MP-0000.25.577 | Interior of coal mine, AB, about 1935

Photograph, glass lantern slide
Interior of coal mine, AB, about 1935
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1935, 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:  Industry (942) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

Underground work could be learned quickly, in just a few months, as working the drill was not difficult. It was even easier to handle a pick and shovel. But what took time was recognizing the danger, recognizing the various sounds that indicated unstable rock and anticipating the configuration of the tunnel after the explosion. The miners also had to get used to the poor lighting and working alone or with only one other person. Division of labour was introduced in the metal mines after the adoption of mechanical drills in the late 19th century. Miners were divided into drillers and muckers, or ore loaders, but the smaller mines tended to continue to hire general miners.

  • What

    Because the layers of coal were so crumbly, miners did not need a drill: a pick could be used to remove the coal from the face.

  • Where

    This photograph was taken in one of Alberta's many coal mines. The shovel at the miner's feet shows that he was filling the cart behind him himself. To make it easier to push the cart towards the shaft, the miner had to grease the wheels regularly.

  • When

    Although the basic work organization depicted here could just as well apply to the 19th century, the presence of a battery-operated electric lamp on the helmet suggests that the photograph was taken after 1930, when this new lighting method was introduced.

  • Who

    Due to the large number of active coal mines in Alberta and the little information available, it is impossible to know the name of the mining company.