I first met Jerry Bryde at the west end of Number 7 Pup in the 1980s. It was early spring. He was very thin, malnourished and had lost several teeth because of his poor diet.
Jerry had been trying to dig through the spring snow to find a few berries, which was his only food source. I asked Jerry if he had any other food, to which he replied, “Oh yes, I have a quarter-box of rice in the cupboard just above my head.”
Our conversation then drifted into talking about prospecting and mineralized rocks as Jerry shared that he had some gold-bearing quartz boulders which he wished to show me. While Jerry was outside the cabin collecting the rocks, I took the liberty to open his cupboard door and, guess what? All that Jerry had to eat was the one-quarter box of rice.
As I was leaving, I told Jerry I would be back in the late afternoon the following day. We arrived back with several large boxes of groceries, which we knew would keep Jerry and his partner, Mr. Rennick, well fed for many weeks.
The grocery order included some big beef steaks, which we cooked on the blades of several shovels on an outdoor fire. This is one way of Yukon cooking, which I must say, worked really well. Jerry could only eat half of his steak, apologizing to us that his stomach had shrunk quite a bit over the lean years.
The day after the steak feast I called on Jerry again, looking for more information, which might help us find the mother lode(s) which we hoped would be the source of all of the placer gold from upper Bonanza and Eldorado Creek. Jerry had cooked up pancakes for breakfast that morning but Mr. Rennick could not wait. He drank his portion of the pancake mix in liquid form because he was so hungry that he couldn’t wait for the pancakes to be cooked.
Jerry was obviously in a bad way and I asked him if he could go on welfare. Jerry advised me that he would never take a government handout. He would starve to death first, which he nearly did.
We hired Jerry as a prospector, claimstaker and geological assistant. His work and work ethic were first class.
It was difficult for Jerry to make a living on Number 7 Pup with only a shovel and wheelbarrow. The broken-down dragline he owned didn’t help matters either, so with a salary and other agreements we were able to help Jerry obtain decent placer equipment.
I told Jerry that the best prospecting he could do would be to find his Eldorado in Heaven. I left Jerry two books to read: More than a Carpenter, by Michael Green and The Late Great Planet Earth, by Hal Lindsey.
I trust that Jerry read these, since he was an avid reader.
I expect to see Jerry in Heaven in the not too distant future, where we can again go prospecting together throughout the Heavens.
Jerry was a good friend, an honest, capable and self-made man.
This world has lost a true Canadian.
Richard W. Hughes, president, Klondike Gold Corp.