The Mills of Britannia

Mill No. 3 is turning 100 this year! 

This icon of the Sea-to-Sky Corridor has been an important feature for the local community. Throughout this year, we will celebrate Mill No. 3’s history through a summer exhibition and events that highlight the Mill’s technology, engineering, and lasting impacts it has for people within the community. 

Much of Mill No. 3’s success is due to the former mills that operated at Britannia. 

Did you know three different mills have operated throughout Britannia Mine’s lifetime? 

Mill No. 1 was the first concentrator to operate at Britannia. Unfortunately, Britannia Mining and Smelting Company built Mill No. 1 before they had a thorough understanding of how to efficiently process the ore coming out of the mountain. This meant crucial pieces of equipment were missing.  It was also too small for the amount of mined ore. Mill No. 1 only processed 700 U.S. tons of ore a day. Evidence of Mill No. 1 at the museum can be seen as you make your way to the Train Pavilion. The foundation of Mill No. 1 is the location of our current Foundations Exhibit.  

Britannia Mine Museum Historic Mill No. 1

Mill No. 1 BMM# 13477. Donated by Willa Horsfall.


In 1914, after nearly a decade of operation, Britannia had yet to make a profit. General Manager JWD Moodie knew if the Mine was to succeed, a larger mill was necessary. By 1916, the company completed the bigger and more efficient, Mill No. 2. This second mill worked in conjunction with Mill No. 1. Together they processed 2000 U.S. tons of ore per day. By 1919, due to the successful operation of Mill No. 2, Britannia Mining and Smelting no longer believed Mill No.1 was necessary so they demolished it. 

Britannia Mine Museum Historic Mill No. 2

Mill No. 2 during construction. BMM# 12767. Donor unknown.


Tragically, in March of 1921, Mill No. 2 caught on fire and burned down. You can still see some remains of Mill No. 2 on the hillside to the left of Mill No. 3. Britannia was severely impacted by this. Without a mill to process ore, the Britannia Mining and Smelting Company could not earn a profit. Thankfully, the Company believed in the mine’s potential and decided to build another mill. Engineers used lessons they had learned during their time with Mill No. 1 and No. 2 to build a safer and more efficient mill.  After a short 18 months, construction on Mill No. 3 was complete. The Company decided to use concrete and steel as the main building materials for Mill No. 3 and incorporated new milling and processing systems able to process 2,500 tons of ore per day. 

Britannia Mine Museum Historic Mill No. 3

Historic Mill No. 3.  BMM# 12191. Donated by Peter Bell 


Over the decades, Mill No. 3’s efficiency increased to the point where it processed an average of 7,100 U.S. tons of ore per working day. Mill No. 3 operated until the mine’s closure in 1974. Its long life as the dominant working building at Britannia Beach makes it significant for its symbolic, historic, and aesthetic values. In 1987, the province designated Mill No. 3 a National Historic Site. Today, it continues to be awe-inspiring for museum visitors and stirs up curiosity in those who simply drive by.  


 If you want to learn more about Mill No. 3 join us this summer for our new exhibit, 100 Years of Mill No. 3.

Opening May 19, 2023!