Cement Plant Beginnings

Beginnings (1904-1915)

The origins of the BC Cement Company can be traced back to 1904.  In that year, Mr. Robert Pim Butchart founded a cement company at Tod Inlet, near Victoria. It was the only cement producing company west of the Great Lakes and proved to be a very lucrative venture. This early cement company was followed in 1912 by a second firm, The Portland Cement Construction Company Of London, England. Mr. HKG Bamber, the company’s Managing Director, established the new company after a visit to BC.  On his recommendation a plant was constructed on the west shore of Saanich Inlet, approximately 35km north of Victoria. The community that developed was named Bamberton in Mr. Bamber’s honour.

The plant was unique in that the site selected was on a steep mountain slope and the operation a gravity feed design. In order to begin construction the dense forest had to be cleared. Water continually drained off the steep hillside and had to be diverted in wooden flumes.

Mr. Bamber

Clearing Forest

Wooden Flumes

All jobs were done manually or with the help of teams of horses. Tracks were laid for small gauge railcars, which were used to move equipment and material. The workers lived in tents erected near the shore while the engineers and supervising staff built small wooden houses further up the hill. There was no road; an incline hoist was built to move men and supplies up and down the hillside. The hoist man would raise or lower a platform from the hoist house, down to the waterfront or vice versa. Those who chose not to ride the hoist could climb up or down stairs, of which there were reportedly over 380.

Horses sharing the load

Employee Tents


In 1913 Mr. Bamber announced:

“At the present time our population numbers about 300 people and our workers live in company houses that are so modern they even have indoor plumbing.  Think of that. Quite a colony, don’t you think? ”

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