Explosives Factory

The Powder Factory with a  four masted ailing vessel at the dock.  In the background can be seen the trestles of the railway. Ca. 1909

The Powder Factory with a four masted sailing vessel at the dock. In the background can be seen the trestles of the railway. Ca. 1909

Lot 492 once belonged to Joseph Mannion, but through various land transactions it ended up in the ownership of Western Explosives Limited in 1909. The Montreal based company was only newly formed the year earlier by various Grand Trunk Pacific contractors. Mannion’s lot was ideal for an explosives plant due to its location. The property at Tunstall Bay was 850 acres, isolated from populated areas and close to the tidewater.

Manager's house at the Western Explosives plant ca.1910

Manager’s house at the Western Explosives plant ca.1910

It had the capacity to make 400 cases a day and had a magazine approximately a mile down the¬†shore that connected itself with a little railroad. One could also find an office, a store, and buildings that housed plant personnel and their families (which included special quarters for Chinese and Japanese workers). There were approximately 80 workers that were employed by the dynamite factory in it’s prime.

Manufacturing began almost instantly after the purchase of the land. However, production was halted on a number of occasions due to explosions that resulted in many fatalities. Eleven workers died on the job as a result of being caught in an explosion or due to secondary injuries such as burns. The plant eventually closed down and was moved to James Island in the southern British Columbian island chain. The buildings themselves were lifted, rafted and taken to their new home.