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Mine no. 3 at the Britannia Mine Museum

Britannia Mine Museum Visitors Guide + Tickets

The Britannia Mine Museum stands as an acclaimed institution and a national historic landmark, situated on the site of the former largest copper mine within the British Empire.

Explorers can delve into its rich history, embark on a train journey through underground passages, and try their hand at gold panning, immersing themselves in the firsthand experience of life within one of North America’s few remaining gravity-fed mills.

Strap on those hard hats and let the adventure begin!

Three children leap in the air in front of the Britannia Mine Museum
Instagram: @britanniaminemuseum

Britannia Mine Museum

The Britannia Mine Museum is located 55 kilometres North of Downtown Vancouver near the town of Squamish. The Britannia Mine Museum has become one of the most popular things to do in the Vancouver area, and it’s one of the best day trips from Vancouver going.

Furthermore, the mine is halfway between Vancouver and Whistler in the stunning Sea to Sky Corridor. So a visit to the Britannia Mine Museum is also a popular way to break up the drive. 

History of the Britannia Mine Museum

From 1904 to 1974, the museum functioned as one of the most important mines in the Commonwealth. Over that period, an incredible 60,000 people called the site home and over 50,000,000 tons of ore were extracted!

This number included over 15 tons of gold.

The mine helped Canada through two World Wars during its 70-year lifespan. Unfortunately, it also experienced its fair share of tragedy. An estimated 98 workers perished in its massive 210-kilometre network of underground tunnels due to slides, fires, floods and accidents.

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Britannia Mining Museum Today

A year after closing in 1975, the BC Museum of Mining opened its doors on the site. After two significant upgrades, the facility was renamed the Britannia Mining Museum in 2010, in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Today, the museum’s grounds contain 23 historic industrial, administrative and domestic buildings. The most notable of these is the massive Mill No.3 facility, which can be seen from the highway.

Inside, you’ll encounter over 7000 artifacts, 9500 archive photos and 3000 archival documents spread out across a variety of interactive exhibits. You can learn about the site’s history and the importance of mining in the modern era.

But most importantly, you can have some fun!

Enjoy a signature Canadian experience by burning through the tunnels in an underground train. Take a photo in front of an 800,000 lb giant haul truck. Or experience the thrilling new BOOM! sound and special effects experience.

Britannia Mine Museum Tickets

We’re thrilled to be able to offer you skip-the-line tickets via our partners at Tiqets. The package includes a guided tour deep under the mines, so you’ll be required to book a specific time. Be sure to show up at least 15 minutes prior to your tour.

The prices are as follows:

  • Adults (19-64): $41.95
  • Seniors (65+): $36.95
  • Students (w/valid ID): $36.95
  • Children (5-12): $23.95
  • Toddlers (>5): Free

For more information and to purchase your Britannia Mine Museum tickets, click on the button below.

Tiqets is now offering a special ticket combo package that includes Britannia Mine Museum Tickets along with tickets to the Sea to Sky Gondola for the low price of $69.25. That’s good for a savings of 10% over purchasing the tickets individually.

 

Britannia Mine Museum Hours

The museum is open year-round, with guided underground tours offered at set intervals throughout the day. I’d recommend budgeting about 1.5-2 hours for your visit.

This will give you plenty of time to hit all the exhibits, take an underground tour and strike it rich at the Gold Panning Pavilion!

Operating Hours

  • Monday-Friday: 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
  • Weekends/Holidays: 9:00 am – 5:30 pm
  • Chatterbox Café: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm (5:00 pm weekends)
  • Gift Shop: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (6:00 pm weekends)

Underground Tour Times

  • Monday-Friday: 11:00 am, 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm
  • Weekends/Holidays: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm (hourly)

*Tours are usually conducted on a first-come, first-serve basis – but if you book ahead, you’ll be required to make a reservation. Times are also subject to change in times of low attendance.

Britannia Mine Museum Location

The museum is located about 45 minutes North of Vancouver along the famed Sea to Sky Highway near the town of Squamish. On a clear Vancouver summer day, the picturesque drive is almost worth the price of admission alone.

You’ll experience breathtaking views of Howe Sound and the Coast Mountains at almost every turn. Just be sure to keep your eyes on the road!

