Friday, February 5, 2016


Have you ever visited the lower Mt Gardner mine? If not, now is the time to go! This old mine adit was put in over a century ago, in the pursuit of gold, among other things.

In 1908, OE Leroy stated that “This mine is situated on the southwest slope of Mt. Gardner and 1100 feet above sea level.  The ore occurs in a zone of fracture in the cherts and chlorite schists, which crosses the strike. The width varies from nine inches to three feet and a half, but in the wider parts the ore is mixed with a considerable proportion of rock. A tunnel has been driven in on the ore body for 300 feet, but no further development has been done.  The ore is a mixture of pyrite, zinc blende and galena and is stated to carry $6.40 in gold, 30 ozs. of silver, and from 25 to 40 per cent lead. Messrs. Hubbard and Elliot of Chicago and Menach of Seattle are the joint owners”. (BC government files)

Of more recent note, you may be interested to know that "Bonanza Resources Corp., an exploration stage company, engages in the acquisition and exploration of quartz and other mineral properties. It owns a 100% interest in the Bonanza property that comprises 1 mineral claim containing 6 cell claim units covering 126.20 hectares located on the western slope of Mount Gardner on Bowen Island, Canada. The company was founded in 2012 and is based in Edmonton, Canada." (Bloomberg)

Large resource companies and interests aside, this mine is an important piece of our local heritage. It's a place where generations of children and adults have gone to learn about local history, mineral extraction, and the amazingly interesting features of a rock cave (insects, amphibians, darkness/light deprivation, acoustics, etc.). It also seems to be a place where some people like to hang out and drink beer, leaving cans, candles, and other detritus behind. Some of it, like the life-sized figure made of stuffed clothing which first sat on a crumbling chair and later lay gruesomely beneath it, was
unsettling at first, but then just plain yucky in its decomposition, as the years went by. Also, the pallets put in as a makeshift boardwalk over the massive puddle at the entrance have disintegrated, leaving many planks with protruding nails in the deep water. Not pleasant or safe, and the mine's glory days as an education venue have appeared to be behind us, lately.

So this week a group of local grade four-to-nine students came and cleaned out the mine. These dedicated and hard-working kids hauled out few hundred pounds of stinky, spiky, soggy wood and rotting clothing, not to mention quite a few slimy candles and other bits of garbage.

The reward? Hanging out in the tidied mine adit, of course! We stood around in the complete dark, where we couldn't even see our own hands in front of our faces, and relied on the breathing and shuffling sounds to know where the others were. We experimented with song (The Hard Rock Miner!) and sound, as we all tried out different vocal and percussive sounds in the wonderfully echoing mine. It seems impossible to get a photo in there but suffice it to say that the rocks are actually varying shades of grey and beige with quartz bits here and there, as opposed to this brilliant orange colour!
 But that wasn't the end of it! Once they'd cleaned out and thoroughly explored the mine adit, the kids decided they could go one step further and drain off some of that giant puddle at the entrance to the mine. The water already flowed out onto the trail, so they worked to improve the flow and to direct it off of the trail as soon as possible. Then they went up and cleared a path to drain the smaller mine above, as well.

Draining the smallest mine adit (video).

When I was young my father organized a group of locals to build the trails on our beloved Mt Gardner, and I think those people can be quite proud of the gift they gave our community. By comparison this act of stewardship was small, but these kids can nevertheless be pleased with themselves. It's these small gestures that make us part of our community; part of our own local ecology. These kids have cleared the way for many more groups to come exploring and to get familiar with the treasures of our own local and natural history.

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