Virtual Museum of Canada

The Mill and Community

Britannia Mines Baseball team. 1928
Britannia Mines Baseball team.
1928. BCMM# 11874
Britannia Beach was a very typical early 20th century community. Its economy was built on its rich natural resources, and like many other small towns in British Columbia, it was isolated from other communities.

The Mill #3 was and still is the centre of Britannia Beach, standing over 20 stories high and towering over all of its homes, constantly watching over its residents.

To the historic community of Britannia Beach, the Mill was more than a building; it was the heart and soul of the community. The mining company owned and operated the town, so the community’s survival depended on the success of the mine. As long as the townspeople could see the Mill’s bright lights and hear the loud grinding of its machines, they knew their community was vibrant as the activity inside.

The Mill is the most visible man-made landmark in the area, with its many lights reflecting far out on the water. Visitors or returning residents knew they were close to their destination when they could see the landmark Mill in the distance welcoming them.

In any community, the stories of its residents give it life. Likewise, the people who worked in the Mill gave it character and generated lasting memories. For over 50 years, the men of the Mill kept the machines operating and lived the many stories that capture its history. Some of their stories are told here.

BCMM 984.79.26 Celebrating May Day at Britannia Beach. c. 1930 BCMM 13489. A worker standing on the half constructed Mill. 1922. BCMM 13505. The Mill under construction. 1922. BCMM 11828. A family at Britannia Beach. c.1930. BCMM 12314. Visit of The Most Honourable George Freeman Thomas, later Freeman-Thomas, 1st Marquess of Willingdon, Governor General of Canada to Britannia Beach. c. 1929 BCMM 13489. A worker standing on the half constructed Mill. 1922.