Whistler Blog

Mining for a good time in Brittania

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You have driven by it a hundred times, maybe even a thousand. It has stood by the highway watching as things change with empty eyes. For the longest time, as you looked up at what you thought were the vandalized windows of the Britannia Beach Mining Museum, you probably shook your head wondering why people would do that.  You maybe swore a little bit when the movie makers put up their bright lights and mobile dressing rooms to film Scooby Doo 2. Have you promised your kid each time you drive to the city that next time, when you’re not going to be late for (fill in the blank) you will definitely stop and take a look at the big truck? I am guilty of all of the above. Until two weeks ago I didn’t realize what I was missing.  The Britannia Beach Mining Museum has under gone a serious overhaul in the past few years, and while it may have been captivating before, it is now, in the words of my six-year-old, AWESOME.  A train ride, underground caverns, whistles, honeypots and headlamps, plus a playground and gold panning – great for the kids, which is who we went in for.  What we didn’t expect was how interesting and enjoyable we would find it.  I’ll admit that we didn’t spend a lot of time checking out the inside exhibits or the movie (I mentioned the six year old right?), but the stories and information that were told by our tour guide as they drove the train or demonstrated the different drilling techniques made a huge impression on me.  With every new fact or story, I became more and more grateful that I had never had to work with the dark, the danger and the sheer repetitiveness of the back breaking labour that the miners of the time did.  45 minutes on s train into the bowels of the mountain? I felt slightly suffocated by five.  Silica dust from the “widowmaker” drill cutting up my lungs?   Really, I wouldn’t make it past the first three days – all newbies had to push the honeycart around the 10kms of mining tunnels so that the miners could have a “break” three times a day. And no, the break wasn’t for coffee.  As for the vandalism…the windows weren’t broken by miscreants from outside the abandoned mine, but rather by the miners themselves during the height of production.  It would get so hot inside the mill that the workers would throw pieces of rock through the windows from the inside in the hopes of getting some fresh air.  During the 2006 Mill Rehabilitation Project, 14,416 window panes were replaced by hand.  Now when I drive by and look at the rehabbed windows I almost feel a little nostalgic for the gaping holes of yesteryear.  While the visit cost a little over $20/person a family season pass was only $17 more and would easily pay for itself with one more visit.  The six kids that were in our group had a great time just playing in the play area and panning for gold.  We will definitely go back again soon – with the family pass we might just stop for a coffee break so the kids can play while we have a coffee, after all, Galileo is right next door! For more info on the mine:  Mining Site And on the coffee!   Galileo Coffee