Vernon historian unearths video of copper mine in the BC mountains

Taking off at mountain mine

Vernon historian and videographer Francois Arseneault has unearthed some obscure footage from B.C.'s mining and transportation history.

Overlooking the Salmon Glacier, the Granduc Mine was a large copper mine situated on a ridge between a glacier and a cliff, north of Stewart, B.C., at the north end of Summit Lake.

The mine operated from 1964 to 1984 before closing due to low copper prices.

“In 1961-'62, Pacific Western Airlines was hired to supply the then under construction mine with fuel and supplies. The specific details are lost to history, but this footage shows the logistical challenges faced by these air crew,” says Arseneault

Incorporated in 1945, Central British Columbia Airlines would become Pacific Western in 1953. In these early days, it served as a cargo carrier.

“In 1959, PWA began flying passengers on regularly scheduled routes, eventually becoming the largest airline in Western Canada,” says Arseneault.

PWA purchased Canadian Pacific Airlines in 1986 and became Canadian Airlines. In December 1999, Air Canada took over Canadian.

“The remarkable snow runways carved out of the slopes at the base of the steep valleys are not for the faint-hearted, reminiscent of remote air strips in the Himalayas and Andes,” says Arseneault. “With the mine shut down, the rudimentary airstrips likely no longer exist.”

The aircraft, some dating to the war era, were well suited for this job.

“Look for little details such as the Shell oil windsock, the caterpillar tractors moving supplies, and what appears to be an aircraft's damaged landing gear, a story in itself. Perhaps someone will help fill in the gaps.”

The 8mm reel was found and rescued a year ago in a second-hand store in Vancouver by a colleague of Arseneault and is now part of his growing collection of more than 2,000 vintage amateur reels.

Arseneault is always looking for more information on the vintage footage he digs up, and he encourages people to add their input in the comments section on his Youtube page.

Arseneault has an extensive collection of vintage footage, and he is looking for more.

Anyone who may have old 16 mm or 8 mm film footage of the Vernon and Okanagan area is invited to email Arseneault at [email protected].

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