In 1967, after 22 years as a fur buyer with the Hudson's Bay Company and a couple of particularly tough seasons behind him, Alex Robertson decided to leave the "Honourable Company" and become a "free trader". He chose La Ronge at the edge of some of the best fur country in all of Canada. It sat at the edge of the Pre-Cambrian Shield with untold riches just waiting to be discovered, and the lakes and rivers termed with pickerel, pike and trout. The harvesting of fur and fish and mineral was, in the simplest of terms, real wealth creation. Surely, he believed, this was a country with a future.

So, in July of 1967, having sold virtually everything he owned, Alex Robertson packed his remaining worldly possessions, including a wife and four children, into a station wagon and moved to La Ronge to become the new owner of La Ronge Grocery. It soon became clear that in addition to grubstaking local trappers, there was money to be made outfitting the prospectors, line cutters and drillers operating in the area. Exploration people are a colourful bunch: prospectors, speculators, dreamers and con-men....all of them chasing the next big find...and requiring boots and axes and groceries in the process. It was not long before Robertson's hitched its wagon to a horse named "exploration."

Mineral exploration was fantastic for the local economy; every business on Main Street benefited and they all paid wages and taxes. La Ronge, Stanley Mission and Brabant Lake developed significant numbers of well-trained and experienced prospectors, stakers and like-cutters. These mostly aboriginal men were hired by companies all across Canada to work on projects in every province, from Ontario to British Columbia and they brought their wages home.

Local exploration companies, lead by men such as Rod Spooner, Bill Patterson, Eric Partridge, George Flatland, Mike O'Brien, Vern and Randy Studer, Dale Hoffman, Seamus and Tim Young, Mike Lederhouse and others generated millions of dollars in local wages and more millions in local spinoff.

The Robertsons became heavily involved in the local exploration trade and they always felt obliged to support those companies that supported them. They would often buy and hold shares in these junior exploration companies, simply to show support for their efforts in northern Saskatchewan. Gone are the days when we would sell 50 oxhead axes , 50 pair of rope snowshoes and dozens of compasses and winter sleeping bags in a single afternoon as a result of a pending staking rush. This new generation has no idea what an oxhead axe is, or a Silva Ranger compass, a rock hammer, a grub hoe, or what a hand lens is, or for that matter, what the hell a claim tag is for! These young folks think that flagging tape is something used to mark off a crime scene...and they would never find out if it were not for Google.

The sad fact is that there is no going back. The world is changing and so is mineral exploration. Nonetheless, Robertson Trading continues to support mining exploration and the benefits that this entails, and are damn proud to have been a part of this for the last 50 years.


Knudsen Family | Klaus Lehnert-Thiel | Andrew Gracie | Robertson Trading Ltd. | Charlie Cook | Vern Studer