Events & Meetings

Historic Walking Tour   |    Hometown Tourist Weekiend   |    Meeting Dates and Location   |    Fundraising Events

Historic Walking Tour

Join Tom Paterson's Sunday, June 21, 2015 walking tour of historic coal mining sites, a wonderful Fatherís Day gift for a dad interested in our local history and coal mining heritage.

Contact or phone 250-713-8800 to register for Tom Paterson's Sunday, June 21, 2015 Black Track tour. Ticket prices remain $25.00 each for two or more in a party, $30.00 for one individual. This will be the final Black Track tour sponsored by Friends of Morden Mine as well as its last major project before it folds up its unsuccessful 12-year campaign to persuade the province to restore Mordenís rare examples of industrial heritage. Tour proceeds will help fund a memorial cairn in the park or at the regional trailhead celebrating the many miners who died or were badly injured in Vancouver Island coal mines.

Tom Paterson (T.W. Paterson) is the author of over 26 books on B.C. history, a long-time columnist for The Cowichan Valley-Citizen, as well as a contributor to a number of other newspapers and magazines. He is also a well-known heritage activist, recently involved in the successful Kinsol Trestle campaign. With his extensive knowledge of coal mining history and his engaging and dynamic delivery, he has a special ability to recreate the spirit of early coal mining days: its culture, conditions and challenges.

The tour assembles at 10:00 a.m. at Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park in front of the 102 year old head frame. Each participant is asked to bring water or juice, a packed lunch/snacks sufficient to sustain them for the length of the tour, typically about four hours. Hats, sunscreen, sturdy walking or hiking shoes, and clothing suitable for forecast weather, are also recommended. Transportation will be pooled to drive participants to various mine sites, but participants are asked to provide their own to and from the park. Participants are reminded that to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all tour members, they should refrain from wandering off by themselves or engaging in conversations that impede the ability of others to hear the commentary.

The tour is rated as moderate to low in difficulty. It visits old South Wellington coal mining sites that were major coal producers of our region over a hundred years ago active in mining the riches of the extensive Douglas coal seam, as well as Granby, well known as a model mining community after its opening in 1918.

Notes: Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park has been named as a National Historic Place by Parks Canada. For a map of its location see Maps.
Mordenís reinforced concrete tipple is the third such ever constructed, the second oldest surviving, and the earlier of two still standing in North America.
"Black Track" refers to those South Wellington area railway lines informally used by miners and residents as a "public thoroughfare" or walking track. Coal dust so thickly coated the lines that they became known locally as the "Black Track."


Home Town Tourist Weekend at Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park, Sunday, June 21, 2015, 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Friends of Morden Mine will have a display and a tour guide to provide information and interpretation on Mordenís history and its future;

Directors' Meetings

Directorsí meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Country Grocer store, 82 Twelfth Street, Southgate Shopping Centre (also known as South Parkway Plaza) Nanaimo, B.C. Both members and non-members are welcome. If there are any changes to scheduled meetings, notice will be posted on our website.

To access from the south on #1, the Island Highway, drive a few hundred feet beyond the junction of #19, Nanaimo Parkway, and Cedar Road, turn left on Tenth Street, left again on Lawlor Road, left once again into Country Grocer's parking lot. From the north, again driving on #1, look for Tenth Street turnoff on your right, the road between the Food Country mall on the north and Buckerfields and associated plaza stores on the left.

The meeting room is on the second floor. The stairs leading to the second floor are immediately to the right of the Country Grocer coffee shop, if one enters from that entrance. The door is unmarked. Turn right after going up the stairs and the meeting room is a couple of feet away.

To enlarge, please click

Co-President's Reports

Annual General Meeting, October 16, 2013

Friends of Morden Mine's AGM was held on October 16th at 7:00 p.m. at the Kin Hut Activity Centre, 2730 Departure Bay Road (Departure Bay beachfront) prior to the regular October meeting of the Board of Directors.

Draft minutes of the 2013 AGM follow. They will be presented for approval at the January 8, 2014 directors' meeting.

Click to view the 2013 AGM Draft Minutes

Highlights of Morden Mine's 100th Anniversary Celebration and Annual General Meeting, September 29, 2012
by Eric Ricker.     Photos: Helen Tilley.

