Lost Gold in Manitoba? It Could Be out There Somewhere

Shayne Thiessen

According to local legend, back in 1868, a Canadian Soldier was travelling by horse along Dawson Trail, towards Fort Garry, with payroll for General Wolseley’s troops. The payroll was supposedly worth $10,000 at the time.

As the soldier ventured down old Dawson Trail, he encountered an aggressive group of indigenous people whom began to pursue him. The soldier fled down Dawson Trail, with his pursuers hot on his trail. Realizing he wasn’t going to be able to out ride them, the soldier decided to lighten his load by abandoning the gold.

Without the weight of gold weighing him down, the soldier eventually managed to escape and arrived safely at Fort Garry.

It has been reported that the soldier was somewhere between the small French town of Ste Anne and the modern-day American Border near Angle Inlet when he abandoned the gold.

According to the mint of England, the gold is still listed as missing, lost somewhere along Dawson Trail. Its value of $10,000 in 1868 is now equivalent to $250,000 in modern Canadian dollars.

Dawson Trail Today

The majority of Dawson Trial has now been upgraded to modern standards. From Winnipeg to Richer most of Dawson Trail has been paved and is now known as Highway 207. As you head further east Dawson Trail is now known as Dawson Road and is comprised of gravel.

Eventually the road starts to dip south, through Sandilands Provincial forest. If you follow the road far enough east you get to a point where it crosses a river. The bridge that once stood there is now gone. The only way to get across is to take a long detour along The Trans-Canada Highway and Provincial Road 503.

If you venture even further east, the original Dawson Trail is no longer maintained. The forest trails that still exist are impassible for most automobiles, except for quads and lifted four-wheel drive trucks. If the gold is actually still out there, it’s most likely that its somewhere along the unmaintained and abandoned parts of Dawson Trail.

Dawson Trail in the 1800s

Most of Dawson Trail was built as a corduroy road. A corduroy road is made by laying logs perpendicular to the direction of the road.

Corduroy roads were usually built in swampy areas because they provided better access through the muddy terrain. They allowed horses to pull wagons across wet and muddy areas without the wagons sinking in. However, the logs they were built with would sometimes shift, which posed danger to horses. When the risk to the horses verses the advantage of unrestricted access with wagons was weighed, the wagons was considered a greater advantage.

On some parts of Dawson Trail, especially those further east, remains of the corduroy road can still be seen.

What Happened to the Gold?

If the story of the lost gold is true, it’s possible that when the soldier decided to abandoned it, he tucked it into a gap between, or underneath, the logs that made up Dawson Trail. This would have been the quickest and easiest way to hide the gold.

With the travel over Dawson Trail, and the shifting mud, it would be quite likely that the gold pouch would be pushed down into the mud and swamp, and lost forever.

It has also been rumoured that the solider hid the gold in a cabin, with the intention of returning to find it in the future, but he never did. It’s possible that the soldier did try to relocate the site but couldn’t find the exact spot. Another likely scenario is that someone else discovered the gold and took it for themselves.

When travelling along Dawson Trail, there are no traces of any cabins to be found, at least none that can be traced back to this time period.

However, Dawson Trail covers a large area in Manitoba. It encompasses two provincial forests, Sandilands Forest and Northwest Angle Forest. It’s possible that there is an abandoned cabin, hidden somewhere in the woods, still waiting to be discovered.

While there is a lot that can be speculated about the current status of the gold, the one thing we do know is that there have been no reports of anyone finding it. There are also some reasons to question the stories that have been passed down through time. References to the gold in the Dawson Dispatch mention that the gold was lost in 1868 while delivering it to the Wolseley Expedition. However, the Wolseley Expedition did not commence until 1870.

When general Wolseley finally did travel to Fort Garry, he went by boat, not land, so it makes it unlikely that any soldier travelled alone along Dawson Trail, especially with a pouch filled with gold. The trail itself was only completed in 1871 which again casts doubt upon the story.

While the truth about the treasure is not known, there is one thing we do know for certain and that’s that the search for the lost treasure is currently non-existent. It seems like this tale has been abandoned just like the gold and relegated to nothing more than folklore that’s whispered around campfires.

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