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Bell Island No. 2 Mine Registered Heritage Structure

Wabana, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2006/12/01

Looking down the mine shaft of the No. 2 Mine.  Note the hand carved sides and the installed lighting.  This shaft slopes at a grade of 10 percent.; No. 2 Mine and Museum, 2006
Main shaft, Bell Island No. 2 Mine, Bell Island
Dominion Company miners at the collar of the No. 2 Mine (above ground opening to the mine).  Date unknown, possibly 1920s.; No. 2 Mine and Museum, 2006
Above ground, Bell Island No. 2 Mine.
Work horse pulling an orecart holding only miners.  Horses were used to haul empty orecarts back to shovellers waiting to fill them.  Men often rode in the empty carts.  Date unknown.  ; No. 2 Mine and Museum, 2006
Underground, Bell Island No. 2 Mine

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/12/06

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Bell Island No. 2 Mine is the site of an early twentieth century iron ore mine located in the community of Wabana on Bell Island and also under the waters of Conception Bay in which Bell Island is situated. The designation is confined to the area defined by the entrance or collar of the mine at ground level, excluding any above-ground structures, to a depth along the Main Slope to Mine Level 23 at a distance of 650 feet from the collar, and extending on both sides of the main slope to a width of two “rooms”. It is accessed through an underground entranceway located in the basement of the Bell Island No. 2 Mine and Museum.

Heritage Value

The Bell Island No. 2 Mine has been designated for its historic, scientific and cultural values.

The Bell Island No. 2 Mine achieves historic and scientific values through its age and uniqueness of construction in Newfoundland. The No. 2 Mine was first begun in 1902 by the Nova Scotia Steel Company Ltd. It is the site of an iron ore vein that runs beneath Conception Bay, in which Bell Island sits. The mine collar, or entrance, is located on the north side of the island in the community of Wabana and which today is sited under the Bell Island No. 2 Mine and Museum building.

The tunnel was mined using a type of construction called “room and pillar”. This method leaves large pillars of iron ore in place to support overhead weight, while “rooms” or open spaces, were cut between pillars; the resulting iron ore that once comprised the room was then brought to the surface for processing.

The Mine tunnel was dug at a ten percent slope with a series of fairly uniform tunnels approximately four meters wide and four meters high. Through the main tunnel, where the ore was transported to the surface using ore cars and a rail system, each pillar was numbered; the lowest number starting near the collar. The designation ends on level 23 and the remainder of the mine tunnels are flooded and continue under ground and under the waters of Conception Bay for more than four kilometres. This was the first mine in Newfoundland and Labrador to employ the “room and pillar” method of construction in a submarine environment. It was also once the world’s largest submarine iron ore mine.

The No. 2 Mine had great cultural impact on Bell Island, in particular the community of Wabana and also on other communities surrounding Conception Bay. Bell Island was a major producer to the world steel market during the early 1900s. The No. 2 Mine played an important role by providing large quantities of iron ore, and also by creating an important alternative to emigration at a time when local resource industries were declining. The mine provided secure employment on Bell Island, which was first sparsely inhabited as an agricultural area. As a mining town the population soared to 14,000 during the peak of production. The No. 2 Mine ceased operations in 1949, though other Bell Island mines continued to operate until 1966, ending 71 years of an industry that saw 79 million tons of ore extracted and sold worldwide.

Source: Minute 58, November 30-December 1, 2006, Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Character-Defining Elements

All those original elements of the early twentieth century iron ore mine, down to level 23 and to a width of two tunnels extending from each side of the main tunnel, including:
-man-made tunnels to a depth of level 23;
-existing patterns of the room and pillar method of construction;
-tunnel layout and chamber height, width and dimensions; and
-remnants and evidence of mining activity.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Statute

Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1902/01/01 to 1949/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Extraction and Production

Function - Category and Type




Natural Resource Extraction Facility or Site

Architect / Designer



Nova Scotia Steel Company Ltd.

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1 Springdale Street, PO Box 5171, St. John's, NL, A1N 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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