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Britannia Mine Museum

britannia mine, museum, squamish, sea to sky

Photo Credit: Kevin Pearce

The isolated community of Britannia was established in the early 1900s with the opening of what was to become the largest copper mine in the British Empire. Accessible only by boat until the highway and railway were completed in 1965, a very tight knit community was established. Life for the locals was entertaining. Facilities included libraries, clubrooms, billiard rooms, swimming pools, tennis courts and even bowling. A thriving social calendar saw sporting events, theatrical productions, dances, movies and parties held throughout the year.

Resurrected from avalanche (1915), fire and flood (1921), and survival of low copper prices in the 50s, it all came to an end when high operating costs and taxes eventually forced the mine to close in 1974. With the closure of the mine the town diminished rapidly, and the railway station shut down soon after.

Unfortunately, the company did not clean up the mine’s chemical waste since environmental protection laws had not yet been enacted. Although mining at Britannia Creek stopped in 1974, acid rock drainage left Britannia Creek and Howe Sound severely polluted. Due to reclamation efforts the local waters of Howe Sound are now 99% cleared of the heavy metals and again supports local ocean life.

Britannia Mine Museum, a National Historic Site of Canada, captures and displays the lives of the miners, the facility and community through clever exhibits, films and artifacts. Climb aboard a mine train and rumble into the dark tunnels as part of this once thriving mining community and experience their story from the beginning.