Paradise Mine – Boom, Bust & Closure
History of The Paradise Mine (Part 4)
In the early 1900’s the Paradise Mine became a busy and fully productive silver mine producing a top return for the Hammond Syndicate. During this time, Mr. Bruce acquired and laid out the town-site of Wilmer (initially known as Peterborough) to the north of present-day Invermere. Wilmer became the head office location for the Paradise Mine as well as an important business and residential centre and the site of government offices for the district.
The Paradise Mine was a steady shipper of ore from 1901 to 1906 when the announcement of construction of the Kootenay Central Branch of the CPR gave promise to heavy reductions in the cost of transporting ore. Shipments from the mine were suspended until the railroad opened.
At Pinehurst (also known as Jackpine) in the Toby Creek Valley, Mr. Bruce had laid out a town-site with the intention of making it the smelting and residential point for the miners and their families. Good buildings were erected for the accommodation of the men and stables for the horses. Pinehurst had storehouses, stables, bunkhouses, a cookhouse, and a hotel. All are now gone however, the site of Pinehurst is now the current location of the offices and base area for Toby Creek Adventures near Panorama Mountain Village.
In 1907, an Anglo-French company proposed to purchase the mine for $400,000 but the deal fell through on account of the financial uncertainty in that year. Eventually Mr Bruce purchased the interest of the Hammond Estate in the mine. Bruce had been focused on real estate development and colonization programs and the mine had fallen into bad shape by this time. The walls had caved in and had to be cleared and re-timbered.
By 1916, Bruce had the mine in full production again with an output triple that of the previous annual record. To shorten transportation to the railway a new road was built between Invermere and Toby Creek Canyon. The road from Pinehurst to the mine was also rebuilt. The steepest grades were reduced to 10%.
A 5-ton truck was purchased for summer work, making a return trip in one day and hauling ore at a cost of 55 cents per ton/mile. Mr. Bruce continued to own and operate the mine until 1926. During the period of the First World War (1914-18), the mines lead production was important to the war effort.
In 1926 Mr. Bruce became the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia and decided the time had come to divest himself of the mining properties he owned in the province. The Paradise Mine was sold to the Victoria Syndicate Ltd. of Conniston, Ontario, a Mond Nickel subsidiary. It operated until 1929 with 100 men employed. Nearly $l Million was spent on its development at various times.
In October 1942 the mine was sold to Sheep Creek Mines Ltd. The mine reopened again in 1949. As the mining went deeper it also became more difficult due to more pyrite in the rock and decreasing metal prices. BC Government records indicate 1953 as the last year of recorded production for the Paradise Mine however another source reports a short period of activity in 1960 and in 1964, three men trucked 931 tons of ore from Paradise to the Mineral King concentrator, then operations ceased and the Paradise Mine fell silent.