MP-0000.158.126 | Galt Coal mine, Canadian Pacific Railway, Lethbridge, AB, about 1923

Photograph, glass lantern slide
Galt Coal mine, Canadian Pacific Railway, Lethbridge, AB, about 1923
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1923, 20th century
Silver salts and transparent ink on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
8 x 10 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , industrial (826) , Photograph (77678)
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"Coal Mining: Instead of following the main line to Vancouver, we can use an alternative route a hundred or more miles south. Retracing our steps to Calgary, we will swing south to the prosperous little city of Lethbridge, and then turn west. This route is through the Crow's Nest Pass, the lake region of southern British Columbia, and the Kettle Valley. It opens up a country of diverse interest -- beautiful lakes, impressive mountain ranges, fruit farming, and coal and metal mining. The picture shows one of the Galt Mines at Lethbridge, owned by the Canadian Pacific."

Excerpt from "ACROSS CANADA BY C. P. R.", Section 6--Southern British Columbia; booklet, McGill University Illustrated Lectures, 1928.

Keys to History

Out West, the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway gave a boost to mining. Rich deposits of coal, discovered earlier in southern Alberta, became attractive once it was possible to sell to eastern markets. One of the biggest mining towns in the West was undoubtedly Lethbridge, which was soon linked to Canadian Pacific's mainline. At first mining was done traditionally, as at the Eustis mine, that is, by digging horizontal tunnels into hillsides-thus keeping the work required to get the ore out to a minimum. But the progressively greater distance that had to be travelled to reach the mine face within the deposit forced companies to dig vertical shafts marked by headframes, starting in the 1890s.

  • What

    The headframe and mill at the Galt mine stayed in the family until 1912, when they were bought out by Canadian Pacific.

  • Where

    Processing and sorting of coal, usually done by young, inexperienced workers, took place in the mill beside the headframe.

  • When

    In 1919, a few years before this picture was taken, 20,000 miners lived in Lethbridge, making it one of the biggest mining towns in Canada.

  • Who

    Although deposits were frequently discovered by penniless prospectors who were then obliged to sell their rights to rich entrepreneurs, the Galt mine was opened by Elliot T. Galt, son of Sir Alexander T. Galt, a wealthy Montreal businessman who turned a profit from his discovery.