Frederick Dunn Alderson made his way to
Hosmer, BC. and the
coal mines of western Canada following mining adventures in
South Africa, India and Mexico. He left his wife and four
children at home in Durham County, England. He would never see
Alderson immersed himself in the community of Hosmer
and his work, quickly elevating himself to the level of fire
boss. He became a member of the Hosmer Draeger Mine Rescue Team
in 1910, during its founding year. Within weeks, the team would
face a crucial test. On
December 9, 1910 an underground mine
explosion shook the town of Bellevue, just across the border.
Within the mine, 47 men were trapped. No rescue equipment was
available. A call was made and Alderson's team was on its way.
Wearing the "Draeger Breathing Apparatus," Alderson and the
Mines Inspector, Robert Strachan, walked 2,000 feet into the
contaminated air of the underground mine. There, they found a
group of men clinging to life next to a leaking compressed-air
pipe. Alderson stayed in the mine while Strachan took Alderson's
self-contained breathing apparatus and led one man to safety.
Strachan returned and Alderson took another miner out.
Alderson returned to the stranded miners. He was exhausted, but
he gave his breathing apparatus to Strachan so he could get out
of the poisoned mine. By the time the rescue team returned, the
remaining miners were succumbing to the toxic air. The team
worked valiantly, but lost two men. Fred Alderson was one of
them. (It was rumored that a mine employee had shut off the
compressed air, afraid of an underground fire.) Thirty-one men
died that day. Among the survivors, there were men who owed
their lives to Frederick Dunn Alderson, the Hosmer Hero.