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In photos: Mining for gold the old-fashioned way

Panning in the hills of Lillooet, B.C., with George Vanderwolf

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Gold miner George Vanderwolf looks out over the Fraser River and a suitable spot to mine for gold in Lillooet, B.C, on Nov. 13, 2012.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

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Vanderwolf, 78, learned to mine gold by hand from his father-in-law and his wife’s uncle. “If you didn’t do it right, you heard about it from those guys,” he says.

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It’s off with the cowboy boots and on with the hip waders when you’re ready to go panning.

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Now officially retired after selling off the last of his claims, Vanderwolf still gets the urge to go prospecting “every day.”

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

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Miners today use GPS technology and computers; Vanderwolf represents the old way of prospecting, with a pick, a shovel and a pan.

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Vanderwolf says he won’t sell the half-ounce nugget from the day of his luckiest strike: “So you get a few thousand dollars for it. But once the money is gone you’ve got nothing.”

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Vanderwolf sees more than the picturesque mountain valleys near his Lillooet home. Instead, he thinks about the geological record and where to find gold.

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“A gold nugget is a miracle of nature. A diamond is worth more. But you get 10 diamonds and they all look the same. Every nugget is unique.”

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

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