Although Lethbridge didn’t start off as a mining town, it’s well known for that. And the whiskey trade, train bridge, chinook winds and Pilsner beer. So it’s National Mining Week – a big deal for a town that once called itself “Coalbanks” (I think they changed the name because of the Inn’s reputation).
First celebrated in 1996, National Mining Week recognizes the importance of the Canadian mining industry to the economic development of Canada.
Lethbridge’s economy developed from drift mines opened by Nicholas Sheran in 1874 and the North Western Coal and Navigation Company in 1882. North Western’s president was William Lethbridge, from whom the city derives its name. By the turn of the century, the mines were employing about 150 men and producing about 300 tonnes of coal each day. In 1896, local collieries were the largest coal producers in the Northwest Territories, with production peaking during World War I. After the war, increasing oil and natural gas production gradually replaced coal production, and the last mine in Lethbridge closed in 1957.
Quote The Canadian Encyclopedia:
Large-scale coal mining became feasible in 1885 when the North Western Coal and Navigation Co, directed by Sir Alexander Galt and his son Elliott, completed a railway to their mine from Dunmore on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). The population of the mining camp jumped from 4 in 1881 to 2353 in 1891 as a townsite emerged to serve the fast-growing colliery workforce. Named Lethbridge in 1884 after North Western Coal’s first president, William Lethbridge, the town was incorporated in 1890.
Although mining is long past in Lethbridge’s history, there’s at least one mine still open – my nose.