On June 19, 1914, shortly after 9 a.m., the village of Hillcrest was changed forever. 235 men had entered the Hillcrest Coal Mine for the morning shift, but 189 did not make it out alive. An explosion ripped through the mine.
A map of Hillcrest and the Crowsnest Pass area of Alberta can be found here.
Of the 189 men, 17 were born in Canada and of those only 2 in Alberta. The remainder were immigrants, the majority of whom arrived in Canada between 1910 and 1914. The men were from Great Britain, France, Belgium, Italy, Austria, etc.. Many of the men listed Austria as their home county, but previous to 1914 Austria meant the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and those listed as from Austria came from Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, Galicia and Bukovina. There were no miners from what is now known as Austria. Of the 189, their country of origin, age, and family, where known, can be found here.
Compensation was awarded to the widows and children of the miners, but was the compensation always awarded?
Why is this not a story that all Canadians know? Nine days after the explosion, World War I broke out, and the miners were forgotten.
If you click on a miner’s name you will be provided with as much information as Mary Bole and Belle Kovach were able to uncover after 3 years of hard searching. If you know any further information, or have any questions please contact them at: firstname.lastname@example.org