JEWELS OF THE BOW: An Exploration of The Canmore Museum Collection
The Canmore Museum & Geoscience Centre collection room is a treasure trove of objects, with stories spanning the town’s 129 year history. These treasures and gifts tell of a story twenty, thirty, or a hundred years in the making. But what if we don’t have these stories? What if they have become lost?
Thanks to a generous donation by The Calgary Foundation, the Canmore Museum & Geoscience Centre has spent the past year digging into and solving the mysteries surrounding 50 objects in the Museum collection, including: shovels from Anthracite, a laxative bottle labeled “Holy Water,” and even a wall-mounted jukebox. Members of the community have helped shape this project by providing us with personal stories connected to the objects.
Why are these items here? What stories can they tell us about the community of Canmore and its development over the past one hundred years?
Please read on and see…
Black & White photo of Marra’s Grocery. Photograph by John Ryan, circa 1975
Though pictured here is Marra’s Grocery, it was once the C.T. Singh & Co. General store. This building was carted down the frozen Bow River to Canmore townsite in 1916. C.T. Singh was owned by 4 Chinese men: Jim Chung, Chow Dan, Chow Kam, and a 4th man known to locals as “Wing.” Chow Dan did bookkeeping and administration and Jim took care of sales and stocking of product. Either Chow Kam or Wing did the cooking. Each man had a percentage ownership in the store. After the store was sold to Cardo Marra in 1946, Chow Dan and Jim Chung would return to China and Hong Kong, respectively, and Wing moved to Calgary.
Under the ownership of the Marra family for close to 60 years, Marra’s Grocery would grow and expand into the larger structure that is StoneWaters Home Elements today. A plaque remains outside the building to commemorate the Marra family.
Please join us at the Museum to see this photograph in person!
Canmore Coal Company Moulds, date undetermined
The Canmore Coal Company, started in 1911, was a major producer of coal in the Bow Valley until bought out by the Dillingham Corporation in 1971. While coal was shipped out to major markets in Japan, there was a local market for a smaller by-product: coal briquettes.
Fine coal would be collected throughout the day, and briquettes would be made on the afternoon shift at the tipple. This fine coal would be mixed with bitumen, or asphalt, in a steel drum using augers. This mixture would then be pressed, with 500 tons of pressure, between two round stainless steel drums lined with the briquette shape. They would then roll down onto a four-foot wide cooling chain on the outside of the building into box cars on the railroad tracks.
Coal briquettes were used alongside wood in heaters, like the one used in the pool hall, or pot bellied stoves like those in the dressing rooms at the arena. People could make their orders at the Mine office, and the briquettes would be delivered to their homes and shoveled into their coal sheds.
Seismic Cables, circa 1960s
Used in seismic exploration, these cables record seismic signals reflected off rock layers between two and four kilometres below ground. Seismic crews would lay the cables along the surface of the ground, place the geophones in the ground, and set off regular explosions. The geophones recorded the signals that bounced back from the rocks below the surface. This data was then sent back to a processing centre where analysts would determine if there were any abnormal features, such as reefs or buried channels, which would be desirable for oil exploration.
These cables were likely not used in the immediate area, but possibly in the Foothills. This kind of exploration was conducted in the flatter areas of the Prairies.
Firebrick stamped with “ST. LOUIS”, circa 1900 – 1960s
Made in St. Louis, Missouri, firebricks were used in building construction because they could withstand temperatures of over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. These bricks were imported from the U.S. at a cost $110 per thousand pieces. There were over 35 clay mines in St. Louis in the late 1800s to1910s. Without a company stamp, the exact date of this brick cannot be determined. However, in 1908, the Red Cliff Brick Company, located in Red Cliff, Alberta, began to develop bricks that would rival the St. Louis product by using local clay available in the area. When a test firing of 2200-2300 degrees Fahrenheit showed that a St. Louis brick melted to paste and the local black clay stayed solid, Alberta builders decided to go with the local, stronger product.
This particular brick was probably an alumina brick that had a heat range of 900 to 1200 degrees Celsius. This lower burning temperature meant that it was likely used in low heat areas of a kiln, preheat furnaces or boilers.
Shovels, water canister and photograph from Anthracite, circa 1890s
Anthracite was founded in 1883 by the Cascade Coal Company and is the Bow Valley’s first official town. After a royal charter was issued in 1886, the town boomed. Within a year, the town would have a population of 300 inhabitants, two thirds of that being men. Buildings were constructed to accommodate the population’s needs including multiple saloons, hotels, boarding houses, and general stores. The town also boasted a post office, barber shop and a doctor’s office.
The town was susceptible to floods due to its position between the Cascade River and the rail line. The first of many floods was in 1894 and swept away homes. The crowning flood occurred on June 16, 1897, drowning horses underground in the mine and stalling work for at least a month. Though the mine was able to recover from this catastrophe, a weak market and other problems caused the closure of the mining operation on June 30, 1904. Many homes and workers relocated to Canmore and other areas of the Bow Valley. These pieces from Anthracite help us to tell the story of a pioneer town gone, but not forgotten.
