Crowsnest Pass Polish Hall - Coleman, AB
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member ScroogieII
N 49° 37.902 W 114° 29.807
11U E 680755 N 5500692
Quick Description: Coleman's Polish Hall is one of several meeting houses built in the Crowsnest Pass to serve a specific ethnic group in the mining community.
Location: Alberta, Canada
Date Posted: 7/28/2020 12:03:37 PM
Waymark Code: WM12WWM
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Weathervane
Views: 0

Long Description:
Across the railroad tracks south of the main part of Coleman, the Polish Hall was built in 1927 for the then substantial Polish population of the Crowsnest area by the Polish Society of Brotherly Aid. As can be seen below, the building was initially faced entirely with brick, while today only decorative elements of brick remain visible, the rest having been covered with stucco.

The hall's location to the south of the more central part of town indicates its being located to be near the people it served, primarily Polish mine workers who had immigrated to the Crowsnest area. Coleman contained the largest Polish community in the Crowsnest, and the majority of those had built, bought or rented homes in this section of Coleman.
Crowsnest Pass Polish Hall
The Crowsnest Pass Polish Hall is a single-storey building situated on two lots in the community of Coleman in the Crowsnest Pass. Built in 1927, the hall is a brick building covered in stucco and features a stepped parapet with the year of construction set in relief, brick pilasters, lintels, and sills, and a projecting entrance vestibule.

The heritage value of the Crowsnest Pass Polish Hall lies in its association with the establishment of cultural associations and systems of social support within the province's ethnic communities.

In the late nineteenth century, the Canadian Pacific Railway built a branch line through the Crowsnest Pass to tap into the region's rich coal deposits. The new collieries established following completion of the line attracted European immigrants to the Pass to seek their fortunes. Among the new arrivals were a substantial contingent of Poles, who settled in ethnic enclaves in Blairmore, Bellevue, Rosedale, and Coleman, the heart of the Polish population in the Crowsnest Pass. The Polish communities in the region were characterized by a robust sense of cultural identity and a strong ethic of communal solidarity. This sensibility was reflected in the founding of the Polish Society of Brotherly Aid in 1916. The society was founded primarily to protect miners and their families against financial ruin in the event of a tragedy. Each member of the society paid an entrance fee and dues; in return, the society promised to provide benefits to the miner's family if he were injured or killed on the job. Although initially established to offer economic security to mining families, the organization evolved to offer an array of social and cultural services. During World War One, it provided identity cards to members to protect them from being discriminated against as enemy aliens. In the post-war period, it supported a range of cultural activities, including a Polish language school, a large library, a drama group, a choir, an orchestra, and a hockey team. The Polish Society of Brotherly Aid was at the heart of the community's social and cultural life in the Pass.

In its early years, the Polish Society of Brotherly Aid operated out of a house in Coleman. During the 1920s, this humble headquarters became inadequate as a new wave of Polish immigration to the Pass swelled the society's membership. By 1927, more than 240 people belonged to the organization; nearly half of the membership lived in Coleman. To address the growth in membership and the expansion of cultural activities, the society in 1927 built the Crowsnest Pass Polish Hall. Much of the construction work on the hall was performed by community volunteers, a reality manifest in the inconsistent parging. Built according to a simple rectangular plan, the hall included a spacious interior with a stage to accommodate cultural activities. The hall was imparted with a recognizable cultural identity through its sculptural representations of coal on either side of the parapet and through the folk art murals in the building's interior.

The character-defining elements of the Crowsnest Pass Polish Hall include such features as:
- mass, form, and scale;
- brick construction covered in stucco;
- brick pilasters, sills, and lintels;
- stepped parapet with year of construction "1927" set in relief;
- sculptural representations of coal on parapet ends;
- boxed cornice;
- fenestration pattern and style, including diamond-shaped opening in parapet and original windows;
- original interior elements, including flooring, wainscoting, doors, murals, stage, and trim.
From the Alberta Register of Historic Places
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Official Heritage Registry: [Web Link]

1406 - 82 Street
Coleman, AB
T0K 0M0

Heritage Registry Page Number: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
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