canvas canoe “Duckling.” She wrote several articles in scientific journals about meteorological and astronomical observations she had made in her travels through Canada’s north. She became well known, as well, for her ability to raise and train sled dogs, and for her skill in mushing them without resorting to the use of a whip.
After so many years living in isolation on her island, Rice became worried for her own sanity. She left the wilderness in 1960 and in 1962 Rice moved herself into a nursing home in Minnedosa where she died a year later. Penniless in the end, she was buried in an unmarked grave.