Red faux-leather suit, circa 1988
After the closure of the mines in 1979, Canmore needed an industry that could help pick up the economy. The construction of the Canmore Nordic Centre and staging of the 1988 Olympic cross-country and biathlon events would invite the world to see the Town of Canmore and all it has to offer, establishing Canmore as a destination for future tourists.
This patent leather suit belonged to a Norwegian team athlete in the 1988 Olympic Games in Canmore. The donor was a Canadian volunteer who worked with the Norwegian team. The Norwegian skier fell in love with Canada and asked the donor to trade her Canadian volunteer uniform for this red suit, the athlete’s formal parade attire.
Trading was not unheard of — another Canadian volunteer traded their outfit for a Russian one. Canadian volunteers wore the standard green uniform, jackets of which you can still see in and around downtown Canmore on colder winter days. Volunteers were only given one uniform and were allowed to keep it once they had contributed a certain amount of hours.
Crag & Canyon newspaper, February 27, 1948
The Crag & Canyon was started in 1900 by Ike Byers under the name National Park Gazette. Readers initially paid 5 cents per copy or $1.00 for a year’s subscription. After two issues, the paper changed its name to Crag & Canyon and publication stopped after Christmas 1901. Local philanthropist Norman Luxton was in Banff at the time, recovering from injuries sustained during his Pacific voyage in the Tilikum with Captain Jack Voss. In April 1902, Luxton bought and resurrected the paper.
Luxton was no stranger to the newspaper bracket, as his father was one of the founders of the Manitoba Free Press. Luxton was also a reporter, bill collector, and manager with the Calgary Herald for 8 years when he first moved to Calgary from Winnipeg. Luxton is also well known in the Banff region for his involvement in the creation of the Winter Carnival, the King Edward Hotel, the Lux Theatre and Sign of the Goat curio store, known today as the Banff Indian Trading Post. He is also known for his work with the Stoney people during the 1918 influenza outbreak, being made an honourary Chief by the Stoney and Blackfoot people.
Canmore Times, July 9, 1932
Ernest Deniston Garner was born on November 28, 1900 in England. At the age of 27, he set sail from Liverpool and landed at the St. Lawrence six days later, on his 28th birthday. He first worked at Mr. Kernick’s dairy, but found it wasn’t his kind of work. Garner began to seek employment in the mines. He showed up every day and was continuously turned away until one stormy winter day, a voice called out to him in the cold: “Don’t you want a —- job?”
Garner’s association with the Young family brought him into the newspaper bracket. Donald Young offered him a position as a Country Correspondent for the Calgary Herald. Garner enjoyed the work and decided to develop a duplicated news-sheet called “The Canmore Times.” It was produced bi-weekly with two typewriters and a Gestetner duplicator. Garner edited and illustrated the paper. Their first 200 copies, each at 5 cents, sold out and the public asked for more. Shortly after, they were mailing copies as far as Australia, England, Ireland, Belgium, Mexico and Peru. The paper was even voted “Best Mimeographed Newspaper in Western Canada” in 1937, its final year of print.
Garner eventually returned to England, married his wife, Margaret Sanderson, and settled into his life there. He passed away on February 11, 1989 in his home in Hayfield. Margaret and his decendants have kindly donated one of his paintings of the Three Sisters to the Museum.
Winston Churchill doll, circa 1984
The Effanbee Doll Company was founded in 1910 in New York by Bernard Fleischaker (“Eff”) and Hugo Baum (“Bee”). They are best known for the “Patsy” doll, one of the first free-standing, movable-limbed dolls in 1928. Her success and the development of “family members” would carry the company until 1940, when sales declined during the War. Co-founder Hugo Baum passed away this same year and the company was bought out in 1946 by Noma Electric. Like many other businesses that faced hardship, Effanbee continued to be sold to the highest bidder throughout the decades until 2002, when the Robert Tonner Doll Company purchased the bankrupt company.
Mavis Mallabone was born and raised in Canmore. As a child, her aunt would send her fine China and ceramic dolls from England. Mavis’s love of dolls would bloom to a collection of over 200 pieces. This included well-known characters like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Colonel Custer and Will Rogers. As a teacher, Mavis would use the dolls with her students.
When the original Canmore Museum was formed in 1984, Mavis maintained a display of her dolls. Women from within the province, BC and Saskatchewan would come to the Museum to see Mavis’s dolls. It was a display that connected with women, one they could relate to and an experience they could share with their daughters.
Mavis was proud of her collection, and the Museum is equally proud to have her dolls in our permanent collection today.
Mountview Video Plus store sign, circa 1980s
Mountview Video Plus started out as the Mountview Supermarket. It was located in the space where the Elevation Gallery now occupies. The market was a general store that held a little bit of everything from produce to hardware. After 23 years of operation, the owners felt it necessary to convert to a video store due to a lack of customer parking. Locals feel competition from Marra’s Grocery and I.G.A. may have decreased sales and made a video store a more profitable option. The video store opened on March 1, 1988 and was eventually demolished in 2003.
The owners of the supermarket and video store were locals Roy and Virginia Bray. Virginia was a school teacher, whom many residents look back on with fond memories. When seeing students in the hall, she would say “hi” and never saw her students as just another number. Roy was considered a kind, compassionate soul. He would give out candy to teenagers that came into the video store and hand out promotional movie cut outs when, and if, he could. Local youth wouldn’t just go there to rent a movie, but saw Roy and Virginia as family.
