Canadian Anthracite Coal Co./Canmore Mines Ltd.

The Canadian Anthracite Coal Company (CACC), while not the first company to mine coal in the Bow Valley, had the longest connection to Canmore throughout the town’s history.

The CACC, a syndicate of Canadian and American businessmen including  McLeod Stewart, who served as the mayor of Ottawa from 1887-1888 and his brothers Archibald and John, incorporated in 1886 based upon a Royal Charter granted by Queen Victoria.

This charter, which is today in the archives at the Canmore Museum & Geoscience Centre, gave the CACC permission to mine coal and develop its lands at Canmore and Anthracite.
The CACC opened the No. 1 Mine at Canmore in 1887 after buying a claim staked by prospectors Frank McCabe and William McCardell along Canmore Creek.

However, shortly after developing sorting and loading facilities in the creek’s narrow valley, the CACC attempted to sell the mine. Unable to find a buyer, the CACC leased its operation to the H.W. McNeill Co.

The lease passed from the H.W. McNeill Co. to the Canmore Coal Co. in 1911. The Canmore Coal Co. ran the mines until 1938

when the CACC decided to take operation of the mines, consolidating the Canmore Coal Co. and the CACC into the Canmore Mines Ltd. The CACC and Canmore Mines faced many challenges, including two world wars and the Great Depression, always emerging one step ahead. However, the 1947 discovery of large oil and gas deposits at Leduc, Alberta would prove to be a turning point for the CACC that would put it on a slow, downward slide. The transition from coal to oil for heating and fuel eventually led to the loss of the majority of Canmore’s markets, including its most important and longest-standing customer, the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Canmore Mines advertising photo. Canmore Museum & Geoscience Centre, 83.001.113

As profits and production dropped, Canmore Mine’s president Edmund Hayes introduced the Japanese steel manufacturers in 1957 to Canmore’s anthracite coal. It proved to be an immediate success that ironically lead to the downfall of Canmore Mines. Unable to produce the quantity required for the Japanese market without expanding its operations considerably at great cost, the directors of Canmore Mines chose to close down the Canmore mines or find a buyer.

The Dillingham Corp. of Honolulu, Hawaii agreed to buy the coal mines in 1970, severing the 84-year connection the CACC and subsequently, Canmore Mines, had with Canmore.

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About Rob Alexander

I am a writer, photographer and historian and the author of The History of Canmore, published by Summerthought Publishing of Banff, AB.
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