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The Coppper Town Of Anyox

It was in the late 1800s that three prospectors W. Collison, A. Flewin and D. Robinson prospected and set up camp on what would become Granby Bay. Reports of an "El dorado mountain of gold" told by local natives turned out to be huge a copper deposit. The deposit was located in Observatory Inlet on the west coast of British Columbia. Observatory Inlet is about 35 miles south and west of Stewart, BC and about 30 or so miles north of Prince Rupert along the Canada USA border.

Not long after this desposit was found a mine went in along with a smelter owned by the Granby Consolidated Mining Company Ltd. It wasn't long before a town was built to house the workers and their families. The town became known as Anyox and what a town it was. By the way, the name Anyox means Hidden Water in the local native language.

By 1914 the population of Anyox had grown to over 2000 people and by the peak in the early 1920's population had reached 3,000. Now you need to realize that there were no roads getting into this area. The town was located in very rugged west coast country so the only way to get here was by boat. One woud think that this would have been a very outdated rustic town but quite the opposite. This was a town that 40 plus room hotel with a telephone in every room plus an 18 bed hospital. Remember, this is back in 1920's time. It was written at the time that "every home in Anyox had electric lights, just as we all had hot and cold running water and flush toilets – which many Canadians in larger and more favoured communities could not claim in the 1920s.

To give you an idea of why this town was built and what ran this town all one needs to look at is the mine and smelter operation itself. In the days of it's operation the Grandby Mining Company's Anyox operaton was the largest in the world. Copper ore was mined and smelted and shipped out on steam ships. This mine had over six miles of railways on two different lines. A total of 75 ore cars and and two locomotives moved over 6,000 tons of ore everyday. All the power was generated by a coal fired steam plant and a hydro dam. And what a hydro dam it was.

The large hydro dam for the power plant was a modern marvel in its day. It was designed and built by John S. Eastwood. The dam was 156 feet high and for many years it was the tallest dam in all of Canada. Julie Domville who wrote for the Canadian journal stated “Two electrical generating powerhouses were built, one coal fired and the other hydroelectric, to operate the mine, mill and smelter complex.” The harbor where boats were loaded could hold four large steam ships or ore cargo ships at any one time.

By 1935 the boom had gone bust. It might have been brought on by a miners strike a few years earlier. Being a company town people were forced to leave and having only boat travel out a lot of personal items remained behind. In 1943 a huge forest fire went through an burned the town to the ground. Today only the concrete foundations and the power house and smelter stakc remain. THe hydro dam still stands also. During it's life, the mine and smelter produced over 21 million tons of copper ore between 1914 and 1935. This in turn produced around 321,000 tons of copper, 206,000 ounces of silver and 121,000 ounces of gold. The Grandby Mining and Smelting Company was also the same company that owned the smelter in Greenwood BC.

A view of the old power houses

The old dam today

The smelter and it's smoke stacks