Coal was king before gold rushes hit B.C. But a vital link to this mining history faces jeopardy
by Greg Klein
Look around downtown Nanaimo and you wouldn’t know that British Columbia’s mining industry started here. Hidden from sight are the extensive workings where men dug coal beneath the streets, the harbour and the nearby islands. Gone are the wharves, the narrow-gauge tracks that comprised western North America’s first railways and the mines’ surface structures. Several kilometres south, however, a very substantial monument to Vancouver Island’s coal mining heritage remains—for now. But the historic Morden mine headframe and tipple need urgent repairs. The site’s owner, the B.C. government, says it doesn’t have money to save it. A group that wants it saved finds itself at a dead end.