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Lantzville honours heritage with mining memorial

Armand Caillet, a founding member of the Lantzville Historical Society, says mining is an important part of Lantzville’s history but there are few remnants that point to its impact on the community. The society unveiled a mining memorial stone at the end of Jacks Road earlier this month to honour Lantzville’s mining heritage. - RACHEL STERN/The News Bulletin
Armand Caillet, a founding member of the Lantzville Historical Society, says mining is an important part of Lantzville’s history but there are few remnants that point to its impact on the community. The society unveiled a mining memorial stone at the end of Jacks Road earlier this month to honour Lantzville’s mining heritage.
— image credit: RACHEL STERN/The News Bulletin

Mining helped change Lantzville from a struggling agriculture district to a growing community.

But few remnants are left that point to the impact mining had on Lantzville except a few wharf pilings at the end of Jack’s Road. Earlier this month, the Lantzville Historical Society unveiled a mining memorial stone at that location to honour the industry's contribution.

The Lantzville mine, known as Grant’s Mine, ran from 1916-1926.

Armand Caillet is a founding member of the Lantzville Historical Society whose father Abel worked in the mine from 1917 to 1920. He said if it wasn’t for the coal mine, his family and many others wouldn’t have come to the region.

“Coal is what made Lantzville,” said Caillet .

The community’s name also has its origins in the mining era – it was named after Fraser Lantz, one of the owners of the mine.

Brian Blood, Lantzville Historical Society vice-president, said the coal history can be easily forgotten because the mining structures were torn down, but it’s important to recognize the heritage.

“It changed the local community completely,” said Blood.

The area was thinly populated before the mining boom, with about eight farms scattered across the region. With the influx of miners and their families, more businesses were built to provide services.

The mines were sometimes dangerous places to work.

Caillet’s father was emptying coal one day when it exploded in his face because other members were blasting in the area. Small bits of coal were embedded in his face for the rest of his life.

Caillett’s father also owned the Lantzville Hotel and purchased the mining property for $32,000, later subdividing and selling it.

The memorial stone features three etched plaques, two depicting the mining structures and one giving a brief history. The society purchased the plaques for $560, the stone was donated by the owners of Eccleston farm in Pleasant Valley and May Trucking donated its services to move the stone.

The historical society, meanwhile, is still awaiting a decision regarding the heritage church that is leased by the Seaside Community Society, along with Costin Hall and the tennis courts.

The current lease expires at the end of 2012 and the historical society is pushing to get a decision from council on whether it can open a museum there in January 2013.

“The former council has been really obstructive. Our society is really hopeful the new council will relook at the project on merit,” said Blood, chairman of the museum committee.

Blood said the historical society helped raise more than $16,000 to purchase the building and handed it over to the Lantzville Improvement District with the understanding the building would be used for community recreational purposes and a possible future museum.

The building is currently sub-leased by the Seaside Society to the Woodgrove Christian Community, which has used the building for more than a decade to hold congregations. The space is also used for AA meetings, a summer child care program, concerts and other community activities.

The previous council said it wanted to hear from the community as to how the property should be used in the future and discussed the possibility of a public meeting and a survey to gather input. The survey was conducted with 21 comments received, but no meeting was scheduled.

Lantzville Mayor Jack de Jong said council listened to concerns brought forward by the historical society last week. He said the creation of a museum in the space is a 20-year-old issue and he doesn’t have enough information to comment on the issue at this time.

However, he added that he is keeping an open mind and council has made no decision in regards to the building.

reporter3@nanaimobulletin.com

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