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Heritage Community Foundation Presents
Alberta Online Encyclopedia
When Coal Was King
Industry, People and Challenges
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Politics and Economics

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The state played an important role in shaping the coal industry. Federal, provincial and territorial authorities all sought to encourage coal mining as a means of promoting economic development and insuring a stable fuel supply in the West. The federal and regional authorities, however, ultimately differed in terms of the constituencies they served. The territorial and provincial governments shaped policy in the interests of the West and supported mining development, almost without reservation, as a means to this end. The federal government viewed the industry in a larger Canadian context which also included the interests of consumers in eastern Canada.

The responsibility for the industry differed in British Columbia and the area which became Alberta in 1905. In the former, the responsibility was primarily provincial. In the latter, until 1930 the authority was split between Ottawa and Alberta--the federal government controlling natural resources and hence mineral rights; the territorial government before 1905, and the province afterwards, controlling the regulation of mining operations. After the Pamphlet: Retirement Annuity Planfederal handover of natural resources to the prairie provinces in 1930, the situation in Alberta became similar to that in British Columbia. The provinces controlled the industry except when specific matters of federal jurisdiction were involved, such as tariffs or transportation policy. The interplay of these regional and federal responsibilities, then, had an impact in relation to mineral rights, the regulation of mining operations, labour relations, and tariff and transportation policy.

William N.T. Wylie, "Coal-Mining Landscapes: Commemorating Coal Mining in Alberta and Southeastern British Columbia," a report prepared for the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Parks Canada Agency, 2001.

See Also: The Coal Industry—Overview, Rapid Expansion, Domestic and Steam Coalfields, 1914-1947: The Struggling Industry, Collapse and Rebirth, Settlement of the West, Issues and Challenges—Overview, Entrepreneurship, Technology, Underground Techniques, Surface Technology, Surface Mining, Social Impacts, Unions, 1882-1913: Unionization and Early Gains, 1914-1920: Revolutionary Movement, 1921-1950s: Labour Unrest and Setbacks, Mining Companies, People of the Coal Mines, The Middle Class, Miners and Local Government, Politics and Economics , Environmental Impacts, Health and Safety—Overview, The State and Labour Relations, The State and Development after 1918

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