The 100th Anniversary Celebration

Upwards of 90 members and guests enjoyed a multi-faceted celebration organized by FOMMís treasurer, Louise Shuker, and hosted by the Nanaimo Museum. At the entrance to the meeting area five interpretation panels Ė prepared by museum staff from text and photographs supplied by the writer Ė greeted members and guests. Displays of mining artifacts and other memorabilia were set up on tables inside the meeting area. Another table was devoted to Helen Tilleyís project to establish a registry of miners who had worked in any of the five South Wellington mines, Morden included.

Presentations of geocache coins to local VIPs attending who have supported FOMMís efforts to rehabilitate and develop the Morden site were made by co-president Eric Ricker to:Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan (the riding in which Morden is located); Maureen Young, RDN Area Director for Extension and environs; and John Ruttan, Mayor of Nanaimo.

The audience then enjoyed a rough cut video version of honorary president David Gogoís poignant song of tribute to his great-grandfather. Entitled ďSheís Breaking Through.Ē The song recounts the last moments of his great-grandfather and 18 other miners who died when the first PCCM mine in South Wellington flooded in 1915. The video was shot at Morden in the spring of 2012. In the new year it will be uploaded along with other videos to YouTube and linked to our website.

In between presentations, members and guests enjoyed a sumptuous spread of fine food donated to this event by a number of local businesses. Then the celebration moved on to the main event, a talk by social historian and Friends of the Morden Mine vice-president Tom Paterson on the historical and contemporary significance of Morden Mine. Tom traced the development of the mine from its earliest days in 1912 through to its final and unexpected end in 1930, on the eve of the Great Depression. He also spoke of the symbolic importance of Morden for our times and the need to preserve it as a memorial to all who toiled in the now mostly vanished Vancouver Island coal mine industry, which for the better part of 100 years drove the Islandís economy and was responsible for the creation of a number of communities, including in our local area, Nanaimo, Ladysmith, Extension and Lantzville.

Towards the end of the celebration Louise Shuker offered a toast to Morden Mineís 100th anniversary with wine donated by local businesses. All event sponsors will be listed on FOMMís website in 2013.

The Annual General Meeting

The AGM preceded the celebration and dealt with the following business:

  1. Vice-President John Hofmanís report on the yearís activities, which included two trips to Victoria to lobby on behalf of Mordenís rehabilitation and development. John Hofman and Eric Ricker met with Assistant Deputy Minister Lori Halls on the occasion of the first visit, in November of 2011, and a delegation composed of John Hofman, Eric Ricker, restoration expert John Knappett and MLA Ron Cantelon met with Environment Minister Terry Lake in the spring of 2012. Details of these visits are available in 2012 newsletter stories.
  2. Treasurer Louise Shukerís report, which indicated a healthy bank balance in excess of $6,000. The report is available to members upon request.
  3. BC Parks liaison Dave Formanís report on improvements undertaken at the site in the past year; and finally,
  4. Election of officers and other directors for the 2012/13 year. Elected by acclamation were:

    • David Gogo, Honorary President
    • John Hofman, Co-president
    • Eric Ricker, Co-president
    • Tom Paterson, Vice-president
    • Louise Shuker, Treasurer
    • Frank Garnish, Secretary
    • Jennifer Goodbrand
    • Ingrid Greenwell

    1. Subsequent to the meeting Dave Shillabeer, a former president of the Departure Bay Neighbourhood Association, and Jessica Gemella, the landscape architect who prepared Mordenís site plan, were named to the board by the directors.
    2. Dave Forman attends board meetings as BC Parksí liaison to FOMM.

For a summary of the 2011 AGM activate this link.

Hometown Tourist Weekend, June 15 and 16, 2013

For the second year in a row Friends of Morden Mine participated in Take 5's sponsored Hometown Tourist Weekend. Between 10:00 am and 3:00 p.m. they offered free tours of Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park, with no reservations required. And once again they were very well attended.

Tours provided information about Morden Colliery's 100 year old history as well as about Friends of Morden Mine's continuing endeavours to ensure that Morden's unique, still standing structures survive as monuments to early coal mining days and industrial innovation.

