The Cassiar newspapers provide a rich archive documenting the social, business, and industrial developments that occurred in the town of Cassiar when the Cassiar Asbestos Mining Corporation—established in 1951 by the parent company Conwest Exploration Company Limited—constructed an open pit mine, mill and town site for its workers 50 miles south of the Yukon border. For 40 years Cassiar thrived with a population at its peak of about 2500, and production statistics in 1989 showed Cassiar had mined in total over 60 million tonnes of ore producing a billion dollars’ worth of new wealth. However the mine closed in 1992 partially due to the global market decline in the demand for asbestos; workers and their families moved out and much of the site was bull-dozed. Today there is little left of the townsite of Cassiar as physical evidence of its 40 year history.
The newspapers document the population’s perspectives of life in a small resource town in Northern BC, including the benefits (community closeness) and challenges (lack of sufficient health and education services) of living in an isolated community. As a community newspaper, the Cassiar newspapers also documented the many social and community events held by its residents (i.e. Snow Daze festival in March) including events sponsored by local organizations (i.e. Cassiar’s Lions Club). The newspaper documented visits by dignitaries including CAMC corporate executives, provincial government ministers, and others. Cassiar’s newspaper also featured a written update from its Members of Parliament for the Skeena/Cassiar riding, MPs Iona Campagnolo and Jim Fulton. The newspaper also documented ‘life passages’ of its residents of interest to social historians and genealogists, and also documented who was arriving in Cassiar as new residents/workers with CAMC, and who was departing Cassiar, reflecting Cassiar’s nature as a transient community of mining workers. All of these types of features found in the newspaper assist in providing a richer understanding of Cassiar’s history. These papers may assist in providing new knowledge to researchers interested in the industrial, economic, and social impacts of the creation and development of Cassiar. Funding for this digitization project was generously provided by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre’s BC History Digitization Program.