While Vancouver Island is most commonly associated with the resource-based industries of forestry and fishing, the island also has a strong and deep history of mining.
Coal mining began on the island (and surrounding islands) in the 1800s, with the discovery of coal in the Nanaimo region. This initial discovery was facilitated by local First Nations, who noticed the coal that Hudson’s Bay Company employees used and offered the information that coal was available locally.
Mining jobs brought many people to the island, creating small towns of workers (eg Cumberland) while areas of Nanaimo and Victoria were built upon the success of prominent mining families.
Mining became big business, first coal and then metals. The island is physically marked by the industry, with both small, abandoned mine sites and large decommissioned mine sites. Two large mines near Campbell River, Quinsam Coal and Myra Mines, are on-again off-again mines; with production being at the whim of global markets.
There are still individual mine claims throughout the back country of Vancouver Island as well as on the smaller islands and on the stretch of mainland coast across from northern Vancouver Island. Whether any of these are active is hard to determine. There are also still people who pan in the local rivers, hoping to find a gold nugget or two.
north Vancouver Island old mine site
Properties that come up for sale in the more remote areas of the islands can be impacted by a mining background. Some may be actual mine sites while others can be at least partially made up of old mining claims.
there were mine sites on the hillside of Port Neville
Hatley and Cragidarroch Castles, the community of Cumberland, Newcastle Island, the IslandCopper Mine outside of Port Hardy, small mining relics and tailings piles, unused mining claims, the numerous dams around Nanaimo – all of these are part of the legacy mining has created on Vancouver Island.
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