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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 47

Mines at Nanaimo

Mines at Nanaimo.

Bituminous mines at Nanaimo, on the east side of Vancouver Island, have been worked by an English company (the Vancouver Coal Mining Company) successfully for many years, and a flourishing town has grown up around the mines. The number of miners, artisans, and labourers employed in mining and delivering the coal to vessels at the date of the latest returns was 241; but the entire population of the town (numbering about 1000 souls) may be said to derive its subsistence from the miners. Nanaimo also is a market for the beautiful farming district of Comox.

The excellent quality of the coal of Vancouver Island is well established. It is in great request for gas, steam, and domestic use, and as compared with other coals mined on the Pacific coast its superiority is unquestioned.

See page 6 of this handbook for proof of the quality of the Nanaimo coal. The coal shipped by this company during the ten years ending 31st December, 1872, reached 330,395 tons, nearly one-half of which was for the San Francisco market. The production of the mines has kept pace with the demand, and the works are being freely extended at several points in view of a growing market.

Wages paid at Nanaimo are as follows:—
  • Miners 3 to 4 dollars (12s. to 16s. English) per day.
  • Mechanic 3¾ dollars (15s. English) per day.
  • Engineer 2 to 3½ dollars (8s. to 4s. English) per day.
  • Blacksmith 2 to 3¼ dollars (8s. to 13s. English) per day.
  • Labourer 1¾ to 2 dollars (7s. to 8s. English) per day.
  • Chinese or Indians 1 to l ¼ dollars (4s. to 5s. English) per day.

As the works are being extended, skilled miners would be likely to find employment, and able-bodied men also are required to act as "runners" and "loaders."

There is no fire-damp in the Nanaimo mine.

page 79

Many of the miners and artisans occupy their own dwellings. The company sells town lots at moderate prices, and is extremely desirous to promote the growth of a town of independent freeholders in this eligible spot.

Nanaimo is pleasantly situated, and is already a busy, thriving colonial town, with churches, schools, and a member of parliament. It has none of that "dried-up," blackened appearance which colliery villages so often present in the mining districts of England. The climate is very like that of England—better than the climate of the north of England. Game and fish are abundant in the neighbourhood.

I have named the above mine because it is worked on a large scale. Subsequent editions of this handbook will describe the progress of other coal mines—one at Departure Bay, near Nanaimo, under experienced management, and others proposed to be worked in the same neighbourhood, and also at Baynes Sound, at Koskeemo, and other places.

Capital and labour are the two essentials to the almost unlimited development of coal mining in British Columbia. The existence of a fine quality of coal on the seaboard cannot fail to be of the very greatest importance when the Canadian Pacific Railway converts British Columbia into one of the world's highways. By that time, at least three trans-continental railways will connect on the Pacific coast with lines of coasting and ocean steamers, which will get steam coal from the only North Pacific district that can supply it, namely, Vancouver Island. The effect also of a supply of coal on local manufacturing industry cannot be overlooked as an element of future supremacy.