Beginning in 1998 and over the next four years, I travelled countless times up the Sea to Sky Highway in order to make this film. During those years I witnessed an era of ecological neglect of the Howe Sound area slowly come to an end.
A thought: On your next trip up to Whistler BC if you decide to take a tour of the Britannia Mine Museum, please ask them if they stock my film in their gift shop.
After the discovery of copper ore in the late 19th Century, fortunes were made and spent in the process of delivering metals to world markets. An entire town was built 2000 feet above sea level, a kind of Shangri-La called “Mount Sheer” to house the miners and their families, but as copper ore became more expensive to extract and the price of copper dropped, the U.S owners sold the old mine and their environmental liabilities (or so they assumed) to local real estate speculators, who then sold the uncontaminated portions of the property to developers for golf greens and luxury homes.
One day as I drove by on the highway I looked up at the enormous rusting monolith of the abandoned mine, and stopped to ask a few questions. When I appeared on the scene Britannia was still a “company town” but in a state of stalemate owing to a complete lack of social, economic, and environmental oversight. TV News had only touched the surface of the story. The credibility of this documentary film, along with the backing of the National Film Board of Canada, Canadian broadcasters and the Sierra Legal Defense, put pressure Environment Canada and the BC’s Liberal/Campbell government. By the time my film was completed in 2002, proponents of one of the original copper mining companies had come to the table with a promise to contribute to the remediation of heavy metals emissions from the Britannia Mine.
In subsequent years the old owner (you meet him in the film) sold the town to a buyer who had watched my documentary, loved the its character and inhabitants and wanted to restore the historical neighbourhood. The new owner did what he promised, and the town of Britannia Beach rose from the ashes of its past.
You may want to watch the 3 minute trailer.
WARNING: it contains some strong language.
In the 3 minute trailer we hear the words of Mitch Anderson (Sierra Legal Defense), “Scotty” Graham, Robert McCandless (Environment Canada), the Britannia Museum Tour Guide, Jane Iverson, George McLaren (Beaver Motors), and Mitch Anderson – on location at Britannia Creek.
I have been frequently asked by the town’s residents to come back and shoot a new film at Britannia Beach highlighting the remarkable transformations, that include a revitalized community, a water treatment plant, and a recreated Mining Museum. I promise to make that film some day.
If you want to watch a DVD of the film please email me at email@example.com
If you want to know more about my new documentary projects, click on this link to the
Little Mountain Project.