Brick by Brick

The story of the Gabriola Brickyard

From the late 1890’s to 1951, the Brickyard was Gabriola’s single most important industry and largest employer.

Gabriola islanders, Chinese contract labourers and immigrant workers produced up to 80,000 bricks a day – all by hand – at the Gabriola Brickyard.

Bricks were shipped off-island for construction of buildings in Nanaimo, Victoria, Vancouver and New Westminister, BC.

It was noisy, dirty, back breaking work. But those bricks helped build the towns and cities of BC.

The Gabriola Brickyard cica 1925 as seen from Brickyard Beach.
The works were located at the base of Brickyard Hill just north of Ferne Rd. The kilns and buildings were dismantled after production ceased in the 1950’s.

Brush and undergrowth has reclaimed most of the site.

Little remains today of the Gabriola Brickyard except for piles of broken bricks on Brickyard Beach and the name of the steep hill on South Road.
Bricks were loaded by hand onto scows which floated off on high tide, As workers culled broken and misshapen bricks from the loads, the beach became littered with pieces of brick, many still visible today.

Stacking bricks for export at Gabriola brickyard.
Photo: Gabriola Museum Archives.