The Discovery of the Paradise Mine
History of The Paradise Mine (Part 2)
Prospectors from the Wild Horse River gold rush had been working north from Fort Steele in the 1880’s and began to report rich discoveries in the Purcell Mountains west of Lake Windermere.
Tom “Blanket” Jones was one of the earliest prospectors in the Purcell Mountains. He was a man of powerful physique, was well informed about minerals, and there was little of the East Kootenay country with which he was not more or less acquainted. He never packed a tent. His only load on his prospecting trips was a blanket and some food, and so he earned the nickname “Blanket Jones”.
Jones had been part of the Wild Horse River gold rush but had not done as well as others. He had eventually moved on and gone prospecting to the north of Lake Windermere along a tributary of the Columbia River known as Toby Creek. Jones followed Toby Creek and eventually he worked up into the headwaters area of Spring Creek, which is a tributary of Toby Creek on the north side of the valley and upstream of the Toby Creek canyon.
Among the other prospectors in the same area in 1889 were two partners – John Watson from Manitoba and John Jeffery from Ontario. These two men also came up to the Spring Creek headwaters prospecting and turned up some coarse blackish-looking sand that they thought looked promising. They brought samples of the sand to show Tom Jones whom they had prospected with previously. Jones went up to their find to help them stake their claim and together with the two men staked out another claim for himself as Watson and Jeffery had given him a one-third interest in their original find to thank him for his help.
Watson and Jeffery were the original claim-finders so they went to the nearest government office at Windermere and registered the three claims with the government agent Mr. E. J. Scovil in August 1889. Tom Jones had decided to call his claim “Paradise” because it was so near the sky and if their ideas turned out as well as they hoped they would be able to pave the streets with gold. But Watson and Jeffery were more familiar with the verbage of games of chance than with the Bible and they spelled the name “Parridice” using the “c” as in dice. It has been said by some that they intended “Pair-o-dice” to be the name, but those who knew Tom Jones are unswerving in their assertion that the name was intended to be “Paradise”. Although they were good prospectors, Watson and Jeffery were just not very good spellers. The other two claims were registered as “Comstock” and “Royal Stag”.