Mining can be a strange and foreign topic for many people. For this reason it is valuable to create a context for your visit to the Museum.
Use the following resources to introduce your class to mining & mineral terminology, Britannia, other major copper mines of the Britannia era, the significance of mining in BC history, and the geology of Vancouver and the Sea to Sky corridor.
Prepare your class by defining rocks and minerals. Ask your students if they have any rocks or minerals that are their favorites and what properties those rocks and minerals have that makes these specimens valued. Discuss with your class physical properties of minerals (luster, transparency, shape, colour) and how they can influence how we value them.
Like many specialized fields, mining has its own terminology. Use these exercises to introduce some of the more common mining terms used.
Groundbreaking – All Grades
Our 15 minute award winning movie on Britannia tells the story of how Britannia went from discovery to the largest copper mine in the British Empire. It also tells the story of how the environment was impacted by mining activity and how that impact has been reversed.
A-Z of Britannia
This document, based on our exhibit of the same name, covers 26 different elements of the Britannia story. Have your students pick a favorite topic and research it further or compare and contrast it to life today.
Britannia and the Environment
Use the environment section of our website to give an introduction to the environmental issue Britannia faced – Acid Rock Drainage – and its resolution.
The Geology of Howe Sound
Explore the geologic context of Britannia’s deposit with a look at the geology of Howe Sound with one of the following geo-tours of the Sea to Sky corridor.
The Sea to Sky GeoTour produced by Natural Resources Canada provides an introduction to tectonics, volcanism, debris flows, glaciations, and other topics as they relate to the history of Vancouver and Sea to Sky Corridor.
Vancouver Geology (including Howe Sound), by John Armstrong
BC – Built on Coal and Gold
While the colonies of what is now BC began with the fur trade, it was not long before the presence of gold and coal shaped them.
Nanaimo was a coal town which reflects many of the realities of mining towns of the late 1800s. This document on Nanaimo introduces some of those realities. Use it as a basis to introduce your students to life in the late 1800s and early 1900s in British Columbia resource towns.
From the growth of Victoria and the opening of the interior to the uniting of the Island and the Mainland into one colony, the Fraser and Cariboo gold rushes shaped what became the province of British Columbia. Explore the realities of the Rushes with your students. The following links provide different perspectives on the gold rushes.
Daily Life in Victoria before and after the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush (The Governor's Letters Project)
Barkerville (Barkerville Heritage Trust)
Other Britannia Era Copper Mines
While Britannia was a significant mine, it is not the only one that captures the era in which it operated. Other large mines established around the beginning of the 1900s provide a broader context for this significant time in mining history. Use the following resources to compare Britannia to other historic North American mines of the early 20th century.
Bingham Canyon Mine
Established in 1903, the birthplace of modern open pit mining and has been labeled ‘the largest man-made excavation on earth'. It is currently known as Kennecott Utah Copper, a subsidiary of Rio Tino)
Teacher's Guide (Rio Tinto Kennecott)
A Visitor's Perspective (Atlas Obscura)
The company that came to own Britannia in 1963 was established in the late 1800s and grew to become one of the largest copper mining operations in the world before it closed down.
The Rise and Fall of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company (15 minute video / Youtube)
The History of Butte Montana – Home of Anaconda and called ‘The Richest Hill On Earth’
Butte is known for copper, but it was gold and then silver that brought the first prospectors, similar to how it was gold that played a significant role in the opening up of British Columbia.
Butte, Montana, the Richest Hill on Earth (Dakota Matrix Minerals)