ENM Number Stamp, circa 1932
The ENM Company (English Numbering Machines) was originally developed in the 1930s in Enfield, England. ENM specialized in the office stationary industry, not only making numbering machines, but many other pieces of mechanical office equipment. In 1957, the company extended its roots into the U.S., when Chicago began to import and sell ENM machines from England. Today, ENM in Chicago is a separate entity from the original. The company fall on hard times in the 1970s, restructured, but still found itself failing. It went through several buy-outs, before its most recent sale to a German company in 2004.
This stamp is similar to a stamp used in the Canadian Pacific Railway. Office workers needed to stamp forms with numbers. On occasion, multiple copies of a report or waybill were needed. The stamp would make it easier on the office worker’s hand, as they didn’t have to repetitively write out the same number. This particular stamp was used by the mine accountant in the 1930s and later.
Liquor bottle, circa 1880 – 1890
The Canadian Temperance Act was passed in 1864 and a majority vote could prohibit the sale of booze. The Temperance movement was an attempt to “dry” people out and cure things like poverty, crime, and disease. The only exception for the use of alcohol was in sacramental or medicinal functions.
The NWMP heading west was not only to help protect from the threat of an American invasion northward into BC, but also to monitor the illegal trading of whiskey into the US. In 1892, the first era of prohibition was lifted in the Northwest Territories (what Alberta was a part of until 1905). Prohibtion returned shortly after this and was not lifted again until the 1920s.
This liquor bottle was found near the upper area of Anthracite, close to the old power line. It is believed to date to the late 1880s. Bottles like this could be found around the Georgetown mine site at the base of trees where working men would leave them. One local even found opium bottles and a holster and gun hanging in a tree.
“Holy Water” bottle, circa 1950s
The manufacturer of the bottle is Fletcher’s Castoria, a laxative still sold in stores today. Fletcher’s Castoria was originally developed by Dr. Samuel Pitcher of Barnstable, Massachusetts in 1868. It was in 1871 that Charles Henry Fletcher purchased the rights to the recipe, formed the Centaur Company and began selling Dr. Pitcher’s product under the name “Fletcher’s Castoria.”
The label has been removed from the front of the bottle, but handwritten in blue ballpoint ink are the words “Holy Water 1898.” Either the bottle was cleaned out and used to store some of this Holy Water, or someone had a very curious sense of humour in regards to the liquid laxative.
Seebring Wall-o-matic jukebox, circa 1957 – 1980s
The J.P. Seeburg Company was started in 1907 by Justus P. Sjoberg, born in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1871. At 16, Justus moved to the United States, where he trained in the manufacture of pianos in the Chicago area. After developing his own company, which took the Americanized form of his last name, Sjoberg developed a coin-operated phonograph in 1927 and succeeded in the face of competition, the Depression and Second World War. Once Sjoberg’s son took over, the company continued to flourish, with the production of the V-200 released in 1955, allowing for a choice of 200 selections. Seeburg produced over 630,000 wall boxes between 1934 and 1979, but shortly thereafter was bought out by another company.
This type of wall box connected through a 3 wire system to a main unit. This style had over 200 musical selections to choose from. This wall unit came from the Canmore Hotel. The main unit was supposedly in the basement, on a dirt floor.
Postal Scales, circa 1870s – 1890s
The modern postal system has its roots in the establishment of the English postal system in 1840 by Rowland Hill. He developed a uniform system of charging based on the weight of the letter using a stamp. Prior to this, letters were charged based on the distance they were travelling and the number of pages in the letter. Once Hill’s system of stamps was implemented in the UK, the method became internationally adopted, Canada included.
This scale resembles the style made by S. Morden & Co. out of London, England whose business ran from 1822 to 1941. Based on the engravings on the letter scales, the prices being in Deaneries and around the time period of English postal costs of 1871-1897, the scale was likely made in England around this time.
Local seniors have noted seeing scales like this in their grandparents’ homes. Sometimes, they even remember using them! But those who have scales like this in their homes today have them as antique decorations.
Camp Coffee bottle, circa 1920s – 1950s
Camp Coffee was created in Glasgow, Scotland in 1876 by Paterson & Sons Ltd. It is said that the military on campaign in India were looking for an easily brewable cup of coffee, hence the brand name “CAMP”. The Camp Coffee product was meant as an instant coffee mix. Much like a hot cocoa powder, it was to be stirred into warm milk as a coffee substitute.
The label depicts a Gordon Highlander, more specifically the Major General Sir Hector Macdonald. Macdonald was born near Inverness Scotland on March 4, 1853 and joined the Gordon Highlanders at age 17. He earned the nickname “Fighting Mac” during the Battle of Omdurman in 1898. Criticism and outrage over the label has sparked several redesigns over the years, the most recent in 2006.
Some locals remember drinking this as children in England. Some say they drank it because coffee wasn’t available during the Second World War. Others remember drinking it simply because they were children, and there wasn’t anything else special for them.
