Morden Colliery – Nanaimo, BC
N 49° 05.680 W 123° 52.363
10U E 436288 N 5438346
Quick Description: One of the last reminders of a coal mining history on Vancouver Island.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 1/25/2008 9:17:53 PM
Waymark Code: WM31HA
At one time there were at least 8 of these structures around Nanaimo and about 12 on Vancouver Island. Most of these were made out of wood except for this one. Coal mining and the development of Vancouver Island in the 1800’s to early 1900’s are very much intertwined. Over 50 million tons of coal was removed from several mines in the Nanaimo basin from 1849 to as late as Jan. 1987 with the last of the coal being removed from the last operating mine, the Wolf Mountain Mine near Mt Benson.
The mine that operated here was started because the existence of the PCCM (Pacific Coast Coal Mines) railway that passed by this location from Boat Harbour to the first PCCM coal mine at South Wellington. Construction started in March 1912 with the digging of 2 parallel shafts to a depth of about 600 feet. That took over a year, then the miner’s strike of 1913-14 started and mining stopped. But the company spent the non production time by building this concrete headframe and tipple you see before you. The miners returned in 1915 but coal production did not start until well into 1916. Production reached 400 tons per nine hour shift, far from the expected 1,500 tons per shift. Due to the huge debt that PCCM had occurred partly due to the large expense and low production of the Morden mine, they claimed bankruptcy in 1921 and mining operations were suspended.
In 1930, the mine was opened again, but many cave-ins had occurred in the 9 years that the mine was closed and it took a lot of money to start production again. After only 3,000 tons were pulled out, the mine was closed for good. It’s estimated that there is 7,000,000 tons of coal still in the ground where this mine was developed and it is with some irony that the coal mining history on Vancouver Island which made some men very rich is represented here by a mine that was a big bust.
There is a group of people that are trying very hard to save this historic site. The Friends of the Morden Mine have a web presence with more history and some great pictures on it. I used some of their information for this waymark.