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Morden Colliery

1830 Morden Road, Nanaimo Regional District, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1972/01/10

Morden Colliery headframe and tipple; BC Heritage Branch
front view
Morden Colliery headframe and tipple; BC Heritage Branch
oblique view
Morden Colliery concrete arch; BC Heritage Branch
front view

Other Name(s)

Morden Colliery
Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2013/06/10

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Morden Colliery comprises the physical remains of a Vancouver Island coal mine, including the mine pithead, a reinforced concrete headframe and tipple, and the remains of related buildings and structures dispersed throughout a 4-hectare wooded site. This historic place is located in Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park, approximately seven kilometers south of Nanaimo, British Columbia, in the Regional District of Nanaimo. Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park was added to the Provincial park system in 1972. The primary role of the park is to protect and preserve remnants of the Nanaimo region's coal mining history.

Heritage Value

Constructed circa 1913 and primarily active between 1914 and 1921, Morden Colliery is valued as a rare surviving example of a Vancouver Island coal mine. Although the head frame and coal tipple are of typical early-twentieth century colliery design, their reinforced concrete construction material makes these structures rare in North America. The ruins of this industrial complex evoke a powerful sense of place.

Morden Colliery stands as a testament to the importance of the coal mining industry in shaping the development of Vancouver Island and British Columbia. Although at one time the rich coal seams of the Nanaimo region were dotted with producing coal mines, little physical evidence of this primary industry remains today. Morden Colliery is a rare surviving monument to the natural resource which dominated life in this region for nearly a century and was the impetus for permanent non-native settlement in this part of the province.

The colliery remains are also valued as the most complete remaining complex of coal mining surface structures on Vancouver Island, offering a unique representation of the massive scale of Nanaimo-area coal mining operations in the early twentieth century. The headframe and tipple, sealed pithead, ruins of ancillary buildings such as a steam plant and a blacksmith shop, and the historic route of the rail line that connected the mine to nearby Boat Harbour all provide physical evidence of the coal extraction and shipping process.

Constructed of reinforced concrete by the Pacific Coast Coal Mines Company, the Morden Colliery headframe and tipple are valued as the last remaining headframe and tipple on Vancouver Island. This is one of only two such reinforced concrete coal mine headframe/tipple structures in North America, and is the oldest one of its kind. The cement used at Morden Colliery is believed to have come from either Bamberton or Tod Inlet on Vancouver Island. Although not typical of industry standards in the early twentieth century, the unusual construction material has ensured the survival of the Morden structures, while the wooden headframes and tipples constructed at most other local sites have been lost to time and decay.

These massive structures, built to last from enduring materials, convey the sense of confidence and optimism that prevailed at the end of the Edwardian age, when the coal mining industry was viewed as a key factor in British Columbia's future economic progress. Today, the ruined structures, the encroaching vegetation and the solitude of the site contribute to a sense of place which speaks to the former magnitude of the mining operation and to the economic and social losses that accompanied its closure and the general demise of coal mining in this area.

Source: BC Heritage Branch and BC Parks

Character-Defining Elements

Key character-defining elements of Morden Colliery include:
- The reinforced concrete head frame and tipple
- The remains of the pithead, now closed and sealed
- The remains and ruins of numerous concrete structures and buildings including the steam plant and blacksmith shop
- The site layout and orientation of the buildings and structures to one another
- The identification of the site with the Pacific Coast Coal Mines Company, as seen in the initials PCCM cast into the massive concrete arch located near the coal tipple
- The historic route of the mine railroad, delineated by a modern trail



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Province of British Columbia

Recognition Statute

Park Act, s.5

Recognition Type

Provincial Park (Establishment)

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1972/01/01 to 1972/01/01
1914/01/01 to 1921/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Technology and Engineering
Developing Economies
Extraction and Production
Developing Economies
Communications and Transportation
Developing Economies

Function - Category and Type


Historic or Interpretive Site


Natural Resource Extraction Facility or Site

Architect / Designer



Pacific Coast Coal Mines Company

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

BC Heritage Branch and BC Parks

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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