Harold Wright has been associated in some measure with virtually every significant mining operation in Western Canada and the Yukon during the past 45 years, as well as many operations internationally, through Wright Engineers, the consulting firm he established in 1947. He was also the founding president, and continues as a director, of Western Mines Ltd., now Westmin Resources.
A sprinter who would later compete in the Olympics, Wright at the age of 17 met Doral Pilling, a geologist and former javelin thrower on the Canadian Olympic team. Pilling’s enthusiasm for his profession convinced Wright to major in geology.
Wright graduated from the University of Utah with a B.Sc. in geological engineering and an M.Sc. in metallurgical engineering and from the University of British Columbia with an M.A. in geology.
He went to work as a field engineer for a mining equipment and supply company assisting in the startup of new mines and processing plants throughout the western United States, Western Canada, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
In 1947, he founded Wright Engineers, initially working out of an office in his home. By the 1980s, the company employed more than 400 people in its Vancouver office and had offices in Australia and Bermuda.
After completing a number of smaller projects, Wright Engineers provided the feasibility studies and designed the mill and processing plant for the Bethlehem copper mine near Ashcroft B.C., which went into production in 1962. It demonstrated that Wright Engineers could handle large-scale projects. Ms paper on the project won a gold medal award from the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy in London, England.
In 1951, he and a group of friends formed Western Mines in order to purchase the Ainsworth-Florence silver mine property near Nelson, B.C. Although the property had good orebodies, the mine shut down a few years later due to poor market conditions and low prices. The company then acquired the Lynx, Myra and Price properties near Buttle Lake on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.
Wright was instrumental in bringing these properties into production, including handling negotiations with the provincial government over environmental concerns and the construction of a road to the mine site. In 1967, once the mine at Buttle Lake was in full production, Wright resigned as president to devote more time to his own company. In 1980, Western Mines merged with Brascan Resources and the company’s name was changed to Westmin Resources. Wright remains a director of Westmin.
Born December 10, 1908, in Winnipeg, Wright received his early education in Regina, Sask., where he gained a reputation as a sprinter and in 1932 won an athletic council scholarship to the University of Utah. He was a member of the Canadian Olympic team in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles and in other major events. In later years, he maintained his connection to athletics as a member of the Olympic Club of Canada and served terms as director and as president of the Canadian Olympic Association, of which he was a member since 1966. Wright was inducted into the Canadian Amateur Sports Hall of Fame in 1987.