Re­mem­ber­ing Drumheller’s rich min­ing his­tory

The Drumheller Mail - - DRUMHELLERWORKS.COM - Pa­trick Ko­lafa

A small but ded­i­cated group gath­ered on Sun­day to re­mem­ber those who worked in the dark, and those who died in the mine.

The an­nual May Day Miner Memo­rial March went on May 1. About 50 marched from the Bad­lands Com­mu­nity Fa­cil­ity to the Memo­rial Park be­side Drumheller Town Hall. They car­ried plac­ards nam­ing the mine fam­i­lies of the val­ley.

At the memo­rial, a short ser­vice was held to re­mem­ber those who per­ished. Fred Orosz and Bob Mof­fatt, a miner and pony driver in his own right, read the hon­our roll of those who died in the mine.

Mof­fat re­counted the story of one miner, Ge­orge Brown, whose name ap­peared both on the Miner Memo­rial and the Drumheller Ceno­taph.

“When the war ( WW2) was first de­clared, many young men who only worked two or three days at the mine would runoff and join the ser­vices. Once the gov­ern­ment re­al­ized they needed ex­tra mine shifts in or­der to keep the elec­tric­ity and fur­naces go­ing, they started to send some of these men back to the mines,” ex­plains Mof­fatt. “I don’t know if this hap­pened any­where else in Canada, but Mr. Brown was sent back to the mines from Cal­gary. Within a cou­ple weeks of re­turn­ing to the mines, he was killed. He has the du­bi­ous dis­tinc­tion of not only be­ing on our memo­rial but on the ceno­taph.”

Mu­sic was part of the cer­e­mony as Marie Rus­sell per­formed for the crowd.

Fol­low­ing the cer­e­mony at­ten­dees had a chance to see some rare min­ing ar­ti­facts. Dy­lan Zima brought his own per­sonal col­lec­tion. Zima has a gen­uine in­ter­est in min­ing his­tory. His great great grand­fa­ther Phillip Zima per­ished in the Cale­do­nian Col­lieries Mine. His col­lec­tion in­cludes items that even the Atlas Coal Mine did not con­tain.

Jay Rus­sell of the Atlas Coal Mine was im­pressed by Zima’s col­lec­tion and was happy to see a young man carry on the mem­o­ries of the min­ing his­tory. The Min­ers Memo­rial in down­town Drumheller was un­veiled in Novem­ber 2012, and since 2013, May Day fes­tiv­i­ties have been re­vived to keep the mem­ory of the val­ley’s min­ing his­tory.

mailphoto by Pa­trick Ko­lafa

Ju­lia Field­ing of the Atlas Coal Mine and Bob Mof­fatt hike from the Bad­lands Com­mu­nity Fa­cil­ity to the Miner’s Memo­rial at its an­nual May Day Cer­e­monies last Sun­day.

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