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When Coal Was King
Industry, People and Challenges
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Diamond City

Train bearing dignitaries leaving Diamond City, Alberta. Mrs. H. Johnston has stated in one of her historical sketches of the area that the town of Diamond City was built on the homestead land of Robert Harvie. father of Charlie Harvie. who the new "old timers" will remember as the Secretary-Treasurer of the L.N.I.D. The land titles show that the Alberta Railway and Coal Co. had a patent on it (6-10-21-4) in 1901. Mr. Harvie had a patent on part of SW 6- 10-21 -4 from 1906 to 1908. Through a series of transactions it was released to the town. Then Thomas Underwood and Hon. G.H.V. Bulyea and the Diamond Coal Co. That was the beginning of a village called Diamond City. After 1910 lots were sold to individuals. The mine officials applied to have the village and the mine named Black Diamond. Because of another town in Alberta with that name it was not approved, so the village and the mine had to drop the word "Black".

Diamond City's post office opened on Feb. 1. 1908 with Charles C. Wyatt as postmaster followed by his wife Ethel Wyatt. The post office was in the living quarters adjoining the Dalrymple store. In 1938 H.B. Roc took over the management of the store and the post office. After his death in 1949, Mr. Danielson bought the store and became the postmaster. Audrey Hernsley followed in 1988, and June Hanson in 1994. The post office in a small community gives the people a common goal.

Diamond Coal Company, Diamond City, Alberta. [ca. 1911] Many homesteaders took the advantage of laying a claim on a quarter of land. living on it for a year to improve it. and then it was theirs. If they did not live on it they could not keep it. Some were discouraged and left. sometimes the land was not fertile. Others tried to speculate. Some early settlers in the area were Mellroy. Johnston, Crofts, Harvie, and Davis.

The three big land owners in this area at the turn of the century were Sir Roderick Cameron, The Alberta Railway and Coal Co.. and the Hudson Bay Company. Year by year parcels of land fell under the plough blades. The biggest land breaking came with the irrigation in 1923. The settlers were coming here to use the crop assurance of the water from the L.N.I.D.

The farmers, ranchers, miners have found common ground in the schools and social events. Tragedies in the communities such as epidemics have pulled people together. Blizzards are another, they hit everyone alike - if someone is lost or hurt neighbors help.

Diamond City, Alberta. [ca. 1911] 1906 and 1907 were bad years for livestock - winter came early in November and stayed. Cattle drifted with the storm and there were very few fences. There were other storms and blizzards - the 1967 one was bad. Drifts were piled to the roof tops. The roads were blocked for days.

Drought is another catastrophe - Bill Hughes and another old timer, tell of planting potatoes in the spring and digging them up in August to eat in the same size and shape as they were planted.

Irrigation brought specialty crops which needed hand labor to help. This encouraged the European immigration which continued after the second World War with the greatest influx from the Netherlands. In 1942 the Japanese people were brought into the district from British Columbia to help with the farming during World War II. The area grew and developed.

There were families who came as miners and when the mines closed they bought farms. Their descendants are still here. The same for the homesteaders. These are true pioneers.

In modern times the citizens of Diamond City have a wide range of occupations. Many commute to Lethbridge or neighbouring towns to work. Others have found employment in the agricultural industries of the area.

Flood in June 1995 - This area received five inches of rain within twelve hours causing low spots to fill with water and drain ditches to overflow. The river crested two days later at 8.44 metres, destroying everything in its path. The Oldman River Dam held but had to release some of its water to save it from bursting.

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