A special committee in Sparwood is now hard at work planning the commemoration of the last major mine disaster to occur in the Crowsnest Pass/Elk Valley area. Like Hillcrest, this will be a major effort next spring to permanently acknowledge the loss of those fifteen men at Balmer North on April 3, 1967 and also every coal miner ever lost in the Michel/Natal area.
As far as disasters go the 1914 Hillcrest Disaster stands as the date in Canadian history when the worst loss of life in a coal mine occurred. But Canada is not alone in this regard; when it comes to tragic mining losses our numbers pale in comparison when one looks worldwide. This comparison was a painful one to research but will help the reader put our losses into an international perspective.
On April 26, 1942 the world’s worst underground mine disaster happened in Japanese-occupied Manchuria when 1,549 Chinese miners died at the Benxihu Colliery. Continue Reading →