Field Trip to the Britannia Mine!

Written by Alexander Academy in Blog, News and updates, School News on February 21, 2023

“The Britannia Mine Museum is a mining legacy site and a vibrant, internationally recognized education and tourist destination located between Vancouver and Whistler on the Sea-to-Sky highway. It is a National Historic Site and a non-profit organization encouraging mining awareness through entertaining, experiential education programs and exhibits, important historic collection preservation and insightful public engagement that allows guests to leave with a better understanding of mining in British Columbia; past, present and future.”

Britannia Mine Museum Press Room, 2023
Safety hats
Mr. Austen, Head of School, and students with their hard hats on before entering the underground mine tour.

Whole school bonding!

On February 10th, Alexander Academy took a field trip to Squamish, where the historic Britannia Mine Museum is located about an hour out of Vancouver. The award-winning museum is a designated National Historic Site in Canada and was once the largest copper mine in the British Empire when it was in operation between the years of 1904 to 1974.

While visiting, Alexander Academy students boarded a train that took them into an early haulage tunnel for an underground mine tour. Inside the mine, students discovered the conditions that these copper miners worked in and watched live demonstrations of equipment used in the mines.

Industrial Mill
Stunning photo of the industrial cathedral Mill taken by student photographer Yusei.

The Industrial Mill

Probably the most striking feature of the museum grounds is the industrial Mill (pictured above and below), a massive 20-storey structure looming over the neighbouring highway. After exploring the Mill, students sat down to watch BOOM!, a multi-sensory, live-action, special effects show that brings the historic building back to the 1920s when the mine was a booming copper producer and the local Britannia Beach community prospered as a result. The BOOM! exhibit is a local attraction and known as one of Vancouver’s top things to do, making it a perfect location for a whole-school field trip. This was also the first trip to Squamish for many of our students!

School Photo

Science Experiments

In addition the the mine tour and special effects show, students also spent some time inside the Terra Lab, which used to be an assay lab where scientists tested rock and mineral samples. In the lab, students conducted science experiments related to the mine’s impact on the surrounding environment; mainly, acid rock drainage and how it affects biodiversity. Students walked away with a new understanding of how communities can use scientific technology to foster a future of sustainable mining.

Gold Panning
Students panning for gold! Many walked away with a small bag of shiny gemstones, including pyrite (more well-known as fool’s gold) and genuine gold flakes!

Gold Panning

Finally, students wrapped up the trip by panning for gold, and many were successful in finding gold flakes! Overall, Alexander Academy students enjoyed this interactive, science field trip and the sunny weather that facilitated a quick visit to the Shannon Falls provincial park on the drive back to Vancouver!

Group photo
We love field trips!!

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