Sad iron, circa 1910s – 1950s
Founded in 1902, the Taylor-Forbes Company stood on the east bank of the Speed River in the Waterloo region in western Ontario. The company was a merger of two smaller companies, but evolved into a large producer of various products from lawn mowers to hinges. The company also played a major role in providing work to Guelph and the region with nine branch locations. Like many factories during the wartime, Taylor Forbes manufactured material for the war effort including shell casings and metal castings for vehicles. The company remained in operation until 1955 when it went bankrupt.
Canmore’s seniors remember seeing these irons when they were growing up. The iron would be placed on top of a wood burning stove to heat-up and a handle could be attached in the centre to press the hot metal against fabrics to flatten them.
Prince Albert Tobacco tin, circa 1948
Prince Albert Tobacco was developed by American tobacco company R.J. Reynolds. Tobacco planting started in the Reynolds’ family with R.J.’s father Hardin in 1828 when Hardin’s father sent him to buy land and the locals drove up the price as a joke. Hardin got in trouble, but asked his father to let him work the land, and Reynolds tobacco was born. Hardin’s son, R.J., took over the family business when his brother sold his shares to R.J. in 1873. Even though R.J. was chief operating officer, he would fight with his father about the operations of the business until 1874, when he took off with $5,000-$10,000 and started his own company in Winston, North Carolina. “Our Advertiser” and “Schnapps” were two names of his chewing tobacco. In 1899, R.J. finally incorporated his company under the name R.J. Reynolds.
By 1906, the general public was beginning to believe that chewing tobacco was unhealthy and smoking was the better option. R.J. Reynolds heavily blanketed the public with advertising, and Prince Albert became a fierce competitor on the market. Prince Albert remains one of the top pipe tobacco brands today.
The style of lid indicates that the tin dates to 1948 or later. Prince Albert tobacco was sold in the Rundle Mountain Trading Company store. Former employees remember receiving calls from people asking if the store carried Prince Albert in a can. After the employee answered yes, the caller would say, “Well let him out!” Some locals even remember making this call. Other local seniors remember being too young to purchase tobacco during the 1930s and 40s, so experimented with tea leaves, and even newsprint!
Household Fishing & Hunting scale, circa 1910s – 1940s
Sargent & Co. started out in 1857 as the Peck and Walter Manufacturing Company in New Britain, Connecticut. Joseph Bradford Sargent and his two brothers bought the supply company and moved it to New Haven where the company operated as Sargent & Co. The New Haven location was chosen for its access to water routes for shipping and receiving. The company expanded and grew to 60,000 products by 1914.
Like many of the other factories during the Second World War, Sargent developed material for the war effort and employed women to undertake the work. Close to 40% of Sargent’s employees were women when men were returning home from the fight. After the war, the company decided to focus on developing one market: locks and door related mechanisms. The company is still in operation in New Haven, under the ownership of Assa Abloy, a Swedish lock specialist group.
Oil drip, date undetermined
This object was used to automatically oil machinery. The oil would be added through the slot at the top, and drip through the bottom onto the machine beneath it. Without any indication of a manufacturer, we cannot accurately date the oiler. It has been determined that if it was used in mining, it was likely used to oil machinery above ground, not below in the mines.
Shoe last, circa 1920 – 1970
Fred Kazimer was a local shoe mason in Canmore. Born June 12, 1884 as Onufre Kazimer in Romania, he worked as a driver for the Canmore Mines, arriving in April 1906. Fred met and married Lena Onezka on February 24, 1910. They didn’t stay in Canmore long, moving to Tawatinaw, Alberta to homestead where they had five children.
Lena would pass away after their fifth child and Kazimer took the three eldest back to the Mineside area of Canmore. The two younger children were left with their maternal grandparents. He returned to work at the mine, opened his shoe making business and even remarried in 1920. He at one point he operated his business at the site which is the Bank of Montreal building complex.
He cared about the community of Canmore, guarding for the RCMP at the Barracks on Main Street. He would also take in travellers when Banff hotels were full. Locals even remember Kazimer sharpening skates during the winter.
Petitpoint, circa 1940s
Petitpoint is a type of fine needlework worked over a single warp (vertical thread) and weft (horizontal thread) on a diagonal.
Petitpoint was made popular in the 1600s in France by Madam de Maintenon, the second wife of Louis XIV. Maintenon founded the Saint Cyr School in 1686 in a small village outside Versailles. The school, which saw close to 3,100 orphaned girls from noble families, taught how to produce this fine craft. It is a lengthy process that aristocratic women would have had time to produce.There are three types of stitches: Basketweave (also known as Saint Cyr stitch), Continental and Half Cross Stitch. Finished products can have up to 484 stitches per square centimetre.
In the 1940s, intricate patterns with the centre already done could be bought so that a minor hobbyist could finish the background. Seniors at Creekside Hall said patterns came from their own imaginations and they were taught how to petitpoint from their relatives. Some do not consider this craft “modern,” whereas younger generations now are learning and embracing how to do these more “traditional” crafts.
Hair Crimpers, circa 1910s – 1920s
The first part of the 20th century saw a drastic change, as women began to cut their long locks. This has been related to the influence of mass media. Not unlike today, magazines showed celebrities sporting the style and the public wanted to emulate what they saw. Irene Castle, a ballroom dancer, designer Coco Chanel and actresses like Clara Bow and Louise Brooks sparked a fashion frenzy.
