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Heritage Community Foundation Presents
Alberta Online Encyclopedia
When Coal Was King
Industry, People and Challenges
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The hamlet of Commerce started out as a halfway point between Lethbridge and the "north country" of Turin and Sundial. It began with homesteaders and opened up to miners and businessmen when the Chinook Mine came in. The Commerce area originally was an extension of Diamond City, but as it grew it became fairly self-sufficient. It boasted its own post office, stores, elevator, clubs, school and restaurant. Many "old-timers" recall the dances held in the hayloft of the Weigand farm, or in the school.

Born in Pozina, Vicencia, northern Italy, in 1890, Bortolo Zambon went to Germany to work in a coal mine so that he could make money to travel to North America.  He arrived in the US in 1906 and worked in Chicago on the railways.  He and two friends heard of opportunities in Alberta and traveled out to Commerce.  He lived in a local boardinghouse where he met Pauline Lenglen, the sister of the French owner, Mrs. Julia Dancoisne.  They fell in love and married and he worked in Commerce until the mine shut down.  He then continued to work in the mines but also started farming.  He purchased one of the first threshing outfits that worked around the district.  In 1939-40, he focused on dairy farming, selling milk to Purity Dairy, owned by another Italian family, the Fabbis. He ran the dairy until his retirement in 1962 when the couple moved to Lethbridge.The Commerce post office opened February 1. 1913 and closed March 31, 1931. The three postmasters during this time were W. Glasgow, F. Chipman and W. T. Rogers.

Commerce also had an interesting past, with corruption among the town councillors: name changes to the town; and the sudden closing of the mine.

The familiar red slag heap, which has long been the landmark of Commerce is now gone, but signs still point the way. to the few homes that are in the area.

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