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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
When Coal Was King
Industry, People and Challenges
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William Stafford

William Stafford, SeniorWilliam Stafford, the son of an English mining engineer and geologist, was born in Patna, Scotland, in 1842. After a Scottish education, he followed his father's calling. In 1867, he emigrated to Westville, Nova Scotia, to manage the coal mines of the Acadia Coal Company. In 1882, he was engaged by Sir Alexander
to accompany Captain Nicholas Bryant to the West to assets coal mining possibilities there.

As the only practical coal mining engineer in the party, Stafford's counsel carried much weight when Sir Alexander and Elliott Torrance Galt and Bryant met to choose between opening a mine at Blackfoot Crossing, near modern Gleichen, or at the Coal Banks. Stafford opted for the latter because of the quality of the coal. Thus Lethbridge was born.A map of Coalbanks drawn by Richard Hill Stafford in 1896. Eight-year old Richard Stafford came west with his parents in 1883 and lived in the Stafford home near the drift mine entrances until moving a kilometre north to the Stafford ranch house in 1893. His 17-year old brother, Henry Stafford, was buried in one of the "Graves." Stafford went to the Klondike in 1897 and remained there for several years.

The actual location of the future city was dictated when, on 13 October 1882, Stafford decided to open a drift mine on the east side of the Belly (now Oldman) River at a point just north of today's CP Rail High Level Bridge.

Stafford supervised the opening of drift mines Nos. 1 to 9 and shafts Nos. 1 to 3. In 1894, he became Inspector of Mines for the District of Alberta and was followed as Mines Superintendent byA more general view of the river bottom settlement with the Stafford home and garden at lower left and the company stable just beyond. The air shaft can be seen at upper right. A fire was kept burning at the bottom of this shaft, which acted as a giant flue, the mine being ventilated by the fresh air that rushed in to replace the hot or "rarified" air that escaped via the air shaft. William Duncan Livingstone
. By this time, Stafford had become interested in ranching and resigned from the Galt Company to follow that pursuit. A spacious ranch home, which became a community and social centre, was built in the river bottom in what is now Peenaquini Park.

William Stafford died on 12 May, 1907 and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery.

Lethbridge Its Coal IndustryThis article is extracted from Alex Johnston, Keith G. Gladwyn and L. Gregory Ellis.  Lethbridge:  Its Coal Industry (Lethbridge, Lethbridge: City of Lethbridge, 1989), Occasional Paper No. 20, The Lethbridge Historical Society.  The Heritage Community Foundation and the Year of the Coal Miner Consortium (of which the City of Lethbridge is the lead partner) would like to thank the authors for permission to reprint this material.

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