Cassiar, B.C., was once centred around now-closed asbestos mine
When Herb Daum thinks of growing up in Cassiar, B.C., a lot of his memories seem to be about how frigid it was. “The winters were long, cold and hard,” said Daum, 63, from his home in Powell River, B.C.
Cassiar sits near the Yukon border. Temperatures as low as – 40 C weren’t unusual there, Daum says, and lakes in the area often wouldn’t thaw until June. As a pastime when Daum was little, he and his neighbourhood friends would climb onto the roof of his porch, pull down their toques over their heads, and dive head-first into the snow.
But the house that he grew up in doesn’t exist anymore. In fact, the entire town of Cassiar is gone, razed to the ground. “It’s kind of weird losing your roots like that,” Daum said. Twenty-five years ago this week, Cassiar, B.C., held an auction like none other: up for grabs was the entire contents of the company town.
At the heart of the town’s existence was a now-defunct asbestos mine that employed most of the 1,500-or-so residents for about 40 years. The mine had abruptly shut down months earlier after going into receivership, and all those who lived there were given notice to vacate.
All that’s left of the town that former residents call “the hub of the north” are a few bunkhouses and run-down buildings owned by another company that now runs the site. The friendships and kinships those former Cassiar folks forged over decades could not be demolished, however.