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Key Number: HS 16041
Site Name: Leitch Collieries - Power House / Machine Shop
Other Names:
Site Type: 0725 - Industrial/Manufacturing - Metal and Other Minerals: Mine


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
7 3 5

Address: Passburg
Number: N/A
Street: N/A
Avenue: N/A
Town: Crowsnest Pass - Passburg
Near Town:


Type Number Date View


Plan Shape: Square
Storeys: Storeys: 1
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Stone
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: Medium Gable
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes: Wall Design and Detail: Quoins
Exterior: Both the Powerhouse/Roundhouse and the Mine Manager's house were constructed of local sandstone. The majority of the exterior wall surfaces were quarry-faced random coursed stone accented by ashlar quoins, window and door surrounds. The effect was one of permanence and substance.
Interior: N/A
Environment: The site is 15 km east of the Crowsnest Pass on Highway #3. Located just north of Highway 3 at the east end of the Crowsnest Pass area. Originally this site would have been damaged by proposed Highway 2 realignment. The road has been relocated slightly south. This site would be a very accessible and pleasant location for an interpretive centre and perhaps a small park.
Condition: Structure: Poor. Repair: Poor. 1 FEB 1979. Although the machinery has been removed, the sandstone buildings remain, the largest and most impressive being the managers' house and the powerhouse/round house, both roofless. Other structural remains include 24 concrete pylons of the mine tipple and remains of the coking ovens.
Alterations: N/A


Construction: Construction Date:
Construction started
Washer and tipple constructed.
101 Coke ovens installed.
Usage: Usage Date:
Power House/Machine Shop
Collieries closed Closed down operations, site abandoned.
Owner: Owner Date:
Adrian Cervo of Burmis
Edward Cervo of Bellevue and Ralph Cervo of Lundbreck
Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: This site is situated on part of what is known as Police Flats, so named from a two-man detachment of the NWMP station there from 1883 until about 1901. In 1906 J. Kerr Sr. and W.L. Hamilton discovered coal on this property. In 1907 Leitch Collieries opened a mine with Hamilton as manager. A washer and tipple were erected, and railway connections to the C.P.R. right of way were finished by 1908. By 1910, 101 coke ovens were installed. A manager's residence and a combined powerhouse/round house were built of stone from a nearby quarry. The town of Passburg grew up immediately west of Police Flats with the Collieries erecting 25 miners' cottages. The coal, however, turned out to be of poor coking quality and only 5 of the 101 ovens were ever used. The company suffered from the economic depression in 1914-1915, and closed down operations in early 1916. Most of the buildings of Passburg were moved to Bellevue. The sandstone manager's house and powerhouse remain, although both roofless and with furnishings and machinery removed. Other remains include: 24 concrete pylons of the tipple; the 700-foot row of coking ovens, with individual ovens evident, and the concrete walls of the coal cleaning plant.
* * *
Leitch Collieries The Police Flats area is named fro a pre-19890 Mounted Police outpost which was established to control cattle rustlers. In 1906, W.L. Hamilton opened a mine to exploit the coal deposits here. Incorporated as Leitch Collieries, the company constructed buildings of stone from a nearby quarry, and built 101 coking ovens of imported brick. The company town was named Passburg. In 1911, an eigh-month general strike brought coal mining in the Pass to a halt. Leitch Collieries continued building, but had to borrow heavily. A promising coal market in Europe was wiped out by World War I. The company was left with little or no market and deeply in debt, and the banks foreclosed in 1915. These stone buildings remain, a monument to one of the grand dreams of the coal industry. Leitch Collieries was declared a Provincial Historic Resource on 25 August 1976, upon the recommendation of the Honourable Horst A. Schmid, Minister Responsible for Culture. News Release Draft #4 Historic Site Desigantion for Leitch Collieries, Crowsnest Pass The Leitch Collieries were built in 1907 to exploit the coal discovery on Police Flats, by the Crowsnest River. The company planned extensive development of this site, building 101 massive coke ovens out of firebrick imported at great cost from Pennsylvania. The town that grew up around the colliery was named Passburg, 'the Pittsburgh of the Pass'. At its height, around 1910, Passburg boasted a hotel, a bank, a church and a school, and homes for 200 men and their families. The poor coking quality of the coal (only five of the 101 ovens were ever used) and the economic depression of 1914-15 forced the closure of Leitch Collieries. In the 1940's, the abandoned machinery was stripped and used for scrap iron. Today, the sandstone manager's house and the power house remain, roofless and empty. Other remains include 24 concrete pylons of the tipple, the concrete walls of the coal cleaning plant, and the 700 ft. long coke ovens, now in ruins due to vandalism. Various abandoned buildings remain nearby to mark the town of Passburg, which rose and fell with the fourtunes of the Leitch Collieries. Although not one of the earliest or most successful coal mining sites in the Crowsnest Pass, Leitch Collieries serve as a substantial monument to the coal industry in the Pass. The designation of the Leitch Collieries as a Classified Historic Site provides protection for the site, since any future restration or changes must be approved by the Minister of Culture. This action helps to guarantee the preservation of the Leitch Collieries as a representative example of an early Alberta industrial venture.


Status: Status Date:
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Provincial Historic Resource
Register: N/A
Record Information: Record Information Date:
K. Williams 1989/07/25


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0228
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