By Breanne Massey
The art of buying, selling and trading a claim, like during the Klondike Gold Rush, has not ceased.
Brennan Ruault, a 26-year-old Invermere local who now lives and works in Alberta as an equipment operator, recently returned from a six-month journey to strike it rich during his guest appearance on season six of the popular Gold Rush reality series, which is now airing on the Discovery Channel at 7 p.m. mountain time every Tuesday.
While logging in Drayton Valley, he received a call from Carl Ross, who he had worked with in Tumbler Ridge.
My friend got a job with Parker (Gold Rush star Parker Schnabel) and ended up calling me to go up there, explained Mr. Ruault. Its kind of the luck of the draw because I got to go and try it out.
Mr. Schnabel needed an experienced equipment operator and Mr. Ruault jumped at the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
I didnt show up until the third episode because I didnt get a call (to participate) until then, he said.
Mr. Ruault joined a work crew of modern day prospectors on their quest to find gold placer deposits (valuable minerals) in the Yukon Territory from May until October 2015.
The best part of the experience for Mr. Ruault, beyond travelling to an unfamiliar destination, was participating in his first claim in the territory.
I was operating an excavator and a dozer, he said. We were searching for gold near Dawson City in the Yukon. Its a pretty popular show on the Discovery Channel I think a quarter of a billion people worldwide watch it.
Even Mr. Ruault watched the popular gold mining series, but never for a moment did he imagine that one day he would be featured in a special cameo role.
I thought it was neat to be mining up there, he said. As a young kid, I used to read all about mining up there and we learned about it in school, but I never thought that I would be up there in the same places that the first gold rushers found.
Historically, the Klondike Gold Rush drew an estimated 100,000 prospectors to the Klondike region of the Yukon between 1896 and 1899 where miners hoped to find gold until a new discovery was made in Alaska.
Mr. Ruault added the biggest challenge of the journey was being too far away to make visits home to see friends and family during the six-month excursion.
It was a good experience, he said. We found $5 million in gold you learn a lot about yourself when youre away that long without being connected to anybody. I really didnt talk to my friends or family at all from May until October because there was no cell phone service unless I drove a couple of hours to town, and we worked so many hours, so I would say, we learned to appreciate some of the finer things in life. Its a test to be out of civilization for that long, without any breaks.
The sixth episode of season six will air on December 15th and there are 20 in total. Mr. Ruault recommends tuning in an hour beforehand to watch The Dirt, a preview hour full of sneak peaks, behind the scenes and interviews leading up to Gold Rush that he appears in as well.