Remembering lives lost to BC's worst mining disaster

No. 1 Esplanade Mine explosions took place 133 years ago


Shortly before 6:00 pm on May 3, 1887, two explosions occurred in the No. 1 Esplanade Mine. This tragic accident took the lives of 150 miners. To mark the anniversary and honour the memory of the lives lost, flags located at City of Nanaimo facilities will be lowered to half mast from Friday, May 1 to Monday, May 4, 2020.

The explosions of the No. 1 Esplanade Mine are known as the worst mining disaster in British Columbia's history and second worst in Canada (the mining disaster of 1914 in Hillcrest, Alberta killed 189 miners). A jury blamed the explosion on the firing of an unprepared and badly planted charge that ignited accumulated gas fuelled by coal dust.

Once it reopens, visit the walk-through coal mine exhibit in the Nanaimo Museum to learn more about Nanaimo's coal mining history and this tragic accident. In the meantime, find more information on this award-winning exhibit here:

Link to Strategic Plan: n/a

Key Points

  • On May 3, 1887, 150 miners lost their lives.
  • Flags will fly at half mast in memory of the lives lost in the No. 1 Esplanade Mine disaster.
  • A memorial plaque to remember the miners who died from the explosions stands in place of the site of the No. 1 Esplanade mine on Milton Street (1151 Milton Street). In anticipation of the anniversary of the mining explosions, City parks staff completed some restoration work to the site


"No single event scarred our City and its people more than this disaster. It is our obligation to never let this event disappear from our community’s memory."

City of Nanaimo

Quick Facts

  • In 2015, Council passed a resolution to lower the flags at all City of Nanaimo facilities to half mast on May 3 in memory of the lives lost in the Nanaimo coal mining disaster of 1887.




Chris Sholberg
Community Heritage Planner
City of Nanaimo

Print News Release

Help us improve our website

Don't include private or financial information in this form.
Collection and use of your personal information

Information collected on this form is done so under the general authority of the Community Charter and Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA), and is protected in accordance with FOIPPA. Questions about the collection of your personal information may be referred to the Legislative Services Department at 250-755-4405, or via email at Please also see our Privacy Policy.