Old Hillcrest Cemetery - Hillcrest, AB
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member ScroogieII
N 49° 34.519 W 114° 22.806
11U E 689398 N 5494711
Quick Description: A memorial at the cemetery is a sad one, one which commemorates the deaths of 189 miners in Canada's worst mine disaster, "The Hillcrest Mine Disaster", which occurred on June 19, 1914, shortly before the outbreak of World I.
Location: Alberta, Canada
Date Posted: 7/29/2020 11:48:49 AM
Waymark Code: WM12X23
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 0

Long Description:
The new town of Hillcrest (or Hillcrest Mines) was laid out in 1905, followed by the establishment of the Hillcrest Cemetery in 1909, on land donated by the Hillcrest Coal and Coke Company. The cemetery included separate sections for Masonic Lodge and Catholic interments.

While mine explosions, cave-ins and other mishaps were not uncommon, the Hillcrest Mine was considered one of the safest mines in the Crowsnest, as it employed several measures meant to mitigate the possibility of methane gas explosions. On Friday June 19, 1914, however, a methane gas and coal dust explosion rocked the Hillcrest Mine. A total of 189 men were killed, making this the worst mining disaster in Canadian history, and at the time the world's third worst mine disaster. The explosion was so strong that it even destroyed part of the surface plant and collapsed the main mine entrance.

The 189 dead represented about twenty percent of the town's population and half of the mine's total workforce. About 130 women were widowed and nearly 400 children were left fatherless.

The majority of those miners killed in the June 19th explosion (180) are interred in the Hillcrest Cemetery.
Old Hillcrest Cemetery
Description of Historic Place
The Old Hillcrest Cemetery is situated on 1.45 hectares of land on the eastern slope of Turtle Mountain in the Crowsnest Pass. The cemetery contains a variety of grave markers identifying the final resting places of 180 of the miners killed in the devastating Hillcrest mine explosion of 1914.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Old Hillcrest Cemetery lies in its association with the mass fatalities from the Hillcrest mine explosion of June 19, 1914, an event generally considered to be Canada's worst mining disaster.

In the late 1890s, American Charles Plummer Hill discovered a rich outcropping of coal along the eastern slope of Turtle Mountain in the Crowsnest Pass. Plummer staked his claim to mineral rights in the area and organized the Hillcrest Coal and Coke Company to exploit the coal seams within his claim. In 1907, Plummer sold the company to a group of Montreal developers who re-organized under the name Hillcrest Collieries Limited. The Hillcrest mine produced high-grade coal and was considered one of the safest collieries in the Crowsnest Pass, a region that would become notorious for hazardous mining conditions. On the morning of June 19, 1914, 235 workers descended into the underground mine. At 9:30 a.m., a massive explosion shook Turtle Mountain. Though the precise cause of the explosion remains unclear, it appears that a spark caused by falling rocks may have ignited a pocket of methane gas. 189 men died in the disaster, the vast majority from the poisonous "afterdamp" gases left behind as the fires in the mine consumed the available oxygen. In the wake of the tragedy, 130 women were left widows and 400 children fatherless. Virtually every family in the community was affected. 180 of the miners were buried in mass graves at the Old Hillcrest Cemetery. The cemetery remains a poignant reminder of the perils of early mining in the Crowsnest Pass and the profound tragedy that occurred at Hillcrest in 1914.

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Old Hillcrest Cemetery include such features as:
- location on the eastern slope of Turtle Mountain;
- spatial arrangement of miners' graves;
- grave markers;
- use of the site for commemoration of the tragedy;
- perimeter fencing consisting of steel cables, wires, and rails with concrete steps or stile at the cemetery’s south entrance.
From the Alberta Register of Historic Places
Photo goes Here
Official Heritage Registry: [Web Link]

200 4 Avenue
Hillcrest Mines, AB
T0K 1C0

Heritage Registry Page Number: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
To log a visit to a Waymark in this category at least one photo of the property, taken by the visitor, must be included with the visit, as well any comments they have concerning either their visit or the site itself. Suggested inclusions are: what you like about the site, its history, any deviations from the description in the heritage listing noted by the visitor, and the overall state of repair of the site.
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T0SHEA visited Old Hillcrest Cemetery - Hillcrest, AB 10/27/2020 T0SHEA visited it