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Britannia Mine Museum Celebrates 100 Years of the Iconic Mill No. 3
Mill No. 3: Building A National Historic Site and Heartbeat of the Britannia Community
Photo: Britannia Mine Museum’s 100-Year-Old Mill No. 3 Building circa 1923.
Britannia Beach, BC (April 14, 2023) The Britannia Mine Museum is commemorating “100 Years of Mill No. 3” this year, with a feature exhibit that will run till the end of the year.
The Museum will be hosting a “Dig Day” public celebratory event on Saturday, May 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with various family friendly hands-on geoscience themed activities including demonstrations from geologists and minerals experts. May is a busy month for the Museum with it being BC Mining Month, BC Museum Week May 16-22 and International Museum Day, May 18.
Designated as a National Historic Site, the 20-storey Mill No. 3 building was an architectural feat of engineering at its time, built on the side of Britannia Mountain at Britannia Beach over a period of 18 months, and completed in 1923. The Museum’s feature exhibit “100 Years of Mill No. 3” delves into how Mill No. 3 served as the heartbeat of the Britannia community, its history, technological innovations, and impact as an icon of the Sea to Sky Corridor.
“Mill No. 3 played a significant role in providing for the Britannia Beach and Mount Sheer mining communities, contributing to BC’s economic well-being until the Mine’s closure in 1974, and has served as an iconic landmark and feature along the Sea-to-Sky region for the last 100 years,” explains Laura Minta Holland, Curator of Collections and Engagement at the Britannia Mine Museum. “We wanted to pay homage to the Mill’s 100-year history and importance with our ‘Dig Day’ celebratory event and feature exhibit, as well as highlight its technology and engineering marvel as Canada’s last remaining gravity-fed concentrator Mill.”
Mill No. 3 is also the feature story of the Museum’s BOOM! Show, an award-winning, live-action, sensory-thrilling, special effects show that takes you behind the scenes of this 100-year-old architectural marvel. BOOM! transports visitors back in time to the 1920s and 1930s when the Mine was booming as the largest copper producer in the British Commonwealth.
Built from concrete and steel in 1923, Mill No. 3 is the third mill that was built at Britannia Beach. Its role as a processing plant was to move ore from the mining tunnels, using gravity to move ore from one level to the next, crushing and grinding the ore into valuable copper concentrate.
“I started my career at Britannia Mine when I was 18 in the early 1960s and I remember going to work in the Mill building, where we had to climb hundreds of steep stairs to get to the different levels of the Mill,” says 76 year-old Marshall Tichauer who returned to the Britannia Mine Museum to work as a Tour Interpreter because of his love of mining. “Those days, the Mill was ‘rockin and rollin’ and you could hear the loud rumblings from miles away. But that meant we were making money and we all had a job. I was at the prime of my life and I met and married my wife at the mine and have lived in the community since then.”
Some interesting facts about Mill No. 3:
Today, the Britannia Mine Museum continues to be awe-inspiring for museum visitors, providing unique and memorable experiences that engage visitors of all ages. Visitors can enjoy fun exhibits and crowd favourites like the Underground mine train, gold panning, the historic Mill building and its BOOM! special effects show, the minerals and gems gallery, the gift shop, and the Beaty Lundin Visitor Centre.
About Britannia Mine Museum:
The Britannia Mine Museum is a mining legacy site and a vibrant, internationally recognized education and tourist destination located between Vancouver and Whistler on the Sea-to-Sky highway. It is a National Historic Site and a non-profit organization encouraging mining awareness through entertaining, experiential education programs and exhibits, important historic collection preservation and insightful public engagement that allows guests to leave with a better understanding of mining in BC; past, present and future. www.britanniaminemuseum.ca Twitter: @BritanniaMine Facebook: @BritanniaMineMuseum Instagram: @BritanniaMineMuseum
Media contact: Yvonne Chiang, 604-880-5090, firstname.lastname@example.org
A Brief History of Britannia Mine’s Mill No. 3
The first concentrator Mill was built in 1906 but was too small to serve its expanding operations, so a second and larger Mill was built in 1916 to work in conjunction with the first Mill. In 1919, the first Mill was demolished and tragically in 1921, the second Mill caught fire and burnt to the ground. The loss had a huge impact on the mining community because without the Mill meant no profit was possible for the mining company and no income for the community.
However, the mining company believed in the mine’s potential so construction on a third mill began immediately, and Mill No. 3 was completed in 1923 within a short 18 months, and incorporated new milling and processing systems designed to process 2,500 tons of ore per day. Over the decades, Mill No. 3’s efficiency increased to the point where it processed 7,000 tons of ore a day. After 70 years of operation, Mill No. 3 and the Britannia Mine shut down in 1974.
While Mill No. 3 withstood the test of time, it required extensive rehabilitation which took 18 months from October 2005 to April 2007 to complete. It included a 15-person in-house Britannia Mine Museum team of mechanically and technically skilled men and women from the local Britannia Beach and Squamish communities, who had a vested interest in the successful completion of the project. They rehabilitated Mill No. 3 which included hand constructing and hand puttying 14,416 panes of glass for the Mill’s windows.
Mill No. 3’s long life as the dominant working building at Britannia Beach makes it significant for its symbolic, historic, and aesthetic values. In 1987, to honor its significance throughout the province, Mill No. 3 became a National Historic Site.