Long before the Brenda mine was developed into a world-class copper producer, the low-grade Okanagan area deposit was scoffed at by many in the industry. Bernard Brynelsen, however, was not among the sceptics. Quite the opposite. Known as Noranda’s man in the west, Brynelsen was a true believer in the project. In fact, at one point and in utter desperation to keep the project alive, Brynelsen mortgaged his home. Such was Brynelsen’s “unquenchable optimism and irrepressible enthusiasm,” in the words of Noranda’s Alf Powis. All this is part of British Columbia’s rich mining lore now, how Brynelsen’s unyielding faith, his vision and persistence brought the Brenda mine into being. And the story of Brenda’s against-the-odds development is typical of the man himself.
Bernard Brynelsen was born in 1911 in Vancouver, B.C. In 1935, he graduated as a mining engineer from the University of British Columbia. But even before. graduation he had experienced mining first-hand in the placer fields of the Yukon.
In 1948, his association with Noranda began when the major acquired Quebec Gold Mining Corp. Quebec Gold held a fistful of British Columbia properties acquired by Brynelsen. It was in 1955 that he first tried to persuade Noranda that the Brenda deposit could be a profitable venture. It took some doing – the 0.33% grade was a major stumbling block – but in the end Noranda had to listen to their western agent.
Other Brynelsen successes include the Kennedy Lake mine, Yreka, the Bell copper mine at Babine Lake and the Boss Mountain molybdenum mine in the Cariboo district.
After he “retired,” he and long-time friend and Noranda associate, Dr. Archie Bell, became involved developing the Viceroy mine in California. Even today at the age of 82, Brynelsen remains active in the industry.
For all his accomplishments, Brynelsen has received numerous awards – all of them richly deserved. Among the honors include the Order of British Columbia, the Edgar A. Scholz Medal and the H.H. “Spud” Huestis Award for Excellence in Prospecting and Mineral Exploration.