Britannia Mine Museum Celebrates 100 Years of the Iconic Mill No. 3

Comments 23 by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Britannia Mine Museum is commemorating 100 Years of its iconic Mill No. 3 with a feature exhibit that will run till the end of the year, and a special event in May.

Britannia Mine Museum
Britannia Mine Museum – Photo submitted

Britannia Mine Museum Dig Day

The anniversary of Mill No. 3 will be celebrated with a Dig Day event on Saturday, May 20th from 10:00am to 3:00pm with various family friendly hands-on geoscience themed activities including demonstrations from geologists and minerals experts.

100 Years of the Iconic Mill No. 3

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 Mount Sheer 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.”

Interesting Facts About Mill No. 3

  • It is 20-storeys high built of concrete and steel in 1923.
  • Despite being so tall, Mill No. 3 has no elevator so Mill workers had to climb more than 240 steps one way.
  • It is Canada’s last remaining gravity-fed concentrator mill.
  • At its peak in the early 1930s, Mill No. 3 was processing up to 7,000 U.S. tons of ore per operating day.
  • In the 1930s, the Britannia Mine produced 17 per cent of the world’s copper, becoming the largest copper mine in the British Commonwealth.
  • Mill No. 3 is historically significant in being the first in BC to successfully employ froth flotation process to extract upwards of 95 per cent of minerals from ore.
  • The Mill also processed for zinc, lead, gold, silver, and cadmium.
  • Dozens of TV shows and movies have been filmed in Mill No. 3 such as X-Files, G.I. Joe: Snake EyesOkjaThe Decedents 2, and Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.
  • On November 20, 1987, Mill No. 3 was designated a National Historic Site.

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 honour its significance throughout the province, Mill No. 3 became a National Historic Site.

Enter to Win

I have an annual Family Membership to give away so you can visit as often as you like over the year! Here’s how you can enter to win:

Win An Annual Family Pass for the Britannia Mine Museum

May is a busy month for the Museum with it being BC Mining Month, BC Museum Week May 16th to 22nd and International Museum Day, May 18th.

The Britannia Mine Museum provides unique and memorable experiences that engage visitors of all ages. Enjoy fun exhibits and crowd favourites like the underground mine train, gold panning, the historic 20-storey concentrator Mill building and its BOOM! special effects show, the minerals and gem gallery, the gift shop and the Beaty Lundin Visitor Centre.

Follow the Britannia Mine Museum on Facebook and Instagram for more information.

23 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. KenWednesday, April 19th, 2023 — 12:49pm PDT

    Would love to visit this soon

  2. EdWednesday, April 19th, 2023 — 1:28pm PDT

    me please

  3. Amber OlakWednesday, April 19th, 2023 — 2:09pm PDT

    Would love to take my son and husband

  4. VivianWednesday, April 19th, 2023 — 5:37pm PDT

    I’ve been wanting to take my kids here for a while now!

  5. RobertoWednesday, April 19th, 2023 — 10:52pm PDT

    A great place to visit and tour. Fun!

  6. Toni FadolloneThursday, April 20th, 2023 — 9:14am PDT

    Oooo we’ve never been. NEW to BC and would love to go!

  7. Karen CThursday, April 20th, 2023 — 9:18am PDT

    Love Britannia! Thanks for the contest

  8. Debbie SilvaThursday, April 20th, 2023 — 8:20pm PDT

    My bf has never been so this would be an amazing surprise to take him and our kids 🙂

  9. Sandra RankineThursday, April 20th, 2023 — 8:36pm PDT

    Good luck

  10. ShelleyThursday, April 20th, 2023 — 8:37pm PDT

    I was there in the 1970’s on a field trip with school, and haven’t been back since. This would be wonderful to share with my family.

  11. DesireeThursday, April 20th, 2023 — 8:53pm PDT

    I would love to check it out with my kidlets and husband, and then explore some of the other things to do and places to eat at in Squamish!

  12. JasonThursday, April 20th, 2023 — 8:58pm PDT

    Great.

  13. CressidaThursday, April 20th, 2023 — 10:26pm PDT

    Such a great experience when I visited over ten years ago! Would love to win the membership to share this experience with my sons.

  14. Karen MillerFriday, April 21st, 2023 — 4:01am PDT

    I’d love to win this awesome prize.

  15. BillFriday, April 21st, 2023 — 10:42am PDT

    This would be great!

  16. GloriaFriday, April 21st, 2023 — 11:13am PDT

    Great place to take the family!

  17. Shelley ButcherFriday, April 21st, 2023 — 1:44pm PDT

    I enjoyed going to the Britannia Mine Museum with my kids and would love to go with my grandkids

  18. TammySaturday, April 22nd, 2023 — 10:16am PDT

    Fantastic!

  19. Kirsten FisherSunday, April 23rd, 2023 — 5:02pm PDT

    I would love to win this amazing prize! Thanks for this awesome contest!

  20. Mike GismondiSunday, April 23rd, 2023 — 8:32pm PDT

    Britannia Mines are great fun to visit!

  21. Angela GriffinMonday, April 24th, 2023 — 6:46am PDT

    We went here and my kids loved it.

  22. EllaTuesday, April 25th, 2023 — 10:08am PDT

    My teenage daughters love this place!

  23. RicardoWednesday, April 26th, 2023 — 10:26am PDT

    I always liked this museum

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