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Galt No. 6 Mine

Lethbridge

Other Names:

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
Galt #6 Mine is a 2.97 acre site located on the north side of Lethbridge in the neighbourhood of Legacy Ridge. The site is situated in an open riparian field with vistas to the Oldman River to the west. The site, formally a coalmine, is part of a larger cultural landscape that accommodated the buildings, houses, and industrial structures associated with the mine and townsite in a designed and self-contained landscape. All structures on the Galt #6 Mine site have been demolished, with only board-formed concrete foundations and depressions of the former buildings remaining. The property is situated west of the former residential Village of Hardieville.

Heritage Value
Galt No. 6 Mine is highly valuable as a contributing coalmine to the industrial history of southern Alberta. Galt No. 6 Mine was opened in 1909, just after completion of the High Level railway bridge, on the east side of the river. The site was selected due to a 1908 flood that impacted sites on the west side of the river and delayed construction of the High Level Bridge. Coal mining reach peak production in 1919 at one million tonnes and 20,000 workers in 10 mines. However, this was short-lived as natural gas and electricity were beginning to replace coal as a clean option for power, and the opening of the Drumheller coalmines in the 1910s saturated the market. By this point, the company had been sold to the Natural Resources Division of the CPR (999-year lease in 1912). By 1926, Galt No. 6 Mine was only open one day per week. In March 1935, the decision was made to permanently close Galt No. 6 Mine. Galt No. 8 Mine, which opened the same year, was developed with more modern technology to replace earlier steam-powered mines of the early 20th century. Many buildings from Galt No. 6 were moved off-site for use at this mine. Galt No. 8 Mine closed in 1957, shortly after the CPR had completed phasing in diesel fuel for their locomotives. The last mine, Galt No. 10 Mine located in Shaughnessy, closed in 1965, thus ending an era of coal mining in the southern prairies. Elements that tie the former Galt No. 6 Mine into the broader development of Lethbridge’s mining history are its standard mine plan and its siting on the eastern banks of the Oldman River in a concentrated area of former mine sites, north of downtown Lethbridge.

The Galt No. 6 Mine is further significant for its direct ties to the Galt family, who greatly aided in the future settlement of Lethbridge. Alexander T. Galt, the Father of Confederation and Canada’s first High Commissioner to Britain in the late 1880s, and co-founded the City of Lethbridge. In addition to his political endeavors, Galt was an astute businessman, developing several natural resource-based industries that tied into the opening of the west and railway development through the CPR. He was extremely well connected in eastern Canada and Britain, and was the driving financial force to entice British financial investment, land grants, and necessary permits to move his vision of western expansion through the prairies. Galt and his son, Elliot, with the help of multiple investors, founded the Alberta Railway & Coal Company in 1890 to develop the Lethbridge coalmines. The Galts swiftly secured a lucrative contract to supply coal to the CPR. Galt remained engrained in the company until he passed away in 1893; after which Eliot took over affairs of the business well into the 1900s.

The Galt No. 6 Mine is also valued for its unique industrial design as a former showpiece of industrial growth in southern Alberta and as one of the largest and most successful coalmines in western Canada. As well, the site is recognized for the remains of its distinct architecture and technology that was suited to the extraction of coal. The 1.4 m thick coal seam extending east and west from the coulees of the Oldman River was vital to the growth of the natural resource boom in the Lethbridge area. Despite it siting off the CPR route, coal in the area was deemed to be of exceptional quality, and an extraction-distribution system was developed to accommodate its considerable distance from key transportation routes. Many other coalmines were developed along the Oldman River for the same reason, transforming the former uninhabited river’s edge to a productive industrial area. Initial mines in the 1870s utilized a drift mine system, accessing the coal seam at grade. In 1888, shaft mining using the room and pillar method was adopted by the AR&CCo – suitable for large-scale extraction. Shaft mining entailed sinking two shafts from prairie level for access and ventilation. At 10-meter intervals, rooms were carved out perpendicular off a central corridor. Unmined areas called pillars were left in place to support the mine, oftentimes reinforced with timber columns. Explosives were used to remove the coal from the seam, and miners would break apart the coal into smaller portions using picks. The coal pieces were then transferred to rail cars and horses drew the cars along the chamber to the shaft where it was processed for export by rail. In 1930, 74 horses were utilized in the chamber, with the extraction of 1550 tons per day, four days per week. The Galt No. 6 Mine was unique in that it was steam powered for the entire lifespan of its use, powering the compressed air operated machinery, the fans, and the hoists in the mine. The steam boiler in the powerhouse onsite remained engaged 24 hours per day and the mine was closed in part due to the cost and maintenance of running the steam-powered boiler house. After the mine closed in 1935, the machinery, the tipple, and rails were transferred to Galt No. 8 Mine to the west. Dismantling of the mine occurred that same year and all underground equipment, rails, pumps, machinery, and the wooden tipple were removed. The remaining industrial structures were removed or razed over the following 10 years. The concrete foundations and sub-surface structures that remain intact on the site include shaft No. 5 and drift tunnel, and foundations for the fan house, engine house, tipple, the power house, the boiler hoist and various associated buildings to the southeast of the main mine site. The property was purchased by Melcor Developments Ltd. in 1991.

