Nestled along the mountainside on the Sea to Sky highway between Vancouver and Whistler is the Britannia Mine Museum. This former copper mine is now one of Canada’s National Historic Sites and was once the largest copper mine in the British Empire.
The Britannia Mine Museum was established in 1974 and recently renovated. It provides visitors with a unique blend of experiences offering a soft adventure attraction and education venue that allows guests to leave with a better understanding of mining in BC; past, present, and future.
Just 10 minutes before you arrive in Squamish on the Sea to Sky highway, the Britannia Mine Museum towers above the seaside town of Britannia Beach, home to just 300 residents. However, in the 1930s over 60 000 people lived here, making a living from working in the copper mine.
Britannia Mine Museum Location
Address: 150 Copper Drive
Britannia Beach, V8B 1J1
Brittania Mine Museum is approximately a 45-minute drive from Vancouver and a 10-minute drive from Squamish. It is right on the Sea to Sky Highway in Brittania Beach.
There is a gravel parking lot and parking is free.
Admission Rates for Britannia Mine Muesum
The Britannia Mine Museum is open 7 days a week. Their hours change depending on the season but in the high season it is open from 9:00 – 6:30
1 Day Admission:
Youth (13-17) $33.95
Child (5-12) $28.95
4 and Under FREE
Seniors (65+) $33.95
Students with current school ID $33.95
Family Rate (2 adults and up to three children/youth) $130.00
Youth (13-17) $60.00
Child (5-12) $38.00
4 and Under FREE
Seniors (65+) $65.00
Students with current school ID $65.00
Family Rate (2 adults and up to three children/youth) $170.00
How to book tickets?
You can book your visit in advance on their website. This is recommended as the tour groups are limited in size.
Whether you love history or are looking for a kid-friendly activity there is something for everyone to see at the Britannia Mine Museum. I went in with no expectations and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The boys loved the underground tour and BOOM! They panned for gold for almost an hour before I made them leave because the mine was closing. The Gift shop at the Brittania Mine Museum is a hidden game for shopping for Canadian souvenirs. Their prices are much cheaper than what you will find when shopping in Vancouver and Whistler.
Things to Do and See at Britannia Mine Museum
Underground Tour and BOOM experience
A memorable underground train that takes visitors inside a dark mining tunnel where they will experience what life was like for miners in the 70 years Britannia existed as a mine. This guided tour shows guests the drills and
machines the miners used over time and what it was like to work deep underground. The tour explains the mineralization process and rich colors produced as minerals are exposed to water and air. It also talks about the negative consequences of mining and what is being done to protect the environment even now, as minerals flow out of the mountains.
BOOM! the newest experience at Britannia Mine Museum offers a multi-sensory experience that brings the historic Mill building back to life. Visitors will be transported back in time by the 12-minute theatrical spectacle that showcases the 20-storey architectural marvel that was once a beacon to the community. It really does a great job at showcasing what the working mine would have been like.
Britannia Mine’s Mill #3
A National Historic Site and one of the last remaining gravity-fed concentrator mills in North America, the 20-storey Mill Building is an awe-inspiring cliff-side building that has been the symbol of Britannia throughout the years. Whether driving towards Vancouver or Whistler on the Sea to Sky Britannia’s Mill #3 could not be missed!
Restored in 2007, each of the 14,416 panes of glass were hand puttied into the frames to maintain its heritage. The BOOM experience takes place in Mill #3 after the underground part of the tour at Britannia Mine.
Gold Panning Pavillion
A scenic boardwalk and cedar-post-covered area where guests of all ages can spend hours panning for real gold. Among the gold flecks are gemstones that delight both young and old as they work on their panning technique. If you have children, expect to spend some time here and bring them a change of clothes as a lot of water ends up on them, not just in the troughs.
Beaty-Lundin Visitor Centre
The central exhibit hall houses several theatrical mining displays and a mineral gallery, theatre space, gift shop, an interactive kids area and the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame.
