Eight miles south of Nanaimo is a very small community called Cassidy: a hotel, a grocery store, and a garage. A small number of homes lie in the vicinity. This is a far cry from the original Cassidy in the early 1920s, also called Granby.
It was here just after crossing the Haslam River bridge you make a sharp left-hand turn from the south. A sharp blast of the horn is necessary as it is a blind corner.
This leads to the site of Granby, which today is a vast gravel pit and slag from the mine. Nothing remains of what was a flourishing modern town of five hundred people.
The town of Granby was built in 1917 for the workers and families of the Granby coal mine. The Granby Colliery No.1 mine employed close to two hundred men. The town consisted of bungalows, mine buildings, and a saw mill. For the single men, a California-style two-storey rooming house was built, with all 76 apartments as modern as today. Granby had its own department store, theatre, paved streets, and boulevards. Electric lights on standards illuminated the streets, and there was a sewage system the equal of any today. All modern conveniences gave the town prestige with a waiting list to get employment in the mine. The post office in Old Cassidy was established June 1, 1919 and closed October 12, 1932.
It was a sad day when the coal seam gave out. The town was put up for auction and slowly passed into oblivion.
Editor’s Note (by Paul Parizeau): As a teenager I visited the site of Granby while on a bicycle trip up-island in 1937. The boulevards and streets were weed-infested and the once substantial buildings had already fallen prey to vandals and weather. It was a true ghost town and gave one an eerie feeling. Then in 1964 we took our children there to show them a real ghost town. Not a trace of Granby remained. It was as if it had been swallowed up by the forest.
First published in The Guideline, Journal of the VIPS, January 1985
by Lester Small
About Lester Small
From 1984 to 1988, there were a number of articles about Canadian postal history (most of them about British Columbia) in The Guideline, the newsletter of the Vancouver Island Philatelic Society. Almost all of these were written by Lester Small (Member #341). Lester – a clerk at the Victoria Post Office – was also active in the Greater Victoria Philatelic Society. He organized the junior programme of the GVPS, and looked after the junior stamp club for 35 years.