Digging Deep: Legendary prospector Dave Stevens on the future of his industry

Posted on September 02, 2022 | By Alec Bruce | 1 Comment

Dave Stevens ( Photo credit: Getty Images)

 

Dave Stevens is every inch the classic prospector, right down to the bandana and grizzled face. But as government and commercial policies shift for one of Canada’s once-mighty mineral motherlodes, what is the future for his kind?

From a pay phone in Halifax, I’m telling Dave why I can’t go rock-hunting with him in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, this weekend. Since the Rogers network crashed—leaving millions of customers, including me, without cell and internet service—I wouldn’t be comfortable tromping around the back country with no way to connect to the rest of the world. “I just wouldn’t feel safe, Dave,” I say.

Dave Stevens is a prospector. A real original. He wears a red bandana, dresses in flannel shirts and denim trousers, and carries a pickaxe. Most days, when the weather cooperates, he leaves his 600-square-foot house in Bocabec by 8 a.m. and doesn’t return till evening. He spends his time, usually alone, poking around highway cuttings and riverbeds, examining rock faces and outcroppings.

Dave is not a geologist. But he gets a kick out some of the ones he encounters in the field after they’ve spent hours running data models—the ones who actually get angry when they find a rock their maps say shouldn’t be there. “They get stuck in their computers and they can’t get out of them,” he says. For him, prospecting is about the hunt, the chance to find something out of the ordinary and unexpected; to reveal with his own two, unassisted hands what lies beneath.

Which brings us back to my temporarily useless cell phone.

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