The mine marks the halfway point in the journey from Vancouver to Whistler, so it’s a perfect way to break up the drive. Alternatively, if you’re doing a day trip, I also highly recommend hitting up the nearby Sea to Sky Gondola.

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Directions

If you have a vehicle, then the easiest way to get to the Britannia Mine is to drive. Just be cognizant of the fact that traffic on the Lions Gate Bridge into North Vancouver can be miserable. So time your departure outside of peak hours if possible.

Once you’ve passed the village of Porteau Cove, you’ll be confronted with what will likely be the biggest truck you’ve ever seen! This behemoth will cue your arrival.

Then follow the signs and exit the highway on your right. There is plenty of free parking on-site.

For detailed directions from your luxury Vancouver hotel, head over to Google Maps.

The Squamish Connector

If you don’t have wheels, The Squamish Connector offers daily shuttle buses between Vancouver and Squamish for $32. It will stop at the mine by request.

Britannia Mine Museum Exhibits 

A large hauling truck at the Britannia Mine Museum
Instagram: @britanniaminemuseum

The Giant Haul Truck

The enormous Giant Haul Truck is the first thing that’ll catch your eye from the highway. Measuring over 20 feet tall and weighing in at over 800,000 lbs, this Wabco Ultra-class monster was specifically engineered to carry massive amounts of ore material in a mining environment.

However, it now serves as the museum’s most popular photo-op for visitors. So seize the opportunity and grab your family for that crucial snap for Instagram before you head inside.

The Beaty Lundin Visitor Centre, Britannia Mine Museum
Instagram: @britanniaminemuseum

Beaty Lundin Visitor Centre

Once you walk through the doors, your first stop will be the mine’s brand-new visitor centre. The room’s notable contrast with the historical buildings on site seeks to connect the mine’s past with the present.

Consequently, you’ll find a variety of films, touchscreen displays and interactive exhibits that seek to convey the importance of mining to our everyday lives in the information age.

Quick hint: your iPhone would still be but a distant dream.

Guests pose on the Copper Queen Throne, Britannia Mine Museum
Instagram: @britanniaminemuseum

The Britannia Story

The Britannia Story Exhibit outlines everyday life in the mine and the adjoining town of Britannia Beach. Here, you’ll find the bulk of the museum’s archival photos and documents.

As you walk inside the walls of a beautifully restored heritage building, you’ll learn about the lighter side of the Britannia Story. View pictures from the mine’s swimming pools and tennis courts and view the contestants from the annual Copper Queen Pageant.

Children are free to sit on the Queen’s throne for another photo-op and crawl into a child-friendly tunnel.

The inside of a historical building at the Britannia Mine Museum
Instagram: @britanniaminemuseum

Historical Buildings and Artifacts

Once you’ve learned a little bit about the museum’s history, I recommend you take some time to wander around the site’s 10-acre grounds. Seventeen buildings remain from the mine’s heyday, and you can explore them all.

The most important structure is Mill No.3, also known as the Concentrator. This iconic 20-storey building dominates the site on the Northwest side of Mt. Sheer. It has also appeared in Hollywood productions such as the X-files, MacGyver and Scooby-Doo 2.

The building contains an innovative inclined gravity mill that was constructed in 1923 after a fire damaged the previous units. As you explore the buildings, you’ll come across a variety of artifacts that document the lives of those who worked there for over 70 years.

 
A girl inspects some minerals at the Mineral Gallery, Britannia Mine Museum
Instagram: @britanniaminemuseum

The Mineral Gallery

In addition to Copper, the mine produced a whole host of minerals such as gold, silver, zinc, lead and cadmium. In the Mineral Gallery, you can get an up-close look at these and many other minerals of all shapes and sizes.

While gold is always popular, be sure to have a look at the stunning fluorescent minerals — including azurite and selenite. They aren’t just for show, though, so pay close attention to learn about the unique uses for each product.

A group of visitors ride an underground train through a mine shaft
Instagram: @britanniaminemuseum

The Underground: A Canadian Signature Experience

If you’d like to truly experience what it’s like to work in a copper mine, then here is your chance. This museum highlight allows visitors to board a small mine train in order to rumble through an old haulage tunnel 650 metres below the surface.

An underground tour will give you a quick taste of what it’s truly like to work far below ground where, as the saying goes, the sun don’t shine.

