Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Dolly Varden

While I was looking for an idea on what to write about today, I was looking over the headlines for the May 1, 1920 edition of the Vancouver Sun. The biggest headline read: City to Have Daylight Savings. Okay, interesting I guess. There was also something about the deadline for getting your tax returns in being extended until May 31, 1920. Nothing to inspire a blog entry. Then I saw Premier Oliver Declares Courts Lack Power to Deal with Dolly Varden dispute. Hmm, something interesting here?

Of course, my first thought was a politician and a female. Could it be a steamy story? Something whispered in the parlours of the day. Surely, my readers would be interested in that! However, with a little more research, I discovered Dolly Varden was, and is, a silver mine. 

I did an Internet search on Premier Oliver and the Dolly Varden mine and realized I had written a bit about it when I had featured Premier Oliver in September of 2013. (Yes, I sometimes forget what I have written on and what I haven't!)

So today I am going to revisit that story but be more thorough. I'll start with a look at the history of the Dolly Varden Silver Mines.

In 1910, four prospectors of Scandinavian descent discovered the Dolly Varden mine. The name is from a heroine in Charles Dickens' novel, Barnaby Rudge and it came to a relative of one of the prospectors in a dream. 

Those four prospectors didn't become rich of this find. Instead, in 1915, they sold it to Chicago financiers who had the foresight to build a railway, the last narrow gauge railway built in BC. It ran just 16 miles but it enabled the mining company to transport equipment and supplies to the mine and transport the rich ore to the tidewater in Alice Arm for shipping to the smelter.

In 1918, conflicts arose between the Dolly Varden Mine and the Taylor Engineering Company who had built the Dolly Varden Mine Railway. These disagreements led to the Taylor Engineering Company going bankrupt.

In a decision reached with the help of the BC Government, the mine properties were turned over to the Taylor group and the previous owners were reimbursed for their investment. A year later, in 1919, the Taylor Mining Company took over the Dolly Varden mine and the railway. The Torbrit deposit was discovered and explored while the Dolly Varden Mine continued to operate. (I looked up the Torbrit deposit and as of 2013, it is still in operation.)

Here's an interesting fact for my American readers. From 1919 to 1921, the Dolly Varden and North Star Mines produced 1,305 ounces of silver from 36,000 tonnes and Herbert Hoover financed the operation. This was before he became president, of course.

In 1920, the price of silver dropped to below $1.00 an ounce. There were high costs associated with bringing the mine into production and producing the silver. Taylor was forced to turn over the title of the properties to George Winfield's interests. It was 1922 when the Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company took over and reorganized into Northern Mining Properties, later renamed Dolly Varden Properties Limited.

Whatever does this have to do with a BC Premier? I'll tell you, next time. I realize this isn't a story set in or about Vancouver but it happened in our province and I think it's interesting.

I want to thank the edition of the Vancouver Sun where I got the idea and the Dolly Varden Silver Corporation website where I got the information on history of the mine. The photographs are of Commercial Drive in Vancouver.

I hope you find the beauty around you.


  1. Please clarify your this sentence "From 191 to 1921, " . Do you mean 1910 to 1921? Buying and selling precious metals are a fickle investment. Most of America's gold went to Japan when we bombed them as they wouldn't take any other payment. Although we still have gold, when the Japanese were paid our gold supply diminished considerably. We don't have enough gold to cover the American dollar and so the dollar isn't worth much any more.

    1. Thank you for catching that Lee. Sometimes the 0 button sticks.

    2. Oops. It was 1919 to 1921 not 1910. Fixed now.

  2. Thank you. That happens to us all. lol