An engineering-marvel. An economic engine. A beacon that lit up Howe Sound. To residents of Britannia Beach, from 1921 to 1974, Mill no.3 served as the heartbeat of their community.
While many British Columbians have a personal connection to Britannia Mine—a partner, a parent, or a grandparent who worked at Britannia—few know the Mill’s story and purpose first-hand. Many drive past along the Sea-to-Sky highway enroute to Whistler and wonder what is that behemoth building on the side of the mountain! Launching in 2019, the Mill Show experience is an opportunity for a new generation to discover and immerse themselves in the magic of the mill and the sights and sounds of the architectural sensation.
To craft its new you-are-there experience, the Museum enlisted the help of Vista Collaborative Arts who produced the Sleeping Giant at the Museo del Acero in Monterrey, Mexico. Despite a 12-year gap between production of the Sleeping Giant and the Mill Show, there are significant similarities—from being the heart of a industrial town, to transforming an important relic with modern day relevance, and not least of which is the exact same production team behind the restoration.
The Sleeping Giant was produced as part of a revitalization project of a former iron-smelting blast furnace. It held a special place in the hearts of the local population, many who worked there when it was in operation, and it needed to find a new way to tell its story. By transforming the former iron furnace into a living theatre—with dynamic theatrical lighting, animated sets, and real flames, smoke, sparks and steam—the long-dormant furnace was reborn. Today, it remains a feature attraction at the Museo del Acero.
For those team members involved in its conception and execution, the Mill Show is akin to bringing the band back together. “We’re all speaking the same musical language” says Scott Weber, the Mill Show’s producer and director. “Everyone knows which notes need to be played.”
"One of the coolest aspects of this project is that we're a team that have been brought back together that worked on a big project down in Mexico to bring a blast furnace to life” says Tim Lindsay, set designer for the Mill Show. “It’s really interesting to have the same team, twelve years later, be brought back together again.”
As excited as the Vista Collaborative Arts team is to work together again, we’re equally excited to introduce everyone to the Mill Show. To learn more about this thrilling new show, and discover all sorts of behind-the-scene content, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
The following article was originally published in the Spring 2019 edition of What's Insight magazine.
One of the oldest pieces of Mill no.3 is the skip—a 3-tonne rail car that transported equipment to and from the upper levels of the Mill.
The Museum recently presented at the Gwangmyeong Cave City Conference in South Korea.