The End of Edmonton
During the 1930s,
the city sued various mines, including the Penn and Premier operations, winning
settlements for damages. In 1931, the province passed Bill 56, which prohibited
mining in all towns over 5000 in population, or under highways or streets in
current usage. The Premier, Dawson and Penn mines sued the city, unsuccessfully,
for damages after this.
In 1924, Edmonton
installed a gas boiler in its Civic Block as an experiment and found the results
favourable. An effort was made to convert public schools from coal to gas after
1931. In 1934-1935 the issue became heated, as local coal producers began to
feel the threat of closure. However, local mines were soon closing, despite
efforts to implement new methods to improve efficiency. During the Second World
War the coal mining work force declined from 771 in 1941 to 556 in 1942.
After the Second
World War, mining activities near Edmonton centred on areas such as Lake Wabamun,
and the Sundance Mine at Morinville. Paul Cote converted this operation to a
strip mine in 1945-1946, which relied upon heavy equipment and haulage and a
handling system partly designed and built at the site.
Mining in the
Edmonton area was extensive, especially after 1910. However, intensive
mechanization did not become common due to several factors, such as the nature
of the coal seams. Encroaching urban growth finally led to political pressure to
end mining within Edmonton, and by 1945 coal mining activities had shifted to
areas around the city. Belated efforts of city mines to mechanize in order to
increase productivity in the face of various factors such as the move to
alternative fuels and costly litigation with the city, proved unsuccessful.
Kenneth Tingley. Coal Mining in Alberta: An Introduction to Changes in Coal-Mining Technology in
the Plains and Parkland Areas, 1872-1955. n.p.: Reynolds-Alberta Museum. With
permission from the Reynolds-Alberta