Britannia Mine Museum

BC Museum of Mining - Britannia Mine


Useful Information

Location: Britannia Beach. From Vancouver Sea to Sky Highway (99) 52km north.
Open: First Sunday in May to Thanksgiving Monday daily 9-17:30.
First Tour 10, last tour 16.
[2012]
Fee: Adults CAD 21.50, Children (6-12) CAD 13.50, Children (0-5) free, Students CAD 16, Seniors (65+) CAD 16, Family (2+3) CAD 72.
[2012]
Classification: ExplainCopper Mine
Light: electric.
Dimension: T=12°C
Guided tours: D=45min, V=70,000/a[2011].
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Britannia Mine Museum, PO Box 188, Britannia Beach, V0N 1J0, Free: +1-800-896-4044-0, Tel: +1-604-896-2233-0, Fax: +1-604-896-2260. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1888 copper ore discovered by Dr. Forbes.
1899 the mining engineer George Robinson convinced some investors of the potential of the deposit.
1904 first ore shipped to the Crofton Smelter on Vancouver Island.
1912 mining operation ugraded and production increased.
21-MAR-1915 Jane Camp destroyed by a rock slide.
1916 Mill 2 completed.
1921 Mill 2 and Townsite destroyed.
1946 union founded and first labour strike.
1956 railway Squamish to North Vancouver completed.
1958 Sea to Sky Highway completed.
1959 Britannia Mining & Smelting Company went into liquidation.
1963 purchased by the Anaconda Mining Company.
NOV-1974 mine closed.
1975 show mine opened.
1988 Mill 3 designated National Historic Site.
1989 museum site designated a British Columbia Historic Landmark.

Geology


Description

The story of the Britannia Mine starts in 1888 when the Scotsman Alexander Forbes arrived in Vancouver. He met prospector Granger who showed him some promising rock samples and they made an exploration trip to the Howe Sound area. Forbes shot a buck deer and the deer's flailing hooves scratched the moss and exposed some mineralized rock. Forbes and Granger discovered copper ore.

It took some time until the remote copper deposit attracted the attention of mine operators. The mining engineer George Robinson convinced some investors of the potential of the deposit in 1899 and mining started. The Britannia Mining and Smelting Company was founded and directed by Robinson. The first ore was shipped in 1904 to the Crofton Smelter on Vancouver Island. Full production was achieved the following year. And the first ore processing plant, Mill 1, was constructed. In 1912 the mining operation was ugraded and production increased. In 1916 Mill 2 was completed, using late improvements in the techniques of the mineral separation processes. With the demand of World War I and the resultinghigh copper proces the mine flourished.

But there were also tragedies. On 21-MAR-1915 a rock and snow slide destroyed the miner's camp called Jane Camp and killed 56 people including women and children. As a result a safer town was erected 600m lower, called Townsite or Mount Sheer. But the most disastrous year was 1921. Mill 2 burned to the ground and later in the year a flood destroyed the miner's town and killed 37 people. Again a new town was erected and also a new mill called Mill 3.

Britannia Mine became the largest copper producer in the British Empire. Between 1929 and World War II new processes allowed the production of zinc, lead, gold, silver, and cadmium from the ores. The high prices of World War II made the mine flourish.

The place was at first accessible only by ship, but now railway and a road were built. The railway was completed in 1956, the highway in 1958, but in 1959 copper prices went down and the Britannia Mining & Smelting Company went into liquidation. The mine was closed.

In 1963 the mine was purchased by the Anaconda Mining Company and with a new ore zone the production was increased and the mine again became profitable. But after 11 years the mine was finally closed in 1974. Rising operating costs and taxes made the mine again unprofitable.

In 1975 the mine was reopened as a show mine. A section of the mine tunnels from 1912 was equipped for the underground tour and an exhibition was created in the surface buildings of the mine. The preserved Mill 3 became a National Historic Site in 1988 and in the following year the museum site was designated a British Columbia Historic Landmark. For some time the museum was named BC Museum of Mining, but now it has been renamed Britannia Mine Museum. The tour starts with the self guided surface part, there are 15 historic buildings erected between 1905 and 1951. The most impressive building is the historic Britannia Beach Mill or Mill 3.

The museum was restructured and developed with an investment of CAD 14.7 million in 2010. Called a revitalization project it preserved the buildings, redesigned the exhibitions, and added new exhibitions. But it also included a stormwater capture system to reduce the contamination of surface water by acidic soil. As a result the museum received various awards, like the 2012 Syncrude Award from the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM).