‘In so many ways, coal has laid the foundation for the island,” says historian
The last working coal mine on Vancouver Island has halted production indefinitely, marking the end of an industry that established towns, a railway, and some of the province’s first labour unions, says a B.C. historian.
The owners of Quinsam coal mine near Campbell River suspended operations earlier this month, stating the move is in response to a decline in coal prices and market demand.
“In so many ways, coal has laid the foundation for the island,” said University of Victoria history professor John Lutz. “Between the 1850s and the early 20th century coal was the main economic resource on the island.”
Lutz told All Points West host Robyn Burns that when Hudson’s Bay Company first established a post on the island in 1849, the traders looked for other resources because there wasn’t a lot of fur for them to sell.
“The First Nations saw the Hudson’s Bay Company burning coal in their forges, where they were working iron, and they said, ‘We see you bringing that all the way from England. We have some of that stuff here,’ ” Lutz said.
First Nations were first coal miners
The First Nations became the first coal miners on the island, working on some sites up until the 20th century, Lutz said.
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