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Miners’ monument erected at Morden historic park

Vancouver Island’s coal heritage remembered at Nanaimo park
A monument to Vancouver Island coal miners is unveiled earlier this summer at Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park. (Photo submitted)

Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park has long been a reminder of Vancouver Island’s coal mining past, and now park visitors have another way to recall that history.

The Friends of the Morden Mine society gathered at the park earlier this summer for the official unveiling of a monument dedicated to the memory of those who worked in the coal mining industry on the Island.

Approximately 1,000 workers lost their lives in the mines and others succumbed to workplace injuries and mining-related diseases, according to a press release detailing the unveiling ceremony.

The monument is a slab of metamorphic slate (mined near Port Renfrew by local company K2 Stone) and sits on a pedestal constructed by Nanaimo Precast. It was installed by contractor Sheldon Scheller in a natural garden setting designed by local landscape architect Jessica Gemella and VIU horticulture students. Text for a plaque affixed to the stone slab was prepared by former FOMM vice-president Tom Paterson.

Past co-president Eric Ricker said the society wishes to acknowledge those sponsors as well as B.C. Parks, West Coast Monuments, MacNutt Enterprises and several individual society members.

The Morden structures are the third oldest of their type in the world. In 2014, the cost to repair the structures was estimated at $2.8 millions by national engineering company Read Jones Christoffersen.

Ricker said he hopes the coal miners’ memorial at Morden will signal to the new provincial government that honouring mining heritage is important and that restoring the century-old structures at Morden should be a priority.