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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
When Coal Was King
Industry, People and Challenges
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Boom Towns

The town of Coleman looking east. [n.d]At one time, almost all the coal mining towns in Western Canada could be considered boom towns. When mining companies first came to Alberta and British Columbia, they found barren land rich in coal seams. Although sparsely populated areas presented challenges, coal companies from England, the United States, and Eastern Canada were experienced in developing new areas. The process of obtaining land titles, building homes and offices, and preparing the land took a mere few months.

The second phase of development was to bring in labour. Since most areas were unsubstantially populated, mine operators imported their workers. Many companies lured miners by building a modern town complete with the best amenities. Drawn by lucrative pay, many immigrants moved to the camps to make a quick living. Workers came by the hundreds, and new settlements seemed to boom overnight.Historic store frontages in Coleman, Alberta.

As populations grew, so did new businesses. Entrepreneurs saw opportunities to cater to the male dominated population, and while legitimate business existed as well, the brothels and gambling houses located on the outskirts of town were especially popular.

This section explores the phenomenon of the boom town in Western Canada. Each article focuses on the sudden rise and growth of a town and its correlation to coal economics.

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