Monday, April 6, 2009

Britannia Beach, BC

Today's post will deviate from my normal routine as sparked by a question asked by one of my loyal readers, Mr "K75" Jack Riepe who was asking about a little blip on the map known as Britannia Beach. It is a mere blink of your eye as you travel northward on the Sea-to-Sky highway north of Vancouver, BC.

(Britannia Mine site, building was prev RED in colour)

This was designated as a historic place, you can find more information here:

an exerpt from this site follows:

"The mine boomed in the late 1920s and early 1930s, becoming the largest producer of copper in the British Commonwealth by 1929. In 1946 the Britannia mines were unionized and suffered through their first strike. Low copper prices saw the Britannia Mine Company reduced to seven employees, and in 1959 it went into liquidation.

In 1963 the Anaconda Mining Company bought the property and production continued for the next eleven years, before high operating costs and taxes eventually forced the mine to close on November 1, 1974.

In 1975 the BC Museum of Mining was opened to the public, and was designated as a National Historic Site in 1988. The following year, 1989, the Museum site was designated a British Columbia Historic Landmark.

The entrance to the Museum is in the heart of the village of Britannia Beach. Most of the mine service buildings have been preserved, and are being restored for the museum. A video presentation of Britannia history is presented to visitors at the Museum entry where the stage is set for the Mine Tour guided by interpreters, dressed as miners. They are then guided through the Mining House, which offers 3 levels of displays and exhibits.

Visitors can explore BC's fascinating mining history at the BC Museum of Mining. Tour the old mine site displays and exhibits, and catch the Underground Train and experience a real hard rock mine with live demonstrations. See how the Gold Rush affected the mine's history, and view rock and mineral displays, transportation methods, and artifacts from the past.

Also on permanent exhibit in the Industrial Yard is the Museum's latest large acquisition, a 235-ton super Mine Truck. It dwarfs the other mining artifacts which are more typical of the machinery and equipment used at Britannia. Yet, it is symbolic of the advances in mining technology and equipment since the 1920's and 30's when the Britannia Mines were operating at their peak productivity.

The small village offers stunning scenery of mountains and fjords, mining history, and unique arts and crafts."

I'll let the photos speak for themselves in the photographic and documentary style of my friend Conchscooter, Key West Diary . I realize that most of his award winning photos are taken in the dead of night with his coveted Gorilla Pod as he is using the cover of night to camouflage his intentions. If you happen to spot a certain Bonneville parked in an unassuming position you will know that he is close by with his camera, in hand.

(Britannia Beach volunteer Fire Brigade)

(former workers' bunkhouse)

Across the street you will find another bunk house


I remember a time in the late 1960's my friend & myself used to go hiking in the hills above the mine site. There is a reservoir higher up the hill which served as the town's water supply. Of course back in those days there were no signs telling you to keep away. Often we would travel into the forest to go "plinking" .

A lot of tourists stop here to purchase BC Jade


This was the closest thing I could get to a topless pole dancer, sorry Jack !
Britannia Beach is not the place for erotic thoughts


If Native Art is your passion, then you have stuck gold.


(General Store, Britannia Beach, BC)

Originally Britannia Beach was a company town. The whole townsite was owned by the Company who erected houses for all of their key people; the managers, supervisors, superintendants and other supervisory staff. The commoners (workers) had to live in the bunkhouses.

I wouldn't think that you would get rich having a business here which is dependant on tourists who happen to stop, and many don't. It is still early in the season so not much is happening at the moment.



and finally, here is a view of a very large truck


The sign says it all . . .

(Downtown, Britannia Beach)

None of the eateries are open yet. The May long weekend (Victoria Day) usually signals the start of summer when the better weather arrives.


This looks like a very unique setup. If things don't work out you can just hop into the driver's seat and drive the kitchen away to a new location

(Cafe with local flavour, and outside seating patio too)

Hey, Jack . . . I think I finally found your Mountain WOmen.




There are lots of Inukshuk's everywhere, even here in Britannia Beach.


  1. Inukshuks and plinking. I'd be afraid to visit Britannia Beach lest I violate local customs which seem impenetrably complex. You'd also think these wet people would be collecting rain water as there seems to be plenty around. And not a coconut in sight.

  2. Dear Mr. Bobskoot:

    I have run through this place four or five times. Mostly in the winter; once in the summer. Despite the fact it passes by in the blink of an eye, it is infinitely more interesting than Whistler. If my memory serves me correctly, there is a rail line that passes though town. I remember thinking that a passenger train from Vancouver to Whistler would be the ultimate thrill ride.

    Thank you for writing about this. It is always pleasant when a writer takes requests. It doesn't always happen.

    Fondest regards,
    Twisted Roads

  3. Hmmm... as a local Britannia Beachite, I'm curious about what complex customs Conshscooter is referring to. If you have a bike you've "met" the most important local custom! And I agree with Jack - our town is infinitey more interesting than Whistler.