The Nanaimo Mine explosion occurred on 3 May 1887 in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, when explosives were laid improperly in the Number One Coal Mine. This mine extended beneath the harbor to Protection Island, Newcastle Island, and the Nanaimo River. The explosion killed 150 people including 53 Chinese immigrants whose names remain unknown. !50 children were left fatherless and 46 women were widowed. The mine burned for an entire day.
At the time, many white residents of Nanaimo blamed the Chinese immigrants for the disaster, claiming that these men were illiterate in English and therefore couldn’t read signs or properly follow directions. While it was true that many of the Chinese workers were illiterate, the same was true of the white workers as well.
The Nanaimo mine explosion was the result of carelessness on the part of the workers. A monument on Milton Street, where the Number One Coal Mine had its entrance, lists the names of the white miners, and a tally of the Chinese miners killed that day.