Named after Colonel W. Grant Morden, one of the chief financiers of the mine, excavation of two parallel shafts for the Pacific Coast Coal Mines (PCCM) Morden mine commenced in March 1912, one a main production shaft, the other for ventilation and emergency escape and access.
On April 19th 1913 an eight foot wide coal seam was found at a depth of 600 feet, but by the time enough tunnelling was done to reach the first promising coal seam, the mineworkers union declared a strike, effectively ending development underground.. The PCCM was not willing to negotiate a settlement with the miners, and work underground was halted.
Unable to progress underground, work was concentrated on above ground construction using reinforced concrete was to construct the head frame and tipple for the new mine. Cement was shipped from the Vancouver Portland Cement Co. at Tod Inlet near Victoria to the PCCM’s depot at Boat Harbour where the company railway delivered the material directly to the Morden construction site. The seven mile long railway had been completed two years earlier to run from the first PCCM coal mine at South Wellington to the Company’s new shipping depot at Boat Harbour.
In 1916 construction was complete, tunnelling was done, the strike was over, and the mine was pumped free of water. The eight foot wide coal seam was followed until it was 30 feet wide, and for a period, the mine was operating 50 man shifts, producing over 400 tons of coal per day. Though the original goal was over 1500 tons a day, the mine was found to have too many hard rock deposits mixed in to make this level of extraction possible.
A full 15,000 feet of exploration had occurred by 1920, but the cost of extraction was continuing to climb, and labour stoppages and strikes were ongoing problems for the company. After producing a mere 250,20 tons of coal, shut down in 1921 and allowed to flood when the Company declared bankruptcy.
The Morden mine remained closed until 1930, when it was pumped out and re-opened by the Canadian Coal and Company, Ltd. Although there likely remains over 5 million tons of coal on the site, cave-ins and instabilities in the rock were so great that the Morden Mine was abandoned in 1930 after producing less than 31 tons of coal.
The 75 foot tall reinforced concrete head frame and tipple is one of only two such reinforced concrete coal mine head frame/tipple structures in North America, and is the oldest one of its kind. In 1972, the Morden colliery was recognized as a historic place and the Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park created.
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and now you know…