I’d driven past it many times before, not sure exactly what the giant structure jutting out from the side of the mountain was. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it was a mine – no longer operational – turned into a museum. Most people who drive the Sea-to-Sky Highway north from Vancouver are heading to Whistler.
My best friend and I took a trip up to the Britannia Mine Museum on a lovely, sunny afternoon. We spent a good 2 hours exploring the museum and went to Squamish for lunch at our favourite café there.
Britannia Beach looks pretty quiet and sleepy these days, but having watched the short video inside the museum, I know things used to be very different. Back before there was a highway, workers and family members travelled to Britannia Beach via a large boat. Thousands of people lived up on the mountain and also in the townsite near the water.
Here are a couple of historical pictures, courtesy of the Britannia Mine Museum, to give you some idea. You can see the ferry in the first picture.
Though the most obvious structure to visit is the white building (the mill), you can see in the picture above, there are so many other buildings to spend time in.
The Britannia Mine Museum has worked hard to make the museum experience fun for people of all ages – even young children. There’s a play area, plus a place for children to pan for gold. I think children, like my neices and nephews, would enjoy many other areas of the museum, too – as there is a lot to see walking around, and not just things behind glass to read descriptions of.
The above picture is from an exhibit, but it does give you some idea of what the mines look like.
One of my favourite parts of the experience was looking at historic equipment. The other was riding the mining train to go inside one of the mining tunnels. A little loud at points, when the tour guide demonstrated different techniques used in mining, overall it really gave me a sense of the way the miners worked in such dark quarters, deep underground.
Gold panning station
Recommended for: history buffs, children, elderly – apart from some stairs to climb to go on the mine tour, it is fairly easy to walk around.
The setting of the mine museum is stunning, located between Vancouver and Squamish, the quick trip to the Britannia Mine Museum is perfect for a quick city escape.
Britannia Mine Museum is social!