Mary Garden, opera singer of the age, explained in the October 1921 issue of Ladies Home Journal, it was about more than just effort: “I had my hair cut short because, to me, it typified a progressive step, in keeping with the inner spirit that animates my whole existence …. I consider getting rid of our long hair one of the many little shackles that women have cast aside in their passage to freedom. Whatever helps their emancipation, however small it may seem, is well worth while … Bobbed hair belongs to the age of freedom, frankness, and progressiveness.”
The 1920s saw the bob become more elaborate, in the form of the Marcel wave. The style, named after the 1872 inventor, was achieved when crimpers like these would be warmed by the fire or wood stove and applied to the hair. It was a difficult process, since the curler had to be kept at a constant, suitable temperature to achieve the style without burning a woman’s hair. A curler could be tested on paper to check temperature.
Meat Cutter, circa 1970s
Cutting boards have been around as long as the human race has. Cavemen likely needed a flat surface to cut on, using any spare piece of wood, just as modern man does. The 1880s saw the first butchers’ blocks developed. Wood was the most common choice up until recently, when questions of cleanliness have become a concern. Wood can either absorb the juices from raw meat or splinter off giving a little extra fiber to the user’s diet. Modern times have given way to modern inventions, like bamboo cutting surfaces or recycled eco-friendly materials.
This cutting board is made of a treated wood. The recessed pattern in the base is meant to catch the meat drippings. This is not only to keep things clean but the drippings could also be used for a jus or gravy. The spikes in the base help hold the meat in place and the bar on top can be adjusted to secure the meat from the top as well. A museum Board member remembers having one of these, and it not working quite as well as the design would make it seem.
Cheese slicer, circa 1920s – 1930s
When you look at this cheese slicer, you wouldn’t think of computers. But they do have a very interesting relationship. Manufactured by the International Business Machines Co. Limited, known today as IBM, this slicer shows the roots of where the company began. IBM formed out of three other companies in 1911: Computing Tabulating Recording Company, International Time Recording Company, and Dayton Scale Company. Each company produced various types of machinery, including time punch machines and meat and cheese slicers.
By 1924, the business had expanded to global proportions and the company was renamed International Business Machines Corporation. In 1933, IBM bought out a typewriting company and a year later sold the Dayton Scale Company to the Hobart Manufacturing Company, shifting the product focus to accounting and computing machinery. In the 1960s, IBM supported space exploration and by the early 1980s was grounded in the personal computing industry. Today, IBM is one of the top selling computer companies in the world.
Ladies’ boots, circa 1910s
This particular pair of boots resembles styles popular in the early 1900s. Page 51 of Eaton’s 1908 Spring and Summer catalogue shows a style very similar to these boots. The price varied on the style, anywhere between $3 and $4.50.
Ladies in Canmore likely ordered these types of boots from a catalogue, before any of the stores in town had been established. Though they may resemble leather, the boots are actually faux leather, as noted in the Eaton’s catalogue. Note how the wear in the leather fades to white rather than a rough brown.
Men’s boots, circa 1960s
Vibram was a brand developed in 1935, after a tragic climbing experience left 6 friends of company developer Vitale Bramani dead from frostbite and exposure. Vibram sole products are considered highly safe, as Bramani takes the information provided by experienced mountain guides and lab technicians to develop quality products. The company has also developed casual, service, and dress wear products. This brand of sole can be found on many popular brand names today including Wolverine, Stanley, and Red Wing.
Steel toed boots were not in common use with Canmore miners until the late 1960s or early 1970s. Occupational health and safety did not play as major of a role in those days. This style of boot, with the frills, was not available for purchase in the company store. It was also not likely worn underground since they are still very clean and are not caked with coal dust. They were likely purchased outside of Canmore or ordered in and worn in above ground mining or used for another occupation.
Paper Mache Guitar lantern, circa 2008
What started out as a community art project is now an annual event. The Lantern Festival started with a workshop, led by an artist from Vancouver, teaching the craft of lantern making. Hundreds of people participated and an idea was formed: to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Olympic games in Canmore. To commemorate athletes who participated in any Olympic Games, the town held a parade from the Lantern Studio in downtown through the forest to the Nordic Centre. Fire spinners and drummers followed the pack to announce their arrival at different locations along the way.
In the end, over 700 people made lanterns, 1100 people were in the procession and athletes from the 1960s up until 2008, when the parade occurred, attended. The Festival continues to be a example of the sense of community in Canmore, bringing together construction workers, seniors, girl guides and families.
This guitar lantern was made and donated by local artist Louise Ollinger to become part of the Museum Collection.
Miner’s rubber jacket and overalls, circa 1950s
The S.H.C. Miner Company developed out of “Granby Rubber.” Stephen Henderson Campbell Miner was the son of Harlow Miner, one of the founding families in the town of Granby, Quebec. Upon the death of his father, Stephen became the operator of his father’s tannery. He saw to the tannery’s growth but then realized the leather market was heavily competing with the U.S. and developed “Granby Rubber” in the 1890s. A year after opening, the factory had 250 employees and was making 40,000 overshoes. The company was shortly after bought out by the Canadian Rubber company, leaving Stephen a very wealthy, successful man.
