From the end of the 19th century until the early 1950s, Gabriola’s single most important industry and largest employer was the Gabriola Brickyard. Millions of bricks were manufactured and exported annually for construction of buildings and roads in Nanaimo, Vancouver, Victoria and New Westminster. For more than five decades the Brickyard shaped the lives of Gabriolans, as well as hundreds of island families, Chinese contract labourers and immigrant workers.

Visible reminders of this once-booming island industry are the brick fragments scattered amongst the pebbles on the beach at the bottom of Brickyard Hill, and if you know where to look nearby on the hillside, you can still see some traces of what once was a busy clay quarry and brick factory.

The complete story of the Brickyard, is available in SHALE : the Journal of the Gabriola Historical & Museum Society, Issue 15, May 2007

The Brickyard
showing the back of the factory. No date. (2000.023.003)
The Brickyard Factory - South End, Back of the Plant
The Brickyard factory showing the south end of the back of the plant. Looking over the yard towards False Narrows and the south end of Mudge Island. The tall chimney belonged to the dryer, which was next to the firing kiln. Behind it are storage sheds. This photo is featured in SHALE #15. No date. (2000.023.001)
The Brickyard Seen From the Beach
No date. (1996.040.002.08)
Brick Presser
Two men, unidentified, standing beside a brick presser with a cart to transport the bricks. No date. (1996.040.002.07)
Moving Bricks
Men loading or unloading bricks on to the carts. The only identified man is Harry Finnamore, top centre with his dog beside him. The photo is featured in SHALE #15. No date. (1996.040.002.06)
Engine Area
Man, unidentified, in the interior of the Brickyard. This shows the engine power area and presses. No date. (1996-040.002.05)
Factory Site
General view of the site where the Brickyard factory was. No date. (1996.040.002.04)
Brick Presser
Worker and dog standing beside the machine that presses bricks. No date. (1996.040.002.02)
"Fixing the Kilns"
Jack Finnamore is at the doors used to kindle wood fires. Once alight, the temperature was raised by adding coal through holes in the roof. This photo is featured in SHALE #15. No date. (1996.040.002.01)
Unloading Coal
Workers unloading coal for the Brickyard. There are finished "Dominion" bricks on the right side of the picture. The men are unidentified, but we know the name of the horse, Dolly. No date. (1996.009.004.09)
The Kilns
The Brickyard kilns with the engine room on the right end. No date. (1996.009.004.13)
The Scow
The Brickyard scow loaded with bricks. The tide is out and the scow is beached. This pho is featured in SHALE #15. No date. (1996.009.004.08)
The Scow
The Brickyard scow and Mudge Island in the background. No date. (1996.009.004.07)
Shovelling Coal
Jim Davis and friend shoveling coal at the Brickyard. No date. (1996.009.004.06)
The Brickyard
in operation. No date. (1996.009.004.05)
Shovelling Shale
Three men shovelling shale that will be used to make bricks. From left to right: Henry Silva, Bill Rowan and Dick Edgar. This photo is featured in SHALE #15. No date. (1996.009.004.04)
Gabriola Honeymoon
Rose and Samuel, last name unknown, on honeymoon on Gabriola in a horse-drawn buggy at the Brickyard. No date. (2000.029.020)