Deep Under the Mountain

Cameron and I have had adventures in the air, on the water,  in the city, in the forest, at the beach and … well, just about everywhere. A couple of months ago though it was time to think a little deeper.

Like underground type deeper.

Not far from where we live is the BC Museum of Mining, at Britannia Beach, on the way to Squamish and Whistler. Many times I’ve driven past there, and said, “someday it’d be neat to see what’s in there.” So when Mom and Bill were visiting, and we had a day to explore, that’s what I suggested we do!

And yes, those of you who are X-files fans may recognize this building.

We’d taken our chances and gone without booking ourselves on a tour, or even checking the times of the tours. I wouldn’t recommend this – but we lucked out. Time for a quick lunch and a bit of exploration on our own (don’t miss the dinosaur footprints!), and it was time to find hard hats! Grandpa Bill helped Cameron select his.

Cameron was most thrilled about the little mine train we got to ride, and was very impressed at the idea that we were going INTO the mountain. He climbed in, and bounced around, quite happy even to pose for pictures. Then the train started its journey in … and it got darker … and Cameron kept looking rather anxiously back at the rectangle of light we were leaving behind. He edged closer and stopped jumping quite so much.

After a little bit it was time to go for a walk down one of the tunnels – a real mineshaft, that had been reinforced and made safe for the public. The real mine that used to be here shut down quite some time ago, but yes it was a real copper mine.  Once upon a time it was the main supplier of copper in the British Commonwealth. But those times are long since passed, and for the most part the tunnels have degraded and collapsed.  In this tunnel, they had a set-up of several different drills. Our tour guide demonstrated the old hammer-and-pick methods, then warned us it was about to get louder. He fired up one of the old drills.

Cameron, really sensitive to loud noses, howled and sobbed.   If you take a youngster, bring good noise-reducing earmuffs!

He handled the subsequent drills a little bit better, and even seemed to enjoy the talk about explosives and blasting. It was a learning experience for me – I’d known that mining was a dangerous job, but hearing about the different roles and jobs, and the dangers of them, while underground in a tunnel … well, it just seemed more real.

Then came the obligatory “how dark is dark” demo. Me, I love this. Real darkness, eyes straining to find light but finding nothing darkness. Cameron? He was less than thrilled.  He did, however, enjoy the carbide light demo, and the mining train car that was pushed to visit the miners mid-shift … the mobile two-seater toilet!

At the end of the tour there’s a chance to pan for gold (they seed it), something I’d like to do there someday, but it was freezing cold and stormy that afternoon. There’s also time to view the inside of that cool building, Mill 3, a gravity-fed concentrator.


One response to “Deep Under the Mountain

  1. It was a great tour wasn’t it! The video of the mine is pretty good too – has Cameron watched it? Does he comment on the darkness and the noise?

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