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Heritage Community Foundation Presents
Alberta Online Encyclopedia
When Coal Was King
Industry, People and Challenges
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Midland mine, Drumheller area, Alberta. March 1932Much of what remains of the town of Midlandvale has been incorporated into the town of Drumheller. Once a thriving town unto itself, Midlandvale was the centre of four major mines: Midland No.1 and 2, the Western Gem, and Brilliant Mines. Each mine employed up to 100 labourers, and while the coal industry thrived, the town’s population was well over 600 people.

Community events were important to Midlandvale, and in particular, the town supported many fine sports teams. Summer was the time for rousing games of baseball and soccer, and in winter, hockey dominated.

Different groups in the Drumheller Valley recognized the benefits of sports. Mine operators saw an opportunity for advertisement through organized sports leagues that promoted their products. Unions and churches realized social benefits of sports and participated in their organization as well. Team sports were particularly popular with miners and unions because it promoted skill and was unconcerned with ethnicity and worker status. When the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) recognized the bond sports created between miners, they promoted sports as an example of their ideal. Like a union, a team that could work in coordination outperformed a group of single-minded individuals.

Today, many of the rinks and fields that once outlined the community have disappeared. In fact, there is very little left of the old section of Midlandvale. However one lasting monument to the town’s coal mining legacy still remains. In 1974, the president of the Midland Mining Company, Sidney McMullen, donated 595 hectares of mine land to the province. The area was converted into an historic park and now welcomes visitors to hike trails and read stories outlining the significance of particular machines and buildings. The old head office is now an interpretive centre that houses many exhibits on park ruins and life before the use of heavy machinery was instituted.

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