Britannia Mine Museum

Britannia Mine Museum

The former mine at Britannia Beach was an important source of copper ore for almost 70 years beginning in 1904. One of the largest such operations in Canada, by 1929 Britannia Mine was the largest producer of copper in the British Commonwealth. Closed in 1974, it became a National Historic Site in 1987. The site’s historic infrastructure has seen it host many feature film and TV productions.

Occupying a 20-story building that once housed a gravity-fed concentrator for ore processing, the museum gathers in 23 industrial, administrative and domestic buildings, over 7,000 artifacts, 9,500 archive photos and 3,000 archival documents and maps. Visitors can ride a train through an historic haulage tunnel built in 1914 to transport ore from the original mill buildings to the shore of Howe Sound.

Terrestrial and aquatic pollution from mine-tailings that had made this one of Canada’s most polluted sites took many decades of concerted effort to clean up, highlighting both the environmental cost of early industrial activities and the new technologies available to overcome them.

GEOLOGIC CONTEXT:

A popular roadside museum and cultural site centered on a former hardrock copper mine.

HOW TO SEE IT:

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In Britannia Beach, 55 kilometres north of Vancouver, take the main turnoff into town (Copper Drive, naturally). The parking area for the museum is on your right. Info: https://www.britanniaminemuseum.ca

Services:

Parking, washrooms.

Decimal Degrees (DD)

49.623862, -123.204468

Degrees Decimal Minutes (DDM)

49° 37.4317' N   123° 12.2681' W

Degrees Minutes Seconds (DMS)

49° 37' 25.9032" N  123° 12' 16.0848" W

What Are Pillars?

The Fire & Ice Aspiring Geopark comprises four main geological pillars referenced in all interpretive material: (M)ountain Building, (G)laciation, (V)olcanism and (C)ollapse.

MOUNTAIN BUILDING

Mountain building can involve several processes that contribute to the formation of mountains, such as the collision of tectonic plates that result in folding, faulting, metamorphism and the creation of subduction zones associated with volcanic activity and igneous intrusion.

GLACIATION

Glaciation refers to landform phenomena associated with the formation, movement and recession of glaciers and ice sheets. In temperate latitudes such as British Columbia, montane glaciation at higher altitudes is the norm while continental glaciation occurred during Ice Ages like the recent Pleistocene.

VOLCANISM

Volcanism is the eruption of subterranean molten rock (magma) and gasses onto the surface of the planet and includes the production of volcanic landforms and the effects of eruptions and flowing lava on pre-existing surface formations.

COLLAPSE

Collapse is a term that refers broadly to both slow processes of destabilization and erosion by wind, water and ice, as well as rapid processes like rockfall and landslides.

Whether acting as primary or secondary forces, one or more of these processes figure in the creation of each geosite.