A-Z Administration Building
A fully restored heritage building that is now an exhibition centre to showcase the stories of the Britannia Beach
community from 1904 to 1974. It includes artifacts including love letters and antiques. It also has historic photos and videos of former Copper Queens. The exhibits show what life was like in the old mining town that was cut off from others for so many years.
Britannia Mine Machine Shop
The 1908 Machine Shop is home to a number of historic machines and equipment donated by mining companies
from across the country. The building also features several unique art exhibits.
Family Play Area
All ages can play in the mining-themed play area where they can have fun in a Super Haul truck and imagine themselves as miners using toy diggers, trucks and hoppers.
While walking from the underground tunnel towards Mill#3 keep an eye out for the core sheds. They hold an immense archive of rock core samples drilled from the mountainside and collected throughout Britannia’s mining years.
EPCOR Britannia Mine Water Treatment Plant
Britannia Mines had a negative environmental impact on Howe Sound due to acid rock drainage, which
occurs naturally when rainwater reacts with oxygen and exposed minerals. Today, the water treatment plant
uses natural materials to filter minerals and neutralize surface water runoff collected from the area, ensuring that only clean water flows into Howe Sound. This project has allowed the revitalization of plants and animals in the waterways.
The Gift shop at the Brittania Mine Museum is a hidden game for shopping for Canadian souvenirs. Their prices are much cheaper than what you will find when shopping in Vancouver and Whistler. If you have ever wanted a gold pan, you can also pick up one of those at the gift shop for less than $10. Perfect for camping and keeping the kids busy! Shopping at the gift shop helps fund this non-profit site. You can even visit the gift shop if you are not visiting the mine. It is the perfect stop along the Sea-to-Sky Highway to pick up some gifts and souvenirs!
Tips for Visiting
In 2021, reservations are limited to allow guests to keep their distance. If you have a 3:30 tour for example, arrive by 3pm to check in at reservations, watch a 10 minute movie at the beginning and walk over to the tour start. You can always catch the movie after the tour, but it provides the perfect introduction.
If you are visiting with young children, there are loud noises on the tour. Bring yourself ear plugs if you are going to have to cover your children’s ears. (Although I found my kids were good at covering their own ears.)
Bring a sweater. It is cold in the mine. Even in summer, it is very wet and damp inside.
Animals are not allowed (except service dogs). If you are traveling with your pets in the summertime, you should skip Britannia. Do not leave them in the car.
Give yourself time for the gift shop! There are some great treasures to be found. If you have ever wanted a gold panning pan, you can grab one at the Britannia Mine gift shop.
Britannia Mine FAQ
Britannia Mine closed in 1974 because it was no longer making a profit in the copper industry.
Britannia Mine produced copper (650,000 tons), zinc (137,000 tons), lead (17,000 tons), cadmium (500 tons), silver (188 tons), gold (15.6 tons/500,000 ounces) from the Ore in the mountains.
If you are visiting Vancouver and do not have a car, there are options to visit the Britannia mine.
Here is a private vehicle tour that will stop at the mine and allow visitors to visit. Note that the price of this tour does not include the price of admission to the mine. Expect an additional $40 to visit the museum and the copper mine tour (including BOOM, the multi sensory experience). This tour also includes a trip to Shannon falls and optional stops at the Sea to Sky Gondola as well as the Railway museum in Squamish.
Here is another private day tour that includes admission to the mine, as well as the Sea to Sky Gondola. It also includes a tip and lunch (make sure you read all of the inclusions so you are not surprised)
Lindsay Nieminen is the creator of UncoveringBC.com. She grew up and still lives in the suburbs of Vancouver with her family. She aims to inspire inform, and educate others about traveling in her home province of British Columbia. She is also the creator of carpediemourway.com which aims to show parents how to seek out adventure at home or abroad, with their children in tow!