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     Rockies, Coal Branch and Nordegg:  Cultural Life

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Early Years

World War I and
Interwar Period 

World War II
and After

 Cultural Life


Anne (McMullen)
Belliveau describes
her memories of
growing up in

Year of the Coal Miner September 2003 - 2004

Hockey game players and spectators in Lille, Alberta, 1906-1907.  Sports in small Crowsnest Pass towns often involved the entire community.  Photo courtesy of Glenbow Archives.All of the community histories and the oral history interviews indicate the close bond between miners and their families of Italian origin. They also talk of the recreational pursuits, such as bocce, and other activities. Hunting and fishing were popular among the man and the fraternal societies had a social purpose as well and provided many occasions to get together to dance, play cards, or any number of group activities. St. Anthony's Roman Cathoic Church in Bankhead, Alberta.  Photo courtesy oif Glenbow Archives.Church was also an important aspect of Italian community life and they supported the local Catholic church. The older communities also boasted opera houses and other aspects of European culture that their plains counterparts lacked. 

H. W. McNeill Co.'s Brass Band, Canmore, Alberta with the Rockies providing a beautiful backdrop, c.1898.  Image from Camore - The Story of an Era by Edna (Hill) Appleby.A few were custom-designed "ideal" communities benefiting from European models of such communities. Individuals, such as Martin Nordegg, wanted their communities to not be blighted by the hardships of the Crow's Nest mining communities of an earlier era. Opera House, Canmore, Alberta, 1954.  Photo courtesy of Glenbow Archives.Commentators note that Italians tended to "stick together." While the bonds of kinship and also region (for example, the notion of paesani, that is, people from the same hometown) were undeniably important to Italian immigrants, they also were well aware that they were not among the elites. This, in itself, forced ethnocutlural groups to stick together. 

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