Hometown Tourist Weekend, June 9 and 10, 2012

Friends of Morden Mine were pleased to support Hometown Tourist Weekend by offering free on demand tours of Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on both June 9th and 10th. Events at Morden were well attended and visitors on June 10th shortly after noon could also watch video recordings by Frederic Robinson of FPR Productions. Videos later to be on this site as well as on


BC Parks 100th birthday party, co-sponsored by Friends of Morden Mine, a great success!

Between 200 and 300 people joined the celebration of BC Parks 100th birthday at Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park on August 20, 2011, a beautiful, warm sunny day.

BC Parks staff did an outstanding job of setting up facilities, coordinating traffic, directing those attending to suitable parking spaces, while their mascot, Jerry the Moose, chatted with the crowd.

Friends of Morden Mine provided free tours of the Morden site by Tom Paterson and Parker Williams, both well known for their knowledge of Morden and other coal mining sites. FOMM also offered free hot dogs and frankfurters, coffees, cold drinks, and, a little later, slices from four celebratory BC Parks 100th birthday cakes.

Tom Paterson was awarded a lifetime membership in Friends of Morden Mine for his continuing contributions to publicizing the dire need for funding to restore Morden Collieryís existing remains before they collapse. His Black Tours of Morden and other area mining sites for over eight years have convinced a number of people to join Friends of Morden Mine, and to donate much needed funds towards Mordenís remediation.

Charlie Christopherson was also given a lifetime membership. He was one of the early FOMM directors who persisted through hard times when it seemed that Friends of Morden Mine Society might have to wind up or dissolve through lack of supportive directors and members.

He convinced his wife, Frances, to take over some necessary functions, such as the newsletter, website, sales for Tom Patersonís tours. She also received a lifetime membership.

MLAís Ron Cantelon, Doug Routley, and Leonard Krog were present, as were Mayor Rob Hutchins of Ladysmith, Nanaimo City Councillors Diana Johnstone, and Fred Pattje, the latter representing Mayor John Ruttan. Lori Hall, Assistant Deputy Minister for BC Parks, and Don Cadden, BC Parks Regional Manager for central Vancouver Island, were among those BC Parks staff attending.

Photos courtesy of Carolyn Geisler, Gerda Hofman, Louise Shuker.

Fundraising and Other Events

After Friends of Morden Mine became a society in 2003, they hosted several Miners' Picnics at the Morden site. In 2006, they held two very successful fundraising events: a Beer and Burger and Silent Auction Night at the historic Wheatsheaf Inn in Cedar, as well as a benefit concert by award-winning blues musician David Gogo.

David's great grandfather drowned, along with 18 other miners, when a South Wellington local coal mine suddenly flooded in 1915. He performed the song he wrote to commemorate that terrible tragedy, "She's Breakin' Through," at his 2006 benefit for Morden. It was nominated for a Juno award in 2007 and is on David Gogo's cd "Acoustic."

In 2008, Friends of Morden Mine began seeking monies to fund a site plan to outline goals and objectives for preservation of Mordenís historic mining structures as well as physical development of its surrounding areas, including portions of the western half of RDNís Morden Colliery Regional Trail. B.C. Parks granted $4,000 towards preparation of this site plan, and FOMM matched this with $4,000 available from their previous fundraising initiatives.

In 2009, the Regional District of Nanaimo and City of Nanaimo each gave matching monies of $4,000 towards preparation of the site plan. FOMM will be in charge of its administration.

Tom Paterson's annual "Black Track" tours have been a source of fundraising monies for FOMM for several years. For the last two years Tom has generously donated his time, energy, and skills to semi-annual "Black Track" tours. Tom's tours not only provide much publicity for Morden, its remediation problems, and its historic and cultural significance, but also publicize the historic significance of other coal mining sites in the South Wellington area.

FOMM also gratefully acknowledges the monetary and "in kind" donations from individuals and businesses that it continues to receive. These are much appreciated and help to provide additional funds to promote the preservation of Morden Colliery's structures.

Friends of Morden Mine is a registered charity and tax receipts are issued for donations. For more information please e-mail