Finally, the Galt No. 6 Mine is significant as an embodiment of the architectural experiences and reflection of the strength, continuity, and forging of a self-contained working-class community built to house workers for the mine. The suburban enclave surrounding the mine was developed shortly after the mine was completed in 1909. Initially known as Number Six, and shortly after renamed Hardieville after Mine Superintendent, William Hardie, the community included company and residential houses, a mine managers house, a shared bath house for employees, water towers, a school (by 1912) and the commercial buildings where they shopped and socialized such as a café, a meat market, and two general stores. The majority of structures were constructed in the first decade of the mine’s operation. By the time Hardieville was established as a Village in 1910, the mine was entering into its peak decade with employment of 700 men, many of whom moved to Hardieville to live. In the early years of the mine, immigrants from eastern Europe, and English, Scottish, and Italian decent made up the main demographic at the mine. Later, workers from eastern Canada, United States, Japan, and China settled in the area to work in the mines and operate commercial businesses. Houses formally situated on the south end of the mine cultural landscape were demolished, with only foundations and depressions remaining intact. Hardieville was annexed by the City of Lethbridge in 1978.


Character-Defining Elements
The key elements that define the heritage character of the Galt No. 6 Mine include, but are not limited to, its:

• Location to the east of the Oldman River, with ties to the community of Hardieville;

• continuous use of the site from its inception in 1909 as an industrial work-live landscape until its closure in 1935;

• construction materials including: board formed concrete, exposed rebar; cast iron components; and

• remains of mine in form of foundations or sub-surface structures including: Shaft No. 5 drift tunnel, fan house, tipple, power house, boiler hoist, and boiler conveyor belt tunnel.


Location



Street Address: 435 Mildred Dobbs Boulevard N
Community: Lethbridge
Boundaries: Lot 1, Block 16, Plan 1611192
Contributing Resources: Landscape(s) or Landscape Feature(s): 1
Structures: 6

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
W4
21
9
18


PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
1611192
16
1


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.74036 -112.83215 NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2016/06/27

Historical Information

Built: 1909 to 1909
Significant Date(s) 1909_1935
Theme(s)
Historic Function(s): Industry : Natural Resource Extraction Facility or Site
Current Function(s): Leisure : Park
Architect:
Builder:
Context: The culturally modified landscape of former buildings, infrastructure and industry at Galt No. 6 Mine embodies in its context the rich coal mining history in Lethbridge and the collective spirit and memories of one of western Canada’s largest and most important mine site. The area is being redeveloped by Melcor Developments Ltd. as a master-planned community with residential and cultural and recreational green space, known as Legacy Ridge. The former mine site will be redeveloped as an interpretive park to commemorate the mine site.

Galt No. 6 Mine is highly valuable as a contributing coalmine to the industrial history of southern Alberta for nearly 100 years (1872-1965) and as the main impetus for the later establishment of Lethbridge. The series of 10 mine sites, the first of which opened in 1882, served a vital role in the development of this globally recognized natural resource. Over 40 millions tonnes of coal were mined from over 100 mines and shafts surrounding the Oldman River. Coal was first utilized by the Blackfoot Nations as a source for fuel. In 1872, Nicholas Sheran established the first mineshaft on the west side of the Oldman River (formally the Belly River) on the Indian Bank Coulee. The mine, known as Coal Banks, was mined by a small team to supply coal to traders at Fort Benton and later the North West Mounted Police in Fort MacLeod. News of the rich coal deposit reached Elliot T. Galt, son of Sir Alexander T. Galt in 1879, who then urged Alexander to open a mine on the coal seam. By 1882, Alexander Galt had incorporated the North Western Coal & Navigation company to begin coal exploration and arrange its shipment to towns serviced by the CPR. That same year, the first Galt No. 1 mine opened in proximity to the newly formed community of Coalbanks. Coal was shipped to Medicine Hat by paddlewheel steamer via the Oldman and South Saskatchewan Rivers. Realizing the potential of the area, Galt secured the land and capital to build a narrow gauge railway to Dunmore, on the east side of Medicine Hat in 1884; the railway was completed the following year and was upgraded to a standard gauge in 1893. This transportation route changed the nature of coal mining in the area, from small scale and seasonal to large scale and year round due to the increase in ease in transporting coal out of the Lethbridge area. In 1890, the company was restructured to the Alberta Railway & Coal Company (AR&CCo.), then again in 1904 to the Alberta Railway & Irrigation Company (AR&I). Coal production began in earnest with the completion of the branch lines. Immigration of workers followed, and a vibrant mining town was established on the prairie level overlooking the river valley. The townsite was named Lethbridge after one of the mine’s founding fathers, William Lethbridge in 1885.

By 1896, Lethbridge was the largest coal producer in the North-West territories. Depressed conditions in the late 1880s to early 1890s as a result of a worldwide slump in the economy in 1892, garnered hardship for the company, but the CPR offered land grants and competitive freight rates to incentivize southern Alberta’s natural resources. As a result, a branch line was extended into southern BC via the Crowsnest Pass, which aided in linking Lethbridge to the resource boom in the Kootenays and providing direct access to Pacific coastal markets. These incentives served to reboot the stagnant coalmines and explosively propelled the industry into untapped new markets. During this substantial period of growth, Galt No. 3 and 6 mines were established and opened; with Galt No. 2, 4, 5 and 7 only functioning as single shafts.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0348
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File:
Website Link:
Data Source: Planning & Development Services City Hall, 910 - 4 Avenue South Lethbridge, AB, T1J0P6
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