In 1912, the Georgetown Coal Company sought to develop a mine
it had prospected several years earlier. Mining operations in
the area had failed in Anthracite in 1904, but new prospects in
the Bow Valley seemed to draw new investors for another attempt.
The Georgetown Coal Company chose the lower slopes of Mount
Rundle, five kilometres west of Canmore.
It took less than four years for Georgetown to
spring up, flourish, and then disappear. From all accounts,
Georgetown was an idyllic setting with established coal
deposits, modern conveniences, and a vibrant community.
Even with all of these advantages, development could not be
sustained when war broke out in Europe and funding for the mine
became scarce. In 1916, with the First World War
underway in Europe, the Georgetown Coal Company, an English
investment firm, had little funds left for expansion. When coal
markets dwindled, eliminating the viability of a profitable
operation, the company closed their mines in the area
Georgetown was the envy of nearby mining communities, a place
where workers could find modern amenities. Married workers lived
in the comfort of one or two-bedroom cottages equipped with
running water and electricity. Although the company felt that indoor
toilets were a luxury, outdoor toilets were frequently emptied.
Miners could find all necessities in the well-stocked company
store, including groceries, clothing and hardware. If the store
did not carry an item, almost anything could be ordered. The
only limitation was that if a miner worked in Georgetown, he
could only shop at the company store.
Miners found working conditions at Georgetown improved in
comparison to Anthracite or Bankhead. The union had sought the
reduction of the 10 or 12-hour day, and by 1912, had won the
long-awaited eight-hour shift. Wages, however, remained low; a
miner still toiled for $3 a day, while labourers were paid
The town did not grow beyond 200 people but in its three-year
existence, Georgetown was considered a vibrant town. Social
activities included card games and parties, and each week the community
hall came alive with the sounds of the local orchestra.
Residents took advantage of skiing, tobogganing and summer
Today, there is little to show that Georgetown once existed.
Many of the buildings, including the houses, company store, and
community hall, were quickly moved to Canmore once the mine
closed. One of the few remaining reminders of the town is the
foundation of the company store.