Extension Mine

October 25th, 2016

The discovery of coal on Vancouver Island in 1849 was a pivotal point in history that created a region built on coal-mining, bringing both prosperity and industry into the area. At peak production in 1922, the Nanaimo coal fields yielded 1,400,000 tonnes and employed thousands. One of the largest mines in the area was the Extension coal mine, which first opened in 1895. Located just eight miles from the new town of Ladysmith, Extension quickly developed into not only a industrious mine, but also a bustling community. In 1908, the mine was owned by the Dunsmuir empire, headed by James Dunsmuir who was at the time the richest man in the province. More than 900 men were employed in the Extension Mines during operation. These miners faced brutal working conditions, working long hours in the dark and wet tunnels of the mine. There were also treacherous safety hazards, which claimed many lives at Extension mine and others, including a fire in 1901 that killed 17 men and an explosion in 1932 that killed 32 men. (Image from the Nanaimo Archives)

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