In the earliest years of the Britannia Mine - before it was an actual mine - the ore was known about but was not seen as a valuable or viable resource. We looked at this in Part 1.
As a quick recap, in 1888 a fisherman called Granger and local physician Dr. Forbes collectively discovered the ore at Britannia Mountain. Dr. Forbes worked the property for a number of years, but did not secure interest from anyone else in order to develop it. Apart from his own small scale development work, the property lay untouched for ten years.
It wasn't until the trapper Oliver Furry who lived on the shores of McNab Creek on the western shores of Howe Sound got involved that the story picks up again. With the financial and technological assistance of a Vancouver based mining entrepreneur he staked claims that included the Jane claim - which became the first mining camp, and today is the open pit Jane Basin, high up on the mountain.
By 1898, with a new financial interest in metals other than gold, investors were sitting up and taking notice. The Boscowitz family were the first, but not the last, investors. A rush began, with the result being the formation of the Britannia Copper Syndicate in 1900. The syndicate though were not mining men. Their goal was to establish the property enough to sell it for a profit.
A floating pier was installed just south of what is today Britannia Beach. Pack trails were built to take men, horses and materials to the log cabins at Jane Creek Camp. It was this camp that in 1915 was destroyed by a slide, killing almost 60 people.
Although the potential of the property was deemed to be huge, the syndicate were finding it tough to sell. However in 1902, mining engineer George Robinson bought out a controlling interest in the syndicate and began development work. He established a new Board of Directors which included BC`s famous Hon. Edgar Dewdney - who was responsible for the creation of the Dewdney Trail in southern BC. In 1904, development capital came from New York, from Henry Stern and Grant Barney Schley. The Howe Sound Company was formed in the US with a $2 million investment and mining operations finally began.
The first few years saw some rocky patches, a result of bad design judgement of Mill 1 and then the death of Robinson. But thanks to the belief and continued investment of Schley, they got through this. The rest as they say, is history!