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In researching and developing this year’s summer exhibition ‘100 years of Mill No. 3’, we wanted to include a range of voices from the communities, past and present. This involved digging into our archives, listening to past aural history recordings and asking for the community to share their memories and stories of the Mill. We were able to hear from past workers and residents to current museum staff about what the Mill meant to them.
With its mining operations lasting 70 years and having at least 60 000 people pass through its two towns, Britannia’s legacy within the Sea to Sky Corridor and beyond can still be felt and heard today. When I mention to people where I work, I often have people tell me, ‘My father used to work there…’, ‘I was born there…’, ‘I remember playing there as a kid’ and many more Britannia stories. We also regularly have people visit the museum who have family ties to the mine. These direct connections to our shared history allow us to develop a greater understanding of life here at Britannia.
Here are some quotes from the community about their time here:
“The closing was kind of sad. Especially for those who lived and worked here their whole life. The labour board came in and most the men got jobs. None were left stranded.”
– John “Jack” Dickinson, machinist, mill foreman, and librarian.
Lived at Britannia on and off from 1924 to 1974.
Image Caption: Image taken by Lawrence Hislop in 2006
File name: Lawrence Hislop Photos. Nov. 2006.jpg 012
“My father worked at the top of the Mill, inside the powerhouse, and I used to take him his lunch. There must have been over 200 stairs. You couldn’t hear yourself talk or think it was so loud!”
- Gail Beckwith, her father Oroville Beckwith was an electrician in the powerhouse next to Mill No. 3.
(not an image of Will, but it was taken in the area he would have worked) BMM#2709, donor unknown)
“I had a job in the old concentrator as a summer student working the summer of 1964. And Jack, the general foreman for the Mill, said to me “Well we don’t have a grinding operator, but you should be smart enough” …So there I was at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and I was the grinding operator and you learned things the hard way…. But it was a good time, it was a good summer.”
– Will Trythall, lived at The Townsite from 1946 to 1951.
"To me it was almost like a beacon. I would see the mill and to me it meant I was home.”
- Marilyn Robb (Adamson), lived at Britannia Beach from 1947 to 1954.
“I was sad when it [Mill No. 3] shut down and sadder when it started to deteriorate. I was excited when the mill started to appear in movies and happy when it was restored.”
- Charlie Harvey, lived at Britannia Beach from 1955 to 1970, worked in the Assay office from 1965 to 1968.
We know there are many people who have connections to Britannia, and we are always open to hear and learn more. If reading these quotes has brought back memories for you and you would be open to sharing those with us here at the museum, please follow this link:
Laura Minta Holland
Curator of Collections and Engagement