After a quick climb up around 50 steps, you’ll receive a hard hat and a quick safety briefing. You’re then free to board the small haulage train before heading deep into the tunnels. While it’s quite dark for much of the trip, you do eventually stop in a well-lit area where you’re free to explore the mine.

You may want to bring a light hoodie or sweater, as it can get quite cold once underground – even in the heart of summer.

A family enters the new BOOM! Experience
Instagram: @britanniaminemuseum

BOOM! A Live-Action Experience

Britannia’s newest exhibit is a thrilling light, sound and special effects experience inside historic Mill No.3. This national historic site is magically reawakened to its former glory via this new fully-interactive “Disney-like attraction.”

Video screens and a few dozen speakers combine to demonstrate the seat-rumbling roar of the giant machines that powered the most productive copper mine in the British empire.

Launched in the Summer of 2019, this informative and exciting adventure promises to be a hit with visitors of all ages.

a family pans for gold at the museum
Instagram: @britanniaminemuseum

The Gold Panning Pavilion

Surely, everyone has fantasized about striking it rich in a gold mine. Well, now you’ve got your chance!

Before you hit the road, you can embrace your inner prospector by panning for gold in the Gold Panning Pavilion.

And the best part is, whatever you find, you get to keep!

The mine’s panning troughs are set at a variety of heights, meaning visitors of all ages are free in their attempt to get gilded. Unfortunately, I came up empty. But you never know.

After all, almost 16 tons of gold were hauled out of these very hills during the mine’s lifetime.

An employee at the britannia mine museum gift shop
Instagram: @britanniaminemuseum

Britannia Mine Museum Amenities

Britannia Beach was a fully functioning company town. This meant all amenities, including restaurants, recreational activities and shopping, had to be available on-site.

This approach continues at the museum, which contains a full range of amenities in order to amplify your visit.

  • The Chatterbox Café: A café with an extensive selection of sandwiches, snacks, cold drinks and specialty coffees. Movie and TV buffs will enjoy the collection of autographed pictures from cast members of the numerous productions filmed on-site.
  • The Company Store: A gift shop containing a wide variety of souvenirs and gift items, including t-shirts, books and toys that honour the mine’s history. You’ll also find artwork and souvenirs from the local Squamish First Nation.
A family enters mine no. 3
Instagram: @britanniaminemuseum

Britannia Mine Museum FAQs

What is the Britannia Mine Museum?

The Britannia Mine Museum is a national historic site located on the site of what was formerly the largest copper mine in the British Empire. The museum now hosts a variety of interactive exhibits, galleries and tours that serve to educate visitors on the history of mining in BC and its importance in the modern world.

Where is the Britannia Mine Museum Located?

The Britannia Mine Museum is located 55 kilometers North of Vancouver near the town of Squamish.

What are the Britannia Mine Museum Hours?

Britannia Mine Museum hours are currently from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. The last tours occur at 3:00 pm. And remember, check-in is 30 minutes before your tour.

How do you Purchase Britannia Mine Museum Tickets?

Tickets for the Britannia Mine Museum can be purchased online through their official website or in person at the museum’s ticket office upon arrival.

How do you get to the Britannia Mine Museum?

To get to the Britannia Mine Museum, drive along the Sea-to-Sky Highway (Highway 99) north from Vancouver. It’s approximately a 45-minute drive from downtown Vancouver.

How long is the Britannia Mine Museum?

Admission to the Britannia Mine Museum covers a guided underground tour, historical exhibits, gold panning, the film “Ground Breaking,” and the new attraction, BOOM! Plan 1.5-3 hours for your visit. See our website for details.

Is Britannia a museum now?

Yes, Britannia is a museum now that offers a curated underground tour, showcases historical exhibits, provides opportunities for gold panning, screens the film “Ground Breaking,” and introduces a new attraction, BOOM!

Still Looking to Visit the Britannia Mine Museum?

If there’s anything you think I overlooked, don’t hesitate to reach out to me through our Vancouver Planner Facebook page or in the comment section below.

We’re dedicated to assisting you with all your Vancouver-related travel needs. Additionally, we’re excited to support your exploration of the Britannia Mine Museum.

Best wishes for your gold-panning adventure!

Julian

I've used online guides on five continents to find the world's greatest travel spots and this is my chance to give back - with insider info on my home, the mighty Vancouver BC!

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