ExploreNorth, your resource center for exploring the circumpolar North

Return to the Home Page The ExploreNorth Blog Arctic & Northern Books About ExploreNorth Contact ExploreNorth

Search ExploreNorth













An Explorer's Guide to Cassiar, British Columbia



Communities of Northern British Columbia


    Wikipedia says about Cassiar: "After forty years of operation, starting in 1952, the mine was unexpectedly forced to close in 1992. The closure was driven by a combination of factors including diminished demand for asbestos and expensive complications faced after converting from an open-pit mine to an underground mine. Most of the contents of the town, including a few houses, were sold off and trucked away. Most of the houses were bull-dozed and burned to the ground. The mill was briefly reactivated in 1999 by Cassiar Chrysotile Inc which had a reclamation permit to clean up the site. 11,000 tons of asbestos were exported before the mill burned down on Christmas Day of 2000, effectively halting all production. Today the streets are bare and flowers bloom where the houses once stood. Residents living between the townsite and the Stewart-Cassiar Highway, and on the highway itself, who originally obtained phone service from the Cassiar exchange, were moved to the nearby Good Hope Lake exchange in fall 2006 and the Cassiar exchange shut down.

    The town, which had a population of 1,500 in its heyday had two schools, two churches, a small hospital, theatre, swimming pool, recreation centre and hockey rink. Though neglected, and now in disrepair, the Catholic Church still stands (in 2015) but the hockey arena collapsed around 2008. The tramline which transported ore from the mine down the mountainside to the mill was purchased in the auction but the buyer left it and it still stands.

    The four old apartment blocks at the east end of town are operational for ongoing site reclamation work. They are currently being utilized as of November 2006 by mining exploration companies conducting underground gold mining at Table Mountain (formerly Erickson Gold) and base metal exploration in the immediate area. There is also seasonal jade mining from the Cassiar waste dumps."






Ghost Town Mysteries: the lonely church of Cassiar, B.C.
A lengthy illustrated article by Justin McElroy for Global News in May 2016 goes into the history of the entire town, not just the church.

Photographs of Cassiar, British Columbia, 1950s
Five images from the collection of W. S. (Bill) Lythgoe.

Cassiar... do you remember?
A virtual community: "Cassiarites from the 40-year history of Cassiar currently use this website to stay in touch, find and re-connect with long-lost friends, get current news of Cassiarites, stroll down memory lane and more."

Some former B.C. asbestos workers living in fear
"It takes about 20 years for asbestos-related cancers like mesothelioma to show up in the lungs, and workers [at Cassiar] say they were routinely exposed to the dangerous mineral without any protection."

The Cassiar Road, the story of a mine on a mountain top
This video is from a film by Jack Chisholm, produced by Cassiar Asbestos in 1960 (14:34) - a shorter version (4:26) can be seen here.

Cassiar, BC, Summer 1973
This video was created from still photos shot by George Bryce while working at the asbestos mine in northern BC (5:13).

Cassiar, BC, 1992
Video of the Cassiar townsite in June 1992, after the shut down of the mine and after the town was closed down and auctioned off (5:49).

Cassiar, BC, 1992
A film by NNBY - Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon (29:01)




The aerial view of Cassiar below is from Bing - click on it to open an interactive map.

Aerial view of Cassiar, BC