There have been several studies of considerable interest to
Alberta's coal industry. These tended to fall into five groups,
- Studies of Alberta's coal industry as a whole: Four Royal
Commissions were set up at one time or another to study all
important aspects of mining, distribution, marketing, labor
relations, and use of Alberta's coal resources. These included
the Arthur L. Sifton Commission (1907), the John T. Stirling
Commission (1919), the H. M. E. Evans Commission (1926), and
the Right Honorable Sir Montague Barlow Commission (1936).
Reports of these studies provide a detailed look at Alberta's
coal industry in the various years mentioned. Stirling, Evans
and Barlow identified a major problem as "too many mines and
too few markets."
- Inquiries into disasters: Authorities were satisfied with
the verdict of a coroner's jury, brought down on 14 January
191 I, in connection with the Bellevue mine explosion, which
killed 31 men. Commissions of inquiry were held in connection
with the Hillcrest mine disaster, which killed 189 men
(Carpenter, 1914), and the Coalhurst mine explosion, which
killed 16 men (Lunney, 1936).
- Studies and analyses of coal to set standards acceptable
to both producers and consumers: These included analyses and
investigations by Edgar Stansfield, Robert T. Hollies and
William P. Campbell on behalf of the Scientific Research
Council of Alberta (1925); the Dinning Commission of R.J.
Dinning, chairman, R. G. Drinnan, W. F. McNeill, and E.
Stansfield, with J. A. Ellis, the Fuel Controller for Ontario
(1928); and analyses of Alberta coal by Messrs. Nichols and
Mowers for the Dominion Department of Mines (1935). The
emphasis throughout was on the Ontario market and on the
keeping qualities of Alberta coal. None succeeded in
establishing acceptable standards for either producers or
consumers. An earlier study in 1921 saw Howard Stutchbury,
Alberta Trade Commissioner, survey the possibilities of
extending the market for Alberta coal into Manitoba, where
there was a strong prejudice against the quality of western
coal. Stutchbury suggested a carefully planned and vigorous
campaign of advertising.
- Canadian studies of interest to Alberta coal producers: A
few examples are the deliberations of the Francis William
Carroll Commission on the coal industry of Canada (1947), two
commissions of inquiry into the Nova Scotia coal industry by
Sir Andrew Duncan (1926, 1932), a Royal Commission presided
over by Hon. Mr. Justice W. F. A. Turgeon on the coal mining
industry of Saskatchewan (1935), and a Royal Commission
presided over by Hon. Mr. Justice M. A. Macdonald on the coal
mining industry of British Columbia (1938).
- Peripheral studies of interest to Alberta coal producers:
These include the report of the hydroelectric power commission
of Ontario (1924); the investigation into the Spray River,
Alberta, power project (1925); and the investigation into the
Edmonton, Alberta, power situation (1927). None of these
studies, nor the knowledge they provided, could prevent the
gradual collapse of the Lethbridge industry as markets shrunk
and finally vanished, and coal was replaced by other fuels.
This article is drawn from Lethbridge: Its Coal Industry by
Alex Johnston, Keith G. Gladwyn and L. Gregory Ellis (Lethbridge:
City of Lethbridge, Lethbridge Historical Society, Occasional
Paper No. 20, 1989). The Heritage Community Foundation and the
Year of the Coal Miner Consortium would like to thank the
authors and the City of Lethbridge, which is the Year of the
Coal Miner lead, for permission to reprint this material.