Miner's Union Hospital -- Coleman, AB CAN
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 49° 38.087 W 114° 30.117
11U E 680371 N 5501022
Quick Description: The colourful historical marker outside of the Coleman Miner's Union Hospital explains the interesting history of this important health-care facility
Location: Alberta, Canada
Date Posted: 1/5/2017 1:16:34 PM
Waymark Code: WMTT4G
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member TheBeanTeam
Views: 4

Long Description:
Now being used as a Senior Centre, the former Coleman Miner's Union Hospital has a long and impressive history meeting the needs of local miners and their families.

This historical marker is located at the old hospital on 18th Avenue and 76th Street in downtown Coleman, and reads as follows:


Miner’s Union Hospital
Health care a century ago wasn’t what it is today; in 1900, many rural communities in Alberta had no hospital, or even a doctor. Industrial towns such as those in the Crowsnest Pass had a greater need for medical care and doctors arrived soon after the coal mines opened. The first doctor stationed in the Pass was Dr. George Malcolmson, who built a small seven-bed hospital behind his house in Frank in 1902. Coleman, established 1903, would soon follow with a hospital of their own..

Miners Take Charge

Although mine owners supported local towns in many ways, some social services were provided by labour unions, benevolent societies, churches and ethnic organizations. In the fall of 1905 Miners' Local 2633 decided to construct a hospital in Coleman, with the International Coal and Coke Company agreeing to provide the building design, part of the land, and initially provide free electricity, water and coal. The hospital was built with a subscription of one percent of miners' wages for a year.

Constructed by local contractors Edmund Disney and Wes Johnston, the Miner's Union Hospital had space for seventeen beds, a convalescence sun room, and accommodation for two nurses upstairs. Unlike other hospitals which were operated by religious organizations or municipalities, the Coleman Miners' Union Hospital remained in control of the local miners throughout its existence.

Serving the Community

The hospital opened on March 21, 1906 under the charge of Dr. John Westwood and matron Mrs. Unsworth. In its ears it served fifty-two patients - 25 surgeries and amputations, 24 medical treatments, and 3 obstetrics. The medical cases included seven cases of acute pneumonia, two of acute pleurisy and several of bronchitis, reflecting high incidence of respiratory diseases amongst coal miners. Many other admissions were for broken bones from other m mine accidents; in 1908 miner David Lewis was injured four times in five months.

Intended to serve union members and their families, the hospital later accepted all citizens who paid a weekly fee. The heavy load on this small hospital brought calls for a larger general hospital starting in 1910, but the Coleman Miners' Hospital was to continue operations within the same building for over forty years.

‘Spanish Flu’

The Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918 - 1919 infected a third of the world's population and killed perhaps 75 million people, including 50,000 in Canada. Due to the inadequate size of the Miners' Hospital and the contagious nature of the disease, the town of Coleman turned their school into a temporary 'isolation hospital' in 1918. All medical and operating expenses for the temporary hospital were covered by the Town of Coleman rather than the patients. There were only six deaths amongst its 74 admissions. The 'isolation hospital' was closed in 1919, and after disinfection was returned to its educational function.

Retirement and Restoration

The small hospitals throughout the Pass were closed in 1949, after the opening of the Crowsnest Pass Municipal Hospital, located between Blairmore and Coleman. The former Coleman hospital was then used as a miners' union hall and a community hall. In 1951 funds were raised for the addition of an auditorium for its conversion into a civic/sports centre, but construction was never started.

This historic building was donated to the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass on the condition that it continue to be used for community purposes. It is being restored for ongoing use as a drop-in centre for the Coleman Seniors. In 1986, the Miners' Union Hospital was designated as a Provincial Historic Resource by the Province of Alberta."
Type of Marker: Cultural

Sign Age: New Alberta Tourism Marker Style

Parking: Very easy. Parking is widely available here

Placement agency: Crowsnest Heritage Initiative

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Recent Visits/Logs:
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Benchmark Blasterz visited Miner's Union Hospital -- Coleman, AB CAN 12/22/2016 Benchmark Blasterz visited it