Location: Britannia Beach is located 45 minutes north of Vancouver, on the eastern shoreline of Howe Sound on Highway 99, (the Sea to Sky Highway), between Lions Bay and Squamish.
Geography: Located on the shore of Howe Sound, Britannia Beach sits surrounded by majestic coastal mountains and has a natural harbor.
Population: Britannia Beach is a small unincorporated community in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District located approximately 30 kilometers north of Vancouver. It has a population of about 300.
History: Britannia Beach took its name from the nearby Britannia Range of mountains, which form the east wall of the mountainous shore of Howe Sound south of Britannia Beach. About 1859 Royal Navy hydrographer Captain Richards of HMS Plumper named the range of mountains for HMS Britannia, the third of a series of vessels to bear that name A copper discovery on Britannia Mountain by Dr. A. A. Forbes in 1888 led to the development of the Britannia Mine. The Britannia Mining and Smelting Company, a branch of the Howe Sound Company, commenced mining in the early 1900s, and owned the site for the next sixty years. The first ore was shipped to the Crofton Smelter on Vancouver Island in 1904, and the mine achieved full production in 1905, and continued until 1974.
In 1978 after reviewing a Lehman Brother’s report that advised the Anaconda Mining Company to divest the properties as future industrialization of Howe Sound was unlikely given plans to restore and develop it as a destination tourist/recreational region. In 2001, the Province reached a $30 million settlement with the successors to the former mine owners. This settlement relieved them of all liability and the work began cleaning up Howe Sound.
The Province proceeded to construct a $20 million dollar water treatment centre to process the water pollution from the former mine, consisting of the acid mine drainage and the contaminated groundwater which formerly discharged to Howe Sound. The water treatment plant started operation on schedule on December 31, 2005. The acid mine drainage is expected to continue for hundreds of years and hence the water treatment plant is expected to be required for hundreds of years. The approximate cost for the first 20 years of the reclamation program including all initial capital and operation costs is approximately $200 million.
Recreation: The mine site is now a National Historic Site and is home to Britannia Mine Museum whick offers exciting underground tours of mining operations, panning for gold, tour of the old concentrator and many more exibits including a gift shop.