The First Crown-Granted Lode Mine In British Columbia

by
R.W. Nicholson

The first recorded lode mine in British Columbia was the Murphy Mine near Hope, B.C.  In 1858, the Murphy brothers sank a shaft on a mineralized quartz vein giving them the distinction of being the first Crown-granted Property in British Columbia.  The Murphy claim was Mining License No.1 under the Mineral Ordinance of 1869.  During the mines early development, an adit was driven from a point just east of the present day Canadian Pacific Railway tracks in an easterly direction for 244 metres and later extended to 293 metres cutting Crown-granted claim [lot 27] at a depth of about 60 to 90 meters.  It is reported that the brothers shipped a considerable amount of high grade silver-lead ore from their mine to Swansea, Wales prior to 1874. 

Although the Murphy Mine is the oldest recorded lode mine in British Columbia, the first reference to it in the B.C. Ministry of Mines Indexes between 1874 and 1964 was in 1902.

In the 1902 Ministry of Mines Report, William Dodd, Mining Recorder for the Yale Mining Division writes;  "The Murphy Mine - On this, the oldest mine on the Mainland, and which is within a short distance of Hope station, Mr. Wadleigh's Seattle Company will shortly resume operations.  When work ceased, a year ago, it was believed that the 850-foot tunnel was within 40 feet of the ledge.  The difficulty of ventilating the face of the workings caused temporary delay, but once work re-commences it is expected to cross-cut, at the distance stated, the copper-gold ledge which shows up so well on the surface.  The several extensions of this claim have had the usual assessment work performed."

The following year, Mining Recorder Dodd writes; "There is nothing to report in the way of operations on the Murphy Group, or the several old claims on Eureka Mountain, at Hope.  Both mines have had large sums expended on them in past years."

The last reference to the Murphy Mine contained in the Ministry of Mines Indexes between 1874 and 1964 was in 1924.  In that year Resident Mining Engineer, A.W. Davis writes; "Murphy - This group is also a very old location and has been reopened this year by G.D.B. Turner, of Vancouver.  On it is an old tunnel 800 feet long, the audit of which is under the tracks about a mile above Haig, on the Canadian Pacific Railway.  This property has only very recently been taken up and was inactive during most of the season.  No information other than the above is available concerning it."

According to information from the B.C. Ministry of Mines online database, 2011;  "Some work was done in 1924 and again in the mid-1960's, when 6 diamond-drill holes and 3 percussion holes were put down.  From 1980 to 1991, work was done on the Margie claims which surround the Murphy Crown grant [ Lot 27 ] which covers much of the adit area.  Two drill-holes were put down near the showings during this period."

Verdstond Gold Corporation drilled 13 holes [over 600 metres in 1996.  The best intersection was 1.03 per cent copper and 20.9 grams per tonne silver over 7 metres."

The Murphy Mine is located at co-ordinates:  49 24' 22" N - 121 26' 05" W.  UTM 10 [ NAD 83 ]  Northing 5473781 - Easting 613553.   Map references are:  BCGS Map; 092H043.  NTS Map; 092H06W.

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