At one time, almost all the coal mining towns in Western
Canada could be considered boom towns. When mining companies
first came to Alberta and British Columbia, they found barren
land rich in coal seams. Although sparsely populated areas
presented challenges, coal companies from England, the United
States, and Eastern Canada were experienced in developing new
areas. The process of obtaining land titles, building homes and
offices, and preparing the land took a mere few months.
The second phase of development was to bring in labour. Since
most areas were unsubstantially populated, mine operators
imported their workers. Many companies lured miners by building
a modern town complete with the best amenities. Drawn by
lucrative pay, many immigrants moved to the camps to make a
quick living. Workers came by the hundreds, and new settlements
seemed to boom overnight.
As populations grew, so did new businesses. Entrepreneurs saw
opportunities to cater to the male dominated population, and
while legitimate business existed as well, the brothels and
gambling houses located on the outskirts of town were especially
This section explores the phenomenon of the boom town in
Western Canada. Each article focuses on the sudden rise and
growth of a town and its correlation to coal economics.