Virtual Museum of Canada
 

The Mill Workers – History and Roles

A Japanese miner employed at the Horsefly Hydraulic Mine
A Japanese miner employed at the
Horsefly Hydraulic Mine. c. 1897. BC
Archives# D-07743.

A 1920 document detailing the wages and work of the men in Mill #2 offers a good snapshot of type of work done in Mill #3 (built only 3 years later), who did that work and how much they were paid. We can also learn how much it cost to operate the Mill per day.

These wages also illustrate the institutionalized racism that was part of not just the mining industry but many industries at the time. This practices continued, driving Japanese workers to go on strike in 1931 over both their low wages and the dangerous conditions they had to work in. Although the white workers refused to join them and the walk out was brief, the strike did result in a few improvements in working conditions, but did not raise their wages.

The conditions in the Mill were dirty and noisy. Throughout the 50 years of the Mill’s operations the mill became more automated, and by the 1960’s the operations of the mill was run by approximately 7 men, along with a crew of mechanics, foremen and an assayer. But just because the Mill was taking fewer men to operate, it didn’t necessarily mean that the machines were being upgraded. Many of the same systems and machines stayed the same throughout the mill’s life. As a result many considered the Mill to be filled with antiques, even museum pieces!

Below is the document detailing the wages and work of the men:

Sorting (working on the level where the ore was separated and sorted by size when it first came into the Mill from the Mine)
3 Whites $5.25 each $15.75 total per day
3 Japanese (bosses) $3.85 each $11.55 total per day
18 Japanese $3.60 each $64.80 total per day
3 Japanese (conveyor) $3.60 each $10.80 total per day
Daily total for the section: $102.90

Coarse Rolls (running machines where larger ore is broken down)
3 Whites $5.25 each $15.75 total per day
Daily total for section: $15.75

Intermediate Rolls (running machines where ore is broken down to smaller sizes)
3 Whites $5.25 each $15.75 total per day
Daily total for section: $15.75

Fine Rolls (running machines where the ore is ground to its finest consistency)
3 Whites $5.25 each $15.75 total per day
Daily total for section: $15.75

Jig Floor (running the jigs that separated the ore from foreign material such as wood)
6 Whites $5.50 each $33.00 total per day
Daily total for section: $33.00

Minerals Separation (running the froth flotation cells)
6 Whites $5.50 each $33.00 total per day
7 Japanese (bins) $3.60 each $25.20 total per day
Daily total for section: $58.20

Tube Mill Floor (holding the tube mills, for fine grinding and mixing the ore with water)
9 Whites $5.25 each $47.25 per day
Daily total for section: $47.25

Samplers (choosing and preparing samples of ore for the assayers to test mineral levels)
3 White $3.60 each $10.80 total per day
1 White (grinder) $3.70 each $3.70 total per day
Daily total for section: $14.50

Supervisors
1 White foreman $9.58 each $9.58 total per day
1 Japanese foreman $5.15 each $5.15 total per day
3 White shift bosses $6.50 each $19.50 total per day
1 White repair foreman $6.25 each $6.25 total per day
Daily total for section: $ 40.48

Mechanics
11 White repairmen $5.50 each $60.50 total per day
7 Japanese repairmen $3.70 each $25.90 total per day
1 White oilier $5.25 each $5.25 total per day
Daily total for section: $ 91.65

DAILY TOTAL FOR MILL #2 in 1920      $ 435.23