The 1887 Nanaimo Mine Disaster

Mining Victims From Many Nations


This article is not written by Wendy Jones, it is reproduced in it's entirety from Volume 13, Issue 4, Winter 1996 of AncesTree, and cross indexed over to Volume 11, Issue 3, Fall 1994 for the level numbers, published by the Nanaimo Family Historical Society.

Another excellent reference resource about the lives of miners on Vancouver Island is the soft cover book "Three Dollar Dream" by Lynne Bowen, (ISBN0889820651, Published in 1987 by Ooolichan Books, Lantzville, British Columbia, $19.95). Using photos, maps, testimony from the inquest, and vivid descriptions from the families of lost miners, Bowen paints a clear picture of the 1887 tragedy and documents the underground working conditions at that time. This well-reserached book also chronicles the tales of immigrants from many nations who came to dig the coal, and the tragic accidents that befell them.


On May 3, 1887, a massive explosion erupted deep underground in the Number One Coal Mine in Nanaimo, British Columbia, taking the lives of 148 souls, many of whom had emigrated to Vancouver Island from countries all over the world.

By the end of that week, the Nanaimo Free Press had published the names of most of those confirmed dead in the disaster. Because newspaper accounts on the tragic accident were incomplete(and the surviving clippings have deteriorated to the point where some names are almost illegible), the following transcription may contain errors and omissions.

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If one of your ancestors was a coal miner on Vancouver Island, you may find evidence pertaining to him among a wealth of information on file at the Nanaimo Community Museum and Archives.  The museum has built a life-size replica of a mining shaft into which visitors can descent and displays and personal artifacts donated by the families of miners. The upper floor archival holdings include mining company payroll books, accidents reports, maps and photos of coal mines and mining towns in the region.

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