Hidden in the woods near the hamlet of Port Hardy, BC is an interesting collection of mining ruins dating to a time before Canada became a nation…
A BIT OF BACKGROUND
In 1849 on the north coast of Vancouver Island, the Hudson’s Bay Company established a fort (Fort Rupert) in order to exploit a large coal seam not far away at Suquash.
Mining began in 1851 but was very short lived, ending only a year later in 1852 following the discovery of a higher quality coal deposit at Nanaimo. Digging resumed in 1908 under new owners, however the call of the great war left the mine want for labor and production halted.
After the war, mining efforts began anew but by the 1930s work was intermittent at best. With the outbreak of the Second World War, mining ceased altogether. These days there are only ruins.
There are some impressive artifacts to be seen; A pair of large chimneys and the foundation to what was once the mine manager’s house stand amongst the trees.
A steam donkey and the ruins of the headhouse can be found jutting out from the duff and undergrowth. Ore buckets, and a massive spoked wheel are among the other large ruins.
Various rusted bits of this and that are strewn around the site, and scattered ruins can also be found down along the beach.
The Suquash site is located on the northern end Vancouver Island near the settlement of Fort Rupert.
Just off the main highway, one can follow a modest maze of logging roads about 2 miles to the “trailhead”. A short walk into the forest and the artifacts should become immediately apparent.
Surprisingly, there are a couple signs for Suquash along the logging road, but nothing indicating it’s presence from the highway. It’s a “kinda sorta” secret.
HOW HARRY FOUND IT
I didn’t know anything about Suquash, but a “rural exploration” friend had given me a tip that there were coal mining ruins on the north end of the island.
When I got to Port Hardy I stopped in to eat at a restaurant and wouldn’t you know it?! There was a painting of the site hanging on the wall behind my table!
I guess some things are just meant to be!
After a bit of internet detective work and asking the locals, I was able to locate the ruins a ways out of town.
I’d give you directions but that’d ruin the fun, and you’d miss out on talking to the friendly Port Hardy townsfolk!
Driving: Port Hardy is a long ways up the island, but it’s a scenic drive and there is no lack of side trips along the way. If you have to take a ferry to get to the island, I’d strongly suggest making reservations. We went via Tswassen to Nanaimo and the waits going standby were a bit brutal.
Boating: I dunno but it sure sounds fun!
Port Hardy had plenty of lodging and a few restaurants to choose from. There’s plenty of good shoreline walking to be had in town as well.
There are also plenty of camping opportunities near Port Hardy for those who wanna pitch a tent.
Nearby Fort Rupert offers accommodations as well as good walking and beautiful views!