Nanaimo City council voted on Monday, October 29, 2012 to remove the Lower and Middle Colliery dams in Colliery Dam Park next year and naturalize this part of Chase River.
Who made these dams?
In 1910, the Western Fuel Company decided to put in its own water system in order to supply vast quantities of water for the coal washers above ground and for the miners and mules in the No.1 mine (approximately at Milton Street and Esplanade).
Mining engineers decided to deepen a natural basin about one mile below the City of Nanaimo dam at the southwest corner of Five Acres, as this area was then known. Blasting caused a fissure in the rock and water flooded through to the land below. Rock had to be removed and repairs had to be made using cement from Nanaimo’s first cement mixer before the dam was completed on May 1, 1911.
Water from the dam was carried in twelve inch wooden stave pipes to the Catstream, over a trestle, through the Gordon Estate and down Robins Street to the No. 1 Mine.
Houses near this pipeline were allowed to tap the line and eventually this water was carried to most of the homes in South Harewood. The Western Coal Company’s water rates were $1.50 per month.