Britannia Beach of Old

Driving the sea-to-sky highway is nothing short of spectacular. Ocean, islands, waterfalls, glacier mountain peaks… Driving through Britannia Beach, a tiny little town with an environmentally disastrous history,  is impressive what with the 26 storey mill, large dumptruck, art galleries and the superb Galileo Coffee Shop in a historical house with ocean views directly beside the highway. And of course, there is the old house sitting precariously on wooden posts surrounded by views, views and more views. It is a photographers haven. Here are a few of my photos over the years starting when the mill was not restored and X-files was being filmed inside. There is a shot of the heritage tug before it sunk into the Howe Sound. And the house, the dilapidated house that begged to be stared at with every passing. Then this past week when we drove Bal to the airport, we pass it and see that it is teetering. I remark that one snowfall and that is going down, down deep into the ocean. I feel sad thinking I won’t be able to marvel at it anymore. I will never see the sun shine through the walls again, or be creeped out as it sits menacingly amongst a low lying fog. We stay the night in a hotel as Bal fly’s out first thing in the morning. Then, driving home in a torrential downpour, I notice immediately, the house is down. I am stunned. Sad. I have passed by hundreds of time and this view is iconic. And now it is gone. With the tugboat and the mine, gone.

I guess it is time to look forward Britannia Beach. The mine is restored, the highway has expanded, new developments are coming in. It’s a new time and a new energy for a historical town. Still, I will miss that little decrepid house amongst the awe of the ocean.

Here is a photo of the house from 1939. According to a local paper it had been built in 1916 and was called the Customs Wharf as it was a port of entry into Canada and used by Union Steamships coming to work at the mine.


One thought on “Britannia Beach of Old

  1. Hi,
    When an old friend told me about the wharf falling in I was saddened, too.
    I grew up in Britannia Beach, left as a young man in 1978 but my parents stayed in the area. Britannia is a place that I could never have imagined living my life in, but I’m always drawn back to it to kick over old stones, try to find old trails we used to trample, compare what it looks like today to what it was back then, and of course drop in on a couple of old school buddies who never left.
    Great old shot. If you run a line down the tracks to the left of the wharf, the first building you see is where my dad worked for more than 30 years.

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