Still needing to satisfy his businessman’s lifestyle, Stephen started another Rubber factory, Miner Rubber, the production company of this suit, in 1911, shortly before his death. The company was then operated by his nephew, William, for close to fifty years. During this period, the factory shippedboots, overshoes and clothing to over fifty countries. Free trade in the 1960s and 70s created a harder market to compete in and in 1984, the company closed just short of bankruptcy.
This suit is lined with cotton which would have made it more comfortable. Perhaps Stephen Miner’s involvement in the Coal & Coke mine in the Crowsnest pass area reflects this suit’s presence in Canmore. Rubber jackets were not common apparel in Canmore coal mining. If they were needed, miners would have worn a yellow coat. Or perhaps it is the irony of Stephen’s last name, Miner, which gives its presence in the Canmore Museum collection today.
Suitcase, circa 1930s – 1960s
Travel in the early 1900s was not as common place as it is today. Trunks were used, with people loading their belongings onto a cart lead by a horse. The more well-to-do would have servants transport their luggage, so there was no concern over luggage weight and design. But once travel became more common, with the advent of trains and airplanes, the design of luggage had to become more efficient to accommodate the needs of the everyday traveler. Today, it is almost unheard of to use a suitcase like this. Why would you when you can drag your bag on four wheels with a sturdy handle?
The person that owned this suitcase was likely a woman, since the scent of perfume still lingers inside. This was probably not a high end brand of suitcase because there are no maker’s marks anywhere on the case. Also, the interior is lined with paper, rather than higher quality fabric materials. She probably didn’t travel much, since there are no stickers on the outside, a usual indication of a frequent traveler. Also, most of the leather is in decent shape. Though collectors wouldn’t see the dents and bruises as valuable, these ones likely have a story, one that we wish we had to share.
Framed Photograph, circa 1950s
This photograph was found in the collection storage room. The writing on the front reads: “To T.E. Fisher with kind regards & best wishes N.A. Doyle.” T.E. Fisher, or Ed as he was known, is pictured second from the right. He was the Union Secretary for many years and solved many labour disputes in the Mines. He went by the nickname Rimsock, and was occasionally referred to as “Grumpy.”
Ed also owned the first newspaper in town, the Canmore Times. Please see a copy of this newspaper on display. Ed passed away about 15 years ago. His daughter, Debbie, is still a Canmore resident.
N.A. Doyle was a manager or part owner of Canmore Mines. The managers of the company not only put their efforts into the coal mining industry, but also pineapples in Hawaii and copper in South America.
Please join us at the Museum to see this photograph in person!
“Weltini” German camera, circa 1930s
The Weltini brand of camera was created in 1914 in Germany by Walter Waurich and Theodore Webber. This particular camera would have been a mid-range price choice between 1937 and 1941, the date of this model. There were two types available and went by the common name “Weltini.”
This brand was not just available in Europe, but could also be purchased in North America, rivaling another popular model at the time, the Kodak Retina. This camera has a Compur brand shutter, a type still considered of very high quality today, with speeds of up to 1/300 of a second. Other models at the time only went up to 1/200 of a second.
This is one of a few cameras that were given to Ben West after a fire in the Banff Centre photo building in 1979. While this model was available in North America, this particular camera was likely purchased in Europe, since the chart on the back of the camera is written in German. Perhaps a European photography student left it as a keepsake for future generations to admire…
Signed copy of Black Rock by Ralph Connor, circa 1921
Born September 13, 1860 in Glengarry, Ontario, Reverend Charles William Gordon decided at a young age that he would go into the ministry like his parents, Daniel and Mary. He graduated from the University of Toronto and worked as a High School teacher
for a year to fund his ministerial studies. He then studied at Knox College in Toronto, finishing his last year at the University of Edinburgh.
After his mother’s death in the spring of 1980, Gordon took up a mission in Western Canada, which included the Banff, Anthracite and Canmore mining and lumber camps and railway stations. Here he tried to make the church the centre of social life, not only preaching to the congregation but also providing them activities involving music and literature. He would only stay in the Bow Valley for a few years before moving onto a post in Winnipeg.
As deputy of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, Gordon was concerned with the lack of funds for the church in Western Canada. Gordon enlisted the help of his former schoolmate, Rev. J.A. Macdonald, editor of Westminster Magazine, to write something that would bring attention to missions. Macdonald told Gordon to write a story, and since fiction writing was not considered proper for minsters in that day, he needed a pen-name. The telegraph operator read Cannor, a play with the words Canadian Northwest, as “Connor” and Macdonald gave him the first name Ralph.
Gordon would write 35 novels and pamphlets in his lifetime. Black Rock, was his first novel and one about Canmore. The Sky Pilot, his second novel, would become a smash hit, selling more than one million copies. Gordon’s presence can be felt across the country, with churches named after him in Victoria and Langford, BC to schools in Scarborough, Ontario. The Ralph Connor United Church on Main Street was named for the Church’s first minister.
Gold pocket watch, circa 1907 – 1908
The Hamilton Watch Company was formed in 1874 under the business name Adams & Perry Watch Manufacturing Co. in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Over the next 18 years, the company would go into bankruptcy and be sold several times over. Then, in 1892, a group of men bought the company and Hamilton was born. Their first market was the railway. A fatal train wreck in Kipton, Ohio in 1891, caused by an engineer’s watch malfunctioning, influenced companies to make high quality, accurate watches.
This watch is considered Railroad grade, meaning it had to meet certain standards such as timing, colour and font style. These types of watches would even be inspected to make sure they were in working order, to avoid accidents like Kipton. Found at Bankhead mine at the bottom of a slag heap, it was considered by the donor to be dated to 1879, but since the company wasn’t formed until 1893, that date is not possible. Research into the serial number dates the item to between 1907 and 1908.
Stromatolite in dolostone specimen, approximately 500 million years old
Identified by local geologist Ben Gadd, this natural history specimen is likely from the Rocky Mountain area. The wave-like appearance is caused by waves washing sediment over a layer of rock covered in cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), which trap the sediment. These layers would have formed in shallow water with low energy and some turbulence. Stromatolites continue to form today and are an excellent example to help tell the story of the earliest forms of life on earth.
Ammonite fossil with ammolite, approximately 100 – 65 million years old
An ammonite is a type of fossil. Ammonites were marine animals, closely related to the octopus and the squid. The specimen here lived in the late Cretaceous Period. This specimen has flecks of ammolite attached to the front and back — the iridescent material that produces colours. Ammolite is a rare type of gemstone that is actually the original mother of pearl, lining the shell of the ammonite. Ammolite is the official gemstone of Alberta and the City of Lethbridge.
Safety valve, date undetermined
The J.E. Lonergan company was founded by Irish born John Edward Lonergan in 1872 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At 11 years old, Lonergan emigrated to the U.S. He first worked in a sawmill in Vermont then moved to Massachusetts and worked wirh the railway. Lonergan tinkered with inventing locomotive equipment and in 1869, barely 30 years old, he moved again, this time to Philadelphia where he began his manufacturing career.
His company focused on quality, and developed safety equipment for railroad and stationary steam engines. Lonergan cared so much about his products that he didn’t step down until his 80s. His nephew, John Cavanugh, ran the business until a few years before it was bought by the Kunkle Valve Company in the 1950s. Today, Kunkle and Lonergan products are part of Tyco International Ltd.
This type of valve would have been used above ground on the 1,000 pound pressure compressors in the mine powerhouse. If the pressure on a machine went over a certain amount, the valve would blow out on the sides. It was a piercingly loud sound and men needed ear plugs to protect their hearing. It was also a good idea for the men to make sure the vent was always pointing away from them.
Current ballast, date undetermined
Founded in San Francisco in 1924 by Jack and Earl Echlin, the Echlin Company initially designed automotive replacement parts. Earl looked after a small machine shop while Jack handled the marketing side by creating and promoting training sessions for salesmen across the country. Today Echlin is partnered with NAPA (National Automotive Parts Association), a relationship that developed out of a 1928 contract that saw Echlin as the distributor of oil and pump ignition parts throughout the U.S. The company is still in operation and is one of the top U.S. suppliers of automotive ignition parts today.
One miner identified this ballast as part of a generator for shooting off dynamite charges. Wires attached to either side of the ballast were connected to a blasting cap. An electric current was detonated and the dynamite was ignited that way. This ballast is known to have been used in 1958, but it could have been used up until the mid 1960s.
NWMP Hospital Record Book, circa 1880s
Ledgers made at this time were bound twice because the information was very important and meant to last. The cover fabric reflects this in that it is a mixture of cotton and silk or silk and wool, soaked in a shellac or varnish. This would protect the fabric for a longer period of time from excessive handling. In addition to this, there are leather accents adding to the exterior look of the ledger. An interior decoration of double layered hand marbled paper is on the inside cover.
The bulk of the ledger paper is high quality, which can be noticed in the lack of yellowing on the pages. Think about your books. Does the paper feel rough and have a yellow tinge to it? Today’s paper tends to be highly acidic, whereas the paper in this ledger is made with a large amount of cloth. The pages are watermarked with “A Pirie & Sons Register Dominion of Canada.” This paper was likely not made in Canada, as this company operated out of Aberdeen, Scotland. Also, fine paper like this wasn’t made in Canada until 1882.
Though this ledger reads “NWMP Hospital Record Book,” it was actually used as a photo album. Some pages have photo corners and descriptions of places that this family travelled to. Dea Fischer, conservator at the Canmore Library, is fond of ledgers like this because back then, people had a sense of longevity and time that was well beyond their years. She also believes values are different today and the nature of our economy makes production of ledgers like this unrealistic as they would cost thousands of dollars a piece.
Bird house, date undetermined
There are at least 336 species of birds in the Rocky Mountain region, two thirds of which can be seen in the Bow Valley. What better way to catch a glimpse of these amazing creatures than to build a home for them.
Wood was likely chosen for this house due to its durability, since metal would make for a very hot home. The gabled roof was likely chosen because it helps to drain water. The over-hang at the entrance also helps to protect the bird from any potential rain, wind and sun.
Considering the size of this entrance, the house was probably made for a species such as the mountain bluebird. This entrance size might also keep out larger breeds and allow the bluebirds to nest in peace.
Andy Shellian made over 1,500 bird houses in his lifetime, but did not make this one. The craftsman of this birdhouse remains unknown. Do you know who constructed this beautiful log cabin?
Wooden beam coat/tag rack, date undetermined
This rack was found at an offsite storage location during a Museum storage move in the summer of 2011. It has large nails bent along the bottom and smaller nails bent along the top. According to a retired Mine worker, this beam was likely used above ground, outside a wash house where men could hang their coats.
After working a shift, miners would shower at the bathhouse at the Mine. If they had gone straight home, they would have carried all that coal dust with them. They likely hung their jackets, and dirtier items, outside of the bathhouse on a rack like this, and went inside to clean themselves off.
1988 Calgary Olympics opening ceremony jacket, circa 1988
Around 1,500 children participated in the opening ceremonies at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games at the McMahon Stadium in Calgary. Try-outs for performers were held throughout southern Alberta two years before the games. Only three boys were chosen from thirty-two children selected from the Canmore try-outs. Tom Zidek, then 11 years old, was one of them.
For two years, Zidek and the other children rehearsed for the opening ceremonies. The group practiced formations of sports in the games, such as a downhill skier or jumper, choreographed to music. This reversible jacket, solid yellow on the inside, made it easier for quick costume changes during the performance. Zidek remembers the final formation being a dove, and each performer taking a white feather out of their socks and waving it in the air.
This jacket and its accompanying sweater and hat were donated to the Museum on Zidek’s behalf by his mother.
Golf bag and accessories, circa 1950s – 1960s
The first golf course in Canmore was on a patch of land between 8th Avenue and 10th Street, the Senior’s Lodge about where the 6th tee would have been. Here, holes were made by sinking tomato soup cans into the ground. There were two places on the course that even crossed the train tracks. In June 1926, the first officially meeting of the Golf club was had. A membership was $5 and a $2 discount was applied for people who worked the course. Club meetings took place at the ‘Y ’ or at Marra’s Grocery. Jeanie Marra, owner Cardo’s wife, would take minutes. Jack Gustason was a key player in the maintenance of the greens throughout the war years.
When the golf course was taken under custody by the province in 1961, the course was relocated to a larger piece of land with 9 holes and par 35.
A trip by Jack Gustason, Bill Cherak, Bill Millen, Johnny Cavanaugh, and “Pop” Gainer was made to Edmonton to seek a recreational grant with Banff-Cochrane MLA Frank Gainer. They received a small grant and sold shares in the new course to pay for construction costs.
The new course was built through volunteer help and by hand. Casper McCullough, Superintendent of the Banff Spring Golf course at the time, helped by donating machinery that the Banff Springs couldn’t use anymore. John Krasnodemski was handy with machinery, and he and Moose Gillespie assisted with modifications to this equipment.
The wives of these men were also instrumental in the new course construction. Women like Virginia Marra, Maxine Cherak and Jack Gustason’s sisters, Maimie Piper and Lil Scott, would cook steaks and strawberry pies for golfing competitions. Women would also clear the rocks while pushing their babies in strollers. The new golf course was also one of the first that accepted female members as equals to men.
“The Grotto” store sign, circa 1980s
The original owners of “The Grotto” were Marie Atkinson and her son-in-law, local artist Michael Vincent. The location was first a Fish ‘n’ Chips restaurant, then The Grotto, then Robin’s Roost and now is where Shoes t’ Boot and the associated building occupy. Vincent and Atkinson purchased the store from Edna Appleby, the original landlord of the building.
The Grotto was a gift store in a small home, with a studio area in the back, where Vincent would hold art and craft classes. When Vincent decided to open his own studio, he left the store. The store eventually moved to where Mountain Mercato is now, and operated beside Valley Flowers until it closed.
The sign was rescued from an alleyway after the store’s closing and lived in Calgary, until being donated to the Museum in 2009.
The Canmore Museum & Geoscience Centre would not only like to thank The Calgary Foundation, but also the following people for their assistance during this project. However big or small your contribution, this project could not have been a success without your help.
• Rob Alexander
• Ron Marra
• Lena Shellian
• Jim Fitzgerald
• Bill Cherak
• John Krasnodemski
• Cathy Jones
• Ben Gadd
• Emma Fennell
• Clive Rubens
• John Miskow
• Jason Knudtson
• Anne Neufeld
• Gerry Stephenson
• Werner Schalzen
• Kerry Kaleta
• Dea Fischer
• Patricia Quon
• Annie Wong
• Lorraine Yee
• Tammy Niemi
• Joe Warminski
• Charlie McTaggert
• Mark Trofinut
• Pat Pinet
• Chelsea Scott
• Marjorie Hughes
• Michael Vincent
• Tom Zidek
• Gerry Ward
• Patty Heath and the patients in Canmore Hospital Long Term Care
• Ray Ryan and the Canmore Seniors Association
• Jocelyn and Bow Valley Regional Housing
• Chris Bartolomie, Town of Canmore
• Darren Cooke, Canmore Golf Club
• Joan & Bob Alexander
• Bob Sandford
• Mary Smith
• Manny Brautigam
• Paul at Sunny Raven
• Canmore Tim Hortons
• Alvin Shier
Because there were so many great people who made this project possible, we apologize if there is any one whose name was forgotten on this list.