British Columbia government to restore structure at historic coal mine

Remains of coal tipple, now part of the Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park. Photo by popejon2, Wikimedia Commons.

The government of the western Canadian province of British Columbia announced that it will lead the restoration of a 22.5-metre concrete headframe and tipple structure at the site of the historic Morden Colliery coal mine.

Located in approximately seven kilometers south of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, the structure was built in the early 1900s by the Pacific Coal Company and it is one of only two of its kind left in North America. The mine was active between 1914 and 1921.

Photo by Friends of Morden Mine.

“Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park plays an important role in educating visitors about Vancouver Island communities’ rich coal-mining history,” George Heyman, provincial Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, said in a media statement. “Conserving this site preserves a unique piece of our heritage and reminds us of the people who worked in the mines.”

According to Heyman, the aging structure has seen some conservation work in the past three years, as the mine shaft was assessed, unsecured timbers from the headframe were removed and an engineering analysis was conducted. However, more needs to be done.

“The mine is very close to being destroyed. Most of the posts are not holding it up and we need to stabilize it immediately or it will fall down,” said Sandra Larocque, president of a group called Friends of Morden Mine.

Given the site’s precariousness, during the next couple of months crews will work in stabilizing the structure. Once this is done, they will start the repairs, which are expected to take more than a year to complete.

Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park will be temporarily closed during this time.

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