The Wellington Mine
Robert Dunsmuir began building his fortune after he discovered coal at Wellington in 1869. Three Royal Navy officers provided the capital to develop the mine. By 1883, the Wellington Mine pictured here was producing so well that Dunsmuir bought out his partners for $800,000. He financed the Esquimalt and Nanamio Railway which was completed in 1886. Coal from the Wellington mines was shipped from the Dunsmuir Departure Bay Wharf. Although the mines were very productive and were known for a number of important mining improvements they were the scene of labour strife and a number of mining disasters. In 1887, striking miners seeking a 20 cents an hour raise were evicted by the militia from their company-owed homes. Dunsmuir broke the strike by using Chinese labourers as strike-breakers. In January 1888, an explosion